Book Tour Review: Aphrodite's Choice by Christy English

Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Title: Aphrodite's Choice
Author: Christy English
Genre: romance, supernatural fiction
Series: The Goddess Diaries #1
Published: May 2016
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for review
Rating:  3.5/5

Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, still walks the modern world. No longer thronged by worshipers, Aphrodite heals the bodies and souls of the men she touches, one man, one night, at a time. But not everyone thinks of her as a long-dead myth. Someone is stalking her. The men who have hunted her kind as witches for centuries have passed their hatred on to their sons.

As she flees her enemies and tries to warn her sisters of the danger facing them once again, Aphrodite is followed by one of the members of the Brotherhood, a man who has been given the task of killing her, and any of her sisters who cross his path. But it does not take her long to discover that Steven Wharton is not a murderer, and his soul is one she has known before.

In this paranormal romance, a goddess’s past is brought to life, from the Greek city of Corinth to the shores of the island of Cyprus, at the court of Versailles to the burning city of Persepolis. But it is not until she meets Steve that Aphrodite falls in love for the first time. As she faces an ancient enemy, Aphrodite discovers that the love she feels, not the love she gives, is the root of her soul. And that love might even be the path to her freedom... 

A mix of Greek mythology and modernity, veteran author Christy English launches a new paranormal romance series with her newest novel, Aphrodite's Choice. By updating the familiar Goddess of Love legend and further adapting it for the romance novel-worthy twisty plot (also one that  involves Ishtar, Ares, and even more mythological figures) the author keeps this a fun and entertaining read. Aphrodite's Choice is a creative blend of the known legends, with an unexpected new love story, and an encompassing plot and world.

Somewhat short for a novel that encompasses so much plot and so many twists at under 350 pages, Aphrodite's Choice also feels a bit light and occasionally predictable. It's an engaging read, and one that raises the stakes early, but the danger never feels real to the two real main characters. It's an expected and rote kind of antagonism, and the threat to Adele and Steve never really materialized. I liked Steve well enough for the inevitable love interest, but he also pales in comparison to any other character on the page. He just doesn't have the range or the charazterization I needed to connect more than superficially.

The idea for this series makes for a great premise and English begins to explore it throughout book one.  The overall mythology and magic of the book are important but not distracting from the events; there's no infodumps but also very solid answers. I did really like the inclusion of the various "sisters" in Aphrodite's story.  I wasn't drawn to continue reading the story because of the insubstantial love story  but rather because of Adele's unflinching character and her relationship with her far-flung sisters. It kept the story moving along - literally and metaphorically - and allowed a wider world view for the series. The inclusion of flashbacks for Addy, moving a chapter from modern storylines to ones set much further back in Ancient Rome, Cyprus, etc. were a bit jumpy and weird to me.

Aphrodite's Choice was a light and interesting read; good for an afternoon's entertainment. It was a good beginning for a new series and leaves the series open to further expansion with a new set of characters while closing out this chapter with finality. Though some of the end results for the story were rahter predictable, it was a fun read getting there with this version of Aphrodite.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 29
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, August 30
Review at Luxury Reading

Wednesday, August 31
Review & Excerpt at The Silver Dagger Scriptorium
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, September 1
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Review & Guest Post at Historical Fiction Obsession

Friday, September 2
Review at Just One More Chapter
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Monday, September 5
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, September 6
Review at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, September 7
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Interview at A Bookish Affair
Excerpt at Buried Under Romance

Thursday, September 8
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Excerpt at A Literary Vacation

Friday, September 9
Review at Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne

Release Day Blitz for The Dark Talent by Brandon Sanderson

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Alcatraz Vs The Evil Librarians #5: The Dark Talent by Brandon Sanderson

The Dark Talent is the fifth action-packed fantasy adventure in the Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians series for young readers by the #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson. This never-before-published, fast-paced, and funny novel is now available in a deluxe hardcover edition, illustrated by Hayley Lazo.
Alcatraz Smedry has successfully defeated the army of Evil Librarians and saved the kingdom of Mokia. Too bad he managed to break the Smedry Talents in the process. Even worse, his father is trying to enact a scheme that could ruin the world, and his friend, Bastille, is in a coma. To revive her, Alcatraz must infiltrate the Highbrary—known as The Library of Congress to Hushlanders—the seat of Evil Librarian power. Without his Talent to draw upon, can Alcatraz figure out a way to save Bastille and defeat the Evil Librarians once and for all?
“Like Lemony Snicket and superhero comics rolled into one.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review

About the Author:

BRANDON SANDERSON is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Rithmatist and Steelheart, both of which were selected for the American Library Association’s Teens’ Top Ten list. He’s also written many popular and award-winning books for adults. His middle grade series, Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians, is now available in deluxe editions.

Author’s Website:
Buy Link:

TBR Planning: September 2016

Friday, September 2, 2016
September is a veeery popular month for publishers. So many ARCs seem to come out in just a few weeks - it makes for a lot of options, and hopefully, good reading. Luckily, I am actually keeping up with my BEA and regular ARCs so I am not feeling the pressure too much. (Ask me how I feel Sept. 12th, though, and my answer may be different...)

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

 In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair. . . .

Inspired by the Russian folktale Vassilissa the Beautiful and Sarah Porter’s years of experience teaching creative writing to New York City students.

The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron - "What isn't written, isn't remembered. Even your crimes." SIGN ME UP based on that line alone!
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco - This one had a lot of fun buzz at BEA, plus I love books about Jack the Ripper.
A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess (Kingdom on Fire #1) - first female sorcerer! MAgic and manners! I love these kinda magical realism/historical novels.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake (Untitled #1)

Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

August Recap and Bookish Bingo Wrap UP

Wednesday, August 31, 2016
And, just like that August is over. It was a pretty good reading month for me, both pages-wise and rating-wise.

Let's break it down:

Books Read: 31

Notable Favorites:
The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May (The Falconer #2)
In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan (Memoirs of Lady Trent #4)
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (Nevernight Chronicles #1)
Leave Me by Gayle Forman

Reviews Posted:

Two Minute Review: 100 Days by Nicole McInnes
Discussion Review: Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

Fun Stuff:
Top Ten Unread Books That Have Been On My Shelf From Before Blogging

Best Bookstagram: I was terrible at instagram this month, so feast your eyes on this beauty from July

And that was my August! See ya in September! And maybe I'll find a way/the energy to review more than a couple books ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So August felt super short, right? Like just gone in a blink. I had a lot of family stuff going on, parties and canning and I started Secret Sister again, and I really just can't believe September is here. I'm watching you 2016. You're a suspicious year.

Books Read: 18

Notable Favorites:
Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Princeless: The Pirate Princess by Jeremy Whitley
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Reviews Posted:
The Wrong Side of Magic by Janette Rallison
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
To All the Books I Forgot To Review Parts 1 and 2
Whatever by S.J. Goslee

Fun Stuff: 
TTT: Ten Books I'd Buy Right Now If Someone Handed Me a Fully Loaded Gift Card
Harry Potter Spells Book Tag
Get to Know Us Uncomfortably Well Tag

We usually do this as a separate round-up, but I felt like we were doing a little much this month, so I've decided to combine them with no outside input from J. <333 

Look at all these summer reads! We both covered 20 squares! Jess got three bingos (though I think she totally had like eight books she could have counted for white cover and brought that up to five.) And I got five for Bingo supremacy! Weather words. Who knew that would be the most impossible?

Name in Title: Penelope's Daughter by Laurel Corona
Aussie Author: Marianne de Pierres (Burn Bright series)
Magic: My Lady Jane by Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton, and Cynthia Hand
Water on Cover: Invincible Summer by Alice Adams
Political Intrigue: And I Darken by Kiersten White
July Release: Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine (Arabella Ashby #1)
4+ Book SeriesA Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire #5)
PoC MC: Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley
 Starts with "S": Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn
2016 Debut: Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy
Monsters: The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan
 500+ Pages: The Iron Ghost by Jen Williams (The Copper Promise #2)
Middle Grade: Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi 
F/F and M/M Romance: The Silver Tide by Jen Williams (The Copper Cat #3) 
A Book about Books: Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes (Aeon's Gate #1) 
Red Cover: The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes (Bring Down Heaven #1)
Yellow Cover: Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer 
Folklore or Myths: The Call by Peadar O'Guilin 
Historical 1900 - 1950: Mischling by Affinity Konar 
Outdoors: The Littlest Bigfoot by Jennifer Weiner

Middle Grade: The Rat Prince by Bridget Hodder (6/1)
Monsters: San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats by Mira Grant (6/7)
Red Cover: Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman (6/7)
Starts With S, U, M, E, or R: Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson (6/8)
Yellow Cover: Please Do Not Taunt the Octopus by Mira Grant (6/14)
Name in Title: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (6/26)
POC MC: Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier (6/29)
June, July, Aug. Release: A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody (7/4)
Magic: White Sand by Brandon Sanderson (7/9)
Over 500 Pages: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas (7/14)
Folklore or Myths: A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire (7/25)
2016 Debut: Whatever: or how junior year became totally f$@ked by S.J. Goslee (7/26)
Food on Cover: So Right by Rebekah Weatherspoon (7/27)
White Cover: The Wicked + The Divine, The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen (7/29)
4+ Book Series: Magic Rises (Kate Daniels #6) by Ilona Andrews (7/30)
Outdoors: Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell by Brandon Sanderson (7/31)
Aussie Author: The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil (8/10)
Book about Books: Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett (8/18)
F/F Romance: Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera (8/23)
Historical Setting: 1900 -1950: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (8/31)

The Get to Know Me Uncomfortably Well Tag

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ellis tagged us in this "get to know me" tag back in May and we are disasters who forgot to do it. No more! We actually used to do these kind of surveys all the time when we met back on wotmania, so this is nostalgic goodness mixed with the terror of TMIing in front of all your friends. Awesome.


J- Leigh! I actually like this name better than my given name.
D - Like every other woman I meet who was born in the 80s, it's Marie.


J - I am a Scorpio both by birth month and by nature
D - Gemini, the most maligned of signs. (Shout out to my twin, Ellis)


J - I love all shades of blue, but deep blues are my favorites.
D - I'm really into bright colors: chartreuse, tangerine, teal, etc. And I love pink and red.


J - uuugh, I had a dream about not calling in sick to work, forgetting to show up, and then being fired. I woke up very frustrated - both for being dream-fired and also for just dreaming about work on my days off! Rude, subconscious, rude.
D - I really can't remember. I woke up stressed out, but the why escapes me.


J - nope! Not even a little bit (also I don't believe in psychics, so....)
D - I also don't believe in psychics, but I did make extra cash in high school reading tarot cards, so take that how you wish.


J - I have a lot, but the top ten is mostly made up of Florence and the Machine and Adele.
Florence: Rabbit Heart, Queen of Peace, Breath of Life, Howl, Third Eye
Adele: Rolling in the Deep, Send My Love (To Your New Lover), Someone Like You, Chasing Pavement, Water Under the Bridge
D - Oh god. Wait for It from Hamilton, Mary Lambert's cover of Jessie's Girl, Yeah Yeah Yeah's Heads Will Roll, X-Ray Spex's Oh Bondage, Up Yours. Oh! And Kacey Musgrave's Cup of Tea! I call my taste "eclectic" to feel better about myself.


J - partner for what? Crime? Dani. 
D - πŸ˜˜


J - oh I am a wanted criminal! Ha, nah, just a few warnings for being "drunk in public" in the downtown areas of my hometown in my early 20s. In my defense, that's where the bars were and I had to walk to the DD's car from the bars!
D - Nope. I'm a total bore - I've never even spoken to a cop outside of a traffic accident when I was 16. (Passenger. I wasn't even driving!)


J - hmmmm, outside of authors, nope! But I have met Laini Taylor, had drinks with Leigh Bardugo and Marissa Meyer, and chatted with Jay Kristoff!
D - I've met a few bigger name wrestlers - Asuka, Emma, Paige from WWE. Little Richard stole my coffee at an airport once. Weirdly, not a lot of celebrity run ins in Ohio.


J - YEP. My whole family besides myself and my mother are all competitive archers. I've been able to string a bow since I was 10. 
D - ...and I fired a bow once at summer camp.


J - "fuck"! It has so many uses and so many applications. I am also a frequent user of "bullshit."
D - Also fuck. I have a fucking potty mouth.


J - more than I can count. I have arrow scars, knife scars, fall-down-because-I-have-no-balance scars, karate scars, sunburn scars.... there are a lot.
D - Lots of little ones from cats. A pretty big one on my left bicep from gouging myself on a nail. One on my right knee from falling off my tricycle and then ripping the scab off on another nail. Why does my house have so many loose nails?


J - I can be? My parents aren't the best at detecting my bullshit but my sister, best friends, and husband can easily. 
D - Not really. I'm too anxious for real lies. I do embellish stories too much because I don't think I'm interesting.


J - I am infamous among my family for my random penchant to start using accents. British, Irish, Australian are the ones I am good at. 
D - I slip into Southern really easily if I'm around people from the south. I spent a lot of summers in Logan county West Virginia.


J - I'm never more Irish than when I get to have potatoes. Mashed potatoes are probably my favorite food, but I also am always down for baked potatoes, fries, etc. 
D - This is why we're best friends. I am Samwise Gamgee. Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew.


J - hmmm.... maybe "fuck that" or "fucking no!"
D - "[blank] is everything" I'm basic. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


J - I am not a huge fan of lollipops but because I am 2[redacted]-going-on 84, I love butterscotch candies. And those? I bite even tho I try NOT TO.
D - Lick and suck. Never use teeth.


J - as I write these answers, even.
D - Yep. And I narrate. "As Danielle typed in her answers, she wondered, will anyone read this?"


J - I love to sip tea. I am not a malicious gossip, but I also think "gossip" is pretty much just social news and have no shame in that. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
D - The. Worst. I'm sorry. Do not tell me anything you don't want my husband, my girlfriend, Jessie, and my co-workers to know.

J - I was a kid mostly because I was always expecting aliens to land. Not so much now, especially since I live in a goddamn desert. Dark = cool.
D - Yep. I'm 29 and I have a nightlight. It projects stars on my ceiling.


J - unfortunately so. 
D - So ticklish you don't even have to touch me.


J - celebrity, I'm assuming? Since I doubt any of you knew Chris M. from norther Arizona in 19[redacted]. So.. that would be Garth Brooks. I had a burning passion for the man from age 8 to... welll... late teens?
D - David Bowie in Labyrinth, Han Solo, and Sailor Mars.


J - just 2 ear piercings. I've always wanted more but my skin is super sensitive and I am allergic to most metal jewelry :(
D - Four. Ears, right nostril, and tongue.


J - I'm no Usain Bolt, I'll tell you that. 
D - No.


J - kinda? I have a journalish book called "My Dysfunctions" that I use to channel my anxieties and issues into when they crop up in daily life.

D - Nope. I am the worst chronicler of all time. I can't even do 30 day challenges or take my meds daily, let alone write down that I forgot to take my meds.


J - I like it better than the the ones that are going to come next.
D - I can't think of another I'd prefer. God forbid I have to go back to being 19 or even 24.


J - willful ignorance is a big one. Cruelty to animals is probably the one that gets me most.
D - Being taken advantage of/not being appreciated. Republicans. Inexplicable anxiety.


J - ehhh, it's alright. My mom and sister also have J- names so I like the alliteration, if not my own personal version. Also, it is just Jessie NOT Jessica. 
D - Yeah, Danielle is a good name. I like the diminutive. I like how it sounds with my sister, Michelle. And I find it very me.


J - nope! My ancestors were regular people from Ireland, England, France, and Germany. 
D - My uncle got really into tracing our lineage to Scottish clans and found a coat of arms that's super obscure and hard to verify, so I have to doubt it.


J - blue and grey! 
D - White and kind of salmon-y.

So there we go, loves! You know know way too much about us. If you want to participate, you can choose to either answer the same questions we did or pick minimum 15 from the full list.


Ten Books That Have Been On My Shelf From Before Blogging That Are STILL Unread

Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Top Ten Tuesday is all thanks to Broke and the Bookish!

So I have been blogging for almost 6 years. That's a long time and my book-buying habits have only gotten more intense as the years go by. There are just so many good books to read! I always have new books I am dying to read, old books I still intend to read, and books I love that I want to REREAD.  But there are a few that I have that predate this blog that I WILL get to, one day.  

1. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a "baby farmer," who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby’s household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves—fingersmiths—for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home.

One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives—Gentleman, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a naΓ―ve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud’s vast inheritance. Once the inheritance is secured, Maud will be disposed of—passed off as mad, and made to live out the rest of her days in a lunatic asylum.

With dreams of paying back the kindness of her adopted family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, Sue begins to pity her helpless mark and care for Maud Lilly in unexpected ways...But no one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals.

2. Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier 

Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment.

But Sorcha's joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift-by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever.

When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all...

3. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

The Blind Assassin opens with these simple, resonant words: "Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge." They are spoken by Iris, whose terse account of her sister's death in 1945 is followed by an inquest report proclaiming the death accidental. But just as the reader expects to settle into Laura's story, Atwood introduces a novel-within-a-novel. 

Entitled The Blind Assassin, it is a science fiction story told by two unnamed lovers who meet in dingy backstreet rooms. When we return to Iris, it is through a 1947 newspaper article announcing the discovery of a sailboat carrying the dead body of her husband, a distinguished industrialist. Brilliantly weaving together such seemingly disparate elements, Atwood creates a world of astonishing vision and unforgettable impact.

4. Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

What is Un Lun Dun?
It is London through the looking glass, an urban Wonderland of strange delights where all the lost and broken things of London end up . . . and some of its lost and broken people, too–including Brokkenbroll, boss of the broken umbrellas; Obaday Fing, a tailor whose head is an enormous pin-cushion, and an empty milk carton called Curdle. Un Lun Dun is a place where words are alive, a jungle lurks behind the door of an ordinary house, carnivorous giraffes stalk the streets, and a dark cloud dreams of burning the world. It is a city awaiting its hero, whose coming was prophesied long ago, set down for all time in the pages of a talking book.

When twelve-year-old Zanna and her friend Deeba find a secret entrance leading out of London and into this strange city, it seems that the ancient prophecy is coming true at last. But then things begin to go shockingly wrong.

5. Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay

Provence, in the south of France, is a part of the world that has been—and continues to be—called a paradise. But one of the lessons that history teaches is that paradise is coveted and fought over. Successive waves of invaders have claimed—or tried to claim—those vineyards, rivers, olive groves, and hills.

In Guy Gavriel Kay’s new novel, Ysabel, this duality—of exquisite beauty and violent history—is explored in a work that marks a departure from Kay’s historical fantasies set in various analogues of the past.

Ysabel takes place in the world of today: in a modern springtime, in and around the celebrated city of Aix-en-Provence near Marseilles. Dangerous, mythic figures from the Celtic and Roman conflicts of the past erupt into the present, claiming and changing lives.

The protagonist is Ned Marriner, the fifteen year-old son of a well-known photographer. Ned has accompanied his father, Edward Marriner, and a team of assistants to Provence for a six week “shoot.”

6. Society of Steam series by Andrew P. Mayer

This new steampunk series opens in 1880, when women aren't allowed to vote, much less dress up in a costume and fight crime. But twenty year-old socialite Sarah Stanton still dreams of becoming a hero. Her opportunity arrives in tragedy when the leader of the Society of Paragons, New York's greatest team of gentlemen adventurers, is murdered right before her eyes. 

To uncover the truth behind the assassination, Sarah joins forces with the amazing mechanical man known as The Automaton. Together they unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the Paragons that reveals the world of heroes and high-society is built on a crumbling foundation of greed and lies.
When Sarah comes face to face with the megalomaniacal villain behind the murder, she must discover if she has the courage to sacrifice her life of privilege and save her clockwork friend.

7. The Plantagenet series by Sharon Penman 

A.D. 1135. As church bells tolled for the death of England's King Henry I, his barons faced the unwelcome prospect of being ruled by a woman: Henry's beautiful daughter Maude, Countess of Anjou. But before Maude could claim her throne, her cousin Stephen seized it. In their long and bitter struggle, all of England bled and burned.

Sharon Kay Penman's magnificent fifth novel summons to life a spectacular medieval tragedy whose unfolding breaks the heart even as it prepares the way for splendors to come—the glorious age of Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Plantagenets that would soon illumine the world.

8. Shanghai Girls & Dreams of Joy by Lisa See

In 1937 Shanghai—the Paris of Asia—twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree—until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth. To repay his debts, he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from Los Angeles to find Chinese brides. As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, from the Chinese countryside to the shores of America. 

Though inseparable best friends, the sisters also harbor petty jealousies and rivalries. Along the way they make terrible sacrifices, face impossible choices, and confront a devastating, life-changing secret, but through it all the two heroines of this astounding new novel hold fast to who they are—Shanghai girls.

9. Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint

Welcome to Newford…

Welcome to the music clubs, the waterfront, the alleyways where ancient myths and magic spill into the modern world. Come meet Jilly, painting wonders in the rough city streets; and Geordie, playing fiddle while he dreams of a ghost; and the Angel of Grasso Street gathering the fey and the wild and the poor and the lost. Gemmins live in abandoned cars and skells traverse the tunnels below, while mermaids swim in the grey harbor waters and fill the cold night with their song.

10. Daughter of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist & Janny Wurts (Empire Trilogy #1)

Enter the mysterious and exotic world of Kelewan…

Mara, the youngest child of the ancient and noble Acoma family, is about to take her pledge of servitude to the goddess Lashima when the ceremony is disrupted by news of her father and brother’s death in battle.

Despite her grief, as the only surviving member of her house, Mara must now take up the mantles of Ruling Lady. But she soon discovers betrayal at the heart of her family’s loss, and the Acoma’s enemies have brought her house to the brink of utter destruction.

Daughter of the Empire is the magnificent first book in The Empire Trilogy by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts.

Mara, an inexperienced political player, must draw on all her wit, intelligence and cunning to navigate the ruthless Game of the Council, regain the honour of House Acoma and secure the future of her family. But with assassins waiting around every corner, it might take everything Mara has simply to survive.

Daughter of the Empire is the first in Feist and Wurts’ wonderful epic trilogy – one of the most successful fantasy collaborations of all time. The trilogy continues with the second book, Servant of the Empire.

“The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones.” - Joseph Joubert

Two Minute Review: Whatever by S.J. Goslee

Monday, August 22, 2016
Title: Whatever.: or how junior year became totally f$@ked
Author: S.J. Goslee
Genres: Contemporary
Series: N/A
Pages: 272
Published: Ausust 2nd, 2016
Source: ARC via Publisher
Rating: 3 out of 5

Hilarity ensues when a slacker teen boy discovers he's gay, in this unforgettably funny YA debut.

Mike Tate is a normal dude. He and his friends have a crappy band (an excuse to drink cheap beer and rock out to the Lemonheads) and hang out in parking lots doing stupid board tricks. But when Mike's girlfriend Lisa, who knows him better than he does, breaks up with him, he realizes he's about to have a major epiphany that will blow his mind. And worse--he gets elected to homecoming court.

It's like the apocalypse came, only instead of nuclear bombs and zombies, Mike gets school participation, gay thoughts, and mother-effin' cheerleaders.

With the free spirit of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, the raw voice of Winger, and characters reminiscent of Freaks & Geeks, this debut YA offers a standout voice and a fresh, modern take on the coming-out story.

I hate the writing of Whatever. The third-person present is distracting and confusing to read. It makes no sense why it's not written in first-person, especially since the writing is so "voice-y" you might as well be in Mike's head anyway. I found the character and writing to be kind of alienating, the use of only last names, even for siblings, the sports, the constant thoughts of attractive men and women lent themselves to a very stereotypically masculine book that I couldn't relate to, even while dealing with LGBT subject matter. I actually think the juxtaposition could work for teen boys, but coming at it as an adult woman, it wasn't for me.

I have no real issues with the plot, though it takes far too long to get moving. I do have issues with the Thanksgiving scene. Mike, struggling with being bi or maybe just gay, is confronted by his grandmother, whom Mike's mom has outed him to. She proceeds to uncomfortably grill him about his relationship options and insinuate that being gay is a choice before outing him to the entire family. Mike's upset for a hot second. His mother's overstepping is never mentioned, despite being just as inappropriate. The scene's not really played for laughs, but it definitely has a light tone meant to evoke that Grandma means well and really it could have been worse! No. Bad book. No cookie.

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