Red Queen

Red QueenTitle: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen #1
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: February 10th 2015
Pages: 383
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
3 Stars


This is a world divided by blood - red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare's potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance - Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart...

Red Queen was very different from what I was expecting. I thought I’d be getting a high fantasy, but this felt much more dystopian/post-apocalyptic to me. Since I was really looking forward to a high fantasy at the time, I was a bit disappointed with this one.

Sure, there are people with magical powers. And yes, the countries have made up names. However, it felt like the story took place in North America after a nuclear bombing. Whether it’s supposed to have that feel or not, I don’t know. What I wanted out of this was a fantasy where there isn’t modern technology, etc. The Red Queen world has electricity and several of the other amenities we’re accustomed to, which contributed to the dystopian/post-apocalyptic feel.

While I was let down by the world building, it would be easier to get past that if the plot was flawless or if I loved the characters. I found the plot to be predictable, though, and the main character was irritating. She was naive and a know it all, which is a terrible combination. Had she been more intelligent or humble, I would have liked her a lot more. The supporting characters were fine, but none stood out as being particularly memorable.

While I certainly have my share of issues with Red Queen, I would like to continue on with the series. Maybe my opinions will change with the next novel, now that I know to expect more of a dystopian. And perhaps the main character has done enough growing up after Red Queen that she won’t bother me anymore.

Monday Musings: Badass Bookstores

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The Last Bookstore

If you follow any bookish people on Instagram, there’s a decent chance you’ve seen a few pictures of this awesome looking place!


Shakespeare and Company

I’ve heard some amazing things about Shakespeare and Company. The above picture is from the one in Paris.


The Strand

The Strand is a book lover’s haven. There are so. many. books. The picture above is for the rare book room, which looks incredible!


El Anteneo Grand Splendid

This is one of the most beautiful bookstores I have ever come across. A book store in a theater! How freaking cool is that?


Boekhandel Dominicanen

Boekhandel Dominicanen is located in very old church and the architecture is magnificent. If I ever make it back to The Netherlands, this will definitely be on my to-do list.


Lello & Irmão Bookstore

I can’t find a website for this bookstore, but LocalPorto has some beautiful pictures (above). According to LocalPorto, this was one of J.K. Rowling’s old hangouts and an inspiration for Harry Potter. Looking at the beautiful pictures, I could definitely see how they would have inspired part of Hogwarts and the bookshop in Diagon Alley.


The Bookworm

I love the way this place looks! It reminds me of some of my favorite stories. The picture above will definitely make you think of Harry Potter, but I’ve seen other pictures that bring to mind Disney’s Tangled.


*All photos are from their respective bookstore websites (or LocalPorto).

Fairytale Fashions: Phoenix Wrap

I love Alex & Ani! I have a few bangles  from them and would love to try out some of their wraps, but I think they’d probably be a little too large for my tiny wrists.

I love the way the Phoenix wrap looks! It reminds me so much of Harry Potter. I love wearing bookish jewelry, but I prefer it to be understated and reminiscent of a fandom instead of in-your-face. This piece doesn’t scream Harry Potter, but if you’re a fan it is easy to get the reference. You can also wear it anywhere you like because it would work well with casual and elegant pieces.

What’s your favorite type of bookish jewelry?


Six of Crows

Six of CrowsTitle: Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #1
Publisher: Henry Holt
Date: September 29, 2015
Pages: 480
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
5 Stars


Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.

Six of Crows was epic and a fabulous introduction to Leigh Bardugo’s work. I know, I know. I should have read the Grisha trilogy first. Well, I plan to before the next book is released. That said, I had no problem following the world building or story line even though I hadn’t read the original trilogy.

So what is there to love about Six of Crows? Pretty much everything. We have:

  • an epic heist
  • truly badass characters
  • deep-rooted revenge plots reminiscent of The Count of Monte Cristo


Yea, I went there. Six of Crows just got compared to The Count of Monte Cristo. Now you have to read it, don’t you?

I loved the pacing and the writing. I adored the characters and the action. I had a feeling I’d like this one because I like heist movies (Ocean’s Eleven, The Italian Job), but I had no idea it would be so freaking fantastic. I also really love revenge stories, but hadn’t realized that it’d be part of the plot.

The Six of Crows series is easily shaping up to be a new favorite of mine. I am expecting the following books to be even more epic now that I’m familiar with the characters and the plot has already been set up. It’s going to be a rough year waiting for book #2, but I am prepared to wait it out. This is definitely a must read.

Devil and the Deep Excerpt and Giveaway

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I adore the covers for this series! Especially for books 3 & 4. Aren’t they gorgeous? Book 4 actually comes out today and I am excited to be participating in the release day celebration with an excerpt and giveaway! If you haven’t read Death Wish yet, you can check it out on Goodreads.


About Devil and the Deep


Scarlett is living her happy-ever-after, back in the real world. Only the ‘happy’ part is proving problematic.

For starters, there’s the isolation. Being a Cerulean among humans is fraught with risk, so her time with people can only be fleeting. Which means being with Luke but not being with Luke.

Then there’s her Cerulean light, her power over life and death. Less awesome talent, as it turns out, and more overwhelming responsibility. And it comes with rules – rules that are increasingly difficult to obey.

But what’s really pushing Scarlett to the precipice is something much bigger than herself, than her life in the cove. A force to be reckoned with:


When long-buried truths are exposed, will Scarlett keep her head above water – or will she drown in the blood-dimmed tide that is unleashed?

Get the book: Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)


About Megan Tayte

Megan TayteOnce upon a time a little girl told her grandmother that when she grew up she wanted to be a writer. Or a lollipop lady. Or a fairy princess fireman. ‘Write, Megan,’ her grandmother advised. So that’s what she did.

Thirty-odd years later, Megan is a professional writer and published author by day, and an indie novelist by night. Her fiction – young adult romance with soul – recently earned her the SPR’s Independent Woman Author of the Year award.

Megan grew up in the Royal County, a hop, skip and a (very long) jump from Windsor Castle, but these days she makes her home in Robin Hood’s county, Nottinghamshire. She lives with her husband, a proud Scot who occasionally kicks back in a kilt; her son, a budding artist with the soul of a palaeontologist; and her baby daughter, a keen pan-and-spoon drummer who sings in her sleep. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her walking someplace green, reading by the fire, or creating carnage in the kitchen as she pursues her impossible dream: of baking something edible.

Find Megan online: website | goodreads | facebook | twitter | Google Plus


International Giveaway

Items you can win:

  • Luke and Scarlett’s Folly tote bag
  • Book bliss: £10/$15 Amazon gift card
  • The Booktrack: Best of Stereophonics CD
  • Elizabeth’s garden (miniature Zen)
  • Decent coffee! £10/$15 Starbucks gift card
  • Cakeage galore via the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook

a Rafflecopter giveaway



It began with screaming. Shrill, ear-piercing, horrified screaming.
A girl shrieked, ‘Blood! Look, look – it’s everywhere!’ and pressed her hand to her mouth.
A man shouted, ‘Good grief!’ and another, ‘Great Scott!’
An old lady swooned gracefully and would have tipped over the balustrade of the riverboat had a lanky lad not caught her.
The cause of the excitement – a woman lying slumped on the long table on deck, cheek on her bread plate, headdress in the butter dish – twitched a little.
‘She’s alive!’ cried a lad beside her delightedly. ‘She moved!’
‘Did not,’ argued another.
‘Did too!’
‘Gentlemen,’ interjected a short, portly man with a twirly black moustache, ‘if you will forgive my intrusion, it must be noted that this woman has a bullet hole in her head and is logically, therefore, quite definitely deceased.’
Another old dear folded to the deck with a prolonged ‘Ohhhhhh’ and her husband grabbed a feathered fan and began wafting cool evening air in her face while calling, ‘Smelling salts – does anyone have any?’
I tried to keep a straight face. Really I did. I bit my bottom lip until I tasted my cherry-red lipstick. I pinched my leg through the cream satin of my gown. I dug my long cigarette holder into the sensitive flesh of my arm.
But it was no good.
The ‘What ho, chaps’ posh accents.
The buxom woman sagging in the arms of an elephant hunter wearing Converse All Stars.
The production of smelling salts in a bottle whose label read Pepto-Bismol.
The corners of the little round man’s moustache coming looser with his every word.
The fast-pooling puddle of pinkish blood on the bread plate, buffeted by the steady in-and-out breaths of the corpse.
Take it from a girl who’s really died – death on the River Dart, Devon, is hilarious.
‘Dear me, Ms Robson here appears to be quite overcome with shock,’ said the guy at my side suddenly, and he slipped an arm around me and turned me away. ‘Come, madam. Let us get some air.’
I smiled at him. Then grinned. Then choked back a guffaw. Thankfully, by the time full-scale hilarity hit me I’d been led to the rear of the boat, away from the rest of our party, and could bury my face in the bloke’s chest and shake mutely with laughter.
The gallant gentleman rubbed my back soothingly as I let it all out and said loudly, for the benefit of any onlookers, ‘There there, pignsey, there there.’
‘Pigsney?’ It was the final straw. My high-heeled sandals gave way and I melted into a puddle of mirth on the deck.
‘I’ll have you know, Scarlett Blake,’ hissed Luke, my boyfriend a.k.a. gallant gent, hoiking up his too-tight corduroy trousers so he could squat down beside me, ‘I Googled “old-fashioned terms of endearment” and pigsney’s a classic.’
I wiped tears from my eyes, dislodging a false eyelash in the process, and tried to catch my hiccupping breath as Luke went on.
‘Means pig’s eye. No idea why that’s appealing, but apparently in the seventeenth century, calling a lady pigsney was the very height of courting.’
Through his fake specs Luke’s blue eyes fixed me with a stare so earnest I almost managed to stop laughing.
‘But this is a Death on the Nile-Stroke-Dart murder mystery night, Luke,’ I managed to get out. ‘Set in the nineteen thirties, not the seventeen thirties.’
‘Ah,’ he said, ‘but my character tonight, Mr Fijawaddle, is a historical fiction writer, isn’t he? So as well as dressing like a brainy recluse – and I’m warning you now, I won’t hear another slur against this tweed jacket – he’d know all kinds of obscure terms. Like ginglyform and jargogle and nudiustertian and bromopnea and farctate and quagswag and philosophunculist.’
His showing off sobered me just enough to control the giggles. ‘You made those words up,’ I accused, poking a crimson talon into his mustard-yellow shirtfront.
He blinked at me innocently. ‘Did not. I told you before we left the house, I did my homework.’
I narrowed my eyes. ‘All right then, Mr Fijawaddle, what does that last word you said mean?’
‘Yes, that.’
‘Er…’ Luke gave me a sheepish grin.
‘Spill it,’ I said menacingly. As menacingly as a girl dressed up as a vintage Hollywood starlet with cute little pin curls and rouge aplenty can be, that is.
‘Philosophunculist,’ recited Luke. ‘Noun. A person who pretends to know more than they do in order to impress others.’
I threw my head back and laughed. ‘Busted!’
Luke slipped an arm around me and pulled me close. Really close.
‘Bet you like it when I use long words,’ he said huskily, eyes fixed on my too-red lips.
‘Bet you like it when I wear a clingy nightgown as a dress,’ I replied, eyes fixed on his too-kissable lips.
‘Brazen hussy,’ he growled at me.
‘Randy boffin,’ I murmured back.
Then neither of us said another word for quite some time.


*This post was sponsored by the lovely Megan Tayte

Blogging 101: Using Social Media to Promote Your Blog

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Your blog may be a lovely corner of the Internet, but people need to be able to find you in order to follow you. Here are a few ways you can social media to help get your name out there!


We’ve talked about auto-tweeting your posts, but that isn’t the only way to promote your blog. Talking to people and making friends with other bloggers is another fantastic way to get your name out there!

I wish I spent more time making friends on Twitter. Blogging is really a balancing act when you’re not doing it full-time, so getting as much done as you can is essential. Unfortunately I don’t get on to Twitter too often, but it does help me keep in touch with bloggers I’ve met over the years!


Instagram is great because it will help you build your influence and it will help get your blog in front of a ton of people who probably would not have heard of it before. Sasha from abookutopia has a great video on how to build your Instagram followers. My number 1 takeaway: hashtags. Use them.


Goodreads is a home for bookworms. Bookworms are the people most likely to follow your blog (well, as long as your blogging about books, of course). You should definitely be cross-posting your reviews to Goodreads and including something along the lines of “this was first posted on blog name” with a link to your blog or “visit blog xyz for more awesome posts” (with a link of course).


Bloglovin’ (or something similar, like Feedly) is another great source for building up your readership. It’s a platform, it has tons of users, and it makes it a lot easier for people to find your blog via the “explore” or “find blogs” tabs.


YouTube, Snapchat, and Vine are other popular social networks. I don’t use Snapchat or Vine, so I can’t give you any tips there. YouTube is phenomenal. I know there are plenty of bloggers who have no interest in YouTube, so I won’t go into much detail about it here. It is a platform with tons of users, though, so if you’re into making videos, it will also help your blog grow as a by-product.


If you have any questions about these platforms or any additional advice you’d like to share, definitely let me know in the comments!



A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A Midsummer Night’s DreamTitle: A Midsummer Night's Dream
Author: William Shakespeare
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: October 18, 2011
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
4 Stars


The course of true love never did run smooth.

Demetrius and Lysander love Hermia. Hermia loves Lysander, but is betrothed to Demetrius—much to her dismay. And no one loves Helena, though her heart belongs to Demetrius. It seems that love could never be so complicated!

When Hermia and Lysander escape through the forest to elope, Demetrius chases them—and Helena chases him. With the magic of the forest bewitching the hand of fate, perhaps their dreams of love will come true. . . .

Beautifully presented for a modern teen audience with both the original play and prose retellings selected from the Your Midsummer Night’s Dream writing contest on, this is the must-have edition of William Shakespeare’s timeless classic.

You know what’s intimidating? Writing a review of Shakespeare. Writing an essay, no problem. A book blog review though, not so much. I actually debated skipping this review all together!

Since this is my space to document and share what I think about what I’ve read, I figured what the hell. Let’s give it a go. Now if you’re looking for a detailed literary analysis, this is not going to be the post for you. That said, let’s get into my thoughts . . .

I liked this one. It was fun. It was short. It was easy to follow. I remember old English being difficult to fully understand when I was in high school, but I was able to follow this story without a problem. That was a huge relief since this was not an edition with old English on the left side and modern English on the right side.

It was great getting to see the famous Puck in an equally famous piece of literature. Puck is such a fun character and I’d absolutely love to read some of his original tales. Oberon and Titania were different from how I’d imagined they would be (based solely on Julie Kagawa’s depiction of them). Since I loved these characters so much in the Iron Fey series, it was very cool to see how they were depicted by another author.

I also enjoyed seeing Shakespeare’s depiction of his female characters. I’ve written about his portrayal of women in Macbeth and The Merchant of Venice and I think his overall portrayal was much more favorable in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

If you’re curious about this one, it won’t take very long to get through. It’s been on my TBR forever and I wish I’d picked it up sooner!

Open Road Summer

Open Road SummerTitle: Open Road Summer
Author: Emery Lord
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Date: April 15th 2014
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Gift
4 Stars


After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own.

Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence.

This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.

A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

First up, huge thanks to Tiffany @ Mostly YA Lit for sending this book to me. If you like contemporary, you simply must check out her blog!

Open Road Summer was such an adorable read. It has plenty of romance and an interesting setting (a sold out pop-star tour), but the stand out is definitely the friendship.

Yes, I could go into more detail about the romance and setting, but we’re just going to skip them all together. They were good, but they aren’t the reason I’m going to remember this book. That honor goes to the best-friend dynamic between Dee and Reagan.

Do you know how often you find a really solid friendship in YA? The only things that comes to mind for me is Lissa and Rose from Vampire Academy and Helen and Claire from Starcrossed, but Dee and Reagan are even stronger. Friendships this good are so hard to come by in YA, that I kept waiting for it to go south. I kept waiting for something really messed up to happen between these two. I kept waiting for the one thing that was going to make me not like the book. And why is that, you ask?

Dee and Reagan are such a focal point of the story, that instead of waiting for some boy-drama, I was waiting for some friend-drama. There is almost always drama between the main couple in a romance. And even though Dee and Reagan are platonic (practically sisters), they felt like the main couple to me. Dee and Reagan are the two people I imagine will always be in each other’s lives regardless of careers, family issues, and breakups.

If you’re looking for a refreshing contemporary, pick up Open Road Summer. It had everything I look for in a contemporary romance and much, much more.

Ice Kissed

Ice KissedTitle: Ice Kissed (Kanin Chronicles, #2)
Author: Amanda Hocking
Series: Kanin Chronicles #2
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Date: May 5, 2015
Pages: 309
Format: Paperback
Source: For Review
5 Stars


In the majestic halls of a crystal palace lies a secret that could destroy an entire kingdom…

Bryn Aven refuses to give up on her dream of serving the kingdom she loves. It’s a dream that brings her to a whole new realm…and the glittering palace of the Skojare.

The Skojare people need protection from the same brutal enemy that’s been threatening the Kanin, and Bryn is there to help. Being half Skojare herself, it’s also a chance for her to learn more about her lost heritage. Her boss, Ridley Dresden, is overseeing her mission, but as their undeniable attraction heats up, their relationship is about to reach a whole new level—one neither of them is prepared for.

As they delve deeper into the Skojare world, they begin to unravel a long-hidden secret. The dark truth about her own beloved Kanin kingdom is about to come to light, and it will change her place in it forever…and threaten everyone she loves.

At this point in an Amanda Hocking series, I’d typically be telling you that book 2 was waaaaay better than book 1 and I am now officially in love with it. Not this time. I freaking loved Frostfire and I am happy to say that Ice Kissed is just as fantastic.

I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by Amanda Hocking, but I feel like all of her growth as an author is really reflected in the Kanin Chronicles. It has everything I love about her work, and omits the weaker points that tended to get on my nerves (immature main character who doesn’t think before acting).

Ice Kissed is jam-packed with adventure and has a sizzling slow-burn romance that is sure to make you swoon. If Rose and Dimitri from Vampire Academy is your thing, you’ll love the relationship in Ice Kissed. It will definitely leave you wanting more, and I know I can’t wait to continue on with Crystal Kingdom.

Fairytale Fashions: Updated Library Tour

updated library tour

A few months ago, I posted a library tour and told you that I’d be making some changes to the room (including building a brand new bookshelf). Well, that took a really long time. Waaaay longer than I anticipated! You got a sneak peek of my bookish decor, but it is finally time for the updated tour!

I am so happy with the way the shelves turned out! I have so much more space for my books now and even a little room to grow. I just wish it had a Beauty and the Beast ladder! The top shelves are pretty high, so I need a step ladder to reach them. Unfortunately the ladder won’t work on carpet. Think my husband will install new floors so I can live out my childhood dreams 😉 ?

Now this would be another ambitious project on my part, but would you like to see a bookshelf tour?