Thursday, May 26, 2016

Book Review: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Series: N/A
Publisher: Random House Delacorte
Release Date: October 27th 2015
My Rating: 4 cups
Source: Netgalley
Blurb (from Goodreads):

A wealthy family. A deadly secret. A young woman with more to lose than she knows.

Josephine Montfort is from one of New York's oldest, most respected, and wealthiest families. Like most well-off girls of the Gilded Age, her future looks set - after a finishing school education, she will be favourably married off to a handsome gentleman, after which she'll want for nothing. But Jo has other dreams and desires that make her long for a very different kind of future. She wants a more meaningful and exciting life: she wants to be an investigative journalist like her heroine Nellie Bly.

But when Jo's father is found dead in his study after an alleged accident, her life becomes far more exciting than even Jo would wish. Unable to accept that her father could have been so careless, she begins to investigate his death with the help of a young reporter, Eddie Gallagher. It quickly becomes clear he was murdered, and in their race against time to discover the culprit and his motive, Jo and Eddie find themselves not only battling dark characters on the violent and gritty streets of New York, but also their growing feelings for each other.

*Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book from Netgalley and Bonnier Publishing in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my opinion or my review of this book.

I've been meaning to read this book ever since I heard about it last year, during BEA. I was in love with the original cover, but I was also very intrigued by the premise of the book. It's also been a while since I last read a historical novel, and I've been meaning to find some historical novels to read.

The first thing that comes to mind as I'm writing this review is how multifaceted Jo Montfort, the heroine, is. She's really brave and witty in some situations, and then she's shy and innocent, bordering on naive. This was actually one of the most interesting things to read about, but also one of the aspects I struggled with the most. I think this is because I myself don't have to face a lot of the social rigors that she had to struggle with, as well as with the various ways in which women from a higher social class were, basically, uneducated. I had to wrap my head around that aspect of the story. At the same time though, it was a very interesting piece of history to read about, to try to understand how women were educated and how society dictated they should act like, how they should dress, walk, talk, even dance or study. So from that point of view it was very interesting.

As I said, Jo was a really interesting character. I have to point out that at times I struggled a bit to accept how she did things, but in the end I think she proved to be much braver and smarter than I initially thought. I also admired her a lot, especially since she really did go against everything society told her polite young women should be like.

Eddie was a character that, for some reason, I felt wasn't as explored as I wanted him to be. Granted, the book was told from Jo's perspective, but I also wanted to know more about Eddie. I feel like there's a story there, one that deserves to be told. I'm mostly interested about his childhood more than anything.

There's another character that I feel the need to talk about, that I can't however talk about as much as I wanted, because of spoilers. The only thing I can say is that I was a bit disappointed with how his story concluded. I felt like someone who went through what this character had to face, for 20 years, could have had a different epilogue.

All in all, this was a really entertaining story, one that I feel manages to educate readers a little bit more about pioneer women, like the journalist Nellie Bly. I can only hope there's going to be a story from Eddie's POV, because honestly, he is a character I really want to see get more page time.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Book Review: Head Above Water by Hailey Edwards

Author: Hailey Edwards
Series: Gemini #2
Publisher: CrushStar Multimedia LLC
Release Date: April 30th 2016
My Rating: 5 cups
Source: Netgalley
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Camille Ellis has tracked many killers during her career,but this time it's personal. Cut off from conclave resources, she won't let a small thing like a suspension keep her from accepting Cord Graeson's offer of help.

Pretending to be mated to him is one way to secure allies, but the best that can be said of the Chandler Pack is they haven't killed or eaten her. Yet. Between the alpha's displeasure and the pack's distrust of fae, she's working overtime to keep her head above water.

Just when the fur starts to fly, a tip cracks her case--and her life--wide open.

*Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book from Netgalley and CrushStar Multimedia LLC for free, in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my opinion or my review of the book.

Picking up right where Dead in the Water ended, this book was amazeballs. I love it when authors manage to make it seem like no time has passed between books, which is what I felt now.

More and more is revealed about Cam's backstory, which I love. She's still heartbroken by her twin sister's death, years ago, but I got the feeling she is mending. She's on the road to becoming the woman she should've been all along, had her sister lived, which makes me equally sad and happy. Happy, because Cam deserves it. Sad, because poor Lori. I love the risks Cam is taking in this book, I love how fiercely protective she gets of the people she cares about, and I love how she manages to let people in, to make friends.

Graeson is still hot. Infuriating too, which is something I'll admit I forgot about him. It was interesting to see the dynamic between the two of them, just as it was interesting to see Graeson become stronger and go towards a more dominant role in the werewolf pack.

Speaking of werewolves, I'd love to see the dynamics within the pack, the bonds, the mental connection, from Graeson's point of view. I saw how Cam experienced it, but I can only imagine that Graeson has a stronger, more defined experience with all of those aspects.

I'm curious if certain characters will get together, just as I'm curious to see if they'll have their own series. Just as I'm curious to finally find out who the killer is. I'm suspecting a certain someone, which would be mindblowing if that person is the killer, but I'm not yet 100% sure.

As with the previous book, this installment ended with a biiiig cliffhanger, and I cannot wait to see what happens next. I am keeping my fingers crossed that there are more spin-offs in the work, because this is a world I am not yet ready to say goodbye to.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Comic Book Tuesday #9: White Sand by Brandon Sanderson

Author: Brandon Sanderson
Series: White Sand
Publisher: Dynamic Forces
Release Date: June 21st 2016
My Rating: 3.5 cups
Source: Netgalley
Blurb (from Goodreads):
A brand new saga of magic and adventure by #1 New York Times best-selling author Brandon Sanderson. On the planet of Taldain, the legendary Sand Masters harness arcane powers to manipulate sand in spectacular ways. But when they are slaughtered in a sinister conspiracy, the weakest of their number, Kenton, believes himself to be the only survivor. With enemies closing in on all sides, Kenton forges an unlikely partnership with Khriss -- a mysterious Darksider who hides secrets of her own. White Sand brings to life a crucial, unpublished part of Brandon Sanderson's sprawling Cosmere universe. The story has been adapted by Rik Hoskin (Mercy Thompson), with art by Julius Gopez and colors by Ross Campbell. Employing powerful imagery and Sanderson's celebrated approach to magical systems, White Sand is a spectacular new saga for lovers of fantasy and adventure.

*Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book from Netgalley and Dynamite Entertainment in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my opinion or rating of the book

As a lover of all things fantasy, I've heard a lot of great things about Brandon Sanderson. I have been interested in trying out his work, so when I saw this comic book on Netgalley, I was ecstatic.

The story itself is pretty good. The book starts with Kenton having pretty much a fight with his dad, the ruler of a group called Sand Masters. At first, Kenton came off as a spoiled boy who just wanted attention, but as the story progressed, it turned out he was way smarter than it seemed at first, much more loyal and not as spoiled. I also loved that at a certain point of the story, more characters, from different countries and societies, are introduced. I really enjoyed learning more about them, their backstories.

I do hope that the second volume, if there is going to be one, will explore how the Sand Masters were formed, why they were so hated by other people, as well as the other societies that have a connection with the Sand Masters.

Since this is a comic book, I have to talk about the art. I don't know if this was an issue with the file uploaded on the website, or just something with the copy I received, but the pictures looked very, very pixelated. Not in an intentional way, but in a distorted, grainy, blurry way. A lot of times that managed to pull me out of the story a little bit, because it was quite distracting. If you manage to ignore the imperfections, the art is quite beautiful. I also had some issues with how the panels themselves were distributed on page. It felt a bit confusing, having to figure out for some pages which panel comes next and where I should read. A few times the artist indicated the order of the panels, other times the reader is left to figure it out for himself/herself.

I would love to read the next volume, because I did enjoy the story, overall. And, like I said, I'd like to see a finished physical copy of this book, to enjoy the art a little bit more, as well as the story itself.

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Obsessed With Covers #35: The Kingdom of Little Wounds, Carve The Mark, The Many Lives of John Stone

Y'all know how much I love a pretty cover. I think about...40% of the books that end up on my shelves (be they physical or digital) do so because of the covers. Call me shallow but you have to admit that a pretty, shiny cover will catch your eye faster than a dull, boring one. Two, simple rules that I'll follow:

  • 1, 2 or 3 (no more than 3, though) covers per week;
  • books should be new-ish; no more than 2 years old.
Oh, before I share the covers that made me drool or want to stare at them for hours and hours, I have to say something. This is a semi-original idea. Why semi? Because almost every book blogger has something similar. The only thing I came up with was the title. If by any chance there's another blogger with a similar feature with the same title, I assure you I'm not stealing your idea. I'm just THAT bad with titles. Believe me, I'd love to be smarter and have a witty name for this feature, but I don't. So, no copyright infringement/theft/steal or anything of the sort was desired. All I can say is sorry :P


So, here are the prettiest covers I've seen this week.

This cover looks like a photo inside a photo. It's easy to notice the castle and the beautifully colored sky first, or at least it was for me. But then I looked at the frame and OMG so many things to see there, so many creatures, so many hidden details that make me wonder if those aren't part of those "Little Wounds". Also, I had the chance to see this book IRL and let me tell you, it is just as stunning, if not more.

The Kingdom of Little Wounds - Susann Cokal

I have to say, this cover is absolutely gorgeous. I would love to have this book in my shelves, it's so pretty. I'm actually expecting the finished copy to have some nice effect, like maybe the gold liquid that bleeds through those cuts to shimmer or something similar. I can't help but wonder what the title and cover have to do with the actual story though. Because the cover does not lead me to think "Dystopia", and yet that's how the book is shelved as on Goodreads. All of that said, I kinda see some stars in there, so maybe that's a wall that's carved into? I am now very curious about the book.

Carve The Mark - Veronica Roth

There are so many things going on in this cover, I don't even know where to start. I love how the mirror is broken and how it shows different portraits of what seems to be different people. I also love how there seem to be shards missing, which makes me wonder what happened to them? The fact that the background is black though makes me think that maybe that's not a mirror. The camera that the girl is holding makes me wonder if that's not actually a broken lens? There are some strange symbols reflected in one of the shards and that also make me wonder about the story, and also there's an incomplete image there, with the shard that's nearest to the colored reflection of the guy. I could go on and on, but basically I am obsessed with this cover. A lot!

The Many Lives of John Stone - Linda Buckley-Archer

Friday, May 13, 2016

ARC Book Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

Author: Kiersten White
Series: The Conquerors Saga #1
Publisher: Corgi Childrens
Release Date: June 28th 2016
My Rating: 5 cups
Source: Netgalley
Blurb (from Goodreads):
No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwyla likes it that way.

Ever since she and her brother were abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada has known that ruthlessness is the key to survival. For the lineage that makes her and her brother special also makes them targets.

Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes. Now Mehmed unwittingly stands between Lada and Radu as they transform from siblings to rivals, and the ties of love and loyalty that bind them together are stretched to breaking point.

The first of an epic new trilogy starring the ultimate anti-princess who does not have a gentle heart. Lada knows how to wield a sword, and she'll stop at nothing to keep herself and her brother alive.

*Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book from Netgalley and Penguin Random House UK Children’s in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my review or my opinion of the book.

There are books that I love and then there are the books that blow my mind in such a way that it goes beyond me merely enjoying them. It's been a while since I've read a book that I thought deserved the "Recommended Read" badge/rating, but And I Darken is definitely one of those. But I'll get to the why of this later on. Let me first talk about the characters, because they were simply amazing.

Lada is one of those characters that at times I wanted to hate, but I just couldn't. Being a girl, born to the most powerful man in a medieval country, has to be tough. I liked how the author explores that aspect a little bit in the beginning of the book, how Lada struggles to make her father see her as worthy and as just as good as her brothers. Then, she and her younger brother, Radu, are given to the Ottomans as tribute. It was a very interesting theme throughout the book, how the siblings coped with their situation, how they adapted to a new culture, new environment, new rules, new language. I can't help but admire Lada's wits. She's a natural at leading, she is a leader, and I was really hoping she'd succeed. She's the antihero, and I fell in love with her because she was not the typical female character in a historical novel.

Radu was an interesting character. He is the complete opposite of Lada: he's not a leader, he's not a fighter, he's definitely not as strong as Lada, especially when they were kids. There's also a really interesting development towards the end of the book that, considering the time period, it is such a great thing to explore. I hope that the next book explores that more in depth and show how Radu deals with certain aspects of his life more. At times I felt he was a bit too sensitive, too weak, but then I realized that his ability to get near people, to talk to them, to make them talk to him, is what make him a great figure, from a historical perspective.

Mehmed is also a really interesting character. He's very different than Lada and Radu. At times I thought that he has no idea what he wants. He might have a good heart, he might want the throne of the Ottoman Empire, but I feel that if he hadn't have Lada by his side, he wouldn't have had it.

I said earlier that I was going to explain my "Recommended Read" rating. I don't know if you know this, but I am Romanian. So for me, as for many other Romanians, the figure of Vlad the Impaler is a really important one for our history. He's basically a national hero. That's what we're told in school, in books, in movies, everywhere. So because of that I usually stay away from books and foreign movies that portray him as anything but a hero, simply because I don't see him as the bloodthirsty tyrant or as the old-as-dirt vampire that these movies and books show him to be. The idea of a female version of him was really intriguing. I still wasn't sure I wanted to read the book, until I saw the cover that I put in the beginning of this post, on Netgalley, and I knew that I had to read it. I'll be honest and say that at a certain point I wanted to just put the book down, outraged. Because some of the things shown in this book are nothing like what I knew them to be. However, to say I know my country's history would be a big fat lie. I only know a small portion of it, mainly what is taught in school, and let's face it, the important things, like, for instance, how Radu gained his "the Beautiful" nickname, will never be discussed in school. But after that initial thought, I decided to keep reading. And the reason that I think everyone should read this book is that it serves as a discussion starter. In school, I never got to explore the consequences of Vlad and Radu going to Edirne and live with the Ottomans for a good portion of their formative years. History books usually talk about how much Vlad hated the Ottomans and how much he hated his time in the Empire, but we also know that history is not always objective and that it can be interpreted in many ways. So the great thing that And I Darken does is to explore the ways in which what we know today may not be as black-and-white as it seems. Of course, this is an alternate history, so it must be taken accordingly, but I think that, as I said before, it can be used to start a conversation.

With all of that said, I desperately need the sequel, because I need to know what happens next with Lada, Radu and Mehmed, as well as all the other minor characters that I simply adored.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Insanely Posh - A Perfectly Posh Post + #Giveaway

Have you heard about Perfectly Posh?


If you love great products that are as fun as they are good for you then you’re going to love us. We were founded on some very simple principles:

We Simply Pamper

Nothing complicated, tiresome, or mundane here. Come and be taken care of.

The best ingredients

We know if you want a product to feel great when you use it, it should be made of great things. We use the very best and most natural ingredients available so you can be proud to wear and share it.

made in the USA

We love our country and those who make it work. At Perfectly Posh, it’s all about putting growth and goodness into our own communities.

You deserve it

Yes, YOU. Life might never let you have a whole day off, but if you can take just a minute to take care of yourself you’ll be better able to do all the other things you need to. Take a little time to pamper YOU.

Perfectly Posh has tons of amazing products from foot care, body lotions, face mask, and more! 

They also offer a perks program (think rewards card). Every order you place you receive perks that you can use in a future purchase to get an item(s) FREE. The more you rack up, the more FREE stuff you get. 

On top of all that awesomeness, they ALWAYS offer a buy 5 get 6th FREE special, and $5 shipping NO MATTER the amount of stuff ordered. How cool is that?

So, Are you ready to #GetPampered?

I would love to be your consultant! 


Currently I am throwing a Facebook Party where I am offering some great products, giving away a Heebie Jeebie Foot Peel Kit, and talking about all things Posh!

Join my Facebook group, comment where you heard about my group (whether a blog, twitter post, etc.) and I'll send you a FREE lip balm and/or sample pack! 

Enter to win 1 of 4 kits listed in the photo below! 

Learn more about our KITS HERE:


Winner has 48 hours to claim prize.

This giveaway is sponsored by Good Choice Reading/Insanely Posh

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Comic Book Tuesday #8: Blood Stain Volume 1 by Linda Sejic

Author: Linda Sejic
Series: Blood Stain
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: 19 Apr 2016
My Rating: 4 cups
Source: Netgalley
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Mad science at its finest. Chemistry major, Elliot Torres has been unable to keep a steady job and eventually accepts a job by a rumored mad scientist Dr. Vlad Stein. Humorous hijinks ensue as their collaboration becomes epic.

*Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book from Netgalley and Image Comics in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my rating or my opinion of the book.

This book had me at "mad science" and "chemistry major". I am always interested in seeing what people deem "mad science", so I was very curious about this comic book. That and I was sure I've seen the author's name before, but more on that at the end of the review.

I adored the art in this comic book. I spent a huge amount of time just staring at each panel, they were so gorgeous. The lines were well defined, the colors used were rich and vibrant. I also liked how the colors used seemed to emphasize the mood of the scene. We see most of the panels involving Elliot, the heroine, in light, bright colors, while the panels for the doctor are dark and cold.

Elliot was such a relatable character. I felt her despair at not finding a job that fulfills you, I understood her feelings toward herself when a job offer fell through or when she just couldn't hold a job that had nothing to do with her intelligence or her studies. I feel like most people are Elliot at one point or another. So it was easy for me to like her. Not just that, but I completely understand her tendency to overreact and to interpret stuff in the creepiest way possible. Another character that I liked was Serge, which you meet later in the story.

One thing Linda Sejic did that I completely enjoyed was to include some extra material at the end of the book regarding her creative process. I knew even before reading those pages that creating comic books can be difficult, but I never imagined just how much. Between the pencil sketches and the drawing and the creation of the story itself, it takes an incredible amount of time and effort to put together a good comic book, so I'm really grateful the readers get to have a little sneak peek into that process. As to why I knew the author's name, it's because her husband is the author of the Death Vigil comic, among other comic books as well. In case you're wondering, my opinion of Blood Stain has nothing to do with my feelings for Death Vigil, it was just a detail that got my attention towards this book.

All in all, I'm really happy I got to read this book and I cannot wait to see how the story continues. I hope we get to know more about the doctor, so I'll definitely be waiting impatiently for volume 2.

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Friday, May 6, 2016

Hamilton Book Tag

Hey guys! I recently decided to listen to Hamilton, because I was insanely curious about it. Tons of bloggers that I know love it, so I went ahead and did it. I'm halfway through it, but I adore it so far. I hope I'll be able to see it live one day, because, as I said, I adore what I heard so far.

Because my new love for this musical, I decided to do the Hamilton Book Tag, created by Maureen over on her booktube channel. There are 10 questions, as well as 6 bonus questions if you want to answer them. I'll try to do them all. Here we go:

1. The Room Where It Happens: Book world you would put yourself in
I'd love to be in the Dark Hunter world. Because vampires, demons, ancient gods and all of that. Also, ACHERON!

2. The Schuyler Sisters: Underrated Female Character
I had a really hard time answering this question, mostly because the majority of the books I read are about strong, powerful women, and not just the MCs. Even women who are secondary characters receive enough attention in the books I read. With that said, I feel like Christina from the Divergent series by Veronica Roth could have been a little more in the spotlight. Molly too. Of course, I didn't finish reading the trilogy, so I don't know how their story ends beyond Insurgent.

3. My Shot: A character that goes after what they want and doesn't let anything stop them
I feel like this is the description of almost every villain I've read about. Hmmmm... I remember reading the scene when Tris steps forward and is the first one to jump off the building after she chose Dauntless. I remember admiring her and thinking "Man, I wished I had her courage." So I'd say Tris from the first book of the Divergent trilogy. And I say the first book, mainly because I felt like she was affected too much by what happened at the end of that first book and became kind of a shell of her old self as the story moved on.

4. Stay Alive: A character you wish was still alive
HA! Spoiler alert for Harry Potter!

Fawkes. We only get to see this bird a few times in the story, but for me, his death was harder to take than the death of Dumbledore. Of course, we just can't forget about Fred Weasley *ugly sobbing*

5. Burn: The most heartbreaking end to a relationship you’ve ever read
Landon and Jamie from A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks, and Tudor and Mihaela from Invitation To Waltz by Mihail Drumes, a Romanian author. These are two of the books that basically destroyed me when I read them, and while beautiful, I could never read another book like that again, because it is just painful and heartbreaking.

6. You'll Be Back: Sassiest villain
He's not...well...*sighs* He's not a villain, he's just a... would it be insanely cliche to call him misunderstood? I'm talking about Seth from the Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout. He is one of those characters I fell in love with, completely ignoring what he did during the last two books of the series.

7. The Reynolds Pamphlet - A book with a twist that you didn’t see coming
Interred With Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell had a pretty awesome twist at the end and even though everyone said they saw it coming a mile away, I didn't. And I think I reread that book about 3 times already, and it still takes me by surprise.

8. Non-stop: A series you marathoned
The Vampire Academy, Dark Hunter, Covenant, Southern Vampires Mysteries, I've marathoned so many series in the past. Most of the books I read are part of a series, and I love getting lost in the world of a series so much that I binge-read as many books as I can from that series.

9. Satisfied: Favorite book with multiple POVs
Ooooh. Return of the King just popped into my brain when I read that question. There's a beauty in having more POVs that I adore, and that novel, as is the case with the first books in that trilogy, is full of multiple POVs.

10. Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story: A book/series you feel like will be remembered throughout history
Harry Potter. No question. It's just one of those series that become classic.

BONUS QUESTIONS (short answers): 
1. Helpless: A relationship you were pulling for from the very start - Elena and Clay from Women of the Otherworld. There's just something about those two that made my shipper heart go wild.

2. Ten Duel Commandments: Favorite fight scene - The Battle of Hornburg, also known as Helm's Deep, from The Two Towers will always be my absolute favorite fight scene.

3. Say No To This: Guilty pleasure read - I've said this before and I'll say it again: I don't believe in guilty pleasure reads, so I don't have one. There's no book that I've ever read that makes me ashamed or feel guilty for reading it.

4. What Comes Next: A series you wish had more books - Women of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong needs another full length novel. That being said, if the author herself doesn't feel like there are any stories to tell there, I'd rather keep wishing there was, than get a book that isn't as good as the entire series.

5. Right Hand Man - Favorite BROTP - I gotta give it to Gimli and Legolas. There's just something unique about those two.

6. What’d I Miss: A book or series you were late to reading - HA! I started reading Women of the Otherworld when the last book was released, so I was VERY late.

So that was a fun tag! Long, but fun. If you want to do this, go ahead. And if you've already done this tag, share the link for me to check out your answers.
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