Friday, March 17, 2017

The #FridayReads Review (3/17/17)



Welcome to The #FridayReads Review, a regular Friday segment where I share what I've been reading the past week, and what I'm planning to read next! Want to join the Friday fun? Post your own #FridayReads Review and leave the link in the Comments below, or just Comment with what you've been reading!


>> CURRENTLY READING <<
The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny (Nightside, #10)
The Good, the Bad & the Uncanny by Simon R. Green (MMP)
I found I was in desperate need of a dime novel read, so I decided to grab my next Nightside. But while the world and characters continue to be such fun, this has been a rather painful read. The writing is finally up to snuff, but this volume feels more like a collection of random acquaintance interactions sandwiched between two brief adventures, all unconnected except for a thread of coincidence and with generally no coherence at all. I suspect this is a "prologue" volume, which I can never stand under any circumstance. But despite the pain, I really had needed a Nightside fix and am otherwise enjoying the general read immensely.


>> JUST FINISHED <<
Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 4
Yona of the Dawn vol. 4 by Mizuhu Kusanagi (PBK)
4.5 Stars. Now this was more like it! After three rather middling volumes I wasn't sure how much longer I could stick with this lackluster series, but as we got to see more of the characters' personalities and with the addition of magic in the last volume, this volume was really good. Here's hoping the series only continues to get better!


>> [POSSIBLY] READING NEXT <<
(subject to change with my ever-shifting reading whims)
The Marked Girl (Marked Girl, #1)
The Marked Girl by Lindsey Klingele (ARC)
Put this on hold for a while but hoping to finally finish it after Nightside. About 70% through.


So what are you reading this week?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

ORGANIZE YOUR WAY: Simple Strategies for Every Personality Type (Katie & Kelly McMenamin) + Giveaway!

I'm a bit of an organizing nut, so when Hannah of Irish Banana Tours asked for bloggers to help pimp a book on organizing by personality type, of course I had to share it with my readers! Check out the book below, along with the McMenamin sisters' Top 10 Pixie Tips, and enter to win a copy at the end!

~*~                    ~*~                    ~*~

ABOUT THE BOOK

Organize Your Way: Simple Strategies for Every Personality
Title: Organize Your Way: Simple Strategies for Every Personality Type
Author: Katie & Kelly McMenamin
Pub. Date: March 14, 2017
Publisher: Sterling
Summary:

Stressing over the mess? Discover YOUR personal organizing style—and stay organized forever!

Organization isn’t one-size-fits-all. Different people need different solutions. Fortunately, Katie and Kelly McMenamin—the organizing gurus behind PixiesDidIt!®—have found the key to making organization stick, with strategies that work for every personality.


Whether you’re OCD or a little less fastidious, Katie and Kelly will help you discover your organizational style, using unconventional approaches or sticking to what already works. Along with personality-based solutions for every space in your home, they offer advice on solving strife between different “PixieTypes.” So you can keep the stuff you love . . . and the peace!

THE AUTHORS

Katie McMenamin and Kelly McMenamin are sisters, professional organizers, personality-type experts, and founders of PixieDidIt! Their business is an outgrowth of buttoned-up hedge fund analyst Kelly spending 30-odd years trying and failing to get her messy older sister Katie, a writer, to be more organized. Countless fights ensued until they had an idea: What if there is more than one way to organize? Today, they spend the bulk of their time organizing for clients, writing for their website, and giving talks on how to organize according to your personality type. Kelly lives in NYC with her husband and three sons and Katie lives in their hometown, the Land of Champions, aka Cleveland, OH, with her husband and three daughters.



TOP TEN PIXIE TIPS

1. Knowing who you are is the key to organization mainly because if you’re pretending to be someone else, it’s hard to remember where that pretend person put something!

2. Change is hard, so be honest about organizing tasks. People who never hang up their coats in a closet, probably never will; get a coat rack and call it a day.

3. Perfect isn’t real. Magazine perfection is styled by a professional whose job it is to make everything perfection for the millisecond it takes to snap a photo.

4. No shame, no blame! You liking clear, spotless surfaces doesn’t make you OCD (it’s not a personality disorder), it’s your personality type.

5. Later Box It. When you can’t part with a useless item, store it away in a box and revisit that box in a few months (a year), whatever you missed keep, whatever you forgot … dude, let it go.

6. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Change is hard (see #2!) so if storing TP right next to the toilet works for you, do it, but for heaven’s sake try to make it look nice—unless you live alone on Antarctica then who cares.

7. Organizing at its core is about retrieval. Period. Can you easily find and get things when you need them. Everything else is an argument about aesthetics.

8. One-step solutions are golden. Hanging up your coat is a five-step process whereas popping it on a hook is one-step. Light bulb (at least it was for us!)

9. Be loud & proud. So, you write important To Do’s on your hand in a pinch. Who cares? Don’t apologize, defend it and tell any scolds where they can go.

10. There’s no best way to organize—just the best one for you!

What's your Pixie Type? Take the quiz here!

GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 13, 2017

Paragraph Review: Duels & Deception (Cindy Anstey) | #famous (Jilly Gagnon)

Duels and Deception
Title: Duels & Deception
Series: standalone
Author: Cindy Anstey
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Genre: Young Adult Mystery Romance
Told: Third Person Omniscient, Past Tense
Content Rating: Teen (kidnapping, misadventure, kissing)
Format Read: ARC (trade)
Find OnGoodreads
Purchase OnAmazon | B&N | Book Depository
Summary:

Miss Lydia Whitfield, heiress to the family fortune, has her future entirely planned out. She will run the family estate until she marries the man of her late father's choosing, and then she will spend the rest of her days as a devoted wife. Confident in those arrangements, Lydia has tasked her young law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton, to begin drawing up the marriage contracts. Everything is going according to plan.

Until Lydia—and Robert along with her—is kidnapped. Someone is after her fortune and won't hesitate to destroy her reputation to get it. With Robert's help, Lydia strives to keep her family's good name intact and expose whoever is behind the devious plot. But as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder whether her carefully planned future is in fact what she truly wants…


*          *          *

In a SentenceA lighthearted Austen-esque mystery romance with entertaining characters and an engaging whodunit.

Duels & Deception was an easy and enjoyable read with writing reminiscent of Jane Austen's gentle yet playful tone that makes even the most mild of subjects engrossing. Although it could get a little too quiet on occasion such is the way with these kinds of stories, and the sedate times made the exciting moments all the more thrilling. The main mystery had me guessing at every turn, although I was all but certain of the correct culprit about halfway through. Several vocal gasps and giggles were easily elicited throughout, and I was grinning broadly by the end. The romance was sweet and perfectly proper, and the characters all unique and engaging from the main players to the villainous henchmen. Overall a pleasant read that I highly recommend for Austen fans, and I look forward to reading more by Anstey soon.

For fans of: Jane Austen

Scribble Rating
4 of 5 Scribbles



--------------------------------------------------------------------------

#famous
Title: #famous
Series: standalone
Author: Jilly Gagnon
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)
Release Date: February 14, 2017
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Told: First Person (Rachel & Kyle), Past Tense
Content Rating: Older Teen (innuendo, language, bullying, minor sensuality)
Format Read: ARC (trade)
Find OnGoodreads
Purchase OnAmazon | B&N | Book Depository
Summary:

Debut author Jilly Gagnon bursts onto the scene with a story equal parts bite and romance, perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Jennifer E. Smith, about falling for someone in front of everyone. 

In this modern day love story: Girl likes boy. Girl snaps photo and posts it online. Boy becomes insta-famous. And what starts out as an innocent photo turns into a whirlwind adventure that forces them both to question whether fame—and love—are worth the price…and changes both of their lives forever.

Told from alternating points of view, #famous captures the sometimes-crazy thrill ride of social media and the equally messy but wonderful moments of liking someone in real life.


*          *          *

In a Sentence: A cliche and somewhat dispiriting #awkward contemporary romance about unexpected fame, bullying, and self-realization that was not the mood lifter I anticipated.

With its adorable cover and "modern day love story" premise I expected a lighthearted romance about finding love through a brush with fame. What I got, however, was an #awkward romance I could barely read due to a lot of cringing, eye-rolling, and sighing over misinterpretations, false assumptions, and the fact that I did not think the two made a good couple. About two-thirds through I did eventually come to understand why they felt they were attracted to each other, but in my opinion while they would make really good friends, they would not make long-lasting romantic partners. As far as the fame aspect, it was a somewhat dispiriting tale of expectations, self-realization, and for me badly handled bullying that soured the story. Thankfully it was a very quick read, and despite an overused misunderstanding of a resolution, the end was sweet and full of promise for the characters' futures. Overall #famous was not the fluffy love story I'd been looking forward to, but if you enjoy more drama in your contemporary romances then perhaps give it a try. 

Recommend if you liked: Broken Hearts, Fences, & Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn

Scribble Rating
2.5 of 5 Scribbles


Friday, March 10, 2017

The #FridayReads Review (3/10/17)



Welcome to The #FridayReads Review, a regular Friday segment where I share what I've been reading the past week, and what I'm planning to read next! Want to join the Friday fun? Post your own #FridayReads Review and leave the link in the Comments below, or just Comment with what you've been reading!


>> CURRENTLY READING <<
Maid-sama! (2-in-1 Edition), Vol. 7: Includes Vols. 13 & 14The Marked Girl (Marked Girl, #1)

Maid-sama! vol. 7 by Hiro Fujiwara (PBK)
A new two-in-one volume in one of my favorite series! The main romance is just so sweet, and talk about a slow burn. Especially enjoying the progress being made in this volume as we near the 18-volume end.

The Marked Girl by Lindsey Klingele (ARC)
Making slow but actual progress. Just not feeling like novels right now. *sigh*


>> JUST FINISHED <<
Honey So Sweet, Vol. 5
Honey So Sweet vol. 5 by Amu Meguro (PBK)
5 Stars. What started out as a 2-star series for me just keeps getting better and better - I'm so glad I've stuck with it! And this volume was utterly adorable. Can't wait to get my hands on the next volume!


>> [POSSIBLY] READING NEXT <<
(subject to change with my ever-shifting reading whims)
Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 4
Yona of the Dawn vol. 4 by Mizuhu Kusanagi (PBK)
The magic was finally introduced in the last volume, so after the middling first three volumes I'm hoping it's nothing but up from here!


So what are you reading this week?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

WoW: A Poison Dark & Drowning (Jessica Cluess)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly blogging event hosted by Breaking the Spine, in which one spotlights an upcoming release they are eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:


A Poison Dark and Drowning (Kingdom on Fire, #2)
Title: A Poison Dark & Drowning
Author: Jessica Cluess
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: Random House BYR
Summary:

The magicians want her to lead.
The sorcerers want her to lie.
The demons want her blood.
Henrietta wants to save the one she loves.
But will his dark magic be her undoing?

In this seductive and explosive second book in the Kingdom on Fire series, Jessica Cluess delivers her signature mix of magic, passion, and teen warriors fighting for survival. Hand to fans of Victoria Aveyard, Sarah J. Maas, and Kiersten White.

Henrietta doesn't need a prophecy to know that she's in danger. She came to London to be named the chosen one, the first female sorcerer in centuries, the one who would defeat the Ancients. Instead, she discovered a city ruled by secrets. And the biggest secret of all: Henrietta is not the chosen one.

Still, she must play the role in order to keep herself and Rook, her best friend and childhood love, safe. But can she truly save him? The poison in Rook's system is transforming him into something monstrous as he begins to master dark powers of his own. So when Henrietta finds a clue to the Ancients past that could turn the tide of the war, she persuades Blackwood, the mysterious Earl of Sorrow-Fell, to travel up the coast to seek out strange new weapons. And Magnus, the brave, reckless flirt who wants to win back her favor, is assigned to their mission. Together, they will face monsters, meet powerful new allies, and uncover the most devastating weapon of all: the truth.



Why I'm Looking Forward To It: I found Book 1 of the Kingdom on Fire series an engrossing and enchanting read (see my review of A Shadow Bright & Burning here), so I can't wait to continue Henrietta's story in this sequel!


So what book are you waiting on?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Release Day Blitz: THE GREAT PURSUIT (Wendy Higgins) + Giveaway



I am so excited that THE GREAT PURSUIT by Wendy Higgins is available now and that I get to help share the news! If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Wendy Higgins, be sure to check out all the details below. This blitz also includes a giveaway for some amazing prizes, so if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post!


ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: THE GREAT PURSUIT (Eurona Duology #2)
Author: Wendy Higgins
Pub. Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 512
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

In The Great Pursuit, the dramatic sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Great Hunt, Wendy Higgins delivers another thrilling fantasy filled with dangerous enemies, political intrigue, searing romance, and a princess who is willing to do everything to protect her kingdom. 

One hunt has ended, but the pursuit for love and justice continues.

The kingdom of Lochlanach has traded the great beast that once terrorized the realm of Eurona for something far more dangerous: the ire of powerful Lashed woman Rosaria Rocato. Rosaria demands that Eurona overturn the laws prohibiting magic, or an innocent will be killed each day.

Despite the king’s resistance, Princess Aerity believes they must make peace with the Lashed, and though she’s accepted a betrothal to the man who took down the beast, she cannot help thinking about Paxton, the Lashed man who stole her heart and disappeared.

Aerity soon discovers that Paxton has joined Rosaria’s army in the war against her family. Though her feelings for him are still strong, her duty to her kingdom and her family is stronger—especially when her parents are kidnapped and she has to step up to the throne and once again put aside what’s best for her in order to do what’s best for her people. Paxton and Princess Aerity must fight to see what is more powerful: their love or the impending war between the magical Lashed and the non-magic humans.



Excerpt


CHAPTER ONE

A new beast roamed the kingdom of Lochlanach, killing at will. A second unnatural monster created by the hands of Rozaria Rocato, granddaughter of the most infamous and hated Lashed One of all time. Princess Aerity Lochson’s mind was a blur of piled-up worries as she rushed from High Hall of the castle, away from the frightened commoners and guests who’d come for her betrothal ceremony, and toward the office of her father, King Charles. She turned at the sound of heavy footsteps behind her and found both her childhood friend Lieutenant Harrison Gillfin and her betrothed, Lord Lief Alvi, following. Lord Alvi looked every bit the hero—his broad stature striking, with elk furs about his shoulders and a black kilt to his knees above leather boots. His blue eyes were filled with bright passion and hunger, but those emotions were not for her. They were for the beast. The new hunt.

He had killed the first creature, thereby earning her hand in marriage. The thought twisted Aerity’s stomach with discomfort and turned her mind to the man who’d disappeared weeks before when the beast was killed—the Lashed man who’d taken her heart with him and would likely never return. She clenched her jaw. This was no time to think of Paxton Seabolt or her drowned desires. The kingdom was suffering again—rendering everything she’d sacrificed to have been in vain.

Her eyes shifted from Lord Alvi’s to Harrison’s and found a fierce, protective comfort there. Harrison stood tall, lean, and capable. Never faltering. The thought of her noble friend fighting yet another beast filled her with sharp fear. So many lives had already been lost, including Harrison’s cousin Breckon, who’d been the true love of Aerity’s cousin Wyneth. Half a year was all it had taken to trample the dreams and futures of so many.

Aerity gave the men a nod to follow her. She lifted her long white skirts and moved quickly down the tapestry-lined hallway to her father’s office. Guards and soldiers ran past, shouting orders, fully armed with bows, swords, and lines of throwing daggers strapped across their uniformed tunics.

She opened the door without knocking. No fewer than twenty faces shot toward her. She recognized the burgundy red hair of her mother, along with her aunts and uncles, military elite, and royal advisers. Her father invited them in with a quick flick of his fingers.

When the door closed he asked her, “What is the state of things in High Hall?”

“The people seemed to have calmed for the moment, Father,” Aerity said. “And supper is being served.”

“Your daughter gave a rousing speech,” Lord Alvi pro- claimed in his rumbling voice. “She is to thank for the calm.” Aerity’s face flushed with heat at the unexpected compliment. Then he put a heavy hand on her shoulder and pulled her close. Aerity fought the urge to shrug away. For the sake of the kingdom, she had made a commitment to become his bride, and she would follow through regardless of what her heart wanted, and regardless of the fact that she was certain feelings had grown between Lief and Wyneth.
“Did she?” The king’s eyes softened with pride, and her mother, Queen Leighlane, smiled at Aerity and Lief, no doubt thinking what a lovely couple they were. If she only knew.

Behind them Harrison cleared his throat. “Are we to begin hunting the creature, Your Majesty?”

King Charles nodded, his face lined with anxiety. “Aye. But most of the hunters have dispersed.” Or been killed, Aerity thought with sorrow, remembering the men who’d come from all over Eurona and even a huntress who’d lost her life.

“I can have a message sent to Tiern Seabolt,” Harrison said. “I’m certain he would return with haste.”

Aerity’s abdomen tightened. Tiern was Paxton’s younger brother. He’d nearly been killed by the first beast and had been saved by Paxton’s Lashed magic. It was the very reason Pax had fled the kingdom—using magic was illegal, even to heal. Aerity didn’t want Tiern to hunt again. She didn’t want Paxton’s sacrifice to have been a waste.

“And his older brother?” the king asked.

“Nay.” Harrison paused. “He disappeared after the hunt. We don’t know his whereabouts.”

“Must you call Tiern back?” Aerity asked. When her father’s eyebrows drew together she emended, “He’s . . . so young.”

“He’s the same age as you, Daughter,” the king reminded her. “Seventeen. A man who’s already proven himself in the hunt.” Aerity pressed her lips together and nodded. She could not keep Tiern safe any more than she could force Harrison to stay out of harm’s reach. Their heroic hearts would urge them forward.

“Can we send word to the Zandalee?” Aerity’s uncle Lord Wavecrest asked.

The king shook his head. “I’m afraid not this time. The letter from the Rocato woman stated that her creatures have now been released in all the lands of Eurona. The Zandalee will be needed to fight in their own drylands of Zorfina.”

A fearful silence fell over the room. Each kingdom was on its own with its own beasts to battle now. Lochlanach was a quaint kingdom of fishermen and crop villagers, farmers, that had enjoyed many years of peace. The people had risen together to fight the first beast, but how much more could the king expect from them? It was too much. To imagine this kind of horror inflicted on innocent people all over Eurona sickened Aerity.

“Perhaps another proclamation?” Lord Wavecrest suggested carefully. At this proposal from Aerity’s uncle, the men in the room glanced around at one another, and the hairs rose on the princess’s arms. The queen caught her daughter’s eyes, and they both went still.

The last proclamation had offered Aerity’s hand in marriage to whoever killed the beast. The only thing left to give was the second princess, Aerity’s fifteen-year-old sister, Vixie. Her father stared down at his desk.

“No.” Aerity stepped forward, out of Lord Alvi’s embrace, her body trembling. “You cannot offer Vixie’s hand.”

The king’s hazel eyes, filled with regret, rose to hers. “I have nothing left to give.” With Vixie’s hand would come her dowry of lands. Using Vixie as a prize would surely smother her soul. Aerity wouldn’t stand for it.

“And why should you oppose it?” her uncle Preston asked haughtily. “The first proclamation provided you with a fine match. It can do the same for Vixie.”

Aerity stilled, forcing back the torrent of words that flooded her mind: unfair, poor match, confinement, no joy, no love. She was to endure those things for her kingdom, but the thought of Vixie losing her freedom to choose her future . . . it gutted Aerity. She knew how it appeared to the world—that she’d landed a handsome, noble, brave lord—but the heart didn’t care about appearances. It wanted who it wanted.

“And then what?” Aerity asked. “Who shall we offer for the next beast, and the one after that? Your own Wyneth? Or perhaps six-year-old Merity?”

Lord Wavecrest scowled.

“Enough, Aerity,” Queen Leighlane said quietly. Aerity met her mother’s eyes and felt an understanding there. No one knew better than the two of them how this would crush Vixie’s spirit. These men couldn’t possibly understand.

“Vixie’s nearly sixteen,” Lord Wavecrest pressed. Aerity wanted to claw out his eyes and force him to stop speaking.

“A proclamation offering Vixie’s hand will be my very last resort,” King Charles said, standing taller. “It is my hope that the people will rise of their own free will to protect their families and lands as they did in the last hunt. I will not hinder them with further curfews.”

Lord Wavecrest shook his head and crossed his arms. Aerity breathed a temporary sigh of relief.

“Sire, we should address the other part of the Rocato woman’s letter.” This was from the king’s oldest adviser, Duke Gulfton. This duke had been the closest adviser to Aerity’s grandfather King Leon. His views on the Lashed were legendarily conservative and strict, and he was a proponent of keeping the Lashed lists up to date. All persons with Lashed capabilities and their families were notated in the records and checked regularly for markings.
The stooped man wore a sea-green robe around his shoulders and a perpetual serious frown on his face. He leaned on his cane. “We cannot do as the Rocato woman demands. We cannot burn our records of Lashed Ones in these lands, or give them rein to take over our kingdom.”

A few of the other older men murmured their agreement.

Harrison stepped forward. “What if we made a copy of the list? Then it wouldn’t matter if one was destroyed.”

“I’ve got scribes copying pages as we speak,” the king responded. “But the Rocato woman has called for the records to be burned by sundown. The copy won’t be complete. There are thousands of names.”

Thousands of persons with Lashed blood in Lochlanach. Amazing, Aerity thought. Only a small percentage of those on the list actually had magic, though. Paxton’s family was not on the list. Aerity wondered how many others of magical blood had been able to elude the system.

“How will the madwoman know the difference?” Duke Gulfton asked. “Burn papers to appease her, then kill her and her monsters once and for all. End of story.”

“Here, here!” a few men shouted, as if it were that simple. As if they wouldn’t have done it by now if they could.

The king’s jaw was set. “I have a terrible feeling this woman has eyes and ears everywhere.”

The room quieted and a sense of unease spread as heads turned and everyone eyed the others present. Her father’s council was a small group of family and a mere handful of wise advisers, all landowners, who’d been loyal to the kingdom since her grandfather ruled. She couldn’t imagine this group being compromised.

“With all due respect, gentlemen,” Lord Alvi said to the room, “we will find every beast and even Rocato herself, but we cannot guarantee immediate success. The last hunt took two months.”

“Aye,” Harrison added. “And she’s threatening to kill seven men each week.”

“You’ll have to work faster this time,” Duke Gulfton told them.

The room tensed. During the last hunt they’d had a hundred men. They’d sought the monster nearly ten hours a night and spent the days scouting and preparing. The lands of Lochlanach stretched far and wide. Yet people like Duke Gulfton were expecting a miracle of the sea.

Queen Leighlane cleared her throat. “The fact of the matter is that we’re going to have to at least put on a show of honoring her wishes. We need to buy time as we plan.”

Another elder, Duke Streamson, asked, “What are you proposing, Your Highness? Rocato is demanding that all Lashed be allowed to freely work magic.”

Magic that wasn’t all bad, Aerity thought. Magic that had saved Tiern and could save others. If only she could get them to embrace that.

“I have an idea.” Aerity’s brain whirred as all eyes turned to her. “What if we set up a public area just outside the royal lands and invited Lashed from throughout the kingdom to come, and any Unlashed who wishes to seek their healing can receive it?”

Duke Streamson made a choking sound. “Round up the people of Rocato to turn against us in one place? That’s precisely what she wants!”

Aerity rushed on. “I don’t believe all Lashed are ‘her people.’ The entire area would be heavily guarded so that if any Lashed got out of line, they could be dealt with immediately.” The old dukes scoffed at her.

One of the military advisers stepped forward. “Our numbers are not as large as they once were. Our troop sizes have been modest in the past fifty years. I’ve got to keep men patrolling the seas and borders, and we’ve lost many in the past months. I worry that a large-scale showing of the Lashed will bring crowds.”

The room broke out into fervent debate. Those who were against Aerity’s idea were adamant, passionate in their fears. Those in favor seemed on weak, shaky ground.

“Given permission to put their hands on innocent people, it could be a massacre!”

“What if the Lashed overwhelm our guards?”


“They’ll rise up throughout the lands!”


“. . . commoner revolts . . . war . . .”


Aerity felt a hand on her shoulder and turned to see Harrison, his light brown eyes showing the never-faltering respect he seemed to hold for her. She gave his hand a quick squeeze of gratitude before he released her. Aerity caught Lord Alvi watching the exchange with curiosity, so she turned her gaze forward again—she would let him think what he wanted.

“Enough!” King Charles’s voice silenced the room. “I will think on it. I must put safety first. I’m not ready to overturn our laws—” Aerity opened her mouth to argue that she wasn’t suggesting a complete overturn, but a one-time, enclosed, secure circumstance. Her father held up a hand to stop her. “This blasted parchment from Rozaria Rocato is bound to have our people in terror. If I take the stability of our rules away, it will cause chaos. Tonight on the lawn we will burn whatever pages my scribes have managed to copy, to keep Rozaria satisfied, but the original lists remain with us. I pray to the sea this works.”

He looked at the hunters. “Lord Alvi. Lieutenant Gillfin. Gather as many hunters as you can and begin hunting this new beast immediately.” They nodded and took their leave. Aerity watched them go, swallowing a dry lump in her throat. The king looked to his military advisers. “I want every soldier on duty, and round-the-clock patrolling of royal lands. I want Rozaria Rocato, dead or alive.” He turned to his top castle guard. “Send messengers to the other four lands to let them know of our new foe and to find out their circumstances.”

Without another word, the king swept from the room with Queen Leighlane and a line of advisers close behind.

Aerity felt the brush of velvet on her arm and peered

down at the old man beside her. It was Duke Gulfton, his eyes glistening. “I mean no disrespect, Princess, only a piece of advice. In times of fear and upheaval, absolute routine and stability in the law are called for. Any slight change can set the people off.”

“As I recall,” Aerity said steadily, “Mrs. Rathbrook healed your ailing heart last year.” Mrs. Rathbrook was the royal healer—the only Lashed allowed to work magic.

He grasped the top of his cane with both hands. “Aye.”

“Should we not allow the people of this land to benefit from magic as you have?”

He looked down at his hands, nodding solemnly. “Not all Lashed are as trustworthy as Mrs. Rathbrook. You saw the Rocato woman face-to-face. You know the evil of which she is capable.”

“I suppose everyone is capable of evil, Duke Gulfton. None of us is immune, Lashed or not. But I choose to believe the best in people until they show me otherwise.”

Duke Streamson, waiting in the doorway, cleared his throat. Duke Gulfton peered up at Aerity and patted her hand. “Once they show you otherwise, it is often too late. As a rule it is not safe to take such chances. Seas help Lochlanach in our time of need.”

As Duke Gulfton shuffled away, Aerity whispered in return. “Seas help us, indeed.”


PURCHASE:
Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Audible


And be sure to check out the first book!

The Great Hunt (Eurona Duology, #1)
Book 1: The Great Hunt
(Grab the eBook for just $1.99!)
Goodreads Amazon | B&N | iBooks


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Wendy Higgins is the USA Today and NYT bestselling author of the Sweet Evil series from HarperTeen, the high fantasy duology The Great Hunt, and her independently published Irish fantasy, See Me. She is a former high school English teacher who now writes full time, and lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her veterinarian husband, daughter, son, and doggie Rue.

Wendy earned a bachelor's in Creative Writing from George Mason University and a master's in Curriculum and Instruction from Radford University. She is represented by Jill Corcoran of the Jill Corcoran Literary Agency.



THE GIVEAWAY

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Monday, March 6, 2017

Review: To Catch a Killer (Sheryl Scarborough)

To Catch a Killer
Title: To Catch A Killer
Series: standalone
Author: Sheryl Scarborough
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Genre: Young Adult Mystery
Told: First Person (Erin), Present Tense
Content Rating: Older Teen (some language, mild grisly images)
Format Read: ARC (publisher)
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Summary:

Erin Blake has one of those names. A name that, like Natalee Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, is inextricably linked to a grisly crime. As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case—which remains unsolved—fascinated a nation. Her father's identity unknown, Erin was taken in by her mother's best friend and has become a relatively normal teen in spite of the looming questions about her past.

Fourteen years later, Erin is once again at the center of a brutal homicide when she finds the body of her biology teacher. When questioned by the police, Erin tells almost the whole truth, but never voices her suspicions that her mother's killer has struck again in order to protect the casework she's secretly doing on her own.

Inspired by her uncle, an FBI agent, Erin has ramped up her forensic hobby into a full-blown cold-case investigation. This new murder makes her certain she's close to the truth, but when all the evidence starts to point the authorities straight to Erin, she turns to her longtime crush (and fellow suspect) Journey Michaels to help her crack the case before it's too late.


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Review copy provided by publisher for an honest review. Thank you, Tor Teen!


In a Sentence: A disappointingly transparent mystery with an excess of movement that focused too much on romance and not enough on forensics.

Mystery shows and movies are a staple in my family. My parents have always watched them (Masterpiece Mystery every Thursday evening), and before I was allowed to join in I would sneak-watch them from my bedroom at night. (Shh, don't tell my parents!) As a child I used to read a lot of age-appropriate mysteries as well, but in my teens my tastes evolved in more fantastical directions and, due to illness, my reading speed slowed to the point that I eventually found I had less patience for a week-long novel-length whodunit when I could get gratification in three hours or less watching it. Because of this I almost never read mysteries anymore, but when Tor Teen offered me a review copy of To Catch a Killer I was intrigued by the forensics aspect of the story and couldn't resist giving it a try. Sadly, it turned out to be another reminder of why I don't read mysteries.

The most disappointing aspect for me was the forensics played a very minor role. Granted the story dealt with a teen who couldn't get her hands on much of the professional equipment so there wasn't a whole lot she could do, but it really felt like there could've been more in spite of her limitations - more observations, more studying. Instead, the forensics were more often than not forgotten in the wake of a sudden romantic entanglement that completely distracted the story and main character Erin from her hobby. We did examine evidence, dust for fingerprints, do an ink test and near the end a DNA test, most of which were somewhat interesting. But they were perhaps a little too step-by-step realistic, and the DNA test was so technical and complicated that I quickly got confused and bored and ended up skimming most of the two chapters it occupied.

As for the romance, while at its core sweet and understandable for a teenage girl, it distracted way too much from the mystery. Already slightly obsessed with the boy, when the latest murder draws them together Erin falls for him instantly and, despite two brutal murders that needed solving she could barely drag her brain away from thoughts of him long enough to focus on them. Don't get me wrong, I liked the boy and he was good for her, but it was just a little too much and elicited many an eye roll.

A big part of my struggles had to do with the writing, though. It took me a while to get used to the rhythm of the voice and the almost cinematic visual style - it was definitely apparent the author started out writing for television. But what I really had a problem with was movement: there was way way way too much of it, clogging the dialogue and making quick scenes infinitely longer than necessary. Yes humans tend to make a lot of little movements, shifting and twitching because of discomfort or nerves or emotion, but in a novel it's just annoying. Movement in a story should be deliberate and left to a minimum, that way when it happens it really means something, not just the character getting comfortable. I don't know if you need that much movement to direct actors in a screenplay, but in a novel it just clutters my imagination with unnecessary gestures.

As to the mystery itself, the answer was simple and, to a girl who's logged at least four thousand hours of mystery-watching in the past decade, so easy to guess with such conspicuous clues that I was suspicious it was too obvious. The plot was your typical foolish teen mystery setup as Erin withheld evidence from the police and determined to solve it with the help of her underage friends, despite the mounting danger. She did eventually involve her FBI uncle, but ultimately decided she could catch the killer on her own and one guess how that went for her.

All this said though, it was an okay read, I guess? For the most part it was engaging enough that I was willing to continue, although if it hadn't been for review I would've given up only a few chapters in. The dialogue was decent, and the characters interesting and individual - I never got any of them mixed up. And although the story revolved around two brutal murders and several attempts, I didn't feel the story was particularly dark, and the ending was a happy one.

Conclusion: While the mystery was obvious, the writing clogged with movement, and the forensics rather forgotten in the wake of the romance, the story was interesting enough to keep me reading and it wasn't as dark as it could've easily been. If you enjoy reading teen mysteries or are a Veronica Mars fan, this might be worth a try.


Scribble Rating
2 of 5 Scribbles