Wednesday, October 9, 2019

BLOG TOUR: Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo
Book Thoughts + Photo

Blog Tour Organized by Fierce Reads
See the full schedule below 

Into the Crooked Place
byAlexandra Christo
Published: October 8, 2019 
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Category: YA, fantasy, dark magic, unlikely teams, gangsters, con-artists,

Series: Into the Crooked Place 1/2

Book Description: Into the Crooked Place begins a gritty two-book YA fantasy series from Alexandra Christo, the author of To Kill a Kingdom.

The streets of Creije are for the deadly and the dreamers, and four crooks in particular know just how much magic they need up their sleeve to survive.

Tavia, a busker ready to pack up her dark-magic wares and turn her back on Creije for good. She’ll do anything to put her crimes behind her.

Wesley, the closest thing Creije has to a gangster. After growing up on streets hungry enough to swallow the weak whole, he won’t stop until he has brought the entire realm to kneel before him.

Karam, a warrior who spends her days watching over the city’s worst criminals and her nights in the fighting rings, making a deadly name for herself.

And Saxony, a resistance fighter hiding from the very people who destroyed her family, and willing to do whatever it takes to get her revenge.

Everything in their lives is going to plan, until Tavia makes a crucial mistake: she delivers a vial of dark magic—a weapon she didn’t know she had—to someone she cares about, sparking the greatest conflict in decades. Now these four magical outsiders must come together to save their home and the world, before it’s too late. But with enemies at all sides, they can trust nobody. Least of all each other.

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound 
Why you should read this book

In Into the Crooked Place, four unlikely allies - a magical con-artist, a gangster, a fierce fighter, and a girl with secrets who's out for revenge - team up when they find out the hard way that a dark magical weapon is about to be unleashed on their city and destroy their home as they know it. 

If you are a fan of ensemble casts made up of morally grey characters that you can't help but root for - than this is the book for you. Tavia, Wesley, Karam and Saxony all have different goals and secrets that come out through the tale. They're not even sure if they can trust each other (and probably shouldn't). I especially enjoyed the different relationships that they had with each other, and the way those the dynamics and tensions played out. Several of them had history between them, which complicated everything and made their teaming up all the more interesting an experience. This story had little romance, but it definitely hints at possibilities, and I'm hoping for more to come on that front. 

If you are a fan of this group of questionable characters teaming up for a mission together, especially when that mission is overthrowing a larger evil, bonus points for when these characters are up against some impossible odds while they do it - than this is a book for you. These characters face physical and mental challenges and make some terrible discoveries, and the story is only half over.  

If you are a fan of atmospheric stories that get more and more intense near the end and leave you wanting the next one ASAP - than this is the book for you. With the way the characters are left at the end of Into the Crooked Place, readers will be dying for the next installment. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Medium/High 

Book Trailer 

Have you bought your copy Into the Crooked Place yet? 

See this and other bookish posts in my instagram @loveisnotatriangle
About the Author

Alexandra Christo decided to write books when she was four and her teacher told her she couldn’t be a fairy. She is the author of To Kill a Kingdom and Into the Crooked Place. When she’s not busy making up stories, she can be found organizing food crawls over London and binge-watching Korean dramas. Alexandra has a BA in Creative Writing and currently lives in England with an abundance of cacti (because they’re the only plants she can keep alive).

Find Alexandra: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


Follow the Tour

BlogPost Date
Folded Pages DistilleryOctober 6th
@decorating.readerOctober 6th
@readerrewindOctober 6th
Seeing Double in NeverlandOctober 7th
@librarycutieOctober 7th
@morrighanroseOctober 8th
@undeniablybooknerdyOctober 8th
@Pagesinbetween1October 8th
@bookwormgramOctober 8th
Love is Not a TriangleOctober 9th
Novel Knight BooksOctober 9th
@bookish_angelvOctober 9th
Fiction FareOctober 9th
Confessions of a YA ReaderOctober 10th
Megan Write NowOctober 10th
Dazzled by BooksOctober 10th
@love.books.and.coffeeOctober 11th
Rants and Raves of a BibliophileOctober 11th
@b.b.lynnreadsOctober 11th
@onetruedaydreamerOctober 12th
@Moonprincess37October 12th
@bibliophile_nikkiOctober 12th

Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Beautiful Q&A with author Renée Ahdieh
All About Sebastien Saint Germain

Today I am welcoming author Renée Ahdieh on the blog to chat about the mysterious Sebastien Saint Germain from her new book The Beautiful.

Q: If Sebastien were a were-beast, what would be his identity? Why? I asked this question once about your WRATH AND THE DAWN characters, and I’m curious about these too.

Renée Ahdieh: I love this question! I think Bastien would be a were-lion. It would be the most fitting, since he is a member of the Court of the Lions. It suits him. Especially because—even though a lion rules a pride—they can’t get anything done without the right lioness.

Q: If Sebastien went to an interview and was asked about his biggest strength and weakness, what would he say? Would it be different from what you our other characters would say about him?

Renée Ahdieh: When I wrote The Beautiful, I envisioned it as Celine’s story, for the most part. Bastien is a boy with a past marred by loss. He’s become a young man who masks his pain with arrogance and humor, instead of truly going within himself to understand how his history has shaped him. Meeting Celine definitely makes him question himself, so I think he would say his weakness is his inability to deal with loss. His strength lies in his love. When Bastien loves, he loves fiercely.

Q: Bastien is just one of many diverse characters in THE BEAUTIFUL. How did you balance your desire for a diverse cast with historical accuracy?

Renée Ahdieh: It was such a treat to write about New Orleans. Even during the Victorian Era, the mixing of cultures and races was rampant in the Crescent City. For a long time, it was a major port in the slave trade, and it was colonized by both the French and the Spanish. Many different cultures blended here, and even formed their own unique traditions of their own, which has helped make New Orleans a city like no other, for better and for worse.

Q: Did you research the ‘rules’ about vampires and how they operate? What other research did you do for the book?

Renée Ahdieh: I’ve been a huge fan of vampire lore ever since I was twelve. I read Anne Rice’s books, then fell in love with Dracula before moving into all kinds of Gothic fiction. One of the things I enjoyed most about writing The Beautiful was getting a chance to hat-tip all the great stories I read throughout my life at the same time I was able to develop a lore all my own.

Q: One theme in the book that pertains to Bastien is a person’s sense of duty vs their personal freedom. What would Bastien say about balancing those two desires?

Renée Ahdieh: At the beginning of the story, Bastien would have said the only things worth sacrificing himself for were his family and his city. He would not have cared about anyone or anything else. At the end of the book, I think he would say something different. But I think the Bastien I most loved writing was the one who would say he doesn’t think he should have to sacrifice either.

 Thank you for answering my questions! I've enjoyed getting to know Bastien a little bit better, and I cannot wait for the next installment.

**Special thank you from Sandie @sandieachen for some of these question ideas!**

About the Book:

The Beautiful
Renée Ahdieh
Published: October 8, 2019 

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young 
Category: YA, historical fiction, fantasy, vampires, New Orleans

Series: The Beautiful 1/2

New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with a sumptuous, sultry and romantic new series set in 19th century New Orleans where vampires hide in plain sight.

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she's forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city's glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group's leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien's guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound 

About the Author:

Renée Ahdieh is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger. In her spare time, she likes to dance salsa and collect shoes. She is passionate about all kinds of curry, rescue dogs, and college basketball. The first few years of her life were spent in a high-rise in South Korea; consequently, Renée enjoys having her head in the clouds. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and their tiny overlord of a dog.

Goodreads | Website | Twitter

Find this and other book inspired photos on my instagram @loveisnotatriangle

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Blog Tour: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
Review + Photo inspiration

Tour organized by Fierce Reads 

We Hunt the Flame
by Hafsah Faizal 
Read: February 23 - March 14, 2019
Published: May 14, 2019 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Source: ARC from publisher (TY!)

Category: YA, fantasy, Arab-inspired, magic, deserts, assassins, hunters, secrets, 
Series: 1/3

Book Description: People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. 

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

My Thoughts

I LOVED this book. We Hunt the Flame is an amazing debut.

Five things about this book: 

1) Writing - The writing is beautiful. Language, imagery, just gorgeous. This ancient Arab-inspired fantasy world pops off the page. 

2) Pacing - A lot of set-up happens in this book, and the real thrust of the plot/action doesn't kick off until at least 100 pages into the story. It is worth it, and I appreciated being able to get to know the main characters/world better at the start, but keep that in mind as you read. 

3) Squad Goals - One of my favorite things about this story is the Zumra, or squad, that forms. I adored each member - Zafira, Nasir, Altair, Kifah and Benyamin - and everything about seeing this very tentative group learn to work together as secrets, hidden agendas, and affinities are revealed. And they go on a very dangerous mission together to bring magic back to their world. If anything, I wanted more of these five as a group, and as individuals. Hopefully, we will get a chance for that in the future. I also want more of Zafira's bff Yasmine.

4) Imagery - I love the comparisons/juxtapositions in this book - especially how they play out between the different characters, starting with the first lines of both Zafira and Nasir's chapters. The huntress and the assassin, light and dark, love (and femininity) as strength and weakness, even in the meaning of names. I feel like I'm going to need to read this again to unpack it all. 

5) Romance - Of course I must talk about the romance too. It is here and it is slow and achy, and I need to have more of it. I will say that for me, there are some aspects at the start that are messier than I prefer. But there is no love triangle, and I don't foresee there being one - I really hope not because this book is so good and there's so much going on besides that. 

This book has it all, but it is only the beginning, and I'm desperate for more. 

Love Triangle Factor:
Cliffhanger Scale: Medium - This series has a lot more to come, and I cannot wait.


Photo Inspirations

We Hunt the Flame is a story in contrasts. Of light and dark, snow and sand

and the spark of magic. 

Below are two images inspired by the book:

1) Zafira has grown up in a land of ice and snow, but is drawn to a place of shadows.

2) Darkness creeps through this story, and so does magic, and revelation, and light. 

Find more of my bookish inspired photos on my instagram @loveisnotatriangle 

About the Author 

Hafsah Faizal is an American Muslim and brand designer. She’s the founder of IceyDesigns, where she creates websites for authors and beauteous goodies for everyone else. When she’s not writing, she can be found dreaming up her next design, deciding between Assassin’s Creed and Skyrim, or traversing the world. Born in Florida and raised in California, she now resides in Texas with her family and a library of books waiting to be devoured. WE HUNT THE FLAME is her first novel.

Twitter | Website | Goodreads | Instagram


I can't wait to get my hands on the final copy and final cover of this book. 

Have you preordered your copy? 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Amber and Dusk by Lyra Selene

Amber and Dusk 
by Lyra Selene 
Read: January 6 - 12, 2019
November 27, 2018 by Scholastic Press
Source: OwlCrate

Category: YA, Fantasy, Orphans, Court Intrigue, Magic 
Series: 1/2? 

Book Description: Sylvie has always known she deserves more. Out in the permanent twilight of the Dusklands, her guardians called her power to create illusions a curse. But Sylvie knows it gives her a place in Coeur d'Or, the palais of the Amber Empress and her highborn legacies.

So Sylvie sets off toward the Amber City, a glittering jewel under a sun that never sets, to take what is hers.

But her hope for a better life is quickly dimmed. The empress invites her in only as part of a wicked wager among her powerful courtiers. Sylvie must assume a new name, Mirage, and begin to navigate secretive social circles and deadly games of intrigue in order to claim her spot. Soon it becomes apparent that nothing is as it appears and no one, including her cruel yet captivating sponsor, Sunder, will answer her questions. As Mirage strives to assume what should be her rightful place, she'll have to consider whether it is worth the price she must pay.

I came out of Amber & Dusk with some mixed feelings. I liked some aspects a lot, and did not care for others. However, this book kept me interested and reading until the end, and for that, it was a win. Also, barring certain factors, I will definitely read the sequel. 

My main issue was connecting to the heroine. For me to enjoy pretty much any book, I need to be able to connect to an MC, and Sylvie/Mirage was tough for me. Unfortunately, she just read as whiny and entitled, and for most of the book had a Marie Antoinette complex - ‘I am a legacy so I deserve better. I don’t care what is happening in the real world.’ I mean I get her deep desire to belong, but the way she approached it, didn’t sit well with me. Eventually Mirage wakes up and (spoiler: then is all of a sudden planning a revolution /end spoiler). I just didn’t buy the transition well, and really struggled to understand her character as a whole. 

I found Sunder to be the most interesting character. I liked his moral greyness and actually, Mirage became a lot more interesting to me at the end when she acquired a little bit of that. But I really enjoyed Sunder and he for sure kept me reading. Figuring out who he was ended up being one of my favorite parts of the story. I also enjoyed Thibo and Lullaby, tho with such a big court, this story doesn’t have a big cast, and I wanted even more from them. 

I liked the direction of the romance a lot, and I am hoping that it continues along those lines in future books. There is a second possible direction that peters out into friendship and I’m hoping it stays that way (if it doesn’t, I won’t be reading more of this series. I’ve not got time for that). But I never trust expectations for sequels, so we shall see. 

Besides not connecting to the MC my biggest issue with this book was the world-building. I never quite grasped the - the sun hasn’t gone down for many years thing. At least why it mattered to the story, besides just being part of the world. I hope that’s explored more in the future. But overall I liked this debut, and barring any potential love triangles, I’d definitely read the next installment.

Love Triangle Factor: I'm going to say none (or low) - but there is a progression, so be aware of that. 
Cliffhanger Scale: Low - There are unanswered questions and another book - Diamond & Dawn - to come. I think this is a duet, but I'm not certain.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Doll Hearts by Colleen Clayton

Doll Hearts 
by Colleen Clayton 
Read: November 23 - 25, 2018
Published: April 24, 2018 by Muse Contemporary
Source: Kindle purchase

Category: YA, Contemporary, Summer, Amusement Parks, Diabetes, Family Drama, Hoarders
Find: Goodreads | Amazon 

Book Description: 17-year-old Julianne Bell’s life is caving in on her. Literally. Her mother is a hoarder and shopping addict whose retail drug of choice is collectible dolls. She also dabbles in lesser fixations like snow globes, commemorative plates, kitchen gadgets, and never-to-be-used exercise equipment. Their house is not a home but more a bizarro game of Garage Sale Tetris in which flea market finds, Amazon boxes, and QVC shipments are puzzled together in a labyrinth of consumer excess and looming bankruptcy. It’s a situation Julianne has grown adept at hiding. That is, until the day her school cafeteria account slips into the red. Meal-skipping is not an option for someone with Type 1 Diabetes, so when Julianne has a seizure in class, her father claims custody. Living with her dad and annoyingly perfect step-mom is not how Julianne planned to spend her summer, let alone her senior year. Needing fast cash to help her mom avoid foreclosure, Julianne takes a job at an amusement park, and as luck would have it, her former classmate—heartthrob Brandon Wright—also works there. Between sweeping up cigarette butts at the park, racing to solve her mom's personal and financial disasters, a medical condition that needs constant monitoring, and a budding romance, Julianne Bell’s messy life just got a whole lot messier. 

Set against a summery backdrop of roller coasters, pool parties, and cute boys, DOLL HEARTS explores issues of obsessive-compulsive hoarding, family bonds, and first love.

I loved Colleen Clayton's first book What Happens Next. It is a contemporary gem, and I definitely recommend that you read it if you haven't already. Because of that I was excited to read her new book Doll Hearts. Unfortunately, I have very mixed feelings about this book. 

What I liked: The story of Julianne dealing with her mom’s hoarding and OCD, as well as her relationship with her dad and Melody, was raw and felt realistic. And I really appreciated how the story ended with all of that. It wasn’t perfect, but Julianne grew up a lot and ended up in a good place for herself. I don’t know a lot about type 1 diabetes, or how accurate is this portrayal of it, but found that part of the book to be interesting and eye opening. Though I wanted to shake Julianne every time she got mad at her friends for their care and concern. I also liked Julianne’s new friendship with Dana and also with Lindsey, and her job at Cedar Point. 

What I loathed: However, I hated the romance. It was a complete miss for me, and that pretty much ruined my enjoyment of the story. I didn’t like Brandon much throughout the story, and I completely lost all trust in him after that end party. WHAT?! I didn’t buy his explanation at all. The whole Adriana situation made me very angry. He shouldn’t have been hanging out with Adriana at all after he started dating Julianne. Full stop. For me, there was nothing swoony about this storyline or this guy. You’re not going to convince me that Brandon wasn’t still playing around, and I hated that in the end he never really realized why Julianne was upset - or apologized. And while Julianne acted tough at first, I can’t believe she just fell for his explanation at the end like it was nothing. Yeah right. No thank you, buddy. 

I cannot recommend this book, because I hated the romance, and that's a very important factor in my enjoyment of any story. However, I did like Julianne and a lot of the other elements in Doll Hearts, and I'd be interested in another story by this author - assuming the romance was different than this. 

Love Triangle Factor: None from Julianne's perspective. There's definitely a reverse love triangle happening from Brandon's perspective though. You're not going to convince me that there isn't. 
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone 

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