Wednesday, November 22, 2017

2018 Most Anticipate - Heart Of Thorns

The next book in my 2018 Most Anticipated feature is one that was immediately on my radar after seeing in in a deal announcement. It was pitched as Graceling meets Pride and Prejudice and I was instantly sold.

It is totally a 'me' book. I love fantasy novels and Bree Barton's Heart Of Thorns blends fantasy with another of my favourites if that pitch is to be believed. It features magic, royalty and a reveal that is going to create some pretty delicious conflict!

The Goodreads synopsis has only intrigued me more, and made me more eager to pick this one up. 
In the ancient river kingdom, touch is a battlefield, bodies the instruments of war. Seventeen-year-old Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood.

Not women. Demons. The same demons who killed her mother without a single scratch.

But when Mia's father suddenly announces her marriage to the prince, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Only after the wedding goes disastrously wrong does she discover she has dark, forbidden magic—the very magic she has sworn to destroy.
Mia Rose is obviously going to have some inner struggle when she discovers she has the same powers as those she has sworn to hunt. It immediately makes me wonder how her new husband to be will react to this news, and what it means to be Gwyrach in this world. I figure since it is 'forbidden magic' that it would be illegal to have these powers and I wonder what comes along with that.

Bree has kindly taken the time to chat with me about Heart Of Thorns. It is a Q and A that I hope will have you wanting to check out this book in 2018.

1 Describe Heart Of Thorns using three words.

Lush, dark, whimsical.

2 If someone were to make a signature ice cream in honour of your book, what might be included?

Snow plum ice cream. Made with pulped snow plums, almond cream, and a dash of butterfel.

3 Share something that helped inspire your main character (a movie, a picture, anything that helped form who they are)

My main character, Mia Rose, is super into human anatomy, whereas I don't know a femur from a fibula. In my research, I stumbled across The Art of Medicine: Over 2,000 Years of Images and Imagination. It's written by three women—a medical historian and two science writers—and provides an illustrated look at the human body over the last two millennia. I sat in various coffee shops, thumbing through this gigantic book, getting chills. I felt like I'd traveled back in time to see the very anatomical plates Mia studied.

4 Name a song you listed to for inspiration while writing this novel.

I'm not ashamed to admit I listened to "Light of the Seven" (Game of Thrones S6 E10) on repeat for two months. Ramin Djawadi is a genius. Carly Comando's "Everyday" is another favorite—moody and atmospheric, perfect for writing fantasy.

5 If you could travel to anywhere, in any time period, when and where would you want travel?

Ancient Ireland! Irish mythology is peppered with female doctors, warriors, Druids, poets, and queens, women who enjoyed many of the same rights as men. Since HEART OF THORNS is a feminist fantasy, this speaks to my soul. I would miss nice hot showers and beds without fleas, but I'm willing to sacrifice those to ride a horse beside Queen Medb in the Cattle Raid of Cooley, her battle against her husband. Girl power, Celtic style.

6 What 2018 release are you most anticipating?

SEVEN DAYS OF STONE by Dana L. Davis. I just saw the cover and it is beyond stunning. A gorgeous cover for a gorgeous book!

7 If not too spoilery, can you share the first line of Heart Of Thorns

Once upon a time, in a castle carved of stone, a girl plotted murder.

That opening line is AMAZING and it fits with my initial thought that Mia Rose sort of reminds me of Sansa from Game Of Thrones. Both of them were sent off to be married and both seem to be stronger than they first appear to be. I am into it.

Heart Of Thorns releases July 31, 2018 but you can pre-order it right now from any retailer.

You can also find out more about Bree on her website, and find out more about her books on the publisher website.

Are you a fantasy fan? Does the tease of 'Graceling meets Pride and Prejudice' make you as excited as it makes me? Let me know in the comments.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow to find out the next book on my 2018 Most Anticipated List!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

2018 Most Anticipated - To Kill A Kingdom

I love retellings. I especially love when those retellings have a twist of some kind. The next book to be featured definitely fits this description. It features a mermaid who has her voice stolen and is turned into a human. A familiar sounding story, right?

This retelling, however, has more in common with the original than the Disney version. Alexandra Christo's To Kill A Kingdom offers up a delightfully dark twist to the classic tale which immediately caught my attention. It is pretty much everything I have ever wanted in a retelling of The Little Mermaid and I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

The Goodreads synopsis teases a VERY different version of the little mermaid we all know and love, and a relationship with a Prince that is more antagonistic than romantic. 
Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?
THAT TAGLINE THOUGH! 'A Princess must have her Prince'. I am ALL about this. I love the twist that Lira hates humans. She doesn't make the deal to become human willingly. She isn't in love with the Prince. This isn't about her changing for a guy which immediately has me on board with this retelling. The synopsis also has just the right amount of creepiness with the mention of hearts being taken.

Alexandra has graciously taken the time to do a Q and A with me that I hope will have you wanting to check out this book in 2018.

1 What gif do you think best describes To Kill A Kingdom

I think this GIF sums up Lira and Elian's relationship pretty perfectly:

2 If someone were to make a signature cocktail in honour of your book, what might be included?

Well, it is a book about pirates, so we'd have to have some rum in there! Lira would probably love to have something similar to a Bloody Mary in her honour - very spicy, with that bitter edge, and just the right shade of red.

3 There is a definite Little Mermaid vibe to the synopsis of this novel. How much did this classic tale inspire you while writing? 

The ending of the original story really resonated with me. It started as tragic, but then turned strangely uplifting. It didn't matter that the prince didn't love the mermaid, because in the end she found her own happiness outside of that. She was able to earn herself a soul. This led me to think about the idea of earning redemption and so the villainess Lira was born! I wanted to explore the idea of humanity, and if things like goodness are ingrained in you, or if you're shaped by the people around you. Lira's arc is all about figuring that out.

I also really loved the idea that mermaids could dissolve into foam - literally fade into nothingness - and so even if they were immortal, their lives could be fleeting, and it's even more important that they leave their mark on the world. After all, when they're gone there's nothing left to remember them by. This became a big driving force for Lira: to be remembered and revered and to feel like she had earned her place in her kingdom.

4 Name a song you listed to for inspiration while writing this novel

When I write, I'm one of those boring people who can't have music playing or the TV on in the background. BUT there were so many songs I'd be listening to while relaxing at home or heading to work, and the lyrics would suddenly set off a light bulb and I'd have to rush to get all my ideas down. To name a couple:

- Victory (The Silent Comedy)
- Hero (Family of the Year)

5 If you could travel to anywhere, in any time period, when and where would you want travel?

Oh, definitely to the future. I'd like to know where we're going, not where we've been. (And who doesn't want a flying car?)

6 What 2018 release are you most anticipating?

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert - a creepy fairytale book? Right up my street!

7 If not too spoilery, can you share the first line of To Kill A Kingdom?

Sure! Actually, here's the opening paragraphs:

I have a heart for every year I've been alive.

There are seventeen hidden in the sand of my bedroom. Every so often, I claw through the shingle, just to check they’re still there. Buried deep and bloody. I count each of them, so I can be sure none were stolen in the night. It’s not such an odd fear to have. Hearts are power, and if there’s one thing my kind craves more than the ocean, it’s power.

The opening paragraph has given me chills. I love how Lira has seventeen hearts in her collection from the seventeen Princes she's killed. I am predicting Lira is a bad ass and that I will love her.

To Kill A Kingdom releases March 6, 2018 but you can pre-order it right now from any retailer.

You can also follow Alexandra on Twitter, and find out more about her books on the publisher website.

What are some of your favourite books, television shows, or movies that feature mermaids? Do books that feature mermaids automatically become a must read for you like they do me? Let me know in the comments.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow to find out the next book on my 2018 Most Anticipated List!

Monday, November 20, 2017

2018 Most Anticipated Event - Winner Take All

I am thrilled to be kicking off my 2018 Most Anticipated feature today! I love getting to showcase some amazing authors and their awesome sounding upcoming books. I hope you find a few to add to your own 'to be read' list for next year during this event.

I am happy to kick off this year's event with a book by Laurie Devore. I was pretty much sold after reading How To Break A Boy. I was even more excited when Laurie teased that this novel was going to deal with a toxic romance. I loved how she wrote the toxic friendship that was the focus of her debut novel, so I am excited to see how she'll tackle this toxic relationship.

Winner Take All is set to deal with 'obsessive love, toxic competition, and the drive for perfection' as per its synopsis and I, for one, cannot wait. When toxic relationships (friendship or otherwise) are written well they can be useful to learn from, and show the complexities of the connections we build with people.  

The Goodreads synopsis offers a pretty tantalizing tease of what you can expect from this book. It seems that Laurie is sticking with her tradition of writing complex female characters who are, dare I say it, unlikeable at times. This pleases me because I think we need more of those in media (be it books, television, movies, etc).
For Nell Becker, life is a competition she needs to win.

For Jackson Hart, everyone is a pawn in his own game.

They both have everything to lose.

Nell wants to succeed at everything—school, sports, life. And victory is sweeter when it means beating Jackson Hart, the rich, privileged, undisputed king of Cedar Woods Prep Academy. Yet no matter how hard she tries, Jackson is somehow one step ahead. They’re a match made in hell, but opposites do attract.

Drawn to each other by their rivalry, Nell and Jackson fall into a whirlwind romance that consumes everything in their lives. But when a devastating secret exposes their relationship as just another game, how far will Nell go to win?

Visceral and whip-smart, Laurie Devore’s Winner Take All paints an unflinching portrait of obsessive love, toxic competition, and the drive for perfection.
I expect gender roles, particularly double standards in how women and men are seen for the same behaviour, to be heavily discussed with this novel and I cannot wait for those conversations to happen.

Laurie was, once again, kind enough to agree to a Q and A that I hope will pique your curiosity about this book even further, and put it on your radar for 2018.

1 What gif sums up Winner Take All? 

This very specific Veronica Mars quote that I think is great!

2 If someone were to make a signature cocktail in honour of your book, what might be included?

It would be a bitter cocktail for sure! Probably something fairly close to an Old Fashioned. I’m thinking whiskey, bitters, a cherry for a little bit sweet/sexy. Maybe make it an Old Fashioned float with some ice cream to represent the summer vibe of the book.

3 Share something that helped inspire your main character (a movie, a picture, anything that helped form who they are)

So, I’m going to cheat on this a little because my main character was pulled from a lot of different places but the number one piece on inspiration for the main relationship and feel I wanted to capture between the two characters is Taylor Swift’s music video “Style.” I love everything about it, from the song lyrics to the bizarre back and forth between the two main characters of the video - especially the way they’re clearly trying to resist something they both want.

4 Name a song you listed to for inspiration while writing this novel.

Since I already talked about Style (and the video aesthetics are very important there!), here’s a couple more:

“The Way I Loved You” by Taylor Swift - inspired the original idea of this book
“Stand Still, Look Pretty” by The Wreckers - Nell, the main character’s song
“Fallen” by Casey Donahew Band - Jackson, the love interest’s song
“You Ruin Me” by The Veronicas - the perfect plot betrayal song
“Power” by Little Mix - a friend who was reading this book sent me this song and I love it for Nell and Jackson's relationship

5 Your first book was about a toxic friendship. This novel is about a toxic relationship. What is your fave toxic relationship (or friendship) from either TV, books, or movies?

I love the complexity of toxic relationships! There’s an element of obsession in both of these relationships as well that adds a certain codependency that makes it so hard to either break out of the relationships or evolve into a healthier relationship. I also liked playing with it in a relationship between a boy and a girl this time instead to two girls.

6 What 2018 release are you most anticipating?

A couple of 2018 books I’m really looking forward to:

A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena
The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo
The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

7 If not too spoilery, can you share the first line of Winner Take All?

“I can’t stop staring at the back of Jackson Hart’s head.”

Anyone immediately think of Taylor Swift's Getaway Car when Laurie mentioned an Old Fashion being the drink to represent this book? I totally did (even if the song doesn't really fit). Also, how great is that playlist? I love it!

Winner Take All releases January 30, 2018 but you can pre-order it right now from any retailer.

You can also follow Laurie on Twitter, visit her website, and find out more about her books on the publisher website.

What are some of your favourite toxic relationships (romantic or otherwise) in books, television, or movies? What ones do you think were done right, and what ones were harmful? Let me know in the comments.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow to find out the next book on my 2018 Most Anticipated List!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

New To My Book Closet

It's that time of the week again. Time to show you what bookish goodies made their way into my home and book closet (to be saved from the evil book eating cat monster named Aria). This is inspired by the various "mailbox" posts out there (eg. In My Mailbox by The Story Siren, and Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews)

I have some fun new items to share. Some are ones I got awhile ago and just did not have time share yet as things have been super busy.

The Becoming Of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin (goodreads)
Renegades by Marissa Meyer (goodreads)

I love my newest Funko! Zero is adorable and I am so glad to have found him in stores.

I have read both books that are featured this week and really enjoyed both. I am looking forward to continuing both stories with the sequels.

What books/bookish items made their way into your mailbox this week? Let me know in the comments.

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

Friday, November 17, 2017

2018 Most Anticipated Event

It's that time of year again. 2017 is ending and the excitement for 2018 releases is beginning. I am once again hosting an event to highlight the novels I am most anticipating next year!

The event will kick off on the 20th of November with a different title or guest post being featured each day. There will also be a fun prize pack available at the end that will include a few goodies (and more than one winner).

I am so excited to share this year's selections. It's includes two novels inspired by infamous true crimes. It includes one inspired by The Little Mermaid. One deals with rape culture, and one features a toxic relationship. Another has a dream dinner part, and one features a Las Vegas like setting and rival families.

I think there is a little something for everyone and hope you find a new book to be excited about in the new year!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf
Release Date - March 1, 2012
Publisher Website - Abrams
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  230 pages
My Rating - 4/5

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
You only think you know this story. In 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer—the most notorious serial killer since Jack the Ripper—seared himself into the American consciousness. To the public, Dahmer was a monster who committed unthinkable atrocities. To Derf Backderf, "Jeff" was a much more complex figure: a high school friend with whom he had shared classrooms, hallways, and car rides. In My Friend Dahmer, a haunting and original graphic novel, writer-artist Backderf creates a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a disturbed young man struggling against the morbid urges emanating from the deep recesses of his psyche—a shy kid, a teenage alcoholic, and a goofball who never quite fit in with his classmates. With profound insight, what emerges is a Jeffrey Dahmer that few ever really knew, and one readers will never forget.
My Friend Dahmer is a hard book to review and rate. The author is detailing something that obviously left an enormous impact on them. It is not a fictional account of true events, but a first person account of events as they believe them. My Friend Dahmer makes you want to discuss and unpack what is within its pages, and if that was the author's goal they certainly succeeded.

Those with even a passing interest in following true crime media (shows, podcasts, etc) will have heard of Jeffrey Dahmer and the horrific crimes he committed. This graphic novel is not interested in telling you the story you already know. It doesn't want to rehash the details of his crimes. It, instead, wants to look at his childhood and the path Jeffrey took to becoming a serial killer.

I don't typically read graphic novels, but was glad to have picked this one up when I finished. The art style is captivating and adds another layer to the story being told. The ability to convey emotions with a single image and little to no words is, to me, breathtaking. The story being told lends itself to this style of storytelling. I found myself lingering over images and having to close the book to fully process what was happening, especially as the story grew increasingly dark. It is unsettling in a way that stays with you. It has also made me more willing to check out other graphic novels as I really appreciated the detail and thought that went into telling this story.

The heart of this novel, for me, was a few different things. It reads like Derf Backderf trying to, in his own way, digest and process the reality of someone he, at one point, considered a sort of friend being a serial killer. It also asks the question of whether Jeffrey Dahmer could have gone down a different path. The answer, maybe surprisingly, is yes. Derf Backderf paints a, sometimes, sympathetic portrait of a young man who was quickly being lost to the growing urges inside him. A young man who displayed signs of needing help that were mostly ignored. It never makes apologies or excuses what Jeffrey Dahmer went on to do, but simply highlights the ways in which the adults around him failed to pay attention. Many of the warning signs, like his alcohol abuse, were brushed aside because they were not looked at in the same way they are now. Other warning signs, however, were inexplicably ignored. It, to me, felt clear that he does blame the adults in Jeffrey's life for not paying more attention, and it paints a convincing argument. It was interesting to see this gradual progress and spiral contrasted with what Derf and his friends were doing during this time. It offers this dual narrative that made the story feel surreal at times. It's a great narrative tool, and one that serves this story well.

The novel's ending lingers with you and ensures that you are both unsettled and stripped of any possible sympathy you had felt towards Jeffrey during the novel. It brilliantly lays out a juxtaposition of before and after. There is no going back for Jeffrey from the events that this novel leaves off on, and that is sort of the point. This novel asked if the path taken could have ever diverged onto a new one, and any chance of that happening is lost as the novel ends. It's where this particular story should end for a lot of reasons, but the biggest is that it is the only ending that fits the story being told. The graphic novel format used is successful in creating apprehension and tension in these final moments and perhaps says more than words ever could.

My Friend Dahmer is a fascinating read for those interested in true crime. It offers up a dark coming of age story and asks some pretty thought provoking questions. It offers a different perspective than the usual true crime story, and does it well. It's certainly an unforgettable read, and one I highly recommend.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday ... Save The Date

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pick is Save The Date by Morgan Matson

Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
Father of the Bride meets Sixteen Candles in the latest novel from New York Times bestselling author Morgan Matson.

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.

Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.
Morgan Matson is a must read author for me. I always love her books and look forward to having one to read in the summer.
Save The Date has been called Sixteen Candles at a wedding and I am so here for this. The cover is adorable, the synopsis is amazing, and I am currently lamenting the fact that this book is so far away.
Join me in eagerly anticipating this June release, and we can distract ourselves by reading Morgan's other novels again while we wait.
Expected release date - June 5, 2018

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