Mrs. Houdini (Review)

Mrs. Houdini
By Victoria Kelly
320 pages | March 1st 2016 | Atria Books

A captivating debut novel, meticulously researched and beautifully imagined, about the passionate marriage of Harry and Bess Houdini—a love story that defied death itself.

Before escape artist Harry Houdini died, he vowed he would find a way to speak to his beloved wife Bess from beyond the grave using a coded message known only to the two of them. When a widowed Bess begins seeing this code in seemingly impossible places, it becomes clear that Harry has an urgent message to convey. Unlocking the puzzle will set Bess on a course back through the pair’s extraordinary romance, which swept the illusionist and his bride from the beaches of Coney Island, to the palaces of Budapest, to the back lots of Hollywood. When the mystery finally leads Bess to the doorstep of a mysterious young photographer, she realizes that her husband’s magic may have been more than just illusion.

In surprising turns that weave through the uncertain days of the dawn of the twentieth century and continue into the dazzling 1920s, Mrs. Houdini is a thrilling tale that will take you deep into the heart of one of history’s greatest love stories—asking what drives people to believe in something bigger than themselves—even as it reveals the famous magician’s most remarkable feat of all.

I have always been fascinated with Harry Houdini, illusionists and spiritualists of that time are incredible individuals, so advanced and intelligent, often beyond their time. I must confess however I did not know a great deal of his story. What little I had witnessed in various film cameos of the character did not really instill a great deal of knowledge. 

So, I went into this story with very little preconceptions and an open mind. I think that helped. Throughout the pages of this tale, the reader is taken on a journey with Bess Houdini. We see their lives together from when they met, until his death. 

It was one of those books with alternating stories from past to present, we get to see life before and after Harry’s death. This book had all the rights tools, it was haunting, intriguing but something just didn’t click. It could be a personal issue, I have found before that books with alternating points of view (that are not clearly defined) or alternating timelines can confuse me. (I was a good chunk into New Moon before I realized it had switched and Jacob was telling the story sometimes).

The book was clearly well researched! I applaud the author for that. I love a good historical fiction that is accurate to its time. It is a truly magical insight into the man very few truly knew. 

If you love historical fiction with a hint of paranormal intrigue! You should definitely pick up this title!

A big thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada for an ARC of this novel. 

Victoria Kelly received her M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, her B.A. Summa Cum Laude from Harvard University, and her M.Phil. in creative writing from Trinity College Dublin, where she was a US Mitchell Scholar. She is the author of the poetry collection When the Men Go Off to War. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in the anthologies Best American Poetry 2013 and Contemporary American Poetry, as well as Alaska Quarterly Review, Southwest Review, Prairie Schooner, and North American Review. She lives in Virginia with her husband and daughters.

YASH 2016


YASH or The Young Adult Scavenger Hunt began!

It goes until April 3rd, 2016 and it's a change to win 20 signed books for a variety of different YA authors!

This year there are 9 different teams this year, each team with 20 different books available!

It's a lot of fun so I definitely recommend heading over there and checking it out!

#YASH is the brainchild of the fabulous, Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors...and a chance to win some awesome prizes! And who doesn't love prizes?

If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

The Hybrid (Promo Post)

The Hybrid 
By Venus Morales
240 pages | February 9th 2015 | Venus Morales

Ari, is the daughter of Ares; the God of War. Half Goddess & half Phoenician, raised in secrecy by her father until her 18th birthday. Ari, ventures out into the mortal realm & crosses paths with an archangel Julius, who bears a message from a seer.

Ari, needs to regain her late mother's crown. But, first must complete a series of trials. Little does she know, she's fighting for her life. Given, only 7 days to prepare, Ari is not only fighting against her inner darkness that is trying to consume her, she now has an unknown enemy that keeps trying to kill her.

Ari doesn't know who she can trust, when she can't even trust herself. Ari does the one thing she knows she must do to survive; by forging herself into the weapon she was born to be.

The Hybrid Trailer

Who am I, you ask? I am a woman who wears many hats. A mother of 3 wonderful boys is my first, and foremost priority. Then it trickles down from there, I'm a wife, an awesome cook, and a mommy to two dogs and a lazy loveable cat. Then there's my alternate life.. The writer :-) she is the kid who refuses to grow up. Stuck in a mind state of a teenager, who still has imaginary friends. The two halves of me get along great!! As long as I let the writer out, and listen to my imaginary friends tell me their stories. I enjoy my time with my imaginary friends . Without them we wouldn't have books or movies :-)

The life of a writer is who you're born to be, not a job you just take on. It's who I am, who I'll always be. -Venus

Insurgent (Review)

Insurgent (Divergent #2) 
By Veronica Roth
525 pages | May 1st 2012 | HarperCollins Children's Books

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian DIVERGENT series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature

Insurgent is a riveting action-packed sequel to the already action packed Divergent. It is here that we read in wait and anticipation as our Heroine and her crew had to hide, run and escape oppression after oppression. If it's not one thing in this place it is another. The society cannot seem to function peacefully without their rules or roles, without a leader. 

So many times in this book did I want to give Tris' head a good shake. I understand that she is trying to help people but she continues to make the same mistake of keeping secrets over and over again. Even after She and Four talk about not keeping secrets she does it again! If I was Tobias, I would be so done with that crap. 

I've had friends who do this, keep major secrets until you have to find out in the worst way possible. It my case it was only devestating but in Tris' case is it dangerous! She begins to become her own enemy. 

I could not however, put the book down. It sucked me in and when I finished it, only to discover I did not have the third one handy, I was not happy!! 

Veronica Roth is from a Chicago suburb. She studied creative writing at Northwestern University, and wrote DIVERGENT (Katherine Tegen Books, May 2011) and INSURGENT (May 2012). The third and final book in The Divergent Trilogy, ALLEGIANT, will come out on October 22, 2013. In the meantime she will spend endless hours browsing Wikipedia in her pajamas as she eats corn flakes. (Or some other kind of bland breakfast cereal.)

Shades of Darkness (Review)

Shades of Darkness (Ravenborn Book One)
By A.R. Kahler
304 pages | March 8th 2016 | Simon Pulse


Islington Arts Academy is not an average high school. Nestled in the forests of Michigan, surrounded by trees and nature and virtually no evidence of civilization, it is an oasis for those looking to get away. Perfect for a student like Kaira Winters, who wants nothing more than to put her past behind her and focus on the present…and her looming graduation, just a few months away.

But the past has a way of returning when least expected.

Kaira knows that what happened before, at her old school, wasn’t normal. She knows that what happened to her ex-boyfriend wasn’t natural. But she refuses to believe that the recent death on campus, the one that left everyone on edge, has anything to do with her. She refuses to believe that she could be at fault again.

But just as the past always returns, the truth can never stay hidden for long.

Even if Kaira didn’t cause the first death at Islington, or the second, or the third, she has the ability to find out who did. She has the obligation to stop whatever is coming to campus. To end the darkness that is falling with the same snow that once blanketed the woods in beauty.

But to embrace this power—to relinquish herself to the ancient entity that has been lurking in the corners of her mind–is to let go of her humanity…and Kaira doesn’t know how far she can go before she loses herself completely.

Mysterious and murderous. This pretty much describes the experience of reading Shades of Darkness. It was a bit slow paced, and I found that I wasn't really drawn into the story until about forty pages in. Still, I was drawn in. There is a certain darkness surrounding the secrets of the protagonist Kaira that we never truly come to understand. I was excited by the concept of this book because boarding school stories had a tendency to be mysterious and intriguing.

As the story begins to take off triggers start to drudge up a dark past that Kaira is trying to forget, and soon enough a suicide epidemic begins to take over the campus. She knows that something is not right, and it might just have to do with her. She has to lean on her friends to begin to come to grips with what it happening around her. It is a bit difficult to have a protagonist with so many secrets because I found at parts, the story grew tangled and somewhat confusing.

Something I did love was the mythology angle. Norse mythology at that. I love all things mythological and you can practically draw me into any supernatural aspect that involves it.

 One thing I can honestly say I was not a fan of was how much information was withheld from the reader until the end. Instead of going along with the mystery and getting to sort of figure it out along with the characters, everything is thrown together in an explanation near the end. I wasn't a fan of that, I would have much preferred a gradual reveal.

The ending has certainly ensured I will be reading the second book, if not just to find out what is going to happen. I liked this book, but I didn't love it as much as I had hoped. It was very much an introductory book, I am hoping the second will see more action.

I want to thank Simon Shuster Canada for an ARC of this book.

Alex is many things, but first and foremost, he's a Sagittarius.

In the past few years, he's taught circus in Amsterdam and Madrid, gotten madly lost in the Scottish wilderness, drummed with Norse shamans, and received his Masters in creative writing from Glasgow University. And that's the abbreviated list.

He is the author of many things, including THE IMMORTAL CIRCUS, THE PALE QUEEN, THE HUNTED, and RAVENBORN (yes, all series, because his brain doesn't condense).

When he's not writing or climbing in the rafters, he's probably outside, staring at the clouds. And seeing as he now resides in Seattle, there are clouds aplenty.

He is represented by Laurie McLean of Fuse Literary.

Between Dreams (Review)

Between Dreams
By Cynthia Austin
198 pages | April 28th 2015 | Limitless Publishing

Sidney Sinclair was living the dream of any eighteen year-old girl…

A handsome rock star boyfriend, a closet full of designer clothes, a limousine service at her beck and call, and a mansion in the hills of Los Angeles.

Even with all that glamour and excitement at her fingertips, she still feels as if she’s been missing something in her life so she decides to leave.

While trying her best to put her dysfunctional romantic relationship aside and tend to her beloved Granny, Sidney unexpectedly stumbles upon an intriguing emerald pendant boxed away in her grandmother’s closet.

Soon she learns it once belonged to her long-lost mother who committed suicide when she was just a baby. Suddenly feeling emotionally connected to the woman who had birthed her, Sidney begins to wear the necklace.

This sends her on a whirlwind journey that alternates between fantasy and reality… 

Almost immediately, she starts having dreams linked to the mysterious pendant. As danger begins to seep into her life, Sidney refuses to remove the necklace and instead documents each dream to help her further understand them. However, she soon begins to wonder if they are dreams meant to bond her to a mother whom she never knew?

Or a subconscious warning that threatens her very life?

I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this book. In my teenage days, I got sucked into the Gossip Girl, A-List style novels about these young girls with ridiculously unbelievable lives of fame and Grandeur. Looking back now, I realize how utterly annoyed I actually was by these stories. When I saw the beginning of this description I thought this was just going to be another one of these stories.

I got something entire unexpected instead. Sidney has left all her dreams behind to head to LA with her selfish Rockstar boyfriend Ray. Sidney's mother committed suicide when she was young, and her father, unable to cope abandoned her not long after. So the girl was raised by her Grandmother. When her Grandmother fall's in she is forced to choose between family and love, she chooses family. (Though if your love is giving you that ultimatum to begin with I would be kicking them to the curb).

Ray grows increasingly selfish as the story goes on and honestly, way less likable.

The story takes a paranormal twist when Sidney, at home with her Grandmother, puts on a pendant that belonged to her mother. Strange things begin to happen as she is thrown into this world of new dreams. Here is where the story takes a real interesting twist. She begins dreaming of an ancient time, a love triangle that defined the world as we know it.

Weirder still? A new man shows up who fits the stranger in her dream. Cue the drama. I was hooked then, and when it ended on a Cliffhanger?! Oh Boy. Do not start this if you do not like cliff hangers. Wait until you get your hands on the entire series so you can do a binge read.

Thank you so much to the author for approaching me to read and review this title. I am so glad that I did!

Cynthia Austin lives in Northern California with her
husband, two boys, and Olde English Bulldogge named Count
Dogula. They love all things horror, gothic, and Victorian
which prompts her friends to dub them as “The Adams

She is an avid reader who may be slightly obsessed with
music. She hears music in a way that she believes the
artist intended it to be heard: visually, with a storyline
that follows. Listening to the songs by her favorite
artists, she was inspired to write her first series titled
“The Pendant.”

March Book Haul 2016

Guardian of The Gate (Prophecy of The Sisters #2)

Guardian Of The Gate (Prophecy Of The Sisters #2)
By Michelle Zink
352 pages | August 1st 2010 | Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

The ultimate battle between sisters is nearing, and its outcome could have catastrophic consequences. As sixteen year-old Lia Milthorpe searches for a way to end the prophecy, her twin sister Alice hones the skills she'll need to defeat Lia. Alice will stop at nothing to reclaim her sister's role in the prophecy, and that's not the only thing she wants: There's also Lia's boyfriend James.

Lia and Alice always knew the Prophecy would turn those closest to them against them. But they didn't know what betrayal could lead them to do. In the end, only one sister will be left standing.

Okay this was unfortunate. I really loved the first in this series. I was totally drawn in by the mystery and wanted to continue so badly to get a better understanding of the prophecy. So when I got my hands on this book it was an immediate read. Where would they find these keys, did they have them all? Could they eventually defeat Alice who was so determined to be the evil incarnate she was meant to be even if it's completely contradictory to her destined role.

There was so much potential and then...cue the disappointment. This entire book feels like a filler. After everything that was going on in the last book I was expecting more action, and discovery. Instead, it was mostly just Lia and her crew just hanging out together, talking about things.

If you found the first book in the series boring, I wouldn't even recommend attempting this one. It was slow, and it was painfully slow. I actually didn't even bother buying the third book yet, which is so unlike me. It was okay, but it wasn't what I wanted from it. Maybe the first book has more of that action that I was expecting? It's just unfortunate that this one sort of put me off the series.

Michelle Zink is author of the Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy, A Temptation of Angels, and This Wicked Game. Her next book, Lies I Told, releases Spring 2015.

March 2016 Anticipated Releases

Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1)
By Cassandra Clare
720 pages | March 8th 2016 | Margaret K. McElderry Books

The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series

A Study In Charlotte
By Brittany Cavallaro
336 pages | March 1st 2016 | Katherine Tegen Books

The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

A Study in Charlotte is the first in a trilogy

The Winner's Kiss
By Marie Rutkowski
496 pages | March 29th 2016 | Farrar, Straus and Giroux

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

Yellow Brick War
By Danielle Paige
432 pages | March 15th 2016 | HarperCollins

In this dark, action-packed third book in the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die series, Amy Gumm—the new girl from Kansas—must do everything in her power to save Kansas, kill Dorothy, and make Oz a free land once more.

Amy Gumm’s mission to take down Dorothy Gale is not going according to plan. Dorothy has found a way to bridge the worlds of Oz and Kansas, and if the power-hungry dictator of Oz has her way, Kansas will be destroyed forever. Now, Amy has to team up with the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked to save her home, restore the balance between the magic and nonmagic worlds, maybe get the guy—and kill that not-so-sweet Kansas farm girl once and for all.

In the third installment of the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die series, Danielle Paige’s twisted versions of beloved Oz characters are back, including the biggest, baddest, most famous of all: the Wicked Witch of the West.

Welcome to the other side of the rainbow. Here there’s danger around every corner, and magic shoes won’t be able to save you