Thursday, April 30, 2015

Review: The Secrets of Attraction by Robin Constantine

Release date: April 28, 2015
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 384
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review through Edelweiss
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Set in the same world as The Promise of Amazing, this smart, surprising, and romantic follow-up to Robin Constantine's debut novel follows two New Jersey teens as they become friends and fall in love. Perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins, Sarah Mlynowski, and Jennifer E. Smith.

Madison Pryce thinks she's got everything figured out—she's working on a portfolio for a summer art program and hanging with her friends. Plus she has her hot boyfriend, Zach. But then a visit from a family friend turns Maddie's life upside down.

Jesse McMann is still reeling from a breakup that shattered his heart and his band. Then pride (and some goading from his bass player and fellow barista) forces him to find a new drummer—and the inspiration to write music again.

Kismet arrives in the unlikely form of Grayson Barrett, who tries out for Jesse's band, and whose girlfriend is BFFs with the cute girl who orders a chai latte after yoga every Thursday: Maddie. What Jesse and Maddie thought they knew about the secrets of attraction and the rules of romance changes once they start falling for each other.
After so enjoying Robin Constantine's debut, The Promise of Amazing, I knew I'd love to read more of her books, so I was excited to read The Secrets of Attraction! It was even more of a treat to see this follow up was set in the same world and the characters I'd come to love, Wren and Grayson, played a big part in Maddie and Jess' story--but I love them in their own way, too.

I loved how well the friendships stood out in this. I don't recall them being so strong in The Promise of Amazing, but that could very well be my memory failing and not the book itself. They're certainly not perfect--and it's frustrating when Maddie doesn't tell Wren and Jazz what's going on in her life because it'd help her so much!--but the foundation and the sheer presence of her friends is wonderful. Plus, Jesse's got his bandmate Tanner, and eventually Grayson. Their relationships develop as the book goes on and it's so nice to see how their time together creates a bond.

There's certainly some drama--lots of family stuff and an inability to let herself get invested in a relationship on Maddie's side and ex-girlfriend stuff for Jesse--and it's so hard not to want to smush their faces together because it's so obvious they like one another. Yet, it's so satisfying when the ending comes. Simply put, The Secrets of Attraction is a seriously enjoyable read, and I can't wait for more from Robin Constantine. (A Jazz and Tanner book, YES?)

About the author:

Robin Constantine is a born and bred Jersey girl who moved down South so she could wear flip-flops year round. She spends her days dreaming up stories where love conquers all, well, eventually but not without a lot of peril, angst and the occasional kissing scene.

Her YA debut, THE PROMISE OF AMAZING, was released on December 31, 2013 by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett {91}

Title: Blood and Salt
Author: Kim Liggett
Release date: September 22, 2015
“When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.”

These are the last words Ash Larkin hears before her mother returns to the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But when Ash follows her to Quivira, Kansas, something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time.

Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town’s history of unrequited love and murder, alchemy and immortality. Charming traditions soon give way to a string of gruesome deaths, and Ash feels drawn to Dane, a forbidden boy with secrets of his own.

As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash must fight not only to save her mother, but herself—and discover the truth about Quivira before it’s too late. Before she’s all in—blood and salt.

OH MY GOSH. That quote! That could have been the whole synopsis and I would've been sold. Yep.

 So what are you guys waiting on this week? :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Release Day Blitz: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir + Giveaway

I am so excited that AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir releases today and that I get to share the news, along with a special introduction from Sabaa herself!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Sabaa Tahir, be sure to check out all the details below.

This blitz also includes a giveaway for a signed copy of the book and some of those awesome sword letter openers we’ve seen around courtesy of Sabaa, Penguin Teen, and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

A letter from Sabaa Tahir.

Dear Readers,

Today, my “baby” AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is finally out in the world! From inception to pub date, this journey took eight years. And what a journey it was: writing, rewriting, revising, editing, querying, submitting; Meeting other debuts, bloggers, booksellers and librarians, and hearing their thoughts on EMBER. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the radness.

And now, the book is here! I am so excited to see it in the hands of readers. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. To celebrate release day, I’m giving away two signed, first-edition hardcovers of the book. Details below!

All my best,


Release date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 464
Buy the book: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks, Goodreads

Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

Check out the book trailer!

About Sabaa:
Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

Giveaway Details:

2 winners will receive a signed hardcover of AN EMBER IN THE ASHES. US Only.

3 winners will receive a hardcover of AN EMBER IN THE ASHES and a Sword Letter Opener! US Only.

Ends on May 9th at Midnight EST!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Stacking the Shelves {115}

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to share the books we've bought, been gifted, or received for review!

How was everybody's week? Mine's been really good! Between my actual birthday on Monday (23 now!), just all-round good days at work, and our birthday celebration yesterday (my mom's birthday is just 4 days before mine, so we waited to really celebrate and had a fancy meal in New Orleans--which was TO DIE FOR), it's been a really good one. :)


The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
I've loved two retellings of this book, so clearly it's high time I read the real thing.

A recap of the week here on Paper Cuts:
Tuesday - Teaser Tuesday: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Wednesday - Waiting on Wednesday: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Friday - Review: Rook by Sharon Cameron

Books I read this week:
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
The Secrets of Attraction by Robin Constantine

I'm currently reading:
99 Days by Katie Cotugno

So that's been my week! A slim one, eh? Not so great on the posting side of life, or the reading, really, but it's been a little busy. I only work two days this week, though, so I hope that turns into a lot more reading time. We'll see! Have a lovely Sunday and a fabulous week!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Review: Rook by Sharon Cameron

Release date: April 28, 2015
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 464
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher provided for review
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she. 

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.
I fully admit I've been putting off this review. Rook is one of those books I loved so much that I'm not sure I'll be able to put it into words. I don't even know where to start. I've not read The Scarlet Pimpernel (though I totally bought a copy this week--that shall change!), but Sharon Cameron does so much more than just retell the story.

Rook is a book that reads like a historical while it's truly more dystopian than anything. There's a rather complicated setup that is slowly unraveled as the story moves forward, and it's just fascinating. The world is lush and glamorous with a big hint of grit, and it's one I couldn't get enough of.

It's very clear that Sophie is the Red Rook in Rook, so that's not the unexpectedly wonderful part of this book, though her unrelenting dedication and her careful planning are certainly a highlight. What make Rook so hard to put down and so good are the characters. They range the gamut from crazed zealot to frustrated would-be suitor to steely-eyed family matriarch, with everything in between. Each character is carefully crafted that it's been several weeks since I read this book and it's easy to pinpoint all of the players and I could easily spout off information about each one.

The other standout aspect of Rook is the romance. THE ROMANCE. I could not get enough of it. Sophie and Rene are stand-out characters--even amongst a cast as strong as this--to begin with, but their slow-build relationship is perfection. The realization that neither is who they pretend to be, their banter, their mutual attraction, and their eventual coming together--it's all tremendously pleasurable to read. Their clear respect for the other and admiration of each other's abilities and intelligence make it even better.

My one and only little quibble is that Rook reads a little long at times. What feels like the ending of the book really isn't and the expectation that it is makes it feel rather long in parts. (It won't even lose half a star for it, though... Too much love, y'all.)

Yet, once I got near the final pages, I wasn't happy--because that meant the story was over and my first experience with Sophie and Rene was finished. Rook is absolutely a book that will have a place on my shelves and one that'll frequently be removed so I can reread the parts I've marked and so I can reread the whole book.

About the author:

Sharon Cameron was awarded the 2009 Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award by the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators for her debut novel, The Dark Unwinding. When not writing Sharon can be found thumbing dusty tomes, shooting her longbow, or indulging in her lifelong search for secret passages. She lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard {90}

Title: Truthwitch
Author: Susan Dennard
Release date: January 2016
On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery,” a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.
Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Na na na, does it even matter what this book is about? I so loved Susan Dennard's Something Strange and Deadly series that she's pretty much auto-buy for me already. BUT this also sounds awesome. I'm not big on witch books normally, yet a good author can make all the difference!

2016 RELEASEEEE. Can you believe that?!?

 So what are you guys waiting on this week? :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas {116}

Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Release date: May 5, 2015
A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

My teaser, from pg. 181 in the ARC:
Understanding a dismissal, and craving the locked door of my bedroom, I trudged back to the house, contemplating who this she was to make Tamlin and Lucien so nervous, and to command that thing as her messenger.

The spring breeze whispered that I didn't want to know.

I'm SO enjoying this so far! I can't get enough Beauty and the Beast everything, so of course I love that, but I like that it's new adult and fantasy, too. :D

I'll be visiting around and visiting back, so leave me links to your teasers! :) Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Stacking the Shelves {114}

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to share the books we've bought, been gifted, or received for review!

How was everybody's week? Mine's been good! MAH BIRTHDAY IS TOMORROW! I'm one of those people who tell everyone about their birthday for weeks. I'll be 23, oh my gosh. 

For review:

Hello, I Love You by Katie Stout
Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez


Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Must get ready for the signing! I just wanted to be sure I had THIS hardcover so I could have the pretty matching set. :D
Harry Potter Boxed Set
Did y'all see this boxed set on Amazon for 26 dollars??? I grabbed it so quickly, oh my gosh. I have nowhere to put it, but I couldn't care less.

A recap of the week here on Paper Cuts:
Tuesday - Teaser Tuesday: Love Fortunes and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius
Wednesday - Waiting on Wednesday: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Thursday - Blog Tour: Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman {Review + Giveaway}
Friday - Movie Musical Challenge: Show Boat

Books I read this week:
Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke (Prisoner of Night and Fog #2) by Anne Blankman
Love Fortunes and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius

I'm currently reading:
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

So that's been my week! I could have gotten more reading done, but I got distracted by America's Next Top Model. Oops. :) Have a lovely Sunday and a fabulous week!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Movie Musical Challenge: Show Boat

Oy, I need to speed up on these! It's mid-April and I've watched two. Eek!

Next up, number twenty-four on the list, is Show Boat! Just as Charlene said in her post, I couldn't find the 1936 version on the AFI's list. so I watched the 1951 version. Kind of shame, but since I knew absolutely nothing about the musical, I guess I don't know what I'm missing.

In no way whatsoever did I know what I was getting with this one. ALL I knew about it was a little clip from the beginning when the show boat shows up for the first time and the company does a kind of tambourine dance. It's a brief moment in the final video of the Great Movie Ride in Hollywood Studios at Disney World. That's it! Three seconds at most. I was so hoping I'd like the whole movie, and I did!

I found the beginning to be a little slow, aside from the very fun opening when the boat comes into town, since it was hard to tell exactly where and who the story was going to focus on. But, once it found its focus, Magnolia and Gay, I was completely invested. I loved their story. It's certainly drama-filled, and Gaylord makes some truly terrible choices, but you can't hope but root for them to end up together.

I normally latch onto an upbeat song to be my favorite, but I have to say, there's a reason "Ol' Man River" is a classic. It's the only song from the musical I'd ever heard before (though I had no idea this is what it was from until the song started), and it's so compelling. Its production is lovely in its simplicity, and while it doesn't drive the plot of the movie forward, it never feels extraneous. I didn't think about it until I read up on the song, but the notes sung in the title phrase are some of the same as in the show's opening number, which is very upbeat and cheery--while "Ol' Man River" definitely is not. It's a lovely pairing and it shows the strength of the tune that it can be made into two very different songs. It never hurts that William Warfield's voice is absolutely stunning, either.

Since I'm only two musicals into this challenge, I really can't say where I'll place this one ultimately, but I know this is one I'll rewatch later on--and hopefully find a copy of the allegedly superior 1936 version to watch as well. I can see why it's considered a favorite, though, because it mixes a lot of fun moments (the opening, all of Ellie and Frank's numbers) with a very compelling story and characters you'll come to care about.

Next up, Guys and Dolls! Not a favorite, but one with some numbers I love

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Blog Tour: Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman {Revew + Giveaway}

Release date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 416
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review through Edelweiss
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
The girl known as Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: She used to be part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. More than a year after she made an enemy of her old family friend and fled Munich, she lives with a kindly English family, posing as an ordinary German immigrant, and is preparing to graduate from high school. Her love, Daniel Cohen, is a reporter in town. For the first time in her life, Gretchen is content.

But then, Daniel gets a telegram that sends him back to Germany, and Gretchen’s world turns upside-down. And when she receives word that Daniel is wanted for murder, she has to face the danger she thought she’d escaped-and return to her homeland.

Gretchen must do everything she can to avoid capture and recognition, even though saving Daniel will mean consorting with her former friends, the Nazi elite. And as they work to clear Daniel’s name, Gretchen and Daniel discover a deadly conspiracy stretching from the slums of Berlin to the Reichstag itself. Can they dig up the explosive truth and get out in time-or will Hitler discover them first?
Everything I loved about Prisoner of Night and Fog--the expert rendering of history to fit a fictional story, Gretchen's steadfast courage and strength of mind, and her honest and sweet romance with Daniel, to name a few things--was present in Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke, and many elements were even stronger this time around. In this sequel, Hitler himself plays less of a role, but the effects of everything he's been building in Germany hit Gretchen and Daniel just as hard as if the man himself were pulling the strings.

This time around, Gretchen and Daniel have a strong grasp of the danger in Germany at the time. They've witnessed Hitler's volatility firsthand and know there are plenty of people who would kill them on sight for their previous actions. And while it feels like they're jumping headfirst into a pit of vipers in going back to Germany, I can't help but admire how loyal and brave the two of them are. Even so, they're astonished at how things have changed in the nearly two years since they left. We know from history how Hitler wrestled uncontested control of Germany in the years leading up to World War II, but these are things happening in real time in the book. Their ideas that the world could hear of the Nazi machinations and somehow stop the takeover seem almost naive, and certainly idealistic, yet you can't help but hope that they'll succeed, that the horrors of what's to come can be erased--even if it's just in fiction.

Again, Gretchen is pretty marvelous as a protagonist. She's grown so much, seeing people for who they are and not allowing another's ideas to shade what she thinks of others, fighting tooth and nail and putting her life on the line for those she cares for. She's attuned to Daniel's feelings and needs, always trying to be aware of how her actions and words affect him, just as he is to hers. Their relationship is still just as sweet and has only grown stronger in this second book.

The Berlin of Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke is foreign to Gretchen and it's got a more insidious feeling to it than Munich did. Around every corner could be an SS officer coming to conduct a raid, with reason or without. Those who can feel the tides changing are making their way out of Germany while they still can. Others dangerously believe keeping their heads down will allow them to ride out the worst of the storm. Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke is another gut-wrenching novel, one that's only more painful because we know what's to come, but it stands strong with its predecessor.

 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

Follow the Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

Anne Blankman may have been meant to be a writer because her parents named her for Anne of Green Gables. She grew up in an old house with gables (gray, unfortunately) in upstate New York. When she wasn't writing or reading, she was rowing on the crew team, taking ballet lessons, fencing and swimming. She graduated from Union College with degrees in English and history, which comes in handy when she writes historical fiction.

After earning a master's degree in information science, Anne began working as a youth services librarian. Currently, she lives in southeastern Virginia with her family. When she's not writing young adult fiction, she's playing with her daughter, training for races with her husband, working at her amazing library branch, learning to knit (badly), and reading.

Anne Blankman is the author of PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG, the first in a three-book deal slated for publication in spring 2014 from Balzer + Bray | HarperCollins. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary.

US Only | Giveaway ends April 22nd, 2015