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I Belong

Review: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

October 1st, 2016 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Zed under Review Tags: , , , , ,

bright-smoke-cold-fireTitle: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire

Author: Rosamund Hodge

Genre: YA Fantasy/Retellings

Series: Untitled (Book #1)

Publication Date: September 27, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 448 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062369415 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062369413 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Zed


Sabriel meets Romeo and Juliet in this stunning and atmospheric novel from the author of Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bound.

When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched.

The heirs of the city’s most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou, share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on the Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die.

Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding the Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong—killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy . . . and perhaps turn against his own clan.

Mahyanai Runajo only wants to protect her city—but she’s the only one who believes it’s in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara.

Both pairs will find friendship where they least expect it. Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting. . . .

Quick & Dirty: A truly disappointing retelling of Romeo and Juliet.

Opening Sentence: If he does not come soon, she may not have the heart to kill him.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I’ve read a couple of captivating books by Rosamund Hodge so when I received an ARC of Bright Smoke, Cold Fire and realised that not only is it written by Hodge but that it’s a retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, I was excited to say the least. Let’s cut to the chase: that feeling didn’t last long.

The world was dying, and death did not care who mourned.

It started off brilliantly, drawing me into the story with the romance and the action but then it all catapulted. I can’t recall exactly when things turned sour but let’s just say it didn’t take long. I found that there were too many characters all higgledy piggledy, killing each other, coming back to life, trying to kill each other but not succeeding and so forth. There was too much going on and an overload of information that was hard to take in. The Romeo and Juliet part was easy enough to follow, mainly because their names were still Romeo and Juliet (gold star for originality) but it was all the sisters of death (or life, I can’t remember) and the gazillion beliefs and traditions that had my head whirring the entire way!

“It is the way of things that I cannot walk the Paths of Light,” said Juliet, “and yet I count myself more blessed than you, because at least I know they exist.”
I count myself blessed that my family never tried to destroy me, thought Runajo, but she didn’t say anything.

After a while I stopped trying to remember who had what agenda and focused on trying to finish the book, which was a task in itself. At the time it felt a lot longer than 448 pages!

There was only one possible choice. The risk was much too terrible, her failure too certain. Everyone in the room knew that Runajo would have to call herself a child and beg for mercy.
Everyone in the room didn’t know her at all.

I could not make myself like Juliet at all. It’s not that I didn’t like her but I just couldn’t understand her. She’s ‘become’ a Juliet, which is essentially an assassin for the Catresou family, but she hates Runajo and the sisters, though they’re pretty much doing the same thing by killing people to protect the city? It just didn’t make sense.

Then there was Romeo, who I thought I wouldn’t like because he’s so emotional and superficial. However, it was interesting to see him through the bond he shares with Paris, because then the reader realises that Romeo isn’t just an overly dramatic attention seeker. Romeo is a very emotional guy and seems to drown in his feelings for real!

Romeo looked uncommonly like a bird fluffing itself up for a mating display. “My love is as true as the stars are bright,” he said with terrifying intensity. “So is his.”
The sub-captain’s mouth quirked. “Tiny and flickering and easily clouded over?”
She doesn’t believe you, said Paris silently, so can you stop humiliating us?
There is no shame in love! It shouldn’t have been possible to shout silently, but Romeo managed it.

Paris was too cowardly for my liking and I felt sorry for him at times but he wound me up when he ran from almost every fight he encounters. How he ever thought he could be Juliet’s Guardian, I do not know.

It was so strong, he could hardly think. With a last, violent effort, Paris managed to slam the wall back between them. Then he looked at Romeo and said the very first thing that came into his head.
“You are completely useless. Who cares about your broken heart? We need a plan to bring Lord Catresou to justice.”

There were some improvements towards the end, and the characters became somewhat bearable. Runajo might have had a heart of stone to begin with, but she was easily the least annoying out of the main four. Vai, the King of Cats, was most interesting, but sadly it was not enough to make Bright Smoke, Cold Fire an enjoyable read.

Notable Scene:

And then Runajo had to look away. “I don’t mourn,” she said quietly. “I don’t often feel pity. I don’t see the point. Everyone dies anyway. People delude themselves that they’ll live forever – they say they are mortal, but they still weep when they die, when they lose somebody close, and it makes no sense. They already knew. I’ve always known, so why can’t they understand it?”


FTC Advisory: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins provided me with a copy of Bright Smoke, Cold Fire. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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Blog Tour: This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

September 30th, 2016 @ 8:00 am
Posted by Michelle B. under Blog Tour Tags: , , , , , ,

5822460Please welcome Emma Mills to the blog today! She’s here today with a wonderful guest post about her new novel This Adventure Ends! This tour celebrates her second book with Macmillan, and I enjoyed it so much! Each stop is different, showcasing different aspects and themes that are depicted from the story itself. This Adventure Ends is a journey of rediscovery. The characters are in a search of something meaningful, and soon realize that everything was right in front of them. Emma writes wonderful contemporaries and I am obsessed!

About Emma :

Emma Mills is an author better known to her subscribers as vlogger Elmify. She was also cocreator and cohost of the “life skills” channel How to Adult. She lives in Indianapolis, where she is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in cell biology.

You can visit Emma around the web here: Twitter | YouTube | InstagramTumblr

Want to read more from Emma?

A Fool's Paradise First & Then This Adventure Ends




Dark Faerie Tales: This Adventure Ends is about travelling to many different locations with close friends. Have you taken road trips with your friends?

Emma: Just after graduating college, I visited a friend of mine who was studying abroad in the Netherlands. We were staying in the beautiful city of Leiden, and decided to rent a boat with a few of her friends and hit the canals.

It was a holiday weekend, so there was a lot of traffic on the water. Unfortunately, there was no horn on the boat we rented, so whenever we went under a bridge with a turn in it, we had to yell “Honk! Honk!” so that boats coming in the opposite direction would know that we were there. We sounded like a pack of geese.  

It felt a bit ridiculous, but we still had a great time!


About this Book:

Sloane isn’t expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that’s exactly what happens.

Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera’s twin brother and the most serious person Sloane’s ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins’ late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins’ lives.

Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.


Blog Tour Schedule

9/15 – This Adventure Travels
9/15 – Book Review
9/16 – Interview with Emma
9/17 – This Adventure Paints
9/17 – Book Review
9/18 – Moodboard
9/19 – This Adventure Explores
9/19 – Book Review
9/20 – Would you Rather Questions
9/21 – This Adventure
9/21 – Book Review
9/22 – Emma Guest Post
9/23 – This Adventure Creates
9/23 – Book Review
9/24 – Friendship Post
9/25 – Book Review
9/26 – This Adventure Blooms
9/26 – Emma Guest Post
9/27 – This Adventure Inspires
9/27 – Book Review
9/28 – Emma Guest Post
9/29 – This Adventure Swims
9/29 – Book Review
9/30 – Emma Guest Post
10/1 – This Adventure Begins
10/1 – Book Review
10/2 – Emma Guest Post
10/3 – This Adventure Swoons
10/3 – Book Review
10/4 – Pinterest Board


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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Sacrifice by Cindy Pon

September 30th, 2016 @ 12:10 am
Posted by Bridget under Blog Tour Tags: , , , , ,

cindyponauthorcolor2Please welcome the amazing Cindy Pon to the blog today! She is here today to talk about her newest book Sacrifice! This is the sequel to Serpentine, a gorgeous, lush fantasy weaved with Chinese mythology! In our post today Cindy shares her publishing story and some of where she got the inspiration to write her story (there are also pictures of HOT guys too :D)! After this great post there is also an amazing giveaway!

About Cindy:

Cindy Pon is the author of Silver Phoenix (Greenwillow, 2009), which was named one of the Top Ten Fantasy and Science Fiction Books for Youth by the American Library Association’s Booklist, and one of 2009?s best Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror by VOYA. The sequel to Silver Phoenix, titled Fury of the Phoenix, was released in April 2011. Serpentine, the first title in her next Xia duology, will be published by Month9Books in September 2015. She is the co-founder of Diversity in YA with Malinda Lo and on the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. Cindy is also a Chinese brush painting student of over a decade.

You can visit Cindy around the web here: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Tumblr | Instagram

Want to read more from Cindy Pon?

SerpentineSilver PhoenixFury of the Phoenix



Dark Faerie Tales: I love that your book is based off of Chinese mythlogy and I was wondering if you could tell us about some of your favorite myths and how you picked the ones you used in your story.

Cindy: Thank you!! Much of my Serpentine duology was actually inspired by Medusa, which is a very well known Greek mythology. As I grew up in the US, I learned Greek and Roman mythology like every other kid, not Chinese, alas. (Though I was told some tales orally by my grandfather!) I’ve loved mythology ever since. Visually, I was very inspired by the original Clash of the Titans movie. The climactic scene was of Perseus trying to survive and slay Medusa. She looked so grotesque and monstrous, yet as a tween viewer, I still found sympathy for her. What was the monstrous woman’s story?

DFT: Your book is so full of beautiful imagery can you share any photos or inspiration you used for scenes and people in your book. 

Cindy: Thank you so much! I always imagined Stone looked like Godfrey Gao, who is very tall in person (and also ridiculously handsome). I am also sharing my inspiration for Kai Sen, although I have forgotten the actor’s name. ack!!




(Take a minute to wipe the drool off your face :D)

DFT: Would you share your publishing story with us and possibly give advice to authors who are looking to get published for the first time!

Cindy: Silver Phoenix was the first novel I ever wrote. I wrote 40 pages and stopped writing for six months because I was too scared to move on. I took a local novel writing class and used nanowrimo to write 35k in words in a month, moving myself through The Dreaded Middle. When I finished Silver Phoenix, I was so proud! I took a year to revise it six times with critiques from writing friends, then decided I’d try to get an agent and publish the book. I received over 100 rejections, but in the end, the book sold at auction! It was truly a dream come true.

I would advise new writers to take their writing seriously, and to challenge themselves with each new writing project. I would say to read within the genre you want to write in, but also to read widely beyond that. You’ll learn something from every book. If possible, find writing friends in real life and online, who will cheer you on, support you, commiserate, but also hold you accountable to keep writing!



This giveaway is provided by Month9Books!

One (1) winner will receive a scrabble tile book cover charm!

Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of Serpentine & Sacrifice by Cindy Pon!


Available September 27, 2016 by Month9Books

About this Book:

Sacrifice, the sequel to Serpentine, plunges Skybright into the terrifying underworld where demons are bred and whisks her up to the magnificent Mountain of Heavenly Peace where the gods dwell.

Stone is stripped of his immortal status and told to close hell’s breach, which mysteriously remains open, threatening mortals.

Zhen Ni, Skybright’s former mistress and friend, has been wed to the strange and brutish Master Bei, and finds herself trapped in an opulent but empty manor. When she discovers half-eaten corpses beneath the estate, she realizes that Master Bei is not all that he seems.

As Skybright works to free Zhen Ni with the aid of Kai Sen and Stone, they begin to understand that what is at risk is more far-reaching then they could ever have fathomed.

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Review: The Family Plot by Cherie Priest

September 29th, 2016 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Kristie under Review Tags: , , ,

the-family-plotTitle: The Family Plot

Author: Cherie Priest

Genre: Horror

Series: N/A

Publication Date: September 20, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages

ISBN-10: 0765378248 (Tor/Macmillan)

ISBN-13: 978-0765378248 (Tor/Macmillan)

Reviewed by: Kristie


The author of the enormously successful Boneshaker returns to Tor with her unique take on the classic haunted house book

Chuck Dutton built Music City Salvage with patience and expertise, stripping historic properties and reselling their bones. Inventory is running low, so he’s thrilled when Augusta Withrow appears in his office offering salvage rights to her entire property. This could be a gold mine, so he assigns his daughter Dahlia to personally oversee the project.

The crew finds a handful of surprises right away. Firstly, the place is in unexpectedly good shape. And then there’s the cemetery, about thirty fallen and overgrown graves dating to the early 1900s, Augusta insists that the cemetery is just a fake, a Halloween prank, so the city gives the go-ahead, the bulldozer revs up, and it turns up human remains. Augusta says she doesn’t know whose body it is or how many others might be present and refuses to answer any more questions. Then she stops answering the phone.

But Dahlia’s concerns about the corpse and Augusta’s disappearance are overshadowed when she begins to realize that she and her crew are not alone, and they’re not welcome at the Withrow estate. They have no idea how much danger they’re in, but they’re starting to get an idea. On the crew’s third night in the house, a storm shuts down the only road to the property. The power goes out. Cell signals are iffy. There’s nowhere to go and no one Dahlia can call for help, even if anyone would believe that she and her crew are being stalked by a murderous phantom. Something at the Withrow mansion is angry and lost, and this is its last chance to raise hell before the house is gone forever. And it seems to be seeking permanent company.

The Family Plot is a haunted house story for the ages-atmospheric, scary, and strange, with a modern gothic sensibility to keep it fresh and interesting-from Cherie Priest, a modern master of supernatural fiction.

Quick & Dirty: A horror movie fan must read!

Opening Sentence: “Yeah, send her on back. She has an appointment.”

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I love it when a title can mean two different things! The Family Plot by Cherie Priest is my first foray into Priest’s writing. I’ve had her Steampunk series on my TBR pile for years but unfortunately I haven’t been able to get to them yet and I really can’t wait to read them. The Family Plot is a standalone horror novel that is eerie and quite creepy. If I saw the ghosts as clearly as the characters within this book I would have been a goner. I definitely wouldn’t have stayed overnight after all they all saw most of these ghosts during the day light hours.

Dahlia Dutton has been put in charge of salvaging an old home in Tennessee. Her father’s company is relying on this job to keep them from going under so she must make sure she is able to get as much money out of it as possible. The lady who sold them the home, Augusta Withrow, is very secretive about the house. She says it is in disrepair and must be torn down but in reality it is still pretty much in good shape. Then there is the cemetery that Dahlia and her fellow salvagers find. It seems real but Augusta assures them that it is just a Halloween prank.

Dahlia is joined by her cousin Bobby, his son Gabe and co-worker Brad for the job. Dahlia’s father wants to make sure the job is done as quickly and cheaply as possible. They all seem to think there is something strange about the house but they are all excited about the exciting items they may find hidden in the house and property. Strange events begin right after they all get to the house. Dahlia gets so enchanted by the house that she can’t hear them calling out to her but she claims she can hear everything from inside that house. Then they all have their own ghostly experiences which all vary in levels from friendly to horrifying.

One thing that I really enjoyed was how open all the characters were to seeing ghosts and talking about it. Only Dahlia tried to hide it for a while but when the guys all started talking openly about it she finally caved and said all she had experienced.

Dahlia is a recent divorcee so she’s not exactly in the right place when she goes to the house. She tries to be friendly but since Bobby sided with her husband they aren’t exactly on friendly terms. Dahlia is a smart woman. I liked how Dahlia had her issues but she didn’t make those issues conflict with her morals when confronted with a difficult decision.

This may or may not be a spoiler. It pertains to the ending so don’t read further if you don’t want to know my thoughts or warning. However you want to take it. The Family Plot does have a bit of an open ending. If you don’t like that then you may not like this novel. It is quite like some of the horror movies dealing with ghosts end so I did come up with what I thought happened after the story was over. I like my stories to be wrapped up but this one wasn’t so bad. I kind of liked it that way.

Overall, the atmosphere of the story was pretty creepy. I found the beginning to be a little slow but once stuff started happening the story starting really picking up. I especially found the story very eerie and scary when combined with the force of nature that the group has to endure while being haunted by a scary ghost. I highly recommend this story for fans who love a good ghost story.

Notable Scene:

“Was the ghost you saw a scary one?” Gabe asked him, letting go of Buddy. The next page fell.

“She was scary as shit.”


“Old dead teenage girls are just as bad as old dead kids, that’s why,” he informed his son, but he didn’t say the rest, about her being covered with mud and blood and the miasma of having done something terrible.

Gabe went past the childhood photos and got to the one of Abigail in the yellow dress. He paused there, and asked, “Is that her?”

Bobby nodded slowly, then faster. “She’s about the right age, and the right everything. That’s her, but she looked . . . different.”

“Different how?”

“Dead. Really, really dead.”

But Dahlia wasn’t sold. “No, you guys . . . I told you, I saw this girl, looking just like she was alive. This Abigail.” She tapped the photo. “She was even wearing this same dress, and it gave me a heart attack when I opened the album and saw the picture. This is who I saw in the cemetery.”

“I thought it wasn’t a cemetery,” Gabe said, half teasing and half wondering, like they all were.

It was Dahlia’s turn to sigh. “I never said there weren’t any ghosts. I only said there weren’t any bodies.”


FTC Advisory: Tor/Macmillan provided me with a copy of The Family Plot. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Perilous Journey Of The Much Too Spontaneous Girl by Leigh Statham

September 28th, 2016 @ 12:10 am
Posted by Bridget under Blog Tour Tags: , , , , ,

l-stathamPlease welcome author Leigh Statham! She’s here today with an amazing guest post about her new novel The Perilous Journey of the Much Too Spontaneous Girl! This is the second book in the The Perilous Journey of the Not So Innocuous Girl series and it is a YA steampunk novel!!! Can I just say that the covers for these books are so GORGEOUS!!! I haven’t had a chance to read these books yet, but I seriously can’t wait. I have heard they are fantastic!!! After Leigh’s guest post there is also an awesome giveaway so don’t forget to enter to win a prize!!!

About Leigh:

Leigh Statham was raised in the wilds of rural Idaho, but found her heart in New York City. She worked as a waitress, maid, artist, math teacher, nurse, web designer, art director, thirty-foot inflatable pig and mule wrangler before she settled down in the semi-quiet role of wife, mother and writer. She resides in North Carolina with her husband, four children, five chickens and two suspected serial killer cats. If the air is cool and the sun is just coming up over the horizon, you can find her running the streets of her small town, plotting her next novel with the sort of intensity that will one day get her hit by a car.

You can visit Leigh around the web here: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Want to read more from Leigh Statham?



Dark Faerie Tales: I love that the story is based on the true story of The Daughters of the King, Louis the XIV’s social program to settle the wilds of Canada with women of noble birth! What made you decide to choose this story? Can you tell us a little bit about the research you had to perform for the book? Can you tell us a little bit more about the real story?

Leigh: Thank you for having me on your blog! I discovered this story when I was doing family history research. One of my ancestors was actually a Daughter of the King. The more I dug into it, the more excited I got. This program was way ahead of its time as far as women’s rights go. Most of the details about the program I talk about in the books are true. The girls were recruited from noble families, they were between the ages of 12 and 19, and they were shipped across the Atlantic ocean during the Golden Age of Piracy. But the best part, to me, was that once they reached Canada, the girls got to choose who they would marry. In book two, I really wanted to delve deeper into the world of pirates, who they were, what their lives and social systems were like. I discovered a lot of interesting facts. Hollywood often portrays them as being lawless savages. While the most infamous pirates were, many were just unhappy sailors that escaped their Royal Navy (of one country or another) in hopes of making a decent wage. Life on a pirate ship was usually democratic; pirates got to vote on many decisions and majority won. The captain was usually chosen for their skills with pen and paper— if you could read and write, you were a hot commodity on the open seas. Captains were in charge of the books. They kept detailed records of their plundering and divided it evenly among the men. There were also a few women in positions of power in the pirating world. From China, to Scotland, to the Caribbean, women did their fair share of plundering and pirate bookkeeping.


DFT: Would you share your publishing story with us and possibly give advice to authors who are looking to get published for the first time!

Leigh: My publishing story is pretty standard. I wrote a book, couldn’t sell it, so I wrote another book, and another and another, finally, with this series, I got a bite and jumped in.  By that time I had moved from simply emailing agents one at a time after hours of research, to utilizing every tool I could to get noticed and get a deal. I started querying small presses and editors as well as agents, and I started making good use of Twitter. There are loads of great ways to connect on twitter, including twitter pitch contests like #PitchWars and #SonOfAPitch (a personal favorite of mine).  My book was finally discovered through a pitch contest on twitter hosted by Aussie Owned and Read. I got four offers from that contest after MONTHS of rejections. So, my advice to authors who are looking to get published for the first time is just this: Don’t give up. There is always something you can be doing to move your career (and your dreams) forward. Write a book, make it as perfect as possible, send it out, and while you’re querying, start writing or outlining another book. Look at feedback with an open mind, take a class on writing so you can improve your skills (everyone can always improve – NEVER STOP LEARNING) and most importantly READ. If you aren’t familiar with the market and what is selling, you aren’t going to be very successful in this field. Plus reading other people’s work is a valuable way to learn and it’s a great excuse for some time off. “Sorry, honey, can’t do the dishes right now. I really need to finish reading this book. It’s for work.”





This giveaway is provided by Leigh Statham & Month9 Books!

One winner will receive a scrabble tile book cover charm!

Five winners will receive a digital copy of books 1 & 2 in the Perilous Journey of the Not So Innocuous Girl series by Leigh Statham


Available September 20, 2016 by Month9Books

About this Book:

Lady Marguerite Vadnay and her trusty automaton, Outil, have settled into life in New France rather well. Marguerite is top of the class at flight school and her future as an aerpilot is nearly secure. She has everything she wants— except a commission on the pirate hunting dirigible The Renegade. Using every card in her aristocratic arsenal, Marguerite wiggles her way onto the finest warship France has to offer. But as usual, Marguerite’s plans endanger the lives of those she holds dear— only this time no one else is going to save them. As Marguerite and Outil set off on a rescue mission they may not return from, she finally realizes it’s time to reorder her cogs.

This steampunk adventure is littered with facts from The Golden Age of Piracy and follows (not too closely) some of the lives and adventures of the brave men and women who sailed the seas as privateers, pirates and soldiers.

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