Reading Challenge

My Reading Challenges for 2022

So, once again I am participating in several reading challenges. Most of them are on Instagram, one is on Litsy, and one is my Goodreads challenge.

First up is the DInsey Reading Challenge:

This challenge is on IG, and it lasts all year. Each of the five movies have five prompts and there is also a bonus prompt:

Next up are the Taylor Swift reading challenges, one for Red, Taylor’s Version, and one for 1989, as we’re all hoping we get Taylor’s Version soon! 🙂 These challenges are hosted by @aliciaclarereads on IG, and last all year.

I’m also doing an Agatha Christie challenge hosted by @officialagathachristie on IG. Also a yearly challenge, there is a prompt for each month. I’m starting with Death on the Nile since the movie is coming out soon. 🙂 To get the prompts you have to sign up for their email list.

I’m hosting the #fairytalereading challenge both on Instagram and Litsy. You can read about all the details here.

Next, I’m doing my usual Goodreads Challenge to read 200 books this year:

I’m also reading twelve books recommended by friends on IG. Here are the twelve recommendations I recieved:

And last but not least, I’m doing the #bookspin challenge hosted by @theAromaofBooks on Litsy. Each month, you choose 20-25 books, the host rolls two numbers, #bookspin and #doublespin. You can read one or both, and/or complete the bingo board the host also makes to go along with the books. You can check out all the details on the host’s blog, here. I’m all in, so here’s what my board looks like:

What reading challenges are you doing this year? Let me know in the comments!

Book Reviews

Top Ten Best Reads of 2021

Hi everyone! I read a lot of books this year, not quite as many as last year, but I met my Goodreads goal, so I’m happy!

I read a lot of thrillers this year, both YA and adult, which is a bit of a departure from what a typically read, YA fantasy. I also joined a book club at my local bookstore, and that turned out to be a good thing, since a few of my top ten picks were the book club choices. Here are the ones I chose as my top ten:

  1. Chasing Starlight by Teri Bailey Black (YA historical mystery) – This book has a great vintage vibe and was a NetGalley read. Check out my review here.
  2. A Curse So Dark and Lonely and Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer (YA fantasy) – I combined two here since they are by the same author, but I really enjoyed both of them. A Curse so Dark and Lonely is the first book in the Cursebreakers series. Defy the Night, the first in a new series, is the author’s latest book. My local bookstore chose this book as the book club pick and I was able to meet the author and get my copy signed. If you like YA fantasy, you’ll likely enjoy both of these.
  3. Lost in the Neverwood by Aiden Thomas (YA fantasy) – This is a retelling of Peter Pan. It was very good, but fair warning, it will probably make you cry.
  4. The Broken Girls by Simone St. James (Adult thriller) – This a book I chose for one of my Book of the Month boxes. A journalist investigates a haunted hall where students had been killed fifty plus years earlier.
  5. Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone (Adult thriller) – This was another ARC read, a book I recieved as part of a blog tour. You can read my review here.
  6. Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon (YA contemporary) – I also read this one as part of a book tour. It was another great read, but be warned that it’s not just a fluffy story – you’ll probably cry, I did. You can read my full review here.
  7. The Stranger in the Mirror by Liv Constantine (Adult Thriller) – This was another book club read from my local bookstore, and again I was able to meet the author and get my book signed. This is a thriller where the main character cannot remember who she is. She only has her husband’s word telling her who she is, but more and more things happen causing her to doubt him. I could not put this one down and finished it in two sittings.
  8. I Don’t Forgive You by Aggie Blum Thompson (Adult Thriller) – Another book club read, I also got my copy of this book signed by the author. This is about a photographer who has just moved to a cliquely DC suburb, and on top of navigating the new setting, she also gets framed for murder. I read this one in one sitting.
  9. Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain (YA Thriller) – A girl returns to the small town where she spends her summers. But things are different because one of her best friends has been missing for six months. As she tries to figure out what happened, she uncovers secret after secret. Set in the swamps of Louisiana, the setting only added to the suspense.
  10. Shiver by Allie Reynolds (Adult Thriller) – I just read this one last month, but I’d had it on my TBR for awhile. Five friends who have not seen each other for a decade get invited to a ski resort. The same ski resort where one of their friends went missing ten years ago. No one knows who invited them and they appear to be the only ones there. Strange things keep happening making them believe someone else is there watching them. Creepy and haunting, I read this one in a day.

What were your favorite reads of 2021? Let me know in the comments!

Reading Challenge

Fairytale Reading Challenge 2022

I’m bringing back the fairytale reading challenge for 2022. Just like last year, this is a pretty laid back challenge. Each month there is a fairytale prompt. You can read a retelling or the original fairytale. For 2021, several people also watched a movie for each prompt as well.

Share what your reading on social media with #fairytaleretellingchallenge.

Here are the prompts:

And there is also a printable bookmark again this year.

Let me know what fairytale you are most excited to read in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Blog tours

The Goblin and the Dancer Blog Tour

Today I’m excited to spotlight The Goblin and the Dancer by Allison Tebo as part of the book launch tour. It’s a retelling of The Steadfast Tin Soldier, which was one of my favorite fairy tales as a child. I love the cover, and I can’t wait to read this retelling!

About the Book

Grik the goblin spends his days as a janitor cleaning the Metropolitan Dance Hall, drawn to the Elvish world and tired of the darkness of his underground home. He secretly pines for the ballet company’s lead dancer, Rosanna, but his own ugliness and shyness stand in the way of confessing his love. When a handsome soldier named Paul appears on the scene to make a bid for Rosanna’s affections, Grik’s jealousy bubbles over and he commits the unthinkable, plunging all of them into the river and down into the depths of the earth. Determined to redeem himself, Grik leads Rosanna and Paul through the place he calls home: but even a goblin can’t be prepared for everything that is found underground. Trapped in the dark, nightmares both within and without rise to the surface, threatening to destroy them all.


A magical and heartfelt retelling of The Steadfast Tin Soldier about finding your worth.

BUY NOW / ADD TO GOODREADS

Check out all the stops for the blog tour via the links below and don’t forget to scroll all the way down to enter the giveaway!

BLOG TOUR SECHEDULE
Sept 10 th
Guest Post With Sawyer: https://sundropgirls.wordpress.com/
Author Interview with Abigail: http://www.abigailfalangaauthor.wordpress.com
Sept 11 th
Author Interview With Kylie: http://www.kyliehuntthefilmdirectorswife.movie.blog
September 12 th
Book Review by Maegan: http://BloomingwithBooks.blogspot.com
Sept 13
Book Spotlight by Charity: http://www.charityrau.wordpress.com
Sept 14th
Book Spotlight by Julia: http://www.dropsofinspira.blogspot.com
Sept 15 th
Book Review by Merie: https://imperialscribis.wordpress.com/
Book Spotlight by Laura: https://www.lauraagrace.com/
Sept 16th
Author Interview Laurie: http://www.landsuncharted.com
Author Interview with Mae: http://www.maeheller.com
Sept 17 th
Book Review by Joellen: http://www.joellenkemper.com
Guest Post With Laura: https://www.lauraagrace.com/

About the Author

Allison Tebo is a writer committed to creating magical stories full of larger-than-life characters, a dash of grit, and plenty of laughs. She is the author of the Tales of Ambia, a series of romantic comedy retellings of popular fairy tales, and her flash fiction and short stories have been published in Splickety, Spark, Inklings Press, Rogue Blades Entertainment, Pole to Pole Publishing, and Editing Mee. Allison graduated with merit from  London Art College after studying cartooning and children’s illustration and, when not creating new worlds with words or paint, she enjoys reading, baking, and making lists. 

Websitehttps://allisonteboauthor.com/
Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/allisonteboauthor/
Patreonhttps://www.patreon.com/TalesOfAmbia
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/allisonteboauthor
Newsletterhttps://mailchi.mp/d0d50e008fc2/allisontebo Amazonhttps://www.amazon.com/Goblin-Dancer-Retelling-Steadfast-Villains-ebook/dp/B093ZFFXDQ/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=the+goblin+and+the+dancer+allison+tebo&qid=1630421246&s=digital-text&sr=1-2
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57895701-the-goblin-and-the-dancer

Giveaway

Allison is giving away a signed paperback of the book. Here’s the link for the giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/7da968f57/?G

Book Reviews

Unbirthday Book Review

This was book was my pick for January as part of the #fairytalereadingchallenge. If you missed the post about the challenge, you can check it out here.

About the Book

What if Wonderland was in peril and Alice was very, very late?

Alice is different than other eighteen-year-old ladies in Kexford, which is perfectly fine with her. She’d rather spend golden afternoons with her trusty camera or in her aunt Vivian’s lively salon, ignoring her sister’s wishes that she stop all that “nonsense” and become a “respectable” member of society. Alice is happy to meander to Miss. Yao’s teashop or to visit the children playing in the Square. She’s also interested in learning more about the young lawyer she met there, but just because she’s curious, of course, not because he was sweet and charming.

But when Alice develops photographs she has recently taken about town, familiar faces of old suddenly appear in the place of her actual subjects-the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter, the Caterpillar. There’s something eerily off about them, even for Wonderland creatures. And as Alice develops a self-portrait, she finds the most disturbing image of all-a badly-injured dark-haired girl asking for Alice’s help. Mary Ann.

Returning to the place of nonsense from her childhood, Alice finds herself on a mission to stop the Queen of Hearts’ tyrannical rule and to find her place in both worlds. But will she able to do so . . . before the End of Time?

My Review

While I enjoyed this book, I did not think it was as good as some of the other books in the Disney Twisted Tale Series. I liked the way it portrayed Alice – an intelligent girl not easily swayed by whatever those around her believed. I loved that she was a photographer, and I liked how the author used Alice’s photography to connect her with Wonderland.

I also like how each Wonderland character had a real world equivalent, and I especially liked Katz.

This book had a fair amount of silliness, which of course is on par with the nonsense of Wonderland, and for a minute I was afraid I was not going to like how the book ended. The ending was unexpected, but satisfactory. However, the book is quite long, right at five hundred pages, and I think some of the silly stuff could have been cut without taking away from the story.

Also, I think I had pretty high expectations for this one after reading and loving Straight on Till Morning so much. It was enjoyable, but not my favorite of the Twisted Tales.

Have you read Unbirthday? What did you think of the book? Let me know in the comments!

Blog tours, Book Reviews

But For The Mountains Blog Tour Book Review

About the Book

But For The Mountains

by Erin Riha

Publisher: REUTS Publications

Release Date: June 3rd 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Fantasy

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Bookdepository | iTunes | Kobo

Synopsis:
Arden Thatcher wasn’t meant to be chosen.
But when her name is announced, she’s presented with something she never thought she’d have: a future away from her abuser. Shuttled off to attend the prestigious National Women’s Institute, Arden will receive Nordania’s highest honor, studying with other elite candidates to become leaders, diplomats, and ambassadors on the world stage.
Only, the institute’s not quite what she expected. Paraded around in gown after gown, the tests seem less about educating and more about a different competition, with a very specific prize at stake—the Nordanian Prime Minister’s son. Despite the dean’s protestations that angling for an engagement leads to expulsion, Arden sees the truth. There’s a secret bubbling beneath the institute’s refined surface, and those who refuse to play along may well wind up dead.
With the danger escalating, and the return of her abuser on the horizon, Arden’s shiny future becomes a gilded cage. And this time, she’s going to need powerful allies to escape.
Political intrigue, swoon-worthy romance, and a dash of dystopian flare, But for the Mountains begs the question, how do you change the world when you’re not allowed to try?

About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Erin Riha writes young adult fantasy novels about ambitious girls who don’t know they’re not supposed to exceed expectations. She has an undergraduate degree in Political Science, a Law Degree, and a deep reverence for the power of using exactly the right word in exactly the right moment. She lives in wonderfully weird Portland, Oregon, with her super dreamy husband, where they’re raising a future train engineer and a future chicken whisperer. When not writing, she’s a music director for a teen theater company, traveling the world, or dreaming of traveling the world.​Her debut novel, BUT FOR THE MOUNTAINS, was published by REUTS Publications June 2, 2020.

My Review

I was immediately drawn into the story. The story was fast-paced and the stakes were high, both things which kept reading until the end.

Arden was relatable and engaging. I also liked the love triangle aspect in the story. Though I sometimes find love triangles annoying, it worked with this story, and it was well-written.

When I first heard about this book, the title intrigued me. I love that moment when the title finally makes sense, and I loved this particular quote from the book:

“A familiar voice called to her and said, ‘What has taken you so long to find what you seek?’ She replied, ‘But for the mountains I would have found it sooner.’ The voice replied, ‘Look at yourself. Look at the mountain. Look at the crevices, the blood stains, the gashes, the bruises. They are your character, your story. But for the mountains you would not have found yourself.” 

This book will appeal to fans of The Selection (though fair warning, this book is a bit darker than The Selection) and The Jewel by Amy Ewing.

Blog tours, Book Reviews

The Cup and the Prince Blog Tour Review

I’m excited to be part of The Favourite Pages Book Club’s blog tour for The Cup and the Prince by Day Leitao.

About the Book

The Cup and The Prince (Kingdom of Curses and Shadows #1)

by Day Leitao

Release Date: October 15th, 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Age: 15+

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Bookdepository

Synopsis:
One prince wants her out. Another wants her as a pawn. Someone wants her dead. 
Zora wants to win the cup and tell them all to screw themselves. 
Yes, 17-year-old Zora cheated her way into the Royal Games, but it was for a very good reason. Her ex-boyfriend thought she couldn’t attain glory on her own. Just because she was a girl. And he was the real cheater. So she took his place. 
Now she’s competing for the legendary Blood Cup, representing the Dark Valley. It’s her chance to prove her worth and bring glory for her people. If she wins, of course. 
But winning is far from easy. The younger prince thinks she’s a fragile damsel who doesn’t belong in the competition. Determined to eliminate her at all costs, he’s stacking the challenges against her. Zora hates him, hates him, hates him, and will do anything to prove him wrong. 
The older prince is helping her, but the cost is getting Zora entangled in dangerous flirting games. Flirting, the last thing she wanted. 
And then there’s someone trying to kill her. 
Disclaimer: Mentions of cheating, and alludes to virginity and sexual relationships. No steamy content.

My Review

It took me a little while to get into this one (I think this was because there was some backstory before it really got into what’s promised in the premise), but once I did, I enjoyed it.

I liked the contrast between Zora and Alegra. I also loved how Zora named her sword Butterfly. I got some strong Arya Stark vibes from her. The worldbuilding was good, and I’m interested in reading more about it.

Fans of The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski and The Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beaty would probably enjoy this book.

About The Author

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Bookbub

I’m originally from Brazil but I’ve been living in Canada for over 10 years now. I have some influence from Brazilian writers and Brazilian culture, but I also read popular books in English. I watched some Anime as a kid, my favorite being Yamato. I’m a longtime Star Wars fan and I’m active in the fandom podcasting at Lords of the Sith as Denise. 
I’ve always loved to write stories, and I like to always include romance, action and humor in my writing. I think stories can touch us deeply. I live in Montreal, Canada, with my son. 
My books include the YA fantasy series Portals to Whyland, and the sci-fi standalones, The Sphere of Infinity and Star Spark
Check out my blog for some news, updates, and nonsensical ramblings.

Blog tours, Book Reviews

The Opal Amulet Blog Tour Book Review

I’m excited to be part of The Favourite Pages Book Club blog tour for The Opal Amulet by Victoria Drozda. Be sure to check out my post on Instagram to get in on the giveaway!

About the Book

The Opal Amulet (The Forbidden Gems of Regalia #1)

by Victoria Drozda

Publisher: BookBabyRelease

Date: October 14th 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy

Goodreads | Amazon | BookDepository | B&N | BookBaby

Synopsis:
Fourteen year old Emberly Tollens doesn’t dream often but when she does its never a good sign, especially when its the same dream. Some nights she would dream of the sweet nothingness of time. Other nights the voices would get louder, the running faster, and the staff colder. Ice cold. But this is just the beginning of her problems.
Things get even stranger when she finds a dangerously beautiful opal necklace lying on the ground at school. Not strange at all. And definitely not strange when your once kind of nice teacher turns into a fire-breathing creature from the past, right?
Now with the help of her hazel eyed friend named Olive and a cute mysterious fire throwing boy. They’re going to discover there’s a lot more going on than what they think.

My Review

First of all, I absolutely love the cover. The cover is what first drew me to this book. The story is interesting and fun. Emberly has a strong voice and is relatable. I liked how she had a good relationship with her mom and a dependable friendship with Olive.

To me, the book seemed like more of a middle grade book than a YA book. Emberly is just a freshman in high school, fourteen, which is young for a YA herione. The story is appropriate for younger readers as well, though older readers who don’t care if the MC is younger than they are would probably also enjoy it.

Fans of the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull and the Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi would enjoy this book.

Favorite Quotes

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book, were the great descriptions in the book. Here are some of my favorites:

“A lustrous silvery and violet light stemmed from her amulet, disentangled itself from Emberly’s hands, and wove it’s way into the owner’s body.” (Chapter 8)

The castle was a deep midnight blue, with three black towers that had thick silver vines climbing up the dark stones. Tall, illuminated clear windows lined the walls, sparkling like diamonds.” (Chapter 10)

They rode to Max’s house, her phone leading them, the warm fall wind hitting their faces with a strong scent of pine and upcoming rain. Blurry splats of orange, yellow, and red flew past them in a leafy fire of autumn.” (Chapter 13)

About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Instagram

Victoria Drozda started The Opal Amulet (book one to The Forbidden Gems of Regalia series) in the summer of 2016 before her freshman year of high school and later finished the book in 2020. She is an upcoming college student and enjoys spending her time reading, drawing, baking and of course writing. She currently resides in California and is eagerly working on the next book in the series.

Blog tours, Book Reviews

Dawn Rising Book Review

Today I’m posting my review of Dawn Rising by Lisa M. Green as part of the Favourite Pages Book Club’s blog tour.

About the Book

Dawn Rising (Awakened #1)

by Lisa M. Green

Publisher: Trident Publishing

Release Date: September 3rd 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Adult, Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Adventure

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | BookDepository | iTunes | Kobo | Google Books
Synopsis:
Note from the author: I’m officially categorizing it as Adult, but several betas assumed it was YA (The main character is 20 and most characters are 20-24ish, but themes are very heavy on YA-type ideas like coming-of-age).

ONCE UPON A TIME, A GIRL WAS BORN. A HUNDRED YEARS LATER, SHE GREW UP.


Aurianna must rewrite the past in order to save the future. She was supposed to be the answer to an enigmatic prophecy discovered on the night of her birth. But a terrible curse changed her life forever.
That is, until a mysterious stranger arrives to break the spell. He awakens Aurianna to the truth of her past and the powers she never knew she had.
When he sweeps her back in time, she discovers there is more to her life than she ever imagined. The world she encounters is both strange and familiar. But learning to control her newfound elemental powers will be the least of her problems.
She must race against time to uncover the truth about a catastrophe that will leave the world broken, divided, and at war.
Aurianna just wants answers. But the people need a savior.

My Review

It took me a little while to get into this book. There was a lot of explaining about things that were part of the book’s world, that are foreign to the real world. I feel like the next book will be better because the reader will already know about these things that are specific to the book’s world.

I liked the relationship between Aurianna and Javen. It was sweet and believable. I also loved Oracle, Aurianna’s horse and all the scenes with her. The book’s world was unique, and there were a lot of different kind of characters there. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next book.

Don’t forget to check out the giveaway at the bottom of the post!

About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Youtube

Lisa M. Green writes stories of myth and magic, weaving fairy tales into fantasy. Lisa began writing at a very young age and even considered a career in screenwriting or journalism. Throughout her childhood, she drove everyone insane with her constant stories and plays. Lisa enjoys reading, writing, cooking, traveling, hiking, and playing video games that girls aren’t supposed to like. Visit lisamgreen.com for more information about the author and her books.

Giveaway

Prize: Win (1) of (2) copies of DAWN RISING by Lisa M. Green (US Only)

Starts: 3rd September 2020

Ends: 17th September 2020

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog tours, Book Reviews

Emmie and the Tudor Queen Book Review

tour banner Emmie (1)

I’m excited to be part of the Favourite Pages Book Club’s blog tour for Emmie and the Tudor Queen by Natalie Murray.

About the Book

book cover (3)Emmie and the Tudor Queen (Hearts and Crowns Book 2)

Release Date: August 25th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Synopsis:
True love has never been more deadly in this lush sequel to the best-selling Emmie and the Tudor King.
For an extraordinary love, Emmie Grace has given up her life in the modern world to move to the sixteenth century and marry the Tudor king she bravely saved from a dreadful fate. However, not everyone is pleased to see the glorious King Nick betrothed to the unknown and uncultured Emmie—especially the noblemen commanded to protect her.
As Emmie is drawn deeper into Nick’s sumptuous and savage world—where beheadings are way more popular than time travelers—the Tudor court heads on progress across the country, and a growing rebellion against the promised queen looms.
With life and love at stake, Emmie must face the cost of changing the path of history and realize that her greatest sacrifice is yet to come.

My Review

This book is full of romance, history, and adventure. I loved the way the author weaved lots of historical details into the story. The romance is believable (everything is not perfect all the time), and the story is fast-paced.

Emmie has a strong voice and a great sense of humor. And I couldn’t help but wonder while reading, could one really be willing to give up the modern life for love? It definitely has some Outlander vibes (just on a YA level). I think fans of the Princess Diaries books as well as fans of My Lady Jane will enjoy this book.

About the Author

Natalie Murray is the author of EMMIE AND THE TUDOR KING (June 11, 2019) and EMMIE AND THE TUDOR QUEEN (August 25, 2020). A fast-paced YA time-slip romance, the Emmie and the Tudor King trilogy follows an American high school girl to a reimagined Tudor England, where she meets a doomed, but utterly dreamy, Tudor king. Emmie and the Tudor King has already received acclaim from Foreword Reviews, YA Books Central, and popular YA authors Brigid Kemmerer (A Curse So Dark and Lonely) and CJ Flood (Infinite Sky), among others. You can visit Natalie at nataliemurrayauthor.com.