Thursday, October 19, 2017

HALLOWEEN COUNTDOWN REVIEW: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Book Description:

You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town… until River West comes along. River rents the guest house behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard.

Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more?

Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery... who makes you want to kiss back.

Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Title: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Series: Between #1
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Format: Hardcover, 360 pages
Pub. Date: August 15th 2013
Source: Purchased, HPB

Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch.



Oh goodness. What did I just read?

I was super excited to finally get this book. I remember when it first came out and people were losing their minds for it. I was drawn in by the hype, not to mention the super intriguing title and the pretty cover. I shouldn't have judged it by that.

I could rant about this book for hours, but instead I'm opting to take the short, sweet high road version.

I'll start with the positives first, because there are some positives. The writing is absolutely beautiful. The author does a fantastic job in describing the setting and the characters. The writing is slow at times, in a style reminiscent of southern gothic novels. It's lyrical and haunting, and more than once I found myself internally complimenting a passage.

But that's all I've got.

Some of the reasons why I didn't enjoy this book include: instalove, adults that don't seem to know/care what's going on ever, terrible side characters (the awful brother, the "slutty" neighbor), and lots of questionable decisions by everyone involved.

A pet peeve (that's admittedly nitpicking) is that they refer to each other as brother and sister. Is this a regional thing? I've literally never called my sister "sister" in conversation.

The end was super disappointing too. The bad guy (maybe?) turns into a Batman/Scooby-Doo villain and reveals his whole origin story and plan. There's a lot of threads left untied at the end, and it ends in a cliffhanger. Unfortunately, I wasn't interested enough in the characters to pick up the second one any time soon.

There's a lot of people who really liked this book, so maybe it's just a case of "it's not you, it's me". If you like instant romance, paranormal powers, and gothic writing, maybe you'll have better luck with this than me.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

HALLOWEEN GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: The Perils of Growing up Werewolf by Andrew Buckley!

Title: The Perils of Growing Up Werewolf

Author: Andrew Buckley

Publication date: October 3, 2017

Publisher: Tantrum Books

About the Book:

Being a werewolf is no picnic. Colin’s constantly hungry, spends a ton of time shaving, and fights to keep his emotions in
check to avoid turning into a giant, drooling, hairy, smelly, howling wolf. But Colin's not the only creature hanging
around the town of Elkwood. Vampires, zombies, goblins, ogres, and other questionable visitors and their various
shenanigans have got everyone on edge.

Colin just wants to live a normal life, date, and get his homework done on time. But the town of Elkwood needs him. So
when a secret government organization asks for his help, will he be able to control the animal inside, or will he give in to
the perils of growing up werewolf?

Get It Here:

Amazon | TBD | B&N | IndieBound | iBooks | Kobo | Chapters | BAM | Google Play

Guest Post: The Road to Publication

My road to publication was a bit of a twisted and weird one. Though in speaking to other authors, I’ve learned that the road is rarely straight. Sometimes there are sharp drop-offs, occasionally there are short cuts, and on rare occasions you may even find a cow blocking the path entirely.

I completed my first and second novels before I even got a whiff of a publishing contract. I was of the mindset that the only way to publish a book was to get a literary agent first so I dedicated all my query-writing energy to that method. After over a hundred rejections I began to wonder if I was doing the right thing with my life. Yes, it took at least a hundred before I started questioning myself. It was one agent in particular who, in a rather nicely written rejection letter, suggested I build myself an online presence. And why not? Facebook was getting bigger and bigger all the time and the celebrity use of Twitter had turned the micro-blogging platform into the next step in the evolution of social media.

I built a simple website, stating exactly why I’d done so and I started blogging about pretty much anything including writing, book reviews, movie reviews, quirky fiction pieces, and more. I also started using Facebook and Twitter in a rather aggressive manner. I met some amazing people and made friends who I’m still in contact with today. For a while I was part of an entire group who had come together simply because we thought the movie version of ‘Howard the Duck’ was so stupid that it was hilarious. I also started contributing to a writing blog called Curiosity Quills. I’d met the owners, Lisa and Eugene, on Twitter and we shared a similar sense of humour. I lost contact with them for a year or two when I was writing my second novel, and when I re-connected they’d become an indie publishing house. Although I’d started to get bites on my work thanks to switching to sending queries to publishers instead of agents, I still didn’t have anything solid. Curiosity Quills ended up signing both novels, DEATH, THE DEVIL, AND THE GOLDFISH, and STILTSKIN. A year after signing with them, I started working for them as an acquisitions editor, reviewing queries, and shortly thereafter as the Acquisitions Manager (a position I still occupy). I later worked as the VP of Operations and re-structured their production department before returning to the Acquisitions Manager role in 2017.

Through working with the CQ team, I met my amazing literary agent, Mark Gottlieb at Trident Media Group in New York. Mark loves quirky humour (and cats) and in 2014 he signed me as a client for any future works, introduced me to my second publisher (Month9Books), and has represented me ever since. Three more releases later, and a fourth under contract, and I’m honoured, humbled, and happy to be a working author in what’s become an extremely challenging and competitive industry. The HAIR IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES series, published by Month9Books/Tantrum Books (part of the Georgia McBride Media Group), now has two instalments published with the third coming in Fall 2018 and I have two other works in progress.

While it’s been a long road (I started writing novels in 2002, but wasn’t published until 2012) it’s been extremely educational and the only thing I can say is that perseverance in this industry truly pays off. It may not happen today, or tomorrow, or next week, or five years from now, but if you stick to doing what you love and you do it to the best of your ability, you’ll get there in the end. Just be prepared to deal with the occasional cow in the road.

Other Books In the Series:

Follow the tour:

Click here!

About the Author:

Andrew Buckley attended the Vancouver Film School’s Writing for Film and Television program. After pitching and developing several screenplay projects for film and television, he worked in marketing and public relations, before becoming a professional copy and content writer. During this time Andrew began writing his first adult novel, DEATH, THE DEVIL AND THE GOLDFISH, followed closely by his second novel, STILTSKIN. He works as an editor for Curiosity Quills Press.

Andrew also co-hosts a geek movie podcast, is working on his next novel, and has a stunning amount of other ideas. He now lives happily in the Okanagan Valley, BC with three kids, one cat, one needy dog, one beautiful wife, and a multitude of characters that live comfortably inside of his mind. Andrew is represented by Mark Gottlieb at the Trident Media Group.

Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook


One (1) winner will receive a Werewolves The Pact Game (INT)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 15, 2017

HALLOWEEN COUNTDOWN! Mini Review: Southern Fried Wiccan by S.P. Sipal

Title: Southern Fried Wiccan
Author: S.P. Sipal
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: March 24th 2015
Source: Publisher

Book Description:

Cilla Swaney is thrilled to return stateside, where she can hang up her military-brat boots for good. Finally, she’ll be free to explore her own interests—magick and Wicca. But when she arrives at her grandma’s farm, Cilla discovers that life in the South isn’t quite what she expected. At least while country hopping, she never had to drink G-ma’s crazy fermented concoctions, attend church youth group, make co-op deliveries...or share her locker with a snake-loving, fire-lighting, grimoire-stealing Goth girl…

…Who later invites her to a coven that Cilla’s not sure she has the guts to attend. But then Emilio, the dark-haired hottie from her charter school, shows up and awakens her inner goddess. Finally, Cilla starts believing in her ability to conjure magick. Until…

…All Hades breaks loose. A prank goes wrong during their high school production of Macbeth, and although it seems Emilio is to blame, Cilla and Goth pay the price. Will Cilla be able to keep the boy, her coven, and the trust of her family? Or will this Southern Wiccan get battered and fried?


This review will be short and to the point, because I hate to give one star reviews.

I didn't care for the main character. She was super judgmental of people from the get go, and she was always whining about something. It was super off putting, and before long I wasn't concerned about her story or what happened to her.

There weren't enough Wiccan components for me. I wasn't expecting wizard spells and magic (the way some other readers seem to have, for some reason) but, I was expecting more of her development, based on the title and blurb. It was mostly just teenage YA stuff you've read before. As a pagan myself, I was disappointed.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Stacking the Shelves [101]

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to show off the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week. If a book catches your eye, *click* the picture to go to the Goodreads page of that book.

It was a small week this week. Just as well, it's been raining so much.

In My Mailbox

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen signed

Thanks Scott & Ensconced in Lit !

Hard Justice by April Hunt

Thanks Forever!

How is your week going? Any Halloween plans?

Friday, October 13, 2017

HALLOWEEN COUNTDOWN! Review: The Cellar by Natasha Preston

Title: The Cellar
Series: The Cellar #1
Author: Natasha Preston
Format: Paperback, 347 pages
Pub. Date: March 1st 2014
Source: Half Price Books

Book Description:

Nothing ever happens in the town of Long Thorpe – that is, until sixteen-year-old Summer Robinson disappears without a trace. No family or police investigation can track her down. Spending months inside the cellar of her kidnapper with several other girls, Summer learns of Colin’s abusive past, and his thoughts of his victims being his family…his perfect, pure flowers. But flowers can’t survive long cut off from the sun, and time is running out….



Note: I didn't read it while it was on wattpad, so I will have no comparisons.

I'm really pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I was sucked into the story from the beginning, and it held my interest until the end. I did have some issues with it, but overall I'm glad that I read it.

I'll start with the positives. It was creepy. It wasn't very realistic feeling, but it was still a creepy story. The life described in the cellar was unsettling to say the least, and the fact that Clover (the captor) was so non-chalant and kind of white bread was what made him creepier to me. He could just be some guy. Anyone on the street. And that's worse.

I'm not generally a fan of when books split into alternate POVs, but it served its purpose well in this book. It rotates between three characters. The first is Summer/Lily, who is the main character and the girl who is kidnapped. The second is Lewis, her boyfriend. And the third is Clover/Collin, the captor. It's interesting to see how each person is reacting to this event, and I think the voices were distinguished well from one another.

The story telling was pretty good. Preston kept me interested in the story with some mild twists and turns along the way, and the cellar and the other girls who are in there just get more disturbing the longer she's in there. The book feels haunting and hollow.

But there's some negatives. My biggest issue was the main character, Summer. She has what I call "Piper Syndrome"- that is, she's the least interesting character in the cast, despite the fact that she's the main character. I wanted so much more about Clover. I wanted more about the cellar and the other girls and the hows and the whys. She's just kind of blah in comparison to all the other things going on in the story.

I didn't care for her personality much either. She's kinda dumb. She does things even though she knows she shouldn't, and then is surprised that there's consequences. You walk alone at night even though people told you not you and bad things happened. The girls in the cellar said "he'll be pissed if you do that", she does the thing, and then is surprised when he is in fact pissed. There's also a lot of crying. A lot of it. I was sympathetic for a while (I mean hello, I'd cry if I were locked in a weird murder chamber too), but it was mentioned tooooo much and it grated on my nerves.

Her boyfriend really annoyed me at times too. Keep in mind that these characters are all teenagers. He gets angry at her parents and her brother and the police for not doing enough, that he can do it himself, he can find her. I understand feeling angry and out of control, but if some teenage dude hinted that he cared more about my daughter/sister missing than I did, I'd be furious and he'd no longer be in my house.

The ending was also a bit of a let down. It all kind of fell flat *insert sad trombone music*. I just learned from reading book info on here that apparently there's a part two to the story, maybe it gets cleared up there.

The Cellar isn't my favorite story about locking girls in a room. (Is that a weird sentence? I feel like that's a weird sentence.) But, it was an entertaining enough read that kept me wondering what was going on until the end.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

HALLOWEEN COUNTDOWN! Review: The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz

Title: The Isle of the Lost
Series: Descendants #1
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Format: Hardcover, 311 pages
Pub. Date: May 5th 2015
Source: Won/Publisher

Book Description:

Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon and made to live in virtual imprisonment on the Isle of the Lost. The island is surrounded by a magical force field that keeps the villains and their descendants safely locked up and away from the mainland. Life on the island is dark and dreary. It is a dirty, decrepit place that's been left to rot and forgotten by the world.

But hidden in the mysterious Forbidden Fortress is a dragon's eye: the key to true darkness and the villains' only hope of escape. Only the cleverest, evilest, nastiest little villain can find it...who will it be?

Maleficent, Mistress of the Dark: As the self-proclaimed ruler of the isle, Maleficent has no tolerance for anything less than pure evil. She has little time for her subjects, who have still not mastered life without magic. Her only concern is getting off the Isle of the Lost.

Mal: At sixteen, Maleficent's daughter is the most talented student at Dragon Hall, best known for her evil schemes. And when she hears about the dragon's eye, Mal thinks this could be her chance to prove herself as the cruelest of them all.

Evie: Having been castle-schooled for years, Evil Queen's daughter, Evie, doesn't know the ins and outs of Dragon Hall. But she's a quick study, especially after she falls for one too many of Mal's little tricks.

Jay: As the son of Jafar, Jay is a boy of many talents: stealing and lying to name a few. Jay and Mal have been frenemies forever and he's not about to miss out on the hunt for the dragon's eye.

Carlos: Cruella de Vil's son may not be bravest, but he's certainly clever. Carlos's inventions may be the missing piece in locating the dragon's eye and ending the banishment for good.

Mal soon learns from her mother that the dragon's eye is cursed and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She'll just need a little help from her "friends." In their quest for the dragon's eye, these kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain't so bad.



Upon watching the "Descendants 2" film on the Disney Channel a few months ago, I suddenly remembered that not only does this book series exist, but that I had a copy of the first book.

So, away I read.

Ultimately, this was a pretty quick read that held my attention really well.

I like the concept of having a new yet familiar world, filled with new yet familiar faces. The children of the most infamous Disney Villains all live, study, and survive on the Isle of the Lost. I thought that Melissa de la Cruz did a really good job of world building the island. It was vivid and descriptive, and it answered a lot of questions that I had (from seeing the movie before I read the book). I also liked that she took four separate villain children and gave them four distinct backgrounds and life experiences, though they're all from the same small place, and shoved them to work together. It was interesting to see how relationships changed and grew, and to see how they all interacted with each other, especially since they all know the heinous things that each of their parents have done in the past.

There are a lot of callbacks to Disney films in this book, and I adored that. If you were a fan of Disney animated classics growing up, there are a lot of familiar characters that make appearances, and you get new insight into some of the motives of these movies.

There's a little tease of a romance, but it doesn't really come to fruition in this first installment of the series. I hope that changes in the other books. There's also not a lot of description of the "good" enchanted land of Auradon; I assume that will come later too.

The only thing that really didn't vibe well with me was the personalities of the four villain kids who are the main characters: Jay (son of Jafar), Carlos (son of Cruella), Evie (daughter of the Evil Queen), and Mal (daughter of Maleficent). There was a lot of time dedicated to explaining what the sins of each of their parents was: what they had done to be villains, how they had failed, how mean they were. All fair explanations, but... We know. We saw what happened in the films. It's not something that needs to be constantly readdressed like "Oh remember Jafar wanted the lamp!?" We need to know more about who the villain children are, and I never really got a sense of who they were, on their own. Perhaps this changes when they no longer have such strong, imprisoning ties to their parents in later books, but in this book it seemed lacking for the kids, or redundant for the adults.

Like I said though, I enjoyed this book. It was a fun, nostalgic read that took me back to all the Disney books that I loved as a kid, and still love now in adulthood. It's a great book for kids and young teens who still love Disney, or who like series such as Ever After High or Monster High.

I look forward to continuing the series when I track them down.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Cookbook Review: Valerie's Home Cooking by Valerie Bertinelli

Title: Valerie's Home Cooking: More than 100 Delicious Recipes to Share with Friends and Family
Author: Valerie Bertinelli
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: October 10th 2017
Source: Publisher

Book Description:

As the current star of her Food Network show, Valerie's Home Cooking, and co-host of the network's Kids Baking Championship, as well as having spent years acting on television, Valerie Bertinelli has made a name for herself in households across America. But to really know Valerie, is to spend time in her kitchen.

Inspired by her family's cooking legacy, Valerie specializes in showing fans how to make dishes their own families will love that are for the heart and soul. As she often says, there's a story behind every recipe and Valerie shares them in this gorgeous cookbook, where home cooks will find more than 100 recipes that are easy to make and innovative--they're just as fresh, vibrant and down to earth as Valerie herself. Many of these classic comforting recipes have an original twist like Bloody Mary Tea Sandwiches, Lobster BLTs, Quick Rotisserie Chicken Gumbo, and S'mores Popcorn. These mouthwatering dishes will become your go-tos, whether you're having breakfast or lunch on your own, friends are joining for last-minute cocktails and small bites, or the whole family is coming together for a hearty dinner and dessert.



Honestly, my interest in this book stems from seeing Valerie Bertinelli on various shows on the Food Network channel. Overall, I think this is a pretty good cookbook that's bound to have a recipe for everyone to enjoy.

The recipes in this book are organized by meal/course, making it pretty easy to navigate. The chapters include Rise and Shine, Getting Through the Day, Happy Hour, Around the Table, A Side Note, and Finishing Sweet.

Most of the recipes have photos with them, which is helpful. Some of them could have been a little better quality, but that's nitpicking a bit. This book seems really good for a beginner. The steps are numbered, and the language is very conversational like "hey, see this carrot, cut it" which makes it easy to follow. Part of the home cook appeal to this book, at least to me, is that some stuff is not scratch made. That is, things like caramel sauce in a jar, frozen blueberries, jarred giardiniera and other "normal people" ingredients are used throughout. It's easier and more likely that I'll cook with this little cheats included.

I appreciate the little personal stories, and that there's photos of Valerie cooking some of these dishes throughout the course of the book.

Some of the dishes that sound the best to me include Bloody Mary Tea Sandwiches, Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Shrimp with Cherry Cola BBQ Sauce, and Savory Horseradish Panna Cotta.

All in all, I think this is a really approachable cookbook that has a lot of yummy sounding dishes in it. The instructions are clear, the photos are pretty good, and there's a good amount of variety.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.