10.08.2017

Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey {Book Review}

I feel like I was missing a fan to flutter in front of my face while reading this adorable YA Historical Fiction novel, with a bit of romance thrown in. In Duels and Deception (which almost sounded like a non-fiction title to me) by Cindy Anstey, we meet Miss Lydia Whitfield, who is considered much too clever for her own good in 1817 England.   #ya #historical fiction #books
{Many thanks to the publisher for sending me an eARC of Duels and Deception free of charge. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

I feel like I was missing a fan to flutter in front of my face while reading this adorable YA Historical Fiction novel, with a bit of romance thrown in. In Duels and Deception (which almost sounded like a non-fiction title to me) by Cindy Anstey, we meet Miss Lydia Whitfield, who is considered much too clever for her own good in 1817 England.

Also wrapped up in this delightful novel is a bit of a whoddunit, some star crossed lovers, and a whole bunch of Regency manners.

Duels and Deception is Anstey's second novel and I loved her writing style so much that I already went and bought her first book, Love, Lies, and Spies. It felt so much like Jane Austen, but with a more modern sense of humor.

Before reading Duels and Deception, I had never heard of its publisher, Swoon Reads. It's an imprint of Macmillan that publishes young adult and new adult novels. According to the Swoon Reads website: "Writers can submit their original, unpublished manuscript to the Swoon Reads website, and readers who sign up can rate and comment on manuscripts to help us choose which titles we want to publish." Sounds like a wonderful way to find new authors and stories.

9.16.2017

Tea Tour {Subscription Box Review}


{Many thanks to Tea Tour for sending this box free of charge.}

I was hunting through my old post archive and ran across this review that I never published! Given my terrible Summer cold (thanks, first week of school), this review seemed particularly appropriate this week. Here goes!

THE BOX

Tea Tour

THE COST

Starting at $14

WHAT'S INCLUDED

Three tea samplers straight from Sullivan Street Tea & Spice Company in Greenwich Village, NYC

REVIEW

I have a soft spot for these tea subscription boxes because they are affordable and feel like such a treat when they arrive in the mail. Here's what Tea Tour sent:



Top left: Ancient Jasmine Emporer
Bottom left: Keeman Mao Feng
Right: Peach Oolong

Tea Tour is the perfect subscription box for someone who loves to try new things, while supporting a small business at the same time. The tea was fragrant and great quality without the tiny, broken pieces that will sometimes accompany loose leaf tea.

Gift subscriptions are available, too!

9.13.2017

Journey Across the Hidden Islands by Sarah Beth Durst {Book Review}

Sarah Beth Durst's Journey Across the Hidden Islands is a solidly middle grade book (I've been having feelings about books being called Middle Grade that seemed more YA) about two twin sisters, who happen to be princesses, and who go on an epic adventure.
{Many thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary eARC for review via NetGalley. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

How can anyone resist a book with a winged lion on the cover? To jump in an realize that lion had a great sense of humor was a real treat.

Sarah Beth Durst's Journey Across the Hidden Islands is a solidly middle grade book (I've been having feelings about books being called Middle Grade that seemed more YA) about two twin sisters, who happen to be princesses, and who go on an epic adventure.

I really really love a story with young girls who are smart, brave, humble, and determined. The girls are entrusted with a great responsibility and they rise to the challenge. The world building here was outstanding, too, with a rich array of creatures scattered among islands hidden from the world.

If you or your young reader end up liking this novel as much as I did, check out Durst's The Girl Who Could Not Dream. When my 9-year old read it, she loved it!

9.04.2017

Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel {Book Review}

Some books can be described as a roller coaster, but I'd describe this one as a sprint. There was non stop, high anxiety pressure running through about three-quarters of Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel. It's perfect for fans of science fiction! #books #sciencefiction

{Many thanks to the publisher for sending me an eARC of Walking Gods via Netgalley free of charge. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

THE BOOK

Waking Gods (Themis Files, #2) by Sylvain Neuvel

PUBLICATION DATE

April 4, 2017

PLAN TO HAPPY RATING


REVIEW

Is it normal to have your mood tremendously affected by a novel? Because either I was having issues or Waking Gods really stressed me out! I found myself feeling on edge while reading it; it was relentless.

Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel is the second book in the Themis Files series. I reviewed the first book, Sleeping Giants, and loved it.

Some books can be described as a roller coaster, but I'd describe this one as a sprint. There was non stop, high anxiety pressure running through about three-quarters of the novel.

It's difficult to share anything about the plot without major spoilers, given that this is the second book in the series. However, I can safely say that this installment moves the story forward in a satisfying way, while still making me eager for the third book in the series, Only Human. Was that vague enough?

8.30.2017

The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion {Book Review}



{Many thanks to the publisher for sending me an eARC of The Best of Adam Sharp free of charge. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

THE BOOK

The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion

PUBLICATION DATE

May 2, 2017

PLAN TO HAPPY RATING


REVIEW

I really kept a open mind when it became clear that The Best of Adam Sharp was heading in a "Life Partner versus Great Lost Love" direction. However, it went so off the rails from there that it became clear that this is a book I can't recommend.

I'm probably not alone in picking this book up because I enjoyed The Rosie Project. The wit and humor of that book was just not there in The Best of Adam Sharp. Instead, it was melancholy, depressing, jaded, and not believable.

There are snippets of touching moments and a half ton of music trivia, but these high points are outweighed by a story line that appeals to the worst of human nature and came across as prurient rather than authentic. About 85% in, when I should have been looking forward to how things turned out, I was forcing myself not to abandon the novel.

Pick up The Rosie Project, but skip this one.

Degustabox Subscription Box Review {August 2017}

Degustabox is a subscription box full of food, including snacks, pantry items, beverages, and sweets.

{Many thanks to Degustabox for sending me this box free of charge. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

The Box

Degustabox August 2017

The Price

$19.99, first box 50% off and a bonus item through this link

What's Included

Degustabox includes 10-15 food items each month, from a wide variety of categories. Every month is a new surprise, but you'll find snacks, beverages, and pantry items, too.

Review

There's about a ton of stuff in this box, so here's what I received:

Degustabox is a subscription box full of food, including snacks, pantry items, beverages, and sweets.
Pasta Snacks Bowties, Meatball Parm flavor, $3.99 - At only 120 calories per serving, these snacks are a great option
Pasta Chips, Rosemary flavor, $3.99 - These chips are non-GMO and made with real semolina flour
Goya Tostones Chips, $1.29 - these chips look like bananas but have the crunch of potato chips

Degustabox is a subscription box full of food, including snacks, pantry items, beverages, and sweets.
Welch's Fruit Rolls, Berry flavor, $2.99 - These are perfect to add to school lunches or for an after school treat.
Perky Jerky, $2.99 - This handcrafted turkey jerky is 90 calories and gluten-free.
Dole Gel, $2.79 - These cups have peaches in strawberry gel, which my kids will love!
Nature's Bakery Fig Bar, $3.99/6 - These stone ground whole wheat fig bars are non-GMO, vegan, kosher certified, dairy free and soy free. They are also yummy!

Degustabox is a subscription box full of food, including snacks, pantry items, beverages, and sweets.
Degustabox often includes a coupon - this month it was for the Welch's Fruit Rolls.

Degustabox is a subscription box full of food, including snacks, pantry items, beverages, and sweets.
Sunspire SunDrops, $7.69 - These are an alternative to other milk chocolate candies, with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
NuttZo - this pouch of chocolate spread was included as a gift item. It is organic, non-GMO, and gluden free with Omega-3 ALAs and protein.
Goya Golden Maria, $0.89 - these cookies are filled with chocolate cream

Degustabox is a subscription box full of food, including snacks, pantry items, beverages, and sweets.
Hummustir, $3.99 - This is a unique product. You store it in the pantry, then stir all the ingredients together until smooth for a snack, then refrigerate the rest for up to 7 days. If you'd like to try Hummustir, use code FRESH020 for 20% off here.
Sharwood's Korma Cooking Sauce, $3.99 - I can't get enough of these cooking sauces. They are perfect for using up cuts of meat from the freezer!

Conclusion

As usual, Degustabox delivered a wide range of items for a great value. This month, they sent about $35 worth of items, but the price of the box is only $19.99!

8.27.2017

Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren {Book Review}

While I'm not sure this novel is properly characterized as middle grade, it was a propulsive and exciting novel. In Prisoner of Ice and Snow, Valor is determined to break her sister out of a notorious children's prison. The culture presented in this story is vaguely Russian and the setting is a prison filled with ice, snow, and freezing winds. #books #middlegrade #bookreviews

{Many thanks to the publisher for sending me an eARC of Prisoner of Ice and Snow free of charge. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

The Book 

Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren

Publication Date

April 4, 2017

Plan to Happy Rating


Review

It really feels like the world of publishing is pushing the limits on what constitutes a Middle Grade book (see my review for A Single Stone). The general rule is that they are aimed at grades 3-7, ages 8 -12. When I think of my 9-year old reading Prisoner of Ice and Snow, I know she'll love it, but this novel is intense!

In Prisoner of Ice and Snow, Valor is determined to break her sister out of a notorious children's prison. The culture presented in this story is vaguely Russian and the setting is a prison filled with ice, snow, and freezing winds. 

The child prisoners are forced to labor in mines, forges, and the kitchen, endure torture and near starvation in some cases, and live under the ruthless thumb of Peacekeepers. There was no romance (a requirement on my daughter's reading criteria list) though the fact that curls kept escaping from the Prince's hairstyle was commented on quite a bit....

I definitely enjoyed this novel - it was propulsive. My daughter is begging to read it, but we'll have a talk first about the intensity and setting before I hand it over! It looks like another novel set in this world is in the works - Seeker of the Crown.