Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

My TBR list is always growing and I thought it would be fun to share my anticipation for those books with all of you. This is not my own original meme; it belongs to Breaking the Spine. It specifically spotlights upcoming releases. As it implies in the title, I'll be posting this meme on Wednesdays. Please feel free to comment and let me know what books you guys are waiting on as well!

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Published by HarperTeen
Expected Publication Date: Sept. 20, 2016
Pre-Order it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

I'm loving that this is about three queens! I have read so many fantasy novels that are about kings and princes, we need more powerful women ^_^ PLUS this about sisters, another thing that books seem to lack. All signs point to Three Dark Crowns being amazing and I'm so excited!

Kendare Blake is the author of several novels and short stories, most of which you can find information about via the links above. Her work is sort of dark, always violent, and features passages describing food from when she writes while hungry. She was born in July (for those of you doing book reports) in Seoul, South Korea, but doesn’t speak a lick of Korean, as she was packed off at a very early age to her adoptive parents in the United States. That might be just an excuse, though, as she is pretty bad at learning foreign languages. She enjoys the work of Milan Kundera, Caitlin R Kiernan, Bret Easton Ellis, Richard Linklater, and the late, great Michael Jackson, I mean, come on, he gave us Thriller.

She lives and writes in Kent, Washington, with her husband, their two cat sons (Tybalt and Tyrion Cattister) and their red Doberman dog son, Obi Dog Kenobi.
Connect with Kendare: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Of My Most Recent 5 Star Reads

I've seen this meme on a lot of blogs and decided to join in. This meme was created by The Broke and Bookish. Every Tuesday there is a new topic that involves a list of ten books. 

My favorite thing to do on Brittany's Book Rambles is to share the books that I love. Some of you have seen me rave about these books here, on Twitter (especially on my #BBTC feature), and everywhere else that I can. But in case you missed them, here are my most recent 5 Stars reads.

This is one of my favorite books of all time! I will be forever raving about this book. 

Roshani's writing is so lush that it makes you want to weep from it's beauty. Seriously, if you want to see artful writing, check out this book.

Definitely, the best contemporary novel that I have ever read.

A Peter Pan retelling that I think would make  J. M. Barrie proud.

The world that Heidi comes up with in The Girl From Everywhere is phenomenal. Studio Ghibli needs to take a look at turning this into one of their animated films. 

Badass females in a twisty historical fiction, how can anyone not love that?

A swoony Rapunzel retelling that I just adore. It's a dark story (literally) with lovely characters and a romance that made me swoon.

The first word that comes to mind when thinking of Illuminae is BRILLANT. From the way the book is formatted, the characters, the story itself. It's just fantastic. 

You should all know by now how much I love Leigh and all of her work. I can't say enough about her books and I will love them forever. 

Best action book I've read in a long time. Full review coming soon but this one is definitely getting 5 stars from me!

What do you guys think of these books? Have you read them? Are they on your TBR? Love them? Hate them? I want to know ^_^

Friday, March 25, 2016

Furious by T.R. Ragan Blitz!

Furious by T.R. Ragan
Published by Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: March 22, 2016
Pre-Order: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | Book Depository
Faith McMann comes home to a nightmare: her husband is killed and her son and daughter are taken. Although the intruders leave her for dead, she survives. Crippling grief and fear for her children make life unbearable. Until her anguish turns to anger…and she trades victimhood for vengeance. Frustrated with the law’s efforts, she takes action to rescue her children—and wreaks havoc on the brutal criminals who tore them from her. With her family and newfound allies at her side, Faith descends into the hellish underworld of human trafficking, determined to make those who prey on the innocent pray for mercy. The forces she's up against have already proven that their ruthlessness knows no bounds. And there's nothing they won't do to turn Faith's crusade into a suicide mission. But they're about to learn that nothing is more dangerous than a mother fighting for her children—especially one who's earned the nickname Furious.
Early Praise for Furious
“Faith McMann, heroine of this gripping novel, is a Sacramento schoolteacher, wife, and mother who comes home just in time to witness her husband’s throat getting cut and her two children hauled away. The attempt on her life is botched—the killers were in a hurry—and as she recovers, she’s convinced the police are brushing her off. So she whacks a detective with his computer keyboard and gets sentenced to anger management sessions. If this were a cookie-cutter thriller, the male hero would be tracking the killers with an automatic weapon and maybe a major babe beside him. But our hero is smarter than that, and her revenge is a product of relationships, not bullets. In classes, she meets other victims as angry as she is, and, together, in fine scenes of action and suspense, they seek explanations and vengeance as well as the children’s rescue, which takes them into a slimy world of human trafficking. Learn here about “lot lizards” and “kiddie strolls” on the way to a wild finale. Suspenseful and smart, in equal measure.” —Don Crinklaw, Booklist
“Searing...Readers with strong stomachs will eagerly await the next installment.” —Publishers Weekly

T.R. Ragan (Theresa Ragan) is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author. Her exciting Lizzy Gardner series: Abducted, Dead Weight, A Dark Mind, Obsessed, Almost Dead, and Evil Never Dies, has received tremendous praise. In August 2015 Evil Never Dies hit #7 on the Wall Street Journal Bestselling List. Since publishing in 2011, she has sold over two million books and has been mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, the L.A. Times, PC Magazine, Huffington Post, and Publishers Weekly.

Theresa grew up in a family of five girls in Lafayette, California. An avid traveler, her wanderings have carried her to Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, China, Thailand, and Nepal, where she narrowly survived being chased by a killer elephant. Before devoting herself to writing fiction, she worked as a legal secretary for a large corporation. Theresa and her husband Joe have four children and live in Sacramento, California. FURIOUS, the first book in her most recent Faith McMann series will be released March 22, 2016, followed by OUTRAGE and WRATH.

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Everland by Wendy Spinale ARC Review

Everland by Wendy Spinale
Paperback ARC, 312 pages
Published by Scholastic Press
Publication Date: May 10, 2016
Pre-Order: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Forget the story of Peter Pan you know. Because in Everland, the only way to grow up is to survive.

London has been destroyed in a blitz of bombs and disease. The only ones who have survived are children, among them Gwen Darling and her siblings, Joanna and Mikey. They spend their nights scavenging and their days avoiding the ruthless Marauders—the German Army led by Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer.

Unsure if the virus has spread past England's borders but desperate to leave, Captain Hook hunts for a cure, which he thinks can be found in one of the survivors. He and his Marauders stalk the streets snatching children for experimentation. None ever return. Until the day they grab Joanna. As Gwen sets out to save her, she meets a mysterious boy named Pete. Pete offers the assistance of his gang of Lost Boys and the fierce sharpshooter Bella, who have all been living in a city hidden underground. But in a place where help has a steep price and every promise is bound by blood, it will cost Gwen. And are she, Pete, the Lost Boys, and Bella enough to outsmart Captain Hook?

Everland has everything you love about Peter Pan but reimagined to include a dark, steampunk, dystopian-like world. My heart is absolutely soaring after reading this book, and I love all of the new twists that were added to the story. Though I haven't read the original Peter Pan novel (and shame on me for that) but I think that J.M. Barrie would be proud of this retelling. It even incorporates some of the original lines from Peter Pan, which just makes me extremely giddy. I had so much fun reading Everland, that I wish that I could read it again for the first time. Everland is definitely one of my favorite retellings and by far one of the best steampunk novels I've ever read!

1) If you were a kid like me who knew that Peter and Wendy were an item, then you need this book! It is the relationship confirmation we've all been dying for! I adore their chemistry, and how they bring the best out in each other. It was great, I love them!

2) I love how this is a fantasy turned steampunk. Wendy Spinale (and I can't get over how wonderfully fitting her name is for someone who wrote a Peter Pan retelling) has worked out all of the magical elements and somehow recreated and incorporated some awesome scientific elements—right down to the pixie dust!

3) The dual POVs from Gwen and Hook's perspectives are really great. You get to see how the heroine and villain's stories come together and it's incredibly well-executed. 

4) I really like how Hook has a tragic backstory, but really, he is still a villain. I hate romanticized villains—the ones that do horrible things, but have a sad backstory that excuses every awful thing that they do, and that's not the case here.

5) Spinale really showcases many different types of familial relationships—both blood related and not. I love it when books have families that are created by choice, and not just because the characters are blood-related, and you get to see a lot of that in Everland

1) I originally wasn't sure how I felt about the beginning of the book. There is a lot of information to take in at once, and it was a little overwhelming. However, in the end, it was definitely necessary for the world building.

Pickpocket clears his throat, reminding me of the audience around me, and I feel heat crawl up my neck, face, and ears. Mortified, I berate myself. I've been brave in the face of danger, dodged bombs and bullets, eluded soldiers, fought others for supplies, but a shirtless boy makes my legs feel weak.
"Pete?" I say, my voice crackling. "Please don't die."

Pete gives me a dazzling smile and bows. "To die will be an awfully big adventure." He blows me a kiss and pulls the heavy door shut with a metallic clank, leaving me alone in the dark.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Gemini by Sonya Mukherjee

My TBR list is always growing and I thought it would be fun to share my anticipation for those books with all of you. This is not my own original meme; it belongs to Breaking the Spine. It specifically spotlights upcoming releases. As it implies in the title, I'll be posting this meme on Wednesdays. Please feel free to comment and let me know what books you guys are waiting on as well!

Geminiby Sonya Mukherjee
Published by Simon & Schuster
Expected Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Pre-order: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository 
In a powerful and daring debut novel, Sonya Mukherjee shares the story of sisters Clara and Hailey, conjoined twins who are learning what it means to be truly extraordinary.

Seventeen-year-old conjoined twins, Clara and Hailey, have lived in the same small town their entire lives—no one stares at them anymore. But there are cracks in their quiet existence and they’re slowing becoming more apparent. Clara and Hailey are at a crossroads. Clara wants to stay close to home, avoid all attention, and study the night sky. Hailey wants to travel the world, learn from great artists, and dance with mysterious boys. As high school graduation approaches, each twin must untangle her dreams from her sister’s, and figure out what it means to be her own person.

Told in alternating perspectives, this unconventional coming-of-age tale shows how dreams can break your heart—but the love between sisters can mend it.

This book sounds like nothing I've ever heard of before, and I WANT IT! It sounds so interesting and I've never read anything—like literally nothingabout conjoined twins (with the exception of medical articles) so I'm super curious about its role in the book. Gemini sounds amazing, and the author is a sweetheart so I'm very hopeful ^__^

I grew up in California’s Gold Country, at the end of a long dirt road. I spent a lot of time sitting in trees, reading books, and writing stories in my head. Now I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I spend a lot of time sitting in coffee shops, reading books, and writing stories on my laptop. Along the way, I studied English and Creative Writing at Stanford and at San Francisco State University, and I worked as an editor for a variety of book publishers, magazines, and websites, from The Future of Children to Dirt Rider. These days, when I’m not writing or reading, I’m most often driving my son and daughter to soccer practices and watching their games. My worst-kept secret? No matter how many soccer games I watch, I will never, ever, ever understand the off-sides rule.

My first novel, Gemini, will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2016.
Connect with Sonya: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight ARC Review

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight
Paperback ARC, 352 pages
Published by HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Pre-Order: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository 
From the New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia comes a fast-paced teen series where one girl learns that in a world of intrigue, betrayal, and deeply buried secrets, it is vital to trust your instincts.

It all starts with a text: Please, Wylie, I need your help. Wylie hasn't heard from Cassie in over a week, not since their last fight. But that doesn't matter. Cassie's in trouble, so Wylie decides to do what she has done so many times before: save her best friend from herself.

This time it's different, though. Instead of telling Wylie where she is, Cassie sends cryptic clues. And instead of having Wylie come by herself, Jasper shows up saying Cassie sent him to help. Trusting the guy who sent Cassie off the rails doesn't feel right, but Wylie has no choice but to ignore her gut instinct and go with him.

But figuring out where Cassie is goes from difficult to dangerous, fast. As Wylie and Jasper head farther and farther north into the dense woods of Maine, Wylie struggles to control her growing sense that something is really wrong. What isn't Cassie telling them? And could finding her be only the beginning?

In this breakneck tale, New York Times bestselling author Kimberly McCreight brilliantly chronicles a fateful journey that begins with a single decision--and ends up changing everything.

Confusing, disappointing, and disorienting—these are all words I would use to describe The Outliers. The entire book was a jumble of random events and unrealistic situations, and it honestly felt like ten different people were attempting to tell the same story. New characters would be introduced, their identities would suddenly be flipped, and this would happen over and over again with each individual. Each situation was made to be hectic, especially since none of these different details were linked together or properly explained. One of the things that bothered me the most was how by the end of the book, the plot had crossed into a completely impossible territory—Wylie basically had a magical ability to sense others' emotions, which made everything convenient while simultaneously rendering the rest of the book pointless.

Other than the few action scenes in the book, the plot—despite being indescribably muddled—was also boring and repetitive. The main characters, Wylie and Jasper, spent the majority of the book hitching different rides from increasingly psychotic strangers, which is difficult to understand when Wylie could apparently sense the emotions of others! Yet another thing about The Outliers that bothered me was how forced the friendship between Wylie and Cassie was. The two of them had absolutely no chemistry of any sort, and to top it all off, they were distant and fighting throughout the entire book, and their entire relationship was based solely on flashbacks. Overall, I sadly found this book to be completely implausible and unenjoyable. I'm not even going to bother with my usual lists of positives and negatives, because I've already stated my numerous complaints, and I have nothing positive to say.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Blog Tour: A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann

Stefan Bachmann was born in Colorado and spent of most of his childhood in Switzerland, where he's now a student of music at the Zürich University of Arts.

His debut, gothic-faery-fantasy THE PECULIAR, was a New York Times Editor's Choice and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2012, and was translated into eight languages. Its companion, THE WHATNOT, was released on September 24th, 2013.

THE CABINET OF CURIOSITIES: 36 TALES BRIEF AND SINISTER, a collection of scary stories he wrote together with authors Emma Trevayne, Claire Legrand and Katherine Catmull, was released May 27th, 2014, from Greenwillow/HarperCollins.

His next book, YA thriller A DROP OF NIGHT, about a group of American teens fighting to survive after they become trapped in an underground Versailles, will be out March 15th, 2016, also from Greenwillow/HarperCollins.
LINKS: Website | Twitter

A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann
Published by Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: March 15, 2016
Pre-Order: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks | Book Depository
Seventeen-year-old Anouk has finally caught the break she’s been looking for—she's been selected out of hundreds of other candidates to fly to France and help with the excavation of a vast, underground palace buried a hundred feet below the suburbs of Paris. Built in the 1780's to hide an aristocratic family and a mad duke during the French Revolution, the palace has lain hidden and forgotten ever since. Anouk, along with several other gifted teenagers, will be the first to set foot in it in over two centuries.

Or so she thought.

But nothing is as it seems, and the teens soon find themselves embroiled in a game far more sinister, and dangerous, than they could possibly have imagined. An evil spanning centuries is waiting for them in the depths. . .

A genre-bending thriller from Stefan Bachmann for fans of The Maze Runner and Joss Whedon’s The Cabin in the Woods.

You cannot escape the palace.

You cannot guess its secrets.

Brittany: Hi Stefan! Thank you so much for doing this interview with me =)

SB: Thanks so much for the questions! ☺

Brittany: Did you always know that you wanted to be an author?

SB: I didn’t! I actually wanted to be an architect for the longest time. I even got a computer program for my birthday one year, where I could design wildly impractical buildings in 3-D. Thankfully someone warned me that architecture requires math skills (of which I have none) so I settled on studying music. That’s what I’m doing now.

Writing kind of snuck in along the way. I grew up in a house filled with books, and reading was always important to me, and at some point I guess I just realized books were the best things ever and I wanted to learn how to write one.

Brittany: What is your most memorable moment on your road to becoming a published author?

SB: When I got the email from my agent about my first book deal. I was 18 and that whole year was such a whirlwind of newness and excitement; it’s all kind of mushed together in my memory now, but that one moment I still recall really clearly: I was at my sister’s house in the Alps, and was mostly cut off from the world, and then the email came in and I screamed a little bit and went outside and stared at the mountains and was super happy. That was a good day.

Brittany: What books have influenced your life the most?

SB: The Lord of the Rings and Catherine Fisher’s short stories. Edgar Allan Poe, the Brontë sisters. Lemony Snicket, too, probably, and a lot of Russian writers. A Drop of Night is a pretty big change from my usual writing style, so I’m not sure people will see those influences here, but they’re probably in there somewhere.

Brittany: Do you have any quirky writing habits? (ex. Like always having chocolate on hand)

SB: I loooooove writing on trains. I take a train to school every morning and I’ve found it’s the ideal writing spot. It’s busy and a bit noisy, and there are sometimes weird conversations to overhear. If I could just write on a train permanently, I would.

Brittany: What is the scariest thing you’ve ever done for fun?

SB: Hiking across a glacier at 4,000 feet without any kind of rope or equipment. That was dumb, obviously, but I was a kid and so at the time I thought it was fun. I remember wondering vaguely what would happen if I fell in a hole. How I survived that and am not a frozen mummy in a Swiss glacier right now, I don’t know.

Brittany: If you could meet anyone from history, who would it be and why?

SB: Odysseus maybe? I’m just assuming he was a real person. It would be cool to see how the myths around him grew out of the actual person. Maybe he was really boring, but a great storyteller.

Brittany: Do you have any pet peeves? If so, could you share some?

SB: I get a bit rage-y when people are condescending, be it toward younger readers, or fantasy, or just things other people like. I don’t like tons of things, but if someone else does, I think that’s great.

A less dramatic pet peeve I have is that I like to walk very quickly, and when I’m with someone who walks slowly, I like, “Whyyyy aren’t we moving?”

Brittany: What is one thing that would make you stop reading a book?

SB: I’m not a picky reader. I can usually find at least one thing to enjoy about a book, and I’ll read almost any genre about any type of character. It’s rare I’ll actually throw a book across the room and never pick it up again. I guess if I think the writing isn’t great on a sentence level, I’m more likely to set a book aside. That being said, every book, even the books I’ve found unbearable, is a good book to someone, so if I do give up on one I just assume I wasn’t the reader for it and move on down the TBR stack.

Brittany: Thank you so much, Stefan, for stopping by the blog today! Guys, be sure to check out the rest of the tour schedule and the giveaway below!

Week 1

Week 2

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