Book Review Vlog and Giveaway: The Case of the Missing Moonstone (The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency #1) by Jordan Stratford

Summary:  
History, mystery, and science collide in a new series for middle-grade readers, perfect for fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society and Lemony Snicket!
 
Jordan Stratford imagines an alternate 1826, where Ada Lovelace (the world’s first computer programmer) and Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) meet as girls and form a secret detective agency!

 
Lady Ada Byron, age eleven, is a genius. Isolated, awkward and a bit rude—but a genius. Mary Godwin, age fourteen, is a romantic. Adventurous, astute, and kind, Mary is to become Ada’s first true friend. And together, the girls conspire to form the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency—a secret constabulary for the apprehension of clever criminals. Their first case involves a stolen heirloom, a false confession, and an array of fishy suspects. But it’s no match for the deductive powers and bold hearts of Ada and Mary.

Mystery fans will love this tween girl riff on Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. History buffs will be delighted to see all the real figures who play a role in this story and appreciate the extensive backmatter that helps separate truth from fiction. Parents and educators hoping to promote the STEM fields for girls will be thrilled to have a series where two girls use math, science, and creative analytical thinking to solve crimes. But most especially--emerging readers will love this series filled with humor, action, intrigue and wonderful artwork from Kelly Murphy.

Release Date: January 2015
Age Group: Middle Grade
Source: Publisher
Reviewed By: Macy Kate


Great start to a middle grade series!
 
This series has easily become one of Macy Kate's favorites.  Middle grade readers are sure to fall in love with The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency!  
 
 
Giveaway
 
We're giving away one hard copy of The Case of the Missing Moonstone!
 
Giveaway Rules:
1.  US residents only (sorry!).
2.  You must be over the age of 13 to enter.
3.  The winner will be notified via email, and will have 72 hours to reply and claim their prize.  If no response is received within 72 hours, another winner will be chosen.
4.  You don't have to follow our blog to enter this giveaway, but you will get extra entries if you do so.  :)
 
      
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Mini Book Review: The Ruby Circle (Bloodlines #6) by Richelle Mead

Summary:  
The epic conclusion to Richelle Mead's New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series is finally here...

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

After their secret romance is exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series. When the life of someone they both love is put on the line, Sydney risks everything to hunt down a deadly former nemesis. Meanwhile, Adrian becomes enmeshed in a puzzle that could hold the key to a shocking secret about spirit magic, a secret that could shake the entire Moroi world.

Release Date: February 2015
Age Group: YA
Source:  Purchased
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
I was SO worried that I would be Roth'ed with this conclusion, that I was actually hesitant to start. Yea, okay, so my hesitation lasted about 30 seconds... 30 seconds too long! I started this series thinking that I couldn't stand Adrian and really thought that Sydney might be an okay POV, I couldn't have been more wrong. Dare I write it... but Sydney & Adrian were way more entertaining to read! I love their banter, fearlessness and her practicality. It really would have been a tragedy for Mead to leave us with the Adrian that ended in the VA series, he was so much more and definitely needed his HEA.

I don't know how Mead did it but she managed to bring back all the feels from VA laced with the high octane and pure wit of Bloodlines, simply this was nothing short of a stellar conclusion. I felt like this was not only the final piece for Adrian & Sydney but also for all the characters that I had originally fell in love with from VA. 

THE DUSTER RETURNED! #enoughsaid 
But subtle and as an ally.


This has been by far the BEST spin-off series of all time! It is impossible to be disappointed. 

#DIMKA #ROSE #SYDNEY #ADRIAN one big happy, dysfunctional family. Just the way I like it.

Book Spotlight: A Soldier of Substance by D.W. Bradbridge

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02_A Solder of Substance Cover
Please join D.W. Bradbridge as he tours the blogosphere for A Soldier of Substance from March 19-April 3.


Publication Date: November 1, 2014 CreateSpace Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 470
Series: Daniel Cheswis Mystery
Genre: Historical Mystery
 
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Summary:
1644. The smoke of parliamentary musket, cannon, and mortar fire is in the air around the royalist stronghold of Lathom House. Though guards still stand atop its walls, it is besieged on all sides, and it is only a matter of time until the house, along with its embittered and unwavering countess, Lady Charlotte de Tremouille, falls to Parliament’s might. Yet somehow, a royalist spy still creeps, unseen, through its gates, and brings the countess Parliament’s secrets. Barely recovered from the trials of the last few months, Daniel Cheswis is torn from his family and sent north, to uncover the identity of the traitor; though before he can even begin, Cheswis finds himself embroiled in a murder. A woman has been garrotted with cheese wire in her Chester home, suggesting there is more than just the usual hatreds of war at play. As lives are lost and coats are turned on both sides, Cheswis is tasked with finding the murderer, uncovering the traitor, and surviving his soldierly duty long enough to see Lathom House fall.

Buy the Book

Amazon US
Amazon UK

03_Author D.W. BradbridgeAbout the Author

D.W. Bradbridge was born in 1960 and grew up in Bolton. He has lived in Crewe, Cheshire since 2000, where he and his wife run a small magazine publishing business for the automotive industry. “The inspiration for The Winter Siege came from a long-standing interest in genealogy and local history. My research led me to the realisation that the experience endured by the people of Nantwich during December and January 1643-44 was a story worth telling. I also realised that the closed, tension-filled environment of the month-long siege provided the ideal setting for a crime novel. “History is a fascinating tool for the novelist. It consists only of what is remembered and written down, and contemporary accounts are often written by those who have their own stories to tell. But what about those stories which were forgotten and became lost in the mists of time? “In writing The Winter Siege, my aim was to take the framework of real history and fill in the gaps with a story of what could, or might have happened. Is it history or fiction? It’s for the reader to decide.” For more information please visit D.W. Bradbridge’s website. You can also find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

A Soldier of Substance Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, March 19
Guest Post at What Is That Book About

Saturday, March 21
Review at Book Nerd

Monday, March 23
Spotlight at I'd So Rather Be Reading

Tuesday, March 24
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter

Monday, March 30
Guest Post at Mythical Books

Thursday, April 3
Spotlight at Unshelfish
Spotlight at Layered Pages

Friday, April 3
Review at Genre Queen


Book Spotlight: Another Rebecca by Tracey Scott-Townsend


Another Rebecca

by Tracey Scott-Townsend
 
When past torment threatens what little semblance of a family Rebecca Grey has, how are any of them going to keep a grip on reality?
Paperback ISBN:           978-1-908600-43-1
eBook ISBN:                 978-1-908600-44-8


March 2015 will see the release of ‘Another Rebecca’, the second title from author Tracey Scott-Townsend which follows the interweaving lives of a teenage girl and her parents as they struggle to reconcile past tragedy with the present moment. Once again, Townsend returns to explore familial relationships with a powerful, bright light, illuminating those dark corners that many of us would rather remain undisturbed. Nevertheless, her command of character persists as she expertly knits together the separate strands of her narrative.
Struggling to emerge from the shadows of someone else’s grief, Rebecca Grey has a hard time living her own life. Between caring for her alcoholic mother and battling mental health issues, there is little room left for trivial teenage dilemmas. But as the evidence begins to add up, and the truths of the past are revealed in all their startling detail, Rebecca must find her own path or risk losing herself for good.
In her own unique style, Scott Townsend manages to capture a snap shot of a single family in crisis, while exploring those themes that touch all our lives.

Three lives tied together

Family, tragedy and overwhelming guilt… You’ve read it all before, but not like this. The same story, three ways, each more emotive than the last.
 
Excerpt
Chapter Four: Rebecca
      Rodins The Kiss sits on a plinth in the corner of Dr Parrishs office. I saw the real thing when I went to The Tate with my art class. The original is much bigger and is made from marble, unlike this small bronze copy.
        Dr. Parrish is telling mum about the tablets I have to take when I go home, and shes at least pretending to listen. I catch her eye and we both try not to be the one to smile first. She looks away but her lips are already curving upward at the corners.
        Part of me is scared about leaving. There were no responsibilities in here.
     In the car park, I watch Mum carefully as she puts my bag in the boot of the car. She doesnt look like shes had a drink today.
         Im tired out by the time I get myself strapped into the seat beside her.
         All right babe? She traces a finger over my cheekbone. Youre so pale. You have violet hollows under your eyes, Rebecca Jane, but to me you are still the most beautiful girl in the world.
         She gives me a sad smile. When she says things like that I wouldnt change her for anything. Sometimes her dark brown eyes remind me of the seals at the sanctuary where I had my Saturday job. I used to stare at those seals eyes for ages. But if Mum catches you looking into hers she puts on that gormless expression shes good at faking.
         I cant relax in the car, havent been able to since that time we had a crash. The sound of the other car hitting us when Mum wasnt paying attention felt like it cracked my skull open. It didnt count as drink driving on Mums part because nothing showed up on the breathalyser but you could smell it if you were cooped up in that small space with her. The worst thing about it was, she couldnt stop laughing afterwards.
         Peopleve asked me why I insisted on going back to live with her when I couldve stayed with the Marten family. I was happy there, its true. But I guess the simple answer is: shes where I belong. I cant just pretend shes not. And Im afraid shell end up dying of some stupid accident if I dont stay with her. I sneak a look at her face while shes driving, tongue tucked into her cheek and her eyes narrowed, fastened on the road. At least shes more careful these days.
About the Author
Tracey spends her writing time in her much-loved shed. Its a world of her own making, like her stories. She says that stepping inside and closing the door behind her induces a feeling like the one you get in the hushed atmosphere of a church. 
She is the mother of four children, three of whom have now left home: one of them particularly far away. Still, shes sure that Australia will provide as much inspiration for her writing as Iceland has done, (another place she was introduced to by her son). Shes really hoping to witness a full show of the Northern Lights next time she is there.
Closer to home, Tracey enjoys travelling in the bus-with-a-woodstove with her husband and their Labrador, Riley. They are always on the lookout for a scenic layby in which to sleep. Last year they spent time all over the British Isles, including the Outer Hebrides, which will be the setting for a future novel. In a few years they plan to set off on the road (by way of the sea) for an extended period of time: after all, writing can be done anywhere.
Contact Information
To learn more about Tracey Scott-Townsend, why not visit her corner of the internet, or contact her via the information below:
Website: http://www.traceyscotttownsend.com
Twitter: @authortrace
 

Book Review and Giveaway: Afraid of Everything by Karen Jones Gowen

Summary:

Afraid of Everything is a touching and expertly written book about the life and experiences of Helena Carr as she explores an intriguing new world.

Helena Carr is afraid of everything. After a crisis at work, she quits her job and feels lost. It’s time for a serious change, to beat the extreme anxiety that has plagued her since childhood. Something different, unplanned and radical. Sell her house, move to a foreign location, turn her life upside down in an effort to end the emotionally paralyzing fear.

Before Helena can act on her options, however, she has a terrible accident on a Southern California freeway. Instead of going on an exotic vacation, she is in a hospital, in a coma, traveling to strange worlds of another dimension, meeting people who seem to know more about her than she knows about herself.

As Helena explores this intriguing new world, she realizes the truth about her past and the purpose of her future. And she is no longer afraid. Helena is at last ready to live. But first, she must wake up from the coma.

 
 
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed By: Kelli
 
Review:
Afraid of Everything was such a neat book.  I really enjoyed it.  The premise is very intriguing and unique, especially for Christian fiction.  It's one of those stories that stands out in the genre, and one I know I'll never forget.

The book started out a little slowly.  I wasn't sure about Helena or how engaging her story would be.  Then, the story took off and I fell in love with the characters and the story line. 

Helena is literally afraid of everything.  She's spent her entire life anxious, afraid, and unsure of herself.  Helena has built up a protective wall around her heart and guards it at all costs.  This leaves her very alone, and even more afraid when her fears start to come true (the thinking of believing something will happen can cause it to actually happen is the case with Helena's life).  But then, Helena is involved in a car accident, and that's when her story really changed.  Suddenly, the narrative changed from first person (Helena's voice) to a third person narrative.  This change really threw me off at first, until I realized that Jones changed narratives to fully portray the events that occur in Helena's Great Sleep. 

And speaking of the Great Sleep, this was such an interesting part of the story.  Helena calls her coma the Great Sleep, and in it, she travels to mystical worlds, sometimes alone and sometimes populated by other people---some of whom she knows.  And they all seem to know her.  She's not sure if she's in Heaven or not, but she loves it there.  Helena's Great Sleep was my favorite aspect of Afraid of Everything.  I loved the imagery and the way Jones used this part of the story to weave everything together.

The conflict resolution was perfect for the plot.  I loved it.  And the ending was everything I wanted it to be.  I really loved Afraid of Everything and highly recommend this unique and engaging book.


 



About the Author:

Born and raised in central Illinois, Karen Jones Gowen now lives and writes in Panajachel, Guatemala. She and her husband Bruce are the parents of ten children. Not surprisingly, family relationships are a recurring theme in Gowen's writing. Her  children’s stories have appeared in the Friend, and her essays in the Jacksonville Journal Courier. Gowen's published books are Farm Girl, Uncut Diamonds, House of Diamonds, Lighting Candles in the Snow, Farm Girl Country Cooking: Hearty Meals for Active Families and Afraid of Everything. She blogs at her website, karenjonesgowen.com and at Coming Down the Mountain.
 
Karen can be found online at:
Twitter:  @KarenGowen
 
 
Giveaway! 
Giveaway Rules:
You must be over the age of 13 to enter.
The hard copy giveaway is restricted to residents of the US only.
The e-book giveaway is open internationally. 
The winners will be chosen and notified via email (from iwouldratherbereading@gmail.com).  They will have 72 hours to respond and claim their prize.  If no response is received within 72 hours, another winner will be chosen.
 
 

Second Opinion: Seeker (Seeker #1) by Arwen Elys Dayton

Summary:
The night Quin Kincaid takes her Oath, she will become what she has trained to be her entire life. She will become a Seeker. This is her legacy, and it is an honor.

As a Seeker, Quin will fight beside her two closest companions, Shinobu and John, to protect the weak and the wronged. Together they will stand for light in a shadowy world.

And she'll be with the boy she loves--who's also her best friend.

But the night Quin takes her Oath, everything changes.

Being a Seeker is not what she thought. Her family is not what she thought. Even the boy she loves is not who she thought.

And now it's too late to walk away.

Release Date: February 10, 2015
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed by: Madi B

Review:
I had really high expectations for this book. It already has film rights being optioned by Columbia Pictures, it has a glowing review by Tahereh Mafi, (TAHEREH MAFI! LIKE SHATTER ME) and it has soooo many promises that I'll fall in love with the characters and never be able to put the book down.
 
To be frank, the only part of the book that remotely resembled the reviews is the last 100 pages. Before that, I got confused on a lot of things (It wasnt my teenager brain either! I checked the reviews and other people were confused too!!) but I just assumed that if I just let it go and moved on, the question would be answered. Wrong. The book is about three teens training to become a Seeker.
 
What a Seeker actually is was never explained (And the title is Seeker!!!!!!). All we know is that it was supposed to be a noble occupation but it was corrupted and is currently bad? I think? Throughout the book, the characters are trying to protect and/or attain these mini dagger things called athames that are magic. You put in coordinates, draw a circle, jump through it, and then poof!--you have arrived at your desired destination. I read an entire book about the athames and that's the best I can explain them.
 
Theres a love triangle (groan) and four points of view in the book, Quin, John, Shinobu, and Maud. Quin is the main character, and at the end of the book, I felt like I knew her just as well as I did in the beginning. I never trusted John and honestly, I think he is on the path to be a mad scientist. Or maybe a psychopath. (More on that later.) Maud was a magical protector of the balance of the universe gal who had the charisma of a robot. And Im not talking about Wall-e robot. She was stiff and maybe even a tad feral. Her purpose in the book is not that significant, so I'm assuming maybe she gets important later in the series? Shinobu was basically a ghost in the first two-thirds of the book but once that third half hit, he was easily my favorite character. He was there only one I really felt that promised connection with.
 
The setting wasrandom to say the least. It starts out in Scotland and then jumps to Hong Kong in the second half. Scotland to Hong Kong! Am I the only one who finds that just a tad odd?
 
The plot changes drastically with that change in setting. In Scotland, Quin, John, and Shinobu are training to become Seekers but only Quin and Shinobu achieve that goal. With the Seeker title comes knowledge of the aforementioned athames. A secret that John is dying to know. Even though he and Quin are in love, he still is hurting her left and right, because she wont tell him the freakin secret. Psychopath!!!
 
Then Quin and Shinobu flee to Hong Kong where Shinobu becomes a drug addict and Quin loses her memory and becomes a healer. Im not making this up. My biggest problem with the book was that I felt like 80% of the book was John chasing Quin around and begging for her to tell him that secret. The problem is finally resolved at the end, but I feel like it should have been resolved at chapter 5.
 
Because the focus was completely on that wild goose chase, the questions of what a seeker is, how to properly use an athame, and what the heck these teenagers are going to do with this awesome knowledge were put on the back burner. The plot did eventually move on, (In the last 100 pages) and when it did the book was totally awesome! If Dayton had gotten to it faster, then I think the book would have been vastly improved. I would like to see some of these bigger problems resolved in the sequel (And some character development? Please?).

 

Book Review: Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch

Summary:
Perfection comes at a price.
As soon as the government passed legislation allowing humans to be genetically engineered and sold as pets, the rich and powerful rushed to own beautiful girls like Ella. Trained from birth to be graceful, demure, and above all, perfect, these “family companions” enter their masters’ homes prepared to live a life of idle luxury.

Ella is happy with her new role as playmate for a congressman’s bubbly young daughter, but she doesn’t expect Penn, the congressman’s handsome and rebellious son. He’s the only person who sees beyond the perfect exterior to the girl within. Falling for him goes against every rule she knows…and the freedom she finds with him is intoxicating.

But when Ella is kidnapped and thrust into the dark underworld lurking beneath her pampered life, she’s faced with an unthinkable choice. Because the only thing more dangerous than staying with Penn’s family is leaving…and if she’s unsuccessful, she’ll face a fate far worse than death.
For fans of Kiera Cass’ Selection series and Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden series, Perfected is a chilling look at what it means to be human, and a stunning celebration of the power of love to set us free, wrapped in a glamorous—and dangerous—bow.

Release Date: July 1, 2014
Age Group: YA
Source: Purchased
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
This book is a total gem for dystopian lovers! It has to be one of the more twisted worlds I have ever read- just as mind-blowing as Neal Shusterman’s Unwind Dystology. With that said, it is extremely unique in concept.

                  IT.WAS.SO.BIZZARRE. A train wreck that I couldn’t stop reading.

I was completely hooked by the end of chapter one. The story begins in a modern day dog kennel that caters to the wealthy, because these aren't your garden variety pets they breed. What is the pet of choice for the wealthy? Why, a specially bred girl, of course.

The idea of humans being specialty pets is crazy, but the way Birch spins it in the world she's created was genius. Every chapter had me saying "No. Freaking. Way". One minute I was feeling so sad and timid for poor Ella (pet number 8), next, I was terrified and then, I just wanted to poison all of humanity and run.

As the story progresses and you got a better idea of what Ella was bred to believe verses what she begins to realize is her actuality, it is creepy on so many levels. I mean the process of “naming” the pet as she sat at her little table was unreal. The family literally discussed it over a meal and had a little family spat until the name was agreed upon. All done with Ella sitting there, eating her specialty food. And naming your pet wouldn’t be official until they have their very own tag, right?

"I cracked the lid and stared down at the gold chain that glittered ever so softly in the dim light. On the end of it was a round pendant. I lifted it back up and held it to the light so I could see that the gold pendant was encircled with a ring of shining diamonds. Inside something was engraved in loopy script.
'It's your name,' he said, reaching out to run his fingers over the letting. 'And on the other side it has our address and phone number.'"

There was a love interest in the story. But, it wasn’t your typical love story of boy meets girl and they lock eyes and blah, blah, blah. It was between people from literally two different worlds. It was hard for me to get the feels with the love story at first because it was just so sad at how innocent poor Ella was, anyone could have taken advantage of her. Then enters Penn, he knows the crushing reality of what Ella is and he despises the entire idea of pets. And really the rest just falls into place, it was really no surprise. What was a shocker was the other man and how freaking creepily he reacts to this budding love. I felt bile in my mouth at times.

The world of Perfected really made me think that such a reality could happen! There are twisted enough people out there that might actually like this idea and see the potential for profit. Why not add a tax for our choice of pets? I’m telling you the ideas with this are endless.

With that said, I still have a load of questions. When did all of this begin? Why only girls? Any information on the actual breeding process? (that sounds so disturbing to want to know, but sadly, I want the details). 

Why so many questions? Because there is only one word to describe the ending, BRUTAL. The cliffhanger happens right after a high intensity scene and then it just stops. BAM. Done. Peace out. Have a nice life, kind of ending. The saddest part, there is no sign as to when the next installment will be released!

Why, Birch, why? Don’t you know what kind of people you are dealing with? We need dates to look forward to and little teasers to string us along. It’s time to get with the program, we want more!

Bottom line, this is a must read. Period.