Masks and Shadows Giveaway

2016-08-24 Masks & Shadows Giveaway2

Yup, that’s right. We here at Books & Bottles have been lucky enough to pair up with Pyr Books to host this awesome giveaway! Both copies will be brand, spankin’ new fresh from the Publisher’s office. Luckily, as this is our second giveaway we’ve learned how to make things easier (on us and you). Entry is much easier this time around as we’ve jumped on the Rafflecopter bandwagon – so scroll below and see how you can win these beauties!

The Books:

burgis masks and shadowsMasks and Shadows, by Stephanie Burgis

Series: Standalone
Genre: Fantasy
Published: April, 2016
Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Indigo | Barnes & Noble

The year is 1779, and Carlo Morelli, the most renowned castrato singer in Europe, has been invited as an honored guest to Eszterháza Palace. With Carlo in Prince Nikolaus Esterházy’s carriage, ride a Prussian spy and one of the most notorious alchemists in the Habsburg Empire. Already at Eszterháza is Charlotte von Steinbeck, the very proper sister of Prince Nikolaus’s mistress. Charlotte has retreated to the countryside to mourn her husband’s death. Now, she must overcome the ingrained rules of her society in order to uncover the dangerous secrets lurking within the palace’s golden walls. Music, magic, and blackmail mingle in a plot to assassinate the Habsburg Emperor and Empress–a plot that can only be stopped if Carlo and Charlotte can see through the masks worn by everyone they meet.

Katelynn’s review is up! (spoiler: she loved it)

burgis congress of secretsA Congress of Secrets, by Stephanie Burgis

Series: Standalone
Genre: Fantasy
Published: November, 2016
Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Indigo | Barnes & Noble

In 1814, the Congress of Vienna has just begun. Diplomats battle over a new map of Europe, actors vie for a chance at glory, and aristocrats and royals from across the continent come together to celebrate the downfall of Napoleon…among them Lady Caroline Wyndham, a wealthy English widow. But Caroline has a secret: she was born Karolina Vogl, daughter of a radical Viennese printer. When her father was arrested by the secret police, Caroline’s childhood was stolen from her by dark alchemy.

Under a new name and nationality, she returns to Vienna determined to save her father even if she has to resort to the same alchemy that nearly broke her before. But she isn’t expecting to meet her father’s old apprentice, Michael Steinhüller, now a charming con man in the middle of his riskiest scheme ever.

The sinister forces that shattered Caroline’s childhood still rule Vienna behind a glittering façade of balls and salons, Michael’s plan is fraught with danger, and both of their disguises are more fragile than they realize. What price will they pay to the darkness if either of them is to survive?

The Rules:

Entries are through the Rafflecopter widget below (you can do as many or as little as you want) and will automatically close after two weeks. Winner will be chosen and notified on September 13th and we will pass your mailing address off to Pyr Books who will be the ones sending your books. Please be sure you’re over 18 or have your parents permission to give your address to us – we promise we won’t use it for anything else!

  • USA & Canada Only
  • Starts August 28th
  • Ends 11:59PM MST, September 12th (2 weeks)

Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!


Disclaimer:

Entrants must be 18 or older, or have parents permission to give their address for delivery. We solemnly swear to only give your address to the Publisher who will send your books on their fastest owl. Any tracking details, if available, will be relayed to you and we will keep in touch to ensure the package reaches its destination unscathed.

The Fervor, by Xandrie Kovak

kovak the fervorSeries: Sinful Supes # 1
Genre: Paranormal Erotica Romance (so close but not quite…)
Published: August, 2016
Goodreads | ARC Signup on Kovak’s Website

EVERYONE KNOWS MONSTERS EXIST.
BUT SHE NEVER EXPECTED TO BE ONE OF THEM…

Thanks to her great- great-grandmother, loner Claire Sommers’ DNA results are succubus positive. To make matters worse, her college is forcing her into the Supernatural program. The last place she wants to be is in a room filled with ferals, vampires, and other monsters from her nightmares. The absolute worst thing she can imagine? Getting hit with her first fervor in the middle of said classroom. Especially in front of the new alpha of the Red Crescent pack, Lucas Masters.

With every Supe in scenting distance caught up in the pheromone frenzy, Claire realizes she’s probably not going to survive the night with her dignity intact. She may not even survive at all…

Thanks Grandma.

The Fervor is the sizzling first installment of the Sinful Supes series. If you’re a fan of dominant werewolves and dark suspense, sign up for the free advance review copy today.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  4.5 / 5
Format: ARC E-Book
Started: August 27th, 2016
Finished: August 27th, 2016
Drink Pairing: Drink?! WHEN IS THERE TIME TO DRINK WHEN YOU CAN’T PUT IT DOWN!!?! (But pass me a rum and coke…)

Thank you to Xandrie Kovak for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

It’s not very often I go so quickly from being way to into a book and thinking I’m the perverted one, to stumbling back in mild shock and wondering “HOW DID YOU NOT EXPECT THIS TO HAPPEN?! *idiot*” and then continue to read  on shamelessly.

IN FACT! despite having an early 5AM start this morning I was still determined to finish this book, even if it was at 1AM. Shock factor or not I could not put this book down.

My morbid curiosity has been piqued and I cannot resist the chemistry and originality of the characters. Kovak’s dry wit and smooth, easy to read writing style and characters that practically walk off the page make it the perfect novella for when you’re bored and need something interesting that keeps the pages turning (TIP: unless you’re a fearless/saucy/flirty/brave/i-don’t-give-a-**** type of person, it’s probably best to avoid people reading over your shoulder. But that’s just my shy-reader/romance-noob’s opinion).

I have only one qualm with The Fervor and that is the ending – specifically with our leading lady and how she decides to end things (because, REALLY?!). However, my frustration is stemming purely from a reader’s hope for more and not from the author’s master plan. When I took a step back, I started to realize all the wonderful things this ending could end up leading too – probably more shock and frantic reading on my part. Oh gosh, trust me – if I could tell you more I would, but I dare not share any spoilers. Just know that I cannot WAIT for that sequel!

So do I recommend for my fellow devilish fiends or any other curious kittens looking to come to the dark side? If that synopsis above didn’t convince you well then –

Yes. Why, yes I do.

Another romance that I’ve enjoyed and recommend?!
*shock*
I couldn’t even hold back posting this review – SEIZE THE DAY!

5 Incredible Thrillers That Would Make Amazing Movies

We are very excited to introduce our first ever guest post, written by the lovely Caroline! She has been kind enough to provide a nice break from reviews and show us five more books we’d love to read.
So without further ado, we’ll pass it over to Caroline!

Website Banner (Thrillers2)

Sometimes it seems as if Hollywood has adapted every book that hits the New York Times best-seller list. Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth. For every Bourne series there are hundreds more that don’t even make it to the drawing board. Not all books deserve the red-carpet treatment, and some might not even translate well to the big screen. Even books that seem like an obvious movie choice may end up falling victim to poor writing and casting.

With that said, thrillers are perhaps one of the best types of books to adapt to movies because they’re fast-paced with laser-focused plot lines. It’s not surprising then that Hollywood loves adapting this genre. Still, there are a few books that haven’t hit their radar just yet, and you should read them before they do. You can download all of these books through Amazon or Barnes and Noble. If you’re travelling and want to download these books, services like Buffered VPN help you get around geo-restrictions so you can read these anywhere and anytime!

tartt the secret historyThe Secret History by Donna Tartt

Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Audible | Indigo | Barnes & Noble

Set in a fictional New England college, “The Secret History” follows a group of classics students as their lives slowly unravel following the murder of a fellow student. Unlike many murder mysteries, the focus isn’t on the whodunit but more on the why. The novel explores the lasting effects of this murder on this tight-knit group. It’s a very character-driven story with all the elements of a good thriller—suspense, mystery and intrigue. While there are some bouts of action here, the novel is more a dissection of the inner workings of a group and how quickly everything can fall apart. Under the guidance of a good director and a writer who understands the intricacies of personal relationships, this would be a great film.

king the needleThe Needle by Francis King

Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK

Not for the faint of heart, “The Needle” is an insidious horror suspense story cantered on Lorna, a physician, and her younger brother Bob. As a diabetic, Bob must take his insulin shots; however, he shirks away from the duty, forcing Lorna to administer it for him. This dependent relationship began in their childhood and continues to the present day. After three years, Bob has moved back in with Lorna after living in Malaya. His silence and general listlessness, as well as some secrets she uncovers during their time together, lead Lorna to realize he is keeping something awful from her. It’s a dark, deep and uncomfortable world in “The Needle,” but despite showing the worst side of humanity, it also manages to highlight the depths of loyalty and love. This would be difficult to capture on film, but Hollywood has shown itself capable of jumping deeper into the human psyche.

cook markerMarker by Robin Cook

Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Indigo | Barnes & Noble

Robin Cook brings back recurring characters Laurie Montgomery and Jack Stapleton in the medical thriller “Marker.” People are dying following routine surgeries despite the fact these victims appear to be in good health. All of these deaths attract Laurie to the case who, while wanting to uncover the mystery, also uses it as a distraction from her personal problems with Jack. It’s a whirlwind story full of plot twists, suspense and just enough real science to keep people interested. It’s a bit light on the character development, but the plot makes it great for movie development. The book quickly ties up any subplots and loose ends while also leaving some room open for potential sequels.

walton the mask of minosThe Mask of Minos by Robert Walton

Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK Barnes & Noble

Move over, Indiana Jones; there’s a new archaeologist in town, and his name is Harry Thursday. Not much can force Harry out of retirement except maybe the mysteries surrounding the mask of Minos. Harry embarks on a journey to find the mask of Minos, something generations of archaeologists before him have tried to do but failed. With a background in archaeology, Walton manages to weave in actual methods of the discipline to the story while keeping it interesting to hook readers. There’s just enough characterization here to create a fully formed character in Harry. The backdrops are all stunning, from the snowcapped mountains to an ancient castle. It’s ripe for Hollywood with its epic storyline, superstitious lore, beautiful locations and, of course, heart-pounding action. This could be the more modern version of “Indiana Jones,” just with more archaeological knowledge.

canfield dark skyDark Sky by Joel Canfield

Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Audible | Indigo | Barnes & Noble

Down on his luck, ex-CIA agent Max Bowman takes on a job even the CIA won’t touch: trying to find a dead war hero. Once he takes the job, things take a turn for the worst as he’s thwarted at every step by a mysterious paramilitary organization called Dark Sky. Despite having a target on his back, Max pursues the truth at all costs. It’s a perfect book to turn into a movie. It’s brimming with exciting car chases, explosions, military intrigue and biting humour. Max, while unlikable in the beginning, grows on readers as he pushes forward despite opposition in all directions. He’s not a nice guy, but he is a good guy—a perfect hero for Hollywood to bring to the big screen.

There are hundreds of other thriller novels that would make amazing movies.

Did we miss one you think would look great on the big screen?
Let us know in the comments below.


caroline guestAbout the Author:

Caroline is a freelance writer who covers technology and entertainment. She loves seeing how directors and writers transform books into movies and hopes to see more thriller books on the big screen. Be sure to check out her other works, like 5 Non-Superhero Comics to Sneak Into Friends’ Reading Stacks and her analysis of Game of Thrones Season 6 vs. The Winds of Winter.

Twitter | Culture Coverage

Karina Whitt And the Gateway to Jinetha, by Viktoria Nikola

nikola karina whittSeries: First in the Series (?)
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Published: May, 2016
Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK

Just when Karina, a Russian-American archaeology student, decides that this supposedly exciting archaeology dig in Israel is more boring than a Monday morning pop quiz, she discovers an artifact that turns her world inside out.

The diamond-shaped relic she finds releases a genie that looks like the girl next door—but looks are deceiving. Unfortunately Jinnie, as she calls herself, doesn’t grant Karina three wishes. Instead, she brings the news that Karina is the only one who can aid Jinnie in a life-and-death mission to save an entire civilization.

Suddenly Karina finds herself plummeting into a strange and perilous world called Jinetha. She joins forces with Jinnie to battle over control of an ancient energy source known as The Eye Of Divinity. On top of everything else, she learns that two mysterious guys from her archaeological dig are involved in this otherworldly mess. But can she trust either of them? Kalim, the local heartthrob who makes her knees weak, seems too good to be true. And she can tell that Lee, the Mossad operative, is hiding something.

Before she knows it, Karina is in way over her head. She’s not made of hero material. How can she possibly come through? But she has to at least try. She wouldn’t be able to live with herself if she didn’t. And the Jinetheans wouldn’t be able to live at all.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  3.5 / 5
Format: Paperback
Started: July 16th, 2016
Finished: July 18th, 2016
Drink Pairing: A nice hot cup of tea – something dark and spicy!

A big thank you to Viktoria for a copy in exchange for an honest review!

Oh boy, did this book take me by surprise. When Viktoria emailed us asking if we were interested in reading Karina Whitt and the Gateway to Jinetha I was thrilled – as in jumping in my chair and doing the happy dance kind of thrilled. I’d seen her book floating around other blogs and Instagram and I’m a sucker for beautiful books (psst..! It’s also SILKY SMOOTH for all those book strokers out there. BONUS!), but then I discovered it was about archaeology, genies, and alternate worlds? Yes ma’am this was most certainly right up my alley! I couldn’t wait to curl up in a hole with blankets and pillows and air conditioning and disappear into Isreal and Jinetha.

Alas, enthusiasm only gets you so far until the book needs to take over. If I’m being completely honest it took me a while to really get into the story and the characters. I was completely lost in Israel having never been anywhere remotely close, nor do I know anything about archaeology except dirt and brushes and dinosaurs. It was vaguely like being pushed into a cold pool in a white dress. I wanted to know more about Isreal even though Viktoria does a great job of explaining it’s a really big pile of sand dunes and blazing heat, and I couldn’t find a single thing I had in common with the characters for the first half of the book. I couldn’t connect. I was beating myself up over it for quite a while waiting for us to get on the same page –

And then it happened.

This beautiful, soft, little book and I clicked together like long lost friends sitting down over a cold beer. It was Viktoria’s world building after leaving Isreal and the inclusion of brilliant secondary characters and their back stories that had me singing like a chickadee and giggling maniacally. I went from critic to fan in the blink of an eye and was left absolutely distraught that book two isn’t even a notion yet (please let me be wrong!).

But really, can we get back to the genie worlds, please?

Despite Isreal being the main reason I wanted to read Karina Whitt when I opened to page it, it ended up being my least favourite location (in the book!). Viktoria does a smashing job of making the dig site seem as both the most boring and the most important place in the world, but even a trip to the Red Sea wasn’t enough to keep me in Isreal. I was like a dog on a bone – one lick of magic and a trip with the Doctor and you’re hooked. A crack addict with an arm scratch. If we never went back to Earth I would be one very happy reader.

…And those secondary characters?

I am horrible for being overly critical on protagonists. Most of the time I find a trait that nags at me until the end of the book, effectively altering my opinion of them. But when you have other characters that help them, nurture them, and just make the reading environment more like a party in a bloodbath than a ninja assassination? *round of applause* I’m not going to spoil anything by naming names but I was falling head over heels in cackling laughter and shipping so hard I wanted to smush the pages together to try and reach the characters. *scratch*scratch*

(No pages were harmed during the reading of this book.)

So should you look for Karina Whitt? Yes, yes you should. It’s an adorable little YA Fantasy that took me by surprise and will hold a proud place on my bookshelf (I may even let friends borrow it – registration is open). Viktoria brings a unique perspective to intervention and the role, expectations, and responsibilities that come along with power. Following Karina through the worlds of the Genie makes me dream of the fan art these magical worlds could produce – the imagination and imagery keeps you drooling until the last page. So even with the slow start and the initial disconnection, I loved how this ended and cannot wait for the sequel.

Thank you so much, Viktoria!

And is there any future plans for book two? 😀

*scratch*scratch*

Stormdancer, by Jay Kristoff

kristoff stormdancerSeries: The Lotus War # 1
Genre: Fantasy
Published: August, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Audible | Indigo | Barnes & Noble

A DYING LAND
The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.

AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST
The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger – a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

A HIDDEN GIFT
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  4.5 / 5
Format: Library Hardcover
Started: July 14th, 2016
Finished: July 15th, 2016
Drink Pairing: Can I recommend sake even though I’ve still never actually had it?

I’m conflicted with this review. I just finished mini-reviewing and rating Kinslayer and realized I never ended up reviewing Stormdancer. Which means instead of the shining, raving review you would have gotten before I’d read Kinslayer you’re going to have a slightly more critical look back on Stormdancer and the things I overlooked.

If you couldn’t tell from this glorious cover and Patrick Rothfuss’ excerpt, Stormdancer is a Steampunk fantasy set in feudal Japan. It was basically like reading an anime (that I wish was an anime) and I was in love. Kristoff weaves a beautiful story of a young girl with some bad-ass fighting skills and a rare talent that allows her to communicate with animals (in her head, of course. No Doctor Doolittle adventures here). The Shima Isles, divided by four clans – Tiger, Dragon, Phoenix, and Fox – and monitored by the Guild, is slowly dying under the strain of Lotus farming. The poisonous plant that sustains the entire nation burns and poisons the ground, making it permanently inhabitable to both plants and humans.

A country shroud in lies and deceit and repression, the revolution starts small but grows fast. Hiding her talent while trying to find the truth and herself in this coming of age story, Yukiko steals the stage and sets to the skies with Buruu – the impossible and magnificent Thunder Tiger.

But really:

“Wait,” he whispered.
But she didn’t.

Basically the book. Annoying? Yes. Original? No. Still enough to keep me reading? With enough sighs, yes.

What really got me hooked was Kristoff’s character and world building. Despite only being 16 years old, Yukiko is so awesome she had my head spinning. She is the daughter of the legendary Kitsune Hunter (proper title escapes me now) who is painted on rice-paper walls. But she doesn’t just rely on his name to make her famous – no no. She’s also as good of a hunter as him and works as one of the Shogun’s four master hunters. Colour me impressed.

And the wit? Totally my speed.

“He wants a thunder tiger, Akihito.”
“Well, I want a woman who can touch her ears with her ankles, cook a decent meal and keep her opinions to herself. But they don’t fucking exist either!”

On top of keeping track of dozens of characters, Kristoff also adds the element of animal personalities. The Thunder Tiger, Buruu, for example, quickly learns the art of sarcasm and humour but still has yet to learn why humans do with the lips and the spit and the touchy things (and then think about it for hours afterwards.. which he can hear if it’s Yukiko):

RAIJIN, TAKE ME NOW.
She shot Buruu a withering glance as he rolled over on his back and pawed at the sky.
HAVE MERCY ON ME, FATHER. TAKE MY WINGS. CHAIN ME TO STINKING EARTH. BUT THIS TORTURE I CANNOT ENDURE.
“Oh, shut it.”

My only qualm with Kristoff is his writing. Almost every other page my eyes would skim over the many long paragraphs to see if there was dialogue (sometimes nothing for three or four pages), or  what would happen next because I didn’t care about small details. I hate when I do that and it’s usually a sign that the author is either taking too long to get to the point, being too verbose for the world building required, or are going off on some random tangent that I don’t care enough about (personal opinion only).

He also spent too many words on world-building. Usually there’s issues of under world building but my goodness, after half a book I’m pretty sure I don’t need another four paragraphs to tell me how much the streets smell like shit and how everything has a red tint from the lotus smoke. I got it. I read it the first time. Twenty chapters ago.

Not to mention that his poetic narrative seems to be what most people are hung up on. And I understand, I do. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense. Sometimes poetic dialogue and prose actually diminishes from the beauty or simplicity instead of adding to it.

“Our troubles are but mayflies, rising and falling between the turn of dawn and dusk. And then they are gone to the houses of memory, you and I will remain, Yukiko.”

It can be a little hard to read, sometimes – that’s when you skip the line and keep moving. So how do you decide if you like his writing or not, when half the time you’re skipping paragraphs, and the other half you’re swooning over how beautiful it is?

…I don’t know either.

But all in all, the overly poetic prose and over detailed world building aren’t enough to keep me away from this series, nor is it enough to make me down rate how much I absolutely loved Stormdancer. Kinslayer is another story, but I’ll save that for another day.

ENOUGH NOISE. STAND ASIDE. I WILL GUT HIM.

Caverns and Creatures Series, by Robert Bevan

Series:  Caverns and Creatures # 1 – 4
Genre:
  Fantasy

Critical Failures: Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Audible | Barnes & Noble
Tim and his friends find out the hard way that you shouldn’t question the game master, and you shouldn’t make fun of his cape.
One minute, they’re drinking away the dreariness of their lives, escaping into a fantasy game and laughing their asses off. The next minute, they’re in a horse-drawn cart surrounded by soldiers pointing crossbows at them.
Tim now has the voice and physique of a prepubescent girl. Dave finds that while he lost a foot or two in height, he somehow acquired a suit of armor and a badass beard. Julian’s ears have grown ridiculously long and pointy. And Cooper… well Cooper has gotten himself a set of tusks, a pair of clawed hands, and a bad case of the shits. He also finds that he’s carrying a bag with a human head in it – a head that he had chopped off when they were still just playing a game.
Shit just got real, and if they want to survive, these four friends are going to have to tap into some baser instincts they didn’t even know existed in their fast-food and pizza delivery world.
It’s fight, flight, or try to convince the people who are trying to kill them that they don’t really exist.
Meanwhile, a sadistic game master sits back in the real world eating their fried chicken.

Critical Failures II: Fail Harder: Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Audible | Barnes & Noble
Finding themselves permanently stuck in this strange new world, the gang tries to make the best of it by finding the nearest tavern and getting shitfaced. The plan goes just fine until they lose Katherine and Chaz. They soon discover that they aren’t the first players Mordred has sent to this world.

Critical Failures III: A Storm of S-Words: Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Audible | Barnes & Noble
Going back home was not exactly what Tim and the C&C gang expected. Trouble continues to follow them back to Gulf Coast Mississippi. Trouble… and a gnome… and an undead midget.

Critical Failures IV: The Phantom Pinas: Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Barnes & Noble
The adventure continues. Tim and the C&C gang face their most difficult challenges yet. Horses die. Eyeballs are eaten. People are urinated on. A god is born.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating: 3 / 5
Format: Kindle Unlimited
Started: May 27th, 2016
Finished: June 5th, 2016
Drink Pairing:
 Arrogant Bastard Ale – dark, bitter, and strong. …Kind of like Cooper, except not full of shit.

It’s a safe bet that we all know someone that plays Dungeons and Dragons. Maybe it was the weird kid in high school, your cousin from another mister; maybe you just read the D&D books or were you’re lucky enough to play yourself (you lucky thing, you). Regardless, if you don’t know what Dungeons and Dragons is..

what rock are you living under?!

The Caverns and Creatures series by Robert Bevan is a comical, and often quite crude, story about four guys who go from playing C&C with a strange Cavern Master found on Craigslist (mistake #1) to being in the Caverns and Creatures game. From a harmless tabletop game and beers to a flying arrow assault nightmare, Tim, Cooper, Dave, and Julian have to try and survive with the consequences of their character stats and a Cavern Master who’s hell bent on making their game-lives a living hell.

Charisma over strength? Probably not such a good idea, Cooper (but damn did that make a great story).

The first book is the best by far as books two through four become increasingly crude, trite, and absurd, but my curiosity got the better of me and I finished the series. Heck, if I come back to this in a year or two and there’s four more published I may even read those.

But honestly, just read the first one. It’s original (I think?), hilarious, and just the right amount of crude to give you a good laugh and think twice about what it’d be like to step into your character’s shoes. Or hooves. 😉

Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes

moyes me before youSeries: Me Before You # 1
Genre:  General Fiction
Published:  January, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Audible | Indigo | Barnes & Noble

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A love story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  4 / 5
Format:  Paperback
Started:  May 31st, 2016
Finished:  May 31st, 2016
Wine Pairing:
  After the bottle or two of whatever wine you have in the fridge, you’ll just need a bunch of water and tissues.

Real, witty, and heart wrenching…

…I can promise you that this book will live up to every and all expectations you hold for it – especially if you have been lucky enough to stay relatively in the dark about exactly what happens.

But really, this book is a gem. I know, I know, that’s hard to say seeing as it’s already been made into a moviebut seriously. Moyes’ writing is unbelievably articulate and heart wrenching, but so refreshing and beautiful that you hate but love it all at the same time.

There was a lot of things I didn’t agree with, but there were a lot of things I did. I fell in love with all of the characters and found a little something to relate with each of them. Luckily, I missed the tears and slobber fest that everyone else seems to have, only tearing up once or twice. Like many of the other reviews from great people I’ve read, I’m not going to go into detail about what this book is about. It’s really a book best served cold (…but not in a weird way).

But really, just grab a box of tissues or a bottle of wine (discretion advised) and sit down with this pretty little book. I, personally, have no desire to read the second book and like to think of this as a stand-alone novel, so don’t sweat the sequel. Just sit down, relax, and enjoy Louisa and Will.

Have you seen the movie or read the book?
Did the two compare?

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

hosseini the kite runnerSeries: Standalone
Genre: Fiction / Historical Fiction
Published: May, 2003
Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Indigo

“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.”

Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  3 / 5
Format: Paperback
Started: June 30th, 2016
Finished: July 2nd, 2016
Drink Pairing: Dark, black coffee and two sugars.

The Kite Runner has always been a book that seemed distant to me. Not just because of the geographic distance between Canada and Afghanistan or the religious difference between something-in-between-nothing and Muslim, but because The Kite Runner has always hung around my head for years in big, flashing bold Impact font. It’s whispered and beckoned like all the classics – The Iliad, the Odyssey, Frankenstein, The Divine Comedy – that sing like sirens and taunt their maturity. Their pages are full of stories and verses that make your head spin and your heart soar, and they tear down the walls you’ve built up and think you hide behind only to give you a stick and push you on a path and tell you to walk. You know they are great: partially because you’ve always been told they’re great, and partially because you want to believe them. Even though it isn’t right to fear a book that is on the other side of your wall I think that it’s okay to put it aside, let it simmer and wait until you warm to it, before picking it up.

The Kite Runner waited many years for me. I saw it on all the top, “Must Read!” lists and Gilmore Girls and Emma Watson has recommended Hosseini’s other works too – it’s constant praise is most likely what raised it to the level of classics (the comparison I’m sure many will not appreciate). Then finally one morning, I woke up thinking, “It’s time,” like I was staring in a Hollywood heist movie. Hidden away in my favourite used book shop I found my copy; a few weeks later I was savouring every page.

And that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too.

Despite our history together, as soon as I opened to the first page all preconceived notions and expectations evaporated. I was able to enjoy the book for what it is:

a beautiful fiction novel.

Amir is the son of a wealthy and highly respected businessman in Kabul, and Hassan is the son of his father’s servant. They have played together since they were born, flown and ran kites together in the winter, and climbed the pomegranate tree with their names carved into it. But personal histories only go as far as loyalties run, and Hosseini beautifully portrays the dynamics between father-son and childhood boys, and the power jealousy has over the fragility of friendships. As it was set in Afghanistan, the culture, history, and religion drew a beautiful and eerie back-drop of what life in Afghanistan was, and is, like as it contrasts with Western culture. There is even a brief glimpse into Afghan community life within San Francisco.

So was the build up appropriate for the book? In a way, yes. Hosseini’s writing was beautiful and captured my attention, I enjoyed savouring the pages and took my time reading them. The story and characters were diverse and spanned many years, there was growth and shortcomings, change and stagnation. And in a way, no. It’s not life changing like I was expecting it to be. Eye-opening, sure, and enjoyable, of course. But not quite the life changing read I was expecting. Though, is this really a bad thing? The Kite Runner is, after all, only a fiction.

For you, a thousand times over.

Do you come across many books that have a long-standing history
and set expectations, that turn out to be something completely different?

Hero, by Perry Moore

moore heroSeries: Standalone
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Published: January, 2007
Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Indigo | Barnes & Noble

The last thing in the world Thom Creed wants is to add to his dad, Hal’s, pain, so he keeps secrets. Like that he has special powers. And that he’s been asked to join the League–the very organization of superheroes that spurned his father. The most painful secret of all is one Thom can barely face himself: he’s gay.

But becoming a member of the League opens up a new world for Thom. There, he connects with a misfit group of aspiring heroes, including Scarlett, who can control fire but not her anger; Typhoid Larry, who can make anyone sick with his touch; and Ruth, a wise old broad who can see the future. Like Thom, these heroes have things to hide, but they will have to learn to trust one another when they uncover a deadly conspiracy within the League.

To survive, Thom will face challenges he never imagine. To find happiness, he’ll have to come to terms with his father’s past and discover the kind of hero he really wants to be.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  4 / 5
Format: Paperback
Started: July 3rd, 2016
Finished: July 4th, 2016
Wine Pairing: Some sweet kind of red wine… a sangria, maybe? Or a rum and coke! And pizza…

This was my second time reading Hero, and just as with the first time I’m absolutely smitten.

Our main man, Thom, is an adorably geeky teen who’s wicked at basketball, volunteers at the local Student Life Center, and makes a fool of himself every now and then by speaking before thinking (he’s so adorable in his horrible covers ups I just want to hug him!). His dad is an ex-superhero. In fact, he is the ex-non-super-superhero after the world places the blame of a disastrous accident on his shoulders. He bans anything super-hero related in the house, forbidding Thom or anyone who comes near him from admiring or reading about what superheros have been up to.

With a father who has adamantly expressed his opinion on homosexuality (basically ?) and anyone who has super powers, Thom is stuck. Torn between wanting to confide in his father and hoping for comfort, and not wanting to disappoint his father by being everything he despises, Thom continues in on silence. His father has sacrificed everything for Thom, how could he throw it in his face by being everything he hates? Especially after he goes to join the League – the superhero League that protects the city and it’s inhabitants from supervillains and monsters – that disbanded his father years ago. He joins together with a team of motley heroes – the super fast Golden Boy, spit fire (literally) pizza delivery girl Miss Scarlet, the future watcher Ruth, and contageious Larry – as they work to prove themselves worthy of joining the League and to become the team they need to be –

because they need to save the world, of course.

And then, amongst all of the cuteness and adorableness, you get these infinitely profound moments like:

“You can’t go on like you’re going to start really living one day like all this is some preamble to some great life that’s magically going to appear. I’m a firm believer that you have to create your own miracles, don’t hold out that there’s something waiting on the other side. It doesn’t work that way. When you’re gone, you’re gone. There’s no pearly white gates with an open bar and all the Midori you can drink. You get one go-around and you gotta make it count. I know that it sounds harsh, but it’s true. Don’t wait.”

I’ve been perusing through Goodreads and looking at all the bad reviews and sure, there was a lot of cliches and yes, the writing probably could have been better, but I am lucky enough to really not care and still love this book for the plot and the characters. There was a lot of times I found myself skipping the big long paragraphs, and I noticed this time around that I have no idea what any of the characters looked like aside from Thom, Goran, and Uberman. This realization came about when Golden Boy said no one could ever tell what race he was and I realized I just have this picture of, literally, a kid in a full body gold spandex suit from tip-top to toes. Like Frozone, but sparkly-Twilight-gold and a full face mask (obviously).

And did anyone else picture Justice as Martian Manhunter from the Justice League?

Because I did. Even though Justice is totally supposed to be the Clark Kent of the book, he will always be Martian Manhunter to me.

So if you’re looking for something for your exquisite literary palate of the day then maybe you should pass up Hero. But for anyone in need of a light tale with a sappy ending and a cute superhero MC, I cannot recommend Hero enough. Because it’s basically The Incredibles and Teen Titans combined. Aka: Fabulous.

… maybe I should have started with that?

Have you read any great superhero books lately?
And did you know Perry Moore exec-produced the Narnia movies?! Yup, I’m shocked too.

Apparently, there was talk of producing Hero into a movie, but no official word yet.
Especially not with the death of Perry Moore in 2011 which is devastating! 🙁

Charades, by Todd Foley

Website Banner (Charades Blog Tour)

Welcome to the Charades blog tour!

[ Hosted by the lovely Trisha at TrishaJennReads ]

I am incredibly excited to take part in the Blog Tour for Todd Foley’s beautiful novella that’s still fresh off the press. It’s a beautiful short novella that was published in May of this year – I read it in an hour. And then again a a second hour. I also discovered that this is available on Kindle Unlimited, so check out the other stops on the tour and then go grab yourself a copy and a cup of coffee (*ahem* Tim Hortons?)!


foley charadesSeries: Standalone
Genre: Literary Novella
Published: May, 2016
Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK

Who are you? What do you do, and why? How do you make everyone believe it? How far will you go to keep it that way?

Meet Otis, an elderly owner of a meat shop in Vancouver, Canada. Slow to move but quick to observe, Otis knows all about his faithful customers – the food they eat, the company they keep, the secrets they unwittingly divulge and the perceptions they’re determined to sustain. But what’s Otis to do with this unwanted burden? How can he bring about their freedom and deliverance? What will happen to them if he doesn’t?

Set in a rainy metropolis as diverse as its residents, Charades examines the narratives we fashion and the measures we take to maintain those stories.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  4 / 5
Format: Ebook
Started: June 27th, 2016
Finished: June 27th, 2016
Wine Pairing: Forget wine, all I want is a Tim Hortons chili.

First, a huge thank you to Todd for writing this magnificent little novella and providing a copy for review!

Otis is an affable protagonist that captures your attention before you realize it. He sneaks up on you (which isn’t an admirable trait in anyone who wields a knife as a profession) and holds your hand gently as you’re lead through the day to day life in Vancouver as a butcher. He is quiet, approachable, and hard working. It sounds simple – kind of like how life is quite often. It passes before your eyes, your days float and begin to meld together and you’re flipping another page on the calendar before you know it.

To be honest, throughout most of the story I thought this was a beautiful novella that brought out the subtleties of day to day life – that it zeroed in on focusing on the world around you instead of going through life like a zombie most of us do (especially with smart phones all attached at our hips). I have always found there to be a certain magic in the detailed description and observation of life – whole life that extends beyond your bubble. I devoured the novella and loved every page of it! It’s beautiful in it’s simpleness, and following an elderly butcher in Vancouver was so different from my own life I couldn’t help being sucked in. Foley’s writing is so fluid and familiar, it’s like you’re talking with an old friend.

I sometimes stop by the public library on my way home. It’s a bit out of my way, but it’s a sight to be held. Modeled after the Colosseum, I feel like I’ve been transported to a simpler time. Well, not simple; it was a venue for watching humans kill each other for sport. Learning is a much more admirable activity.

But while the gentleness with which he builds Otis and his customers assimilates you into the life of a Vancouver native, it contrasts with the plunge as Foley delves deeper beneath the covers and the masks that people build up around themselves. There is irony and there is simplicity. Indirectly we explore vices, flaws, weaknesses, mistakes: the darkness of humanity that we all carry a little piece of. The same people we know in the cubicle beside us or that serve us coffee all hold secrets and have skeletons in their closets – just like you and I.

Everyone has at least one vice. Something to which they constantly need access or within close proximity. A sense of security. An extension of their identity. A habit they can’t break.
What’s yours?

“Charades examines the narratives we fashion
and the measures we take to maintain those stories.”

Oh yes, this line from the synopsis sums it all up nicely.

A fascinating and intriguing read that had me hooked until the end, Charades is an absolute gem. The range and depth of the characters and their secrets kept me guessing, Foley’s writing had me hooked, and the ending – oh that ending! Perfection.

… intrigued yet? 😉

todd foleyAbout Todd Foley:

Todd Foley is an American who made the move to British Columbia, Canada, where he lives with his wife and growing family. He is the author or Eastbound Sailing and Man Speak. He finds inspiration for storytelling via his unorganized bookshelf, a nonsequiter Netflix queue and using public transit.

scribbledrevisions.com
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Other works: Eastbound Sailing | Prodigal | Man Speak: Conversations on Manhood, Responsibility and [not] Growing Up