Review: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger

Hey all, Dani here.

I picked up this book to read it for the Summer Biannual Bibliothon because one of the challenges was to read a book you got because of the cover. Well, it was the cover that made me want to know more about the book and then the summary made me go “yeah, I want to read that now.” Thankfully this book did not disappoint at all. Come on, it features magical alcoholic beverages.

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Summary

In this sharp and funny urban fantasy novel, booze is magic, demons are real, and millennial Bailey Chen joins a band of monster-fighting Chicago bartenders instead of finding a “real” post-college job.

Bailey Chen is fresh out of college with all the usual new-adult demons: no cash, no job offers, and an awkward relationship with Zane, the old friend she kinda-sorta hooked up with during high school.

But when Zane introduces Bailey to his monster-fighting bartender friends, her demons become a lot more literal. It turns out that evil creatures stalk the city streets after hours, and they can be hunted only with the help of magically mixed cocktails: vodka grants super-strength, whiskey offers the power of telekinesis, and rum lets its drinker fire blasts of elemental energy. But will all these powers be enough for Bailey to halt a mysterious rash of gruesome deaths? And what will she do when the safety of a “real world” job beckons?

This sharp and funny urban fantasy is perfect for fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, and grown-up readers of Harry Potter. Includes 14 recipes from a book of ancient cocktail lore.

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

I loved that this book featured a Chinese-American protagonist, and more than that I loved that she was a recent college graduate trying to figure out her new adult life. That was an aspect I related to so much, because even though I graduated with a Master’s degree almost six years ago, I still find myself struggling sometimes, and finding jobs in my career field can be difficult.

Thanks to her old friend Zane, Bailey is working as a barback at the Nightshade Lounge. One night he leaves her to finish closing up and she finds this secret compartment of liquor and decides to make herself a screwdriver. On her way home she finds herself confronted with a monster and fights it off with super-strength that she didn’t realize she had. As it turns out, a properly made Screwdriver grants that power unto the drinker. And so Bailey is brought into the world of monster-hunting bartenders.

Let me just say that this concept was absolutely fascinating to me. I would totally read a whole series dedicated to this concept because it was nicely developed with all sorts of history to the different components of mixed drinks and everything.

As Bailey trains with Zane and his bartender friends–who are all really interesting and I’d like to read more about them at some point–more secrets are revealed and it seems that not everything is as simple as it initially appeared. Also, there’s this search for the proper recipe and components for a Long Island Iced Tea, because if made the right way, the one who drinks it can become immortal.

There was nice action in this story and the intrigue/discovery revolving around these monsters and some details about the Council for the bartenders was just fascinating to me. Any time I had to pause in my reading for a little while, I basically started counting down until I could read again. I flew through this book.

Will the monsters overtake Chicago? Will the Long Island Iced Tea be mastered? Will Bailey continue bartending or find a “real” job? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out.

Where to Buy

You can pick up a copy of Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.


Summer Biannual Bibliothon Wrap Up

I read The Wicked + The Divine, Vol 5: Imperial Phase I by Kieron Gillen, Sandman, Vol 6: Fables and Reflections by Neil Gaiman, Dead Poets Society by N.H. Kleinbaum, Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger, and Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh during the Readathon.

Challenges completed: Group Read (Flame in the Mist), Book-to-Movie Adaptation and Banned Book (Dead Poets Society), Cover Buy (Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge), Throwback Challenge: Graphic Novel (Sandman), and LGBTQIA+/Emma’s Favorite Genre (The Wicked + The Divine).

So, though I didn’t read all of the books I wanted to or listed on my TBR, I did manage to read a decent number of books and complete the challenges.

Make Me Read It Readathon

Hey all, Dani here.

I know, I know…another readathon, Dani? You guys, I really like doing readathons because they help motivate me to read a little more than normal. Now, I do tend to have better results with 24 Hour Readathons than I do with week-long events, but that’s not going to stop me from participating. Also, this one just sounds really interesting.

And I’ll need your help to participate so stick around to find out how you can help determine what I’m going to read.

Okay, so I just started following Nika (Bookster) and saw this post about an upcoming readathon. It is being hosted by Val (The Innocent Smiley) and Ely (Tea and Titles) and will be taking place August 6th through August 13th.

Now, I like the interactive component of this readathon because it makes for a slightly different experience from any other readathon. Let me explain by giving the details about the Make Me Read It Readathon as described by Val and Ely.

Look at the books you own, either physical, e-book or ones you’ve borrowed from the library and pick out a few you really want to read, or feel like you should read. It’s up to you how many you pick, personally I’d pick a few more than you expect to be able to read in a week. Example: if you think you’ll only read two, pick out five books or if you think you can read seven, pick out ten.

Make a list of these books on your blog, or make a video, or a Goodreads shelf or post a picture on Instagram—whatever is easiest for you. Then get friends, other bloggers/booktubers/bookstagrammers etc. to vote on which books you HAVE to read.

When the readathon comes along, you read the books in the order of most votes. For example, if one book gets 10 votes—you read that first, then the one that got 7 and so on. If there’s a tie, then it’s your preference. The goal is to read as many as possible.

So there you have it. I select options for books to read for this event and then you guys get to vote on those options and decide what order I read them in. This sounds like it’ll be fun. I instantly looked at my August TBR (I’ll have my post on that up in a couple days) and determined that having a few Middle Grade reads on my list meant that I could probably squeeze in a few fun reads.

Without further ado, here are my options for you to vote on:

Now I have this poll set up to be open until August 4th, so do me a favor and vote. Keep in mind that though I only have Sandman Vol 7 pictured above, my poll option is for Volumes 7, 8, 9, and 10. The reason I did this with both Sandman and Scott Pilgrim is because I know I have a tendency to fly through graphic novels, comic books, and manga, so bundling them together just makes sense to me.

Review: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Hey all, Dani here.

Today I am pleased to bring you an early review for one of my most highly anticipated book releases of 2017. I love Adam Silvera’s books, and after hearing about this book I absolutely had to know just how true the title was.

So naturally as soon as I got my hands on an ARC during BookExpo, I had to read it…as in I had finished this book before BookCon wrapped. That would have been too early for a review so here we go. Yes, I wrote and then scheduled this post back in mid-June.

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Summary

New York Times bestselling author Adam Silvera reminds us that there’s no life without death and no love without loss in this devastating yet uplifting story about two people whose lives change over the course of one unforgettable day.

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

In the tradition of Before I Fall and If I Stay, They Both Die at the End is a tour de force from acclaimed author Adam Silvera, whose debut, More Happy Than Not, the New York Times called “profound.”

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

Adam Silvera’s books just draw me in and I can’t put them down…or if I do put them down it does not take that long before I have to pick it up to read more. In 2016 when I received an ARC for History is All You Left Me in June, despite the book coming out in January 2017, I intended to only read a couple chapters and then put the book aside for a few months so it would be closer to the release day. Instead I had the book finished within a day.

It was basically the same with this latest novel. I wrote down all the ARCs I received at BookExpo and BookCon and pretty much decided to read them in order of publication date, just to make things simple. Yeah, right. I could not help myself. I was pulled towards They Both Die at the End, and so I just ignored the rest of my massive new TBR stack and dove in.

I was not at all disappointed by this book. It made me smile, and get cute little warm fuzzies, but there were also times where I was worried for the characters, and yes, of course there were also some points where I cried. Following Mateo and Rufus on the day they receive their call from Death-Cast was a roller coaster ride of emotions. And okay, fine, I admit it that I was already tearing up at the very beginning of the book when I read a letter from Adam about the writing of this book.

This was a beautiful tale and both boys had such unique voices. I also liked that there were interludes where we were given glimpses of rather minor characters who might have interacted briefly with the young men or just happened to be in the same vicinity at that particular time. It made for a different kind of story layout and I very much enjoyed it.

I really don’t want to say too much about this book because I don’t want to risk spoilers, but I will just say that it was a phenomenal read. There were a couple times where I thought I had figured out an intriguing possible plot twist, only to later learn that I was completely wrong.

So do both Mateo and Rufus die at the end? Now why would you expect me to answer that question. Go order a copy of this book for yourself and then you can find out how appropriate or inappropriate the title is. Seriously, I just highly recommend this book. Adam Silvera has definitely made it onto my auto-buy author list.

Where to Buy

You can pre-order a copy of They Both Die at the End from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore. This book will be released September 5th, 2017.

Four Londons Book Tag

Hey all, Dani here.

Today I’m bringing you a book tag that I simply could not resist doing. I first saw it over on Rachael’s blog (rachaelrexds) so you can check out her post here, but it was created by Arkon and Annie so you can find the original post here.

Basically this tag was created in honor of V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy, which I think is an awesome trilogy and I definitely recommend it to my fellow fantasy lovers, particularly if you like alternate reality type books, because these ones allow you to travel between four different versions of London and they are just so interesting.

Anyway, let’s just jump into the tag.

Grey London: A Book That You Keep Going Back to Despite Trying to Quit It

– Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard

So I read the first one and it was pretty good, not anything where I found myself begging for the next book or anything, but I liked it. The second book definitely suffered through the sophomore slump in my opinion and I wanted to say goodbye to the series, but with the way book two ended I knew I would probably end up going back to pick up the next one. I bought book three shortly after its release and read half…and then put it aside. Again, the book is just okay to me. I mean, I like it, but it isn’t begging me to keep reading. I know I need to finish King’s Cage because I don’t like leaving books half read but it isn’t exactly a priority for me at the moment.

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Grey London: A Book/Series That You’ve Left Behind Forever

– Night World by L.J. Smith

I’ll be completely honest…I absolutely devoured the first nine books in this series. Were many of them fairly formulaic? Well, yes, but most paranormal romance tends to be that way and nevertheless I enjoyed the books. However, the series was first published in like 1996-1998…and we are still waiting on book 10, the final book in the series. Come on! I can’t just keep the books on my shelves and wait for a finale that may never come. It was time for me to walk away and give up.

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Grey London: A Majorly Bad Book/Series With Just One Beautiful Spark

– Beautiful series/Maddox Brothers series by Jamie McGuire

I don’t know if these count as having a beautiful spark in them…mainly they are just an intriguing guilty pleasure read. I haven’t finished the series, but there are so many issues in these books that just aggravate me. I find some of the character naming conventions to be pretty lazy, and some of the stories seem a bit far-fetched, and typically the characters make so many bad decisions that I wonder how they have managed to still be okay, but I sometimes still find myself thinking that I need to read the last couple books.

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Red London: A Book/Series That You Feel Blessed to Have Read. Aven

– The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

This was one of my top reads of 2016. I just can’t say enough about the awesome adventure and widely diverse cast of characters in this book. I still need to read the second book, especially since there should be a third one coming, but I want to savor the experience so for now I’m waiting. Plus, the covers are gorgeous…well, for the UK editions; I am wholly unimpressed with the US covers. And yes, technically the official cover for the third book hasn’t been revealed yet, but I bet it will be stunning.

Red London: A Book That Changes Every Time You Read It

-Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares

There is just something about this series. I grew up with it, and when the fifth book was released years after the original four concluded, I had aged right along with the Sisterhood. And every time I read these books–because I still own them and like to reread them every now and again–I spy something else in the pages, or I connect with a different character or a different plot in a way I hadn’t before.

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Red London: A Fictional World That Makes You Feel Love and Fear. Antari

-Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Although really, I guess this one is only partly a fictional world as it takes place in the UK. Anyway, these books, these characters…you love them and you hate them. When I originally read the series I certainly was afraid of what would happen to everyone as the books got darker and more dangerous. But they just stick with you as well; Harry Potter is not a series that is easily forgotten.

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White London: Book/Series That Started Off Meh But Ended Up Being Great

-Vampire Academy/Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead

Don’t get me wrong, I love all of these books, but if I look at Vampire Academy objectively, it was pretty similar to a lot of other vampire literature of the time, but then the world developed more, as did the mythos of these particular vampires (Moroi and Strigoi) and the dhampirs, and I got more and more obsessed with it. That was even more apparent when the Bloodlines series came around and Sydney became the main character, because I related to her so much more than I did Rose.

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White London: The World is Dying. Save One Book

-The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

This is such a hard question. Honestly I would try to save as many books as possible; no way would I settle for just one. But for the purposes of this tag, I guess I’ll go with a piece of classic literature that contains quite a bit of material. With this large collection of plays and poems, this is a great choice with lots of reading options.

White London: A Book/Series That You Would Kill For

-Guardians of Time Book #4 by Marianne Curley

I don’t know the title of this book or the release date or anything except for the fact that Marianne Curley announced that there would be a fourth book coming. I absolutely adored the first three books and devoured them when I was in high school. They stuck with me since then…and I just really REALLY want this next book, like right now.

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Black London: Name a Book/Series That Has Utterly Consumed You

-Critical Role: Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting by Matthew Mercer

I feel like this one is cheating just a tiny bit, but the world of Exandria and the stories that take place therein have completely consumed me. I have watched over 100 episodes of this live streamed show where a bunch of nerdy professional voice actors sit around and play Dungeons & Dragons. Each episode is typically 3-5 hours long, so you can see that I’ve invested quite a bit of time in the world. And the campaign setting book is coming out very soon (I was able to immediately download the PDF when I preordered the hardcover) and I read through the book so fast. Now I have the ability to explore the continent of Tal’Dorei on my own and I am so happy about that.

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Black London: A Book/Series That You Refuse to Open

-Cthulurotica anthology, edited by Carrie Cuinn

This was a monthly book pick for Felicia Day’s Vaginal Fantasy Book Club basically five years ago. Tentacle porn was how it was tentatively described. I wasn’t interested in it then. I’m not interested in it now.

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Black London: An Author Who Controls Your Purse Strings a la Osaron

-Rachel E. Kelly, author of the Colorworld series

It wouldn’t be a book tag or a best of/favorites list or anything similar if I didn’t have at least one mention of the Colorworld series, which I am absolutely obsessed with. I have read the whole series (most of the books several times) and I have the privilege of knowing the author and getting to be a part of her creative journey. I have purchased three copies of each book (paperback, e-book, and illustrated editions), pledged to the Kickstarter for a monthly comic book series, and just in general donated money to help Team Colorworld with their book tour. Oh, and I don’t even know how many art prints and/or metal bookmarks I’ve purchased from them in the past couple years. It’s quite a few though.

Well, I suppose that’s all for today’s post. If you would like to do this tag, then by all means, consider yourself TAGGED! I’d love to see your answers if you do decided to do this.


Biannual Bibliothon Update

Okay, so I actually didn’t get much reading done yesterday. I read all of 70 pages in Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh, so I have some catching up to do if I want to complete my TBR before the end of the readathon. My plan is to finish this book today and hopefully get through a decent chunk of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee.

Readathon totals

# books completed: 4

# reading challenges completed: 1.5

Review: Dead Poets Society by N.H. Kleinbaum

Hey all, Dani here.

As you are probably aware, I am participating in the summer session of the Biannual Bibliothon being hosted over on BookTube, Twitter, Bookstagram, etc. Today I offer up my first book review from my TBR for the event. Most of my reviews for the books I’m reading this week will be up in the next couple weeks, whenever I can squeeze them in due to my already scheduled reviews.

Anyway this covers reading challenge #5: Book to Movie Adaptation.

Yes, I am still counting this for the challenge even though I learned that the book is adapted from the screenplay.

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Summary

Todd Anderson and his friends at Welton Academy can hardly believe how different life is since their new English professor, the flamboyant John Keating, has challenged them to “make your lives extraordinary! ” Inspired by Keating, the boys resurrect the Dead Poets Society–a secret club where, free from the constraints and expectations of school and parents, they let their passions run wild. As Keating turns the boys on to the great words of Byron, Shelley, and Keats, they discover not only the beauty of language, but the importance of making each moment count.But the Dead Poets pledges soon realize that their newfound freedom can have tragic consequences. Can the club and the individuality it inspires survive the pressure from authorities determined to destroy their dreams?

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

This was a movie I watched for the first time, I believe, in high school, and it has stuck with me ever since. Dead Poets Society is one of my favorite films, and even though this book is merely an adaptation of the screenplay, it still stands strongly on its own. No matter how many times I watch this (or in future reread this) I feel that it will always resonate in me and there are certain lines and certain lessons that I will hold close to my heart for the rest of my life.

Some of my favorite lines from the book/movie:

  • “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world”
  • “But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? – – Carpe – – hear it? – – Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”
  • “So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.”
  • “To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

In many ways I feel like some of those quotes explain why I do what I do, why I am so passionate about sharing my love of books and movies and television shows and RPGs and board games and so many other activities attributed to nerd/geek culture. It also is why I will continue to read and write and share my love of the written word.

It is also why I will continue to get emotional any time I approach the end of Dead Poets Society. The final classroom, showing the impact Mr. Keating had on the class, will continue to inspire me, as will Mr. Keating’s approach to learning and to life in general.

While yes there are some troubling acts in this tale, I think it is still an important one to tell. If you have not watched the movie (or read the adaptation novel), then I very highly recommend that you check it out. And you may want to have tissues handy, just in case the story resonates within you as well.

Where to Buy

You can pick up a copy of Dead Poets Society from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore. Of course you can probably also pick up the movie from those places as well.


Biannual Bibliothon Update

Wow, we are halfway through the Biannual Bibliothon. For those of you also participating (or those of you doing BookTube-a-Thon instead), I hope you are having a productive week of reading. I finished reading Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger yesterday, completing my challenge of reading a book that I bought because of the cover. And now I’m reading Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh, which is the Bibliothon group read pick.

Readathon totals

# books completed: 4

# reading challenges completed: 1.5

Review: Alex & Eliza: A Love Story by Melissa de la Cruz

Hey all, Dani here.

You know what…it has been a little while since I last talked about my obsession with Hamilton. I have been listening to the soundtrack non-stop again, and when I was grabbing possible books for the 24 Hourathon I just randomly reached over and grabbed this one. Then I started reading it the day before the readathon. So I only read the second half of this for the 24 Hourathon, but it made for a good book for me to start my day with because I already knew that I was hooked on the story.

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Summary

Their romance shaped a nation. The rest was history.

1777. Albany, New York.

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball.

Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

I’ll admit it everyone. When I first heard about this book I was very judgmental about it. A YA historical romance story about Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Scuyler…I thought there was no way it would be able to do the kind of justice to the relationship that Hamilton did, or Alexander Hamilton’s actual writings did.

But I still bought a copy of this book, because…well, Hamilton.

So it sat in a pile for a few months. Now that I’ve read it, oh my goodness you guys, I was soo wrong to judge it before reading it. I’m sorry for doubting you Melissa de la Cruz.

This book had all the witty banter I could have asked for. The wit of Alexander Hamilton as well as the witty fiesty intelligence of the Schuyler sisters just absolutely shines in this book. And I was so happy about that.

While reading I laughed, I cried, I cheered for the characters, and I absolutely hugged the book a few times.

I’ll be completely honest, there was even a part when it seemed like things wouldn’t work out between Alex and Eliza and I was so upset about it because it was so obvious that they belonged together. And I thought this even while knowing that it would all work out. I was so invested in the story that my mind temporarily forgot that this was a historical tale based on actual events. My emotions were so wrapped up in the story.

So basically I loved this book and if you are a fan of Hamilton and you have not yet picked this up, just go buy it already.

Where to Buy

You can pick up your own copy of Alex & Eliza from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.


Biannual Bibliothon Update

I finished Dead Poets Society by N.H. Kleinbaum, and then I started Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger, a book I picked up because the cover was gorgeous, and so far I am really enjoying it. I am hoping to finish Nightshade Lounge today and then I’ll dive into Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh.

Readathon totals

# books completed: 3

# reading challenges completed: 1/2 (still need to watch Dead Poets Society)

Review: No Second Chances by Kate Evangelista

Hey all, Dani here.

Welcome to another contemporary book review. On the plus side this is the final book in the trilogy so I can say that I’m happy to have finished a series. When it comes to most of what I read I either fall behind by several books or I reach the last one and I just can’t finish it; I don’t want the story to be over. (Yes, I’m looking at you Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab. I want to know what happens, but I also don’t want it to be over). Book nerd problems.

Anyway, I already have reviews up for the first two books in the Dodge Cove trilogy, the first No Love Allowed–featuring Caleb and Didi–and the second one, No Holding Back–featuring Nathan and Preston. This final book follows Nathan’s twin sister Natasha and her ex-boyfriend Jackson as he tries to win her back.

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Summary

Natasha was DEVASTATED when Jackson, her first love, disappeared without a word only to pop up months later as a famous DJ. But now she’s over it―over him!―and ready to move on with her life! Isn’t she?

Jackson thought he was leaving Dodge Cove behind forever when he set off to LA to start his career as a DJ. But the one thing he had never been able to leave behind was the memory of his first love, Natasha, and now that he’s proven his success, he’s coming home to win her back…

Get ready to stop time, defy gravity and bring down the stars in this final book in Kate Evangelista’s Dodge Cove Trilogy!

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

I read this during the 24 Hourathon and it was the first book I read completely for the day, and much like the previous installments, I flew through this book. Natasha is a great leading lady. She is smart and fiesty but she also has this vulnerability to her because of what she went through with Jackson.

I also love that Caleb, Didi, Nathan, and Preston all appear in this book too. The friendship between Didi and Natasha is cool, though I do wish there could have been more of it throughout the trilogy. All three of the books are relatively short; I believe that No Second Chances is the longest at 197 pages, so honestly we don’t get to delve too deep into the character development and relationships.

That doesn’t mean that these books aren’t good. I think they are perfect for a beach read or a vacation read, something where you need something shorter and easy to follow without worrying about getting too deeply wrapped up in plot or characters.

I’ll say that Jackson won me over a lot sooner than he did Natasha, and that’s understandable considering how their relationship ended to begin with. But come on, he is a Harry Potter nerd and watching him help out with that Entrepreneur Day project was just so cute.

So I’m glad to have read these books and though I liked them I don’t see me really needing or wanting to reread them in the future, so it’s very likely that I’ll take the whole trilogy to one of my area Little Free Libraries and drop them off. Hopefully someone else will also enjoy them.

Where to Buy

You can pick up a copy of No Second Chances from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.


Biannual Bibliothon Update

So I am participating in this readathon all this week (July 23-29) and I’ll try to put mini status updates on all my review posts.

I read two graphic novels (Sandman Vol 6. and The Wicked + The Divine, Vol 5) on Sunday July 23rd. Neither of these were picked to complete any of the reading challenges but they still count as books read.

Currently I am in the middle of reading Dead Poets Society by N.H. Kleinbaum and then I’ll watch the movie to complete the book-to-movie adaptation challenge. Though, I did discover today that this book is actually adapted from the screenplay…I’m still counting it for this challenge.

 

New Release: Between Heaven and Hell

Hey y’all! For the first time, I think, it’s Signy here!

I’m not a great reviewer, and I also don’t read nearly as much as Dani because I’m awful, but hopefully I can change that in the future (the reviewing, I mean. I’ll never read as much as her!).

So I’m here to talk about my newest release, Between Heaven and Hell. This is a sort of follow-up to my first novel, Farther Side of Away. Between Heaven and Hell is a collection of short stories that take place before and during the events of Farther Side of Away. It includes 12 short stories from as short as about 900ish words to around 7,000 words.

I am intending this to be Vol.1 and hope to release a Vol.2 in the future. Originally, Farther Side of Away was to be a trilogy. As I was writing it I decided to condense it into just one book. But since I smushed it into one book, I had so many extra stories I wanted to tell, to further explain and expand on the world I created.

And so that is where Between Heaven and Hell comes in. While the majority of Farther Side of Away is from the POVs of Adam and Eve, several of the short stories in Between Heaven and Hell follow many of their children. I tried to show as many different perspectives as I could. When I get around to Vol.2, we’ll see the perspectives of humans as well during the long war.

For those unfamiliar with Farther Side of Away, it imagines the world in a slightly different. What if Adam was a werewolf and Eve was a vampire? The book follows the events of a long fated 7-year war between the werewolves and vampires to crown a winner who would rule the world for eternity. But Adam and Eve have a secret that only God and Lucifer know.

I released Farther Side of Away in 2013 and now 4 years later, Between Heaven and Hell is finally here.

You can buy the paperback through the Mousai Books Store. You can even buy a Farther Side of Away and Between Heaven and Hell bundle if you don’t already have the first book. I really wouldn’t recommend reading Between Heaven and Hell until you’ve read Farther Side of Away, otherwise you’ll be properly spoiled and probably confused. As always, you can also buy signed copies of any of our books for just a couple of bucks more.

You can also buy the paperback through Createspace.com or Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com.

And for now, you can get it on Kindle. I’ll hopefully have it on Nook soon.

I will have a giveaway on Goodreads that starts July 28th. I’ll only be doing 2 copies, but if you’re interested, be sure to head over and check that out on the 28th.

I do hope y’all will check it out and if you do, please leave a review!

24 Hourathon Wrap Up

Hey all, Dani here.

Okay, so as you all may know, a few days ago I learned about the 24 Hourathon, a quarterly readathon dedicated to reading as much as possible in 24 hours, and I decided to join in.

With only a day to prepare, I knew I had to make the most of my time. So I did my laundry, took a nap to get a little extra sleep in, and made sure that I was stocked up on caffeine and snacks.

Finding a stack of potential books to read was actually probably the easiest part. There are so many books I’ve been wanting to read but put them aside because of the books I needed to read for review. Now, between this 24 Hourathon and the Summer 2017 Biannual Bibliothon, I have an excuse to try and squeeze a few more books into my reading schedule.

One of the other great things about deciding to participate in this readathon is that I wake up with my boyfriend at 6am every morning and he’s out the door headed to work by 6:30am. Since I don’t start my shift until 2:55pm, usually I go back to bed for a few hours. But not for readathon! No, I decided to just down some coffee and get reading.

What I didn’t remember in my excitement to join in on this event is that my 1st shift counterpart had the day off, so I actually had to be in to work at 10:55am instead of 2:55pm. But it’s okay. That’s still plenty of reading time before work, and I’m lucky enough to be able to do quite a bit of reading at work as well.

So, yeah, I woke up at 5:30 am and could not get back to sleep. So I did what any sensible readathon participant would do…I rolled out of bed, grabbed a book, and started reading. On Thursday night I had started reading Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz and had made it halfway through the book so it only made sense to keep reading it.

I finished that book by 7:30 am and was feeling pretty good, especially since I absolutely loved the book. It was beautiful. Absolutely a 5 star read!

I decided to pick up a quick contemporary book, No Second Chances by Kate Evangelista, because I really wanted to finish the trilogy. At 196 pages in length, I knew it would not take me long to get through the book, and thankfully it did not disappoint. By 8:45 am I had finished my second book, and again I gave it 5 stars. It was a nice cute second chance YA romance story.

Then, unable to decide on what to read next, I left it to the dice gods and rolled to see what my next book would be. That ended up being Rook by Sharon Cameron, and I made it 38 pages in before I had to set it down. Don’t get me wrong; the story is good and pretty interesting, but I felt my mind wander a few times, which is not what you want for a readathon book.

Looking at the clock I realized I only had about 20 minutes until I had to get ready for work. I really didn’t like the idea of starting to get into a book and having to pause to pack my lunch and head out the door. This led me to pick up The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski, which is a short story collection prequel to the Witcher books. I read 32 pages before it was time to go to work.

For my potential 12 hour long work shift, I decided to bring two books with me, just in case I could squeeze in some nice reading time. Those books were Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine and Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor.

Now, I’ll admit that two hours into my shift I hadn’t read anything. In fact, part of me wanted to just waste away the rest of my time watching YouTube videos. But I’ve also been slightly complaining about not having a lot of time for pleasure reading because of my review schedule and this readathon is an opportunity to do just that. So I poured my…fourth?…cup of coffee for the day and got to reading.

I made it a few chapters into Ash and Quill, which is seriously one of my most highly anticipated book releases, but again, the focus issue was a problem. Chatting with my boyfriend made it clear that my mind just wanted to focus on something else. He was working on fleshing out an NPC for one of our RPG campaigns and it made me really want to do that too. But I still wanted to read more.

Enter the awesomeness that is the Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting book written by Matthew Mercer, the Dungeon Master for Critical Role. Now, I quickly skimmed this book when I first downloaded the PDF on Monday, but feeling a need to be geeky, I decided to just go ahead and read it. It was 144 pages of amazingness.

And basically that’s it for my 24 Hourathon. I decided to stop reading around 9:00 pm so I could start going through my shutdown/closing procedures at work. Which gave me just a little bit of time to finish writing on this blog post and publishing it for all of you.

All in all it was a pretty great day. I finished 3 books and read some in a few other books. Doing the math on my page count, I read 645 pages in about 16 hours, with a few hours of time being wasted on social media and YouTube.

Oh, and I ended up drinking an entire jug of coffee too.

Review: Genius: The Game by Leopoldo Gout

Hey all, Dani here.

Today’s review is for a book that I wanted to read because the concept was giving me some Ready Player One vibes and I seriously loved RPO. I’m hoping to dive into a re-read sometime before 2017 is over…and then maybe yet another reread in preparation for the movie release. Anyway, I picked up this particular book last year with the intention of reading it shortly after I got it. Instead it fell into that stack of forgetting in the TBR zone…at least until the sequel popped up on NetGalley and I decided to request it. Of course getting approved meant that I now was obliged to read both books. So here we go, and I’ll hopefully have a review for Genius: the Con next week.

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By the way, this picture does not do the cover justice. It is shiny and there is a beauty in the simple design. Also, there is artwork and schematics and other creative elements throughout the book so if you enjoy sort of mixed media stories, this is something you’ll probably want to check out. Oh, and the front of the naked hardcover has the brain stamped into the cover, which is also a cool design element.

Summary

Trust no one. Every camera is an eye. Every microphone an ear. Find me and we can stop him together.

The Game: Get ready for Zero Hour as 200 geniuses from around the world go head to head in a competition hand-devised by India’s youngest CEO and visionary.

The Players:
Rex– One of the best programmers/hackers in the world, this 16-year-old Mexican-American is determined to find his missing brother.
Tunde– This 14-year-old self-taught engineering genius has drawn the attention of a ruthless military warlord by single-handedly bringing electricity and internet to his small Nigerian village.
Painted Wolf– One of China’s most respected activist bloggers, this mysterious 16-year-old is being pulled into the spotlight by her father’s new deal with a corrupt Chinese official.

The Stakes: Are higher than you can imagine. Like life and death. Welcome to the revolution. And get ready to run.

My Thoughts

Rating: 3.5 stars…maybe 4…I’m still debating honestly

I didn’t hate this book, but I didn’t love it either. The premise was intriguing and there were parts that were fairly interesting, but a lot of the time I felt like I was forcing myself to keep reading.

I will say that I thought Rex, Tunde, and Painted Wolf all had unique voices, so that was a definite plus. Though there were times that the phrasing in Tunde’s sections were quite confusing to me. I understand adding in certain words or alternate/phonetic spellings so the character sounds more ethnic and such, but it has to be done well for that to work. Otherwise it is just confusing and a bit distracting.

Also, sometimes the diagrams and illustrations and photograph/screenshots were helpful and added to the reading experience, but sometimes I felt like they were there so it wouldn’t be necessary to describe something in the text itself, which seemed a bit lazy to me.

I did like the friendship between the three main characters and how they supported each other. That was cool.

The concept of The Game was cool as well, though again naming the competition “the Game” has a certain laziness and lack of creativity to it. Now, I’m not saying that I’m always a uniquely creative person, but I have seen a number of books, TV shows, web series, etc where you have items or events or whatever with unoriginal names: The Game, The Corporation, etc. And I wanted to know more about this competition too. With RPO there are plenty of details about the Easter Egg hunt and the world of the OASIS, which helps to immerse the reader into the situation. With this book I always felt like I was on the outside looking in, trying to figure things out.

So this was good, but I needed more from it to really like it. I’m hoping the sequel shows some growth in character and story development and in the writing itself. The skeleton here is decent; now it just needs more guts and muscles and such.

Where to Buy

You can pick up a copy of Genius: The Game from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.