Giveaway: “Things Not Seen”

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Book: “Things Not Seen” by Monica Boothe

Publishing Info: Peniel Press, January 2023

Where Can You Get this Book: Amazon | IndieBound | WorldCat

Book Description: 17-year-old Kristin has selective blindness. She can’t see, hear, feel, or smell, her brother. This doesn’t stop them from becoming best friends, turning his unique invisibility into a game, but when the two of them are stranded alone during a blizzard, it doesn’t feel like a game anymore. Kristin will do everything she can to keep her little brother alive, but she’s the least qualified person in the world to do so.

Giveaway Details: Monica Boothe reached out to me about reviewing her upcoming book “Things Not Seen” a few months ago. After reading the excerpt, I was very excited to check out the entire novel! The voice of the teenage protagonist, Kristin, was immediately catchy and relatable. Add that to a very interesting concept, that of a sibling relationship where the sister has never been able to see/hear/feel her brother, and you have yourself a very compelling novel! Per the usual, my full review (spoiler: I really liked it!) will go live this Friday. Until then, don’t forget to enter to win a copy of “Things Not Seen!” The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and runs through January 24, 2023.

Enter to win!

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!

Happy holidays fellow book lovers! And in honor of this time of year when presents  giving is everything, we’re hosting our annual “12 Days of Christmas” Giveaway. But, tricky us, it’s actually two giveaways, each one comprised of six books from our preferred genres. Read on to see what books are included in each prize package and enter for your chance to win! Both giveaways are open to U.S. residents only and end on December 31.

Serena’s Prize Package

“Eversion” by Alastair Reynolds (Review)

“Belladonna” by Adalyn Grace (Review)

“The Drowned Woods” by Emily Lloyd-Jones (Review)

“Half a Soul” by Olivia Atwater (Review)

“The Stardust Thief” by Chelsea Abdullah (Review)

“Wind Daughter” by Joanna Ruthe Meyer (Review)

Enter to win!

Kate’s Prize Package

“Number One Fan” by Meg Elison (Review)

“The Vicious Circle” by Katherine St. John (Review)

“After Dark with Roxie Clark” by Brooke Lauren Davis (Review)

“Shutter” by Ramona Emerson (Review)

“The Daughter of Doctor Moreau” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Review)

“All The White Spaces” by Ally Wilkes (Review)

Enter To Win!

Giveaway: “The Luminaries”

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Book: “The Luminaries” by Susan Dennard

Publishing Info: Tor Teen, November 2022

Where Did I Get this Book: ALA, Edelweiss+

Where Can You Get this Book: Amazon | IndieBound | WorldCat

Book Description: Hemlock Falls isn’t like other towns. You won’t find it on a map, your phone won’t work here, and the forest outside town might just kill you.

Winnie Wednesday wants nothing more than to join the Luminaries, the ancient order that protects Winnie’s town—and the rest of humanity—from the monsters and nightmares that rise in the forest of Hemlock Falls every night.

Ever since her father was exposed as a witch and a traitor, Winnie and her family have been shunned. But on her sixteenth birthday, she can take the deadly Luminary hunter trials and prove herself true and loyal—and restore her family’s good name. Or die trying.

But in order to survive, Winnie enlists the help of the one person who can help her train: Jay Friday, resident bad boy and Winnie’s ex-best friend. While Jay might be the most promising new hunter in Hemlock Falls, he also seems to know more about the nightmares of the forest than he should. Together, he and Winnie will discover a danger lurking in the forest no one in Hemlock Falls is prepared for.

Not all monsters can be slain, and not all nightmares are confined to the dark.

Giveaway Details: Susan Dennard is back with a contemporary fantasy with a super creepy cover. I’ll admit, the cover itself was one of the main reasons I’ve had my eyes on this one. For all that Kate is the horror expert, I do find myself leaning towards the darker stories here and there. And this type of monster-hunting fantasy story looks like just the sort to tickle that particular itch. Plus, who can say no to a bad-boy love interest?

Per the usual, this giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. The giveaway ends on December 7.

Enter now!

Kate’s Review & Giveaway: “Gallows Hill”

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Book: “Gallows Hill” by Darcy Coates

Publishing Info: Poisoned Pen Press, September 2022

Where Did I Get This Book: I received an eARC from NetGalley.

Where You Can Get This Book: WorldCat | Amazon | Indiebound

Book Description: The Hull family has owned the Gallows Hill Winery for generations, living and working on the beautiful grounds where they grow their famous grapes. Until the night Mr. and Mrs. Hull settle down for the evening…and are dead by morning.

When their daughter, Margot, inherits the family business, she wants nothing to do with it. The winery is valued for its unparalleled produce, but it’s built on a field where hundreds of convicts were once hanged, and the locals whisper morbid rumors. They say the ground is cursed.

It’s been more than a decade since Margot last saw her childhood home. But now that she’s alone in the sprawling, dilapidated building, she begins to believe the curse is more than real―and that she may be the next victim of the house that never rests…

Review: Thank you to NetGalley for sending me and eARC of this novel and thank you to Poisoned Pen Press for sending me a print ARC of this novel!

I can’t believe that Halloween is almost here. While I love Halloween to death, I always get a bit melancholy around the end of October, as it’s my favorite time of year, and when Halloween happens, then it’s over. But fear not! Just because the season is ending, that doesn’t mean that the scares are going to stop on this blog, and let me tell you do I have a doozy of a haunted house story to close out the month with. “Gallows Hill” by Darcy Coates is the second of her novels that I have read, and I went into it with solid anticipation, as I enjoyed “From Below” a great deal. So going from ghost ship to haunted house seemed like a good transition, and hoo boy, I was NOT prepared for this book. This book was SCARY!

One night in particular as I read was filled with anxiety, and I loved it. (source)

In terms of plot and cast of characters, I thought that “Gallows Hill” was well imagined and well presented. I liked Margot, the woman who left the winery as a child with no explanation from her parents for her exile, and who has now returned for the first time, an adult who is inheriting now that her parents have died strange and premature deaths. Coates takes her time in slowly revealing just what is going on with Gallows Hill and the winery, laying out puzzle pieces bit by bit and letting us investigate along with Margot. Everything that seems strange or farfetched has a well thought out explanation, and every character has a part to play. Margot herself is easy to like and easy to relate to, as she discovers what is going on at the same pace the reader does, and I thought that all the pieces came together well, with some solid surprises along with reveals that are perhaps obvious but still weighted with some mystery. Coates makes it easy to invest in every character, which makes the stakes all the higher when creepy things start to turn into the flat out horrifying. And the Gothic setting of an isolated winery with a new owner who has no idea what she is getting into, and what secrets the people around her are keeping from her, fits the sub genre so well while also being a bit unconventional, which was super satisfying for someone who loves a good Gothic horror story.

And let’s talk about scary. This book is SCARY. I absolutely found myself setting my Kindle down in the middle of one particularly scary moment, and told myself ‘I should probably put this down for the night’. But after I went to brush my teeth and get ready for bed, I crawled back into bed and picked it right back up. So obviously it’s also incredibly addictive. Coates really knows how to create a tense moment, and then to ratchet it up about ten times, and the grotesque imagery uneasy history of the horror points, and the isolated and suffocating setting of a country estate haunted by its history is a perfect horror combination. I am not going to go into specifics as it’s far more effective to be surprised. But holy cow, we absolutely get the sense of being stalked and hunted in this moment that I told myself I was walking away. But along with that, Coates doesn’t feel tempted to leave ambiguity open as the story progresses and comes to a close. The end is definitive, and I appreciate that in a time where sometimes horror stories feel a need to leave things open in an effort for a fear of the unknown. Which, fine, if done well. But there is something to be said about committing to a conclusion, and I love that Coates does that.

You can’t do much better than a classic haunted house tale during Halloween, and “Gallows Hill” is a great example of that. I really enjoyed this book and how freaky it was. Darcy Coates is officially a must read horror author for me now, which means I have a lot of back catalog to explore. And I can’t wait.

And wait, there’s more! Given that this is the end of Horrorpalooza 2022, I thought it would be fun to end with a special treat. So I am running a giveaway of a print ARC of this book, that also has Darcy Coates’s signature in the front (thanks again to Mandy Chahal for providing the book!)! The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on November 3rd.

Enter The Giveaway HERE

And that is the end of Horrorpalooza 2022! I hope that everyone has a fun, safe, and spooky Halloween!

Rating 9: Scary, entertaining, and the perfect Halloween read. If you haven’t tried Darcy Coates yet, start with “Gallows Hill”.

Reader’s Advisory:

“Gallows Hill” is included on the Goodreads list “2022 Gothic”.

Giveaway: “Princess of Souls”

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Book: “Princess of Souls” by Alexandra Christo

Publishing Info: Feiwel Friends, October 2022

Where Can You Get this Book: Amazon | IndieBound | WorldCat

Book Description: For sixteen years, Selestra has been trapped in her tower on the Floating Mountain, preparing to take her mother’s place as the King’s Witch, who foretells deaths in the Festival of Predictions. Outrunning your fate earns a wish and the chance to steal the King’s immortality. But die and your soul is forfeit. And though thousands have tried, nobody has ever beaten death.

A soldier in the King’s army, Nox is an unlikely candidate for the Festival, but, driven by revenge, he is determined to steal the King’s immortality and kill the entirety of his court, starting with Selestra.

Yet when Selestra touches Nox in her very first prediction, their fates become entwined, and death seeks to take both their souls. Only by working together can they survive long enough to escape the dark fate and the immortal King that now hunts them.

Giveaway Details: I love fairytale retellings (obviously). And there are definitely fairytales I’ve read more versions of than others. For fairly obvious reasons, “Rapunzel” is a challenging story to retell. The heroine is literally trapped alone in a tower for the majority of the story. But here we are with two “Rapunzel” inspired stories in the last few months! Though, I will say, this is definitely more of an “inspiration” story than the more closely tied “The House of Gothel.” Honestly, half of my interest in this story is exactly how this ties in with Rapunzel much at all? Reading the book description…I’m not sure? In a lot of ways it seems more closely tied to fantasy novels focused on some sort of deadly magical competitions (like “All of Us Villains” and the ilk). But maybe this is a case of the book description missing out on some key elements. Either way, I’m excited to find out what this book has in store!

Per the usual, my full review will come out this coming Friday. And in the meantime, make sure to enter to win an ARC of this book. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends Oct. 26.

Enter to win!

Serena’s Review: “Foul Lady Fortune”

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Book: “Foul Lady Fortune” by Chloe Gong

Publishing Info: Margaret K. McElderry Books, September 2022

Where Can You Get this Book: Amazon | IndieBound | WorldCat

Book Description: It’s 1931 in Shanghai, and the stage is set for a new decade of intrigue.

Four years ago, Rosalind Lang was brought back from the brink of death, but the strange experiment that saved her also stopped her from sleeping and aging—and allows her to heal from any wound. In short, Rosalind cannot die. Now, desperate for redemption from her traitorous past, she uses her abilities as an assassin for her country.

Code name: Fortune.

But when the Japanese Imperial Army begins its invasion march, Rosalind’s mission pivots. A series of murders is causing unrest in Shanghai, and the Japanese are under suspicion. Rosalind’s new orders are to infiltrate foreign society and identify the culprits behind the terror plot before more of her people are killed.

To reduce suspicion, however, she must pose as the wife of another Nationalist spy, Orion Hong, and though Rosalind finds Orion’s cavalier attitude and playboy demeanor infuriating, she is willing to work with him for the greater good. But Orion has an agenda of his own, and Rosalind has secrets that she wants to keep buried. As they both attempt to unravel the conspiracy, the two spies soon find that there are deeper and more horrifying layers to this mystery than they ever imagined.

Review:

As I mentioned in my give away post for this book, not only did I not know that it was a follow-up to a previously completed duology, but I also didn’t know it had any connections to “Romeo and Juliet.” My better-informed blogging partner quickly caught me up, adding that I would likely be fine jumping into this new duology without going back to the first (though she also did generally recommend it.) So, starting out, all I knew was that our previous main characters shockingly died a tragic death at the end of the first series, and that this duology would start up a few years later following the character who showed up in that series in the role of Rosaline. Not much, I know, but enough to pique my interest for sure!

Four years ago, Shanghai was turned on its head by the powerful decision of two young people upending a system that had felt intractable. For Rosalind, there was an even more personal change at work. After an experiment to save her life, Rosalind awoke with the inability to sleep or age and the ability to heal from all wounds. With these curses and blessings in hand, Rosalind has set her life to work for her country, attempting to make up for past wrongs. To do this, she has become the infamous assassin code named “Fortune.” But when the political climate begins to shift into ever more dangerous territory, Rosalind finds herself reassigned to work as a spy alongside another, Orion Hong, whose playboy lifestyle she appreciates less and less. Especially when she discovers they will be undercover as husband and wife.

So, I’ll confirm that this book is definitely approachable for readers who are not familiar with the original duology. That said, there are definitely aspects of the story that would have been enhanced having had that history. While the author didn’t overly rely on previously established interest in characters to sell them to readers this go around, I could definitely point out the characters who would have popped up in the first series and were clearly meant to pique extra interest here. Beyond that, I found some of the political parties and various gang affiliations to be a bit confusing, and I’m sure had I read the first books this would have been more clear. But, that said, I was able to piece together enough to get the general idea and feel invested in the book and characters.

I want to applaud the author for writing an assassin who, you know, actually kills people? Seems kind of shocking that this is some testament to particular skill, but it has been long established on this blog how irritated I’ve been by books that are heavily promoted as being about morally grey assassins and then turn out to be about purely moral, only-justified/self-defense-killing, Mary Sues. Here, we have Rosalind taking out a character in the very first few chapters. And while she does have personal reasons, it’s also clearly a job that she has been sent on and she doesn’t weep or wail about the dirty aspects of it.

However, I was much more invested in the spying portion of this book. Which is good, since that is by far the more central theme of the story. There were a lot of moving pieces to the mystery at the heart of the spy operation. Lots of double-crossing and you’re never quite sure who works for who and where anyone’s true loyalties lie. The author did a good job of creating a tense and suspicious atmosphere, ratcheting up the suspense as the book went on.

I will say, I wasn’t overly invested in the romance or the male lead in general. Even if it was to hide more of his character than he wanted to share, I’ve read a few too many swaggering playboys to be overly enamored with him. I also felt like the book was a bit too long, and could have used some tightening up, overall. But, for the most part, I very much enjoyed this book. Fans of the first duology I’m sure will love it. And don’t forget, we’re hosting a giveaway for an ARC copy of this book. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends on September 21. Enter now!

Rating 8: An excellent YA spy novel with a lot of twists along the way, including a major one at the end!

Reader’s Advisory:

“Foul Lady Fortune” isn’t on any Goodreads lists currently, but it should be on Poison!

Giveaway: “Foul Lady Fortune”

This post may contain affiliate links for books we recommend.  Read the full disclosure here.

Book: “Foul Lady Fortune” by Chloe Gong

Publishing Info: Margaret K. McElderry Books, September 2022

Where Can You Get this Book: Amazon | IndieBound | WorldCat

Book Description: It’s 1931 in Shanghai, and the stage is set for a new decade of intrigue.

Four years ago, Rosalind Lang was brought back from the brink of death, but the strange experiment that saved her also stopped her from sleeping and aging—and allows her to heal from any wound. In short, Rosalind cannot die. Now, desperate for redemption from her traitorous past, she uses her abilities as an assassin for her country.

Code name: Fortune.

But when the Japanese Imperial Army begins its invasion march, Rosalind’s mission pivots. A series of murders is causing unrest in Shanghai, and the Japanese are under suspicion. Rosalind’s new orders are to infiltrate foreign society and identify the culprits behind the terror plot before more of her people are killed.

To reduce suspicion, however, she must pose as the wife of another Nationalist spy, Orion Hong, and though Rosalind finds Orion’s cavalier attitude and playboy demeanor infuriating, she is willing to work with him for the greater good. But Orion has an agenda of his own, and Rosalind has secrets that she wants to keep buried. As they both attempt to unravel the conspiracy, the two spies soon find that there are deeper and more horrifying layers to this mystery than they ever imagined.

Giveaway Details:

I added this book to my TBR pile some time this spring. To prove just how little I knew about it, not only did I not know that it was a follow-up story to a previously completed duology, but I also didn’t know it had any times to a retelling of “Romeo and Juliet.” The only way I discovered any of this was that while plotting out which booths to check out in the initial rush for books at the ALA convention in June, I mentioned being on the look out for this book and she knew way more about the author and series than me. In fact, she’s read the previous duology. But she assured me that I should be able to pick up the story with this one fine on its own, so I kept it on my list of books to look out for. And, lucky me, Kate came through for the win and found an ARC for me!

So, all of this to say, I know very little about this book other than that it follows the “Rosaline” character from the previous duology where, alas but not shockingly, our romantic duo perished in some tragic manner. And there’s something about her being an assassin? Truly, I know very little. Per the usual, I’ll be posting my review this coming Friday. But for those who are in the know (or just curious newbies like me!), here’s your chance to get your hands on an ARC copy of this book! The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends on September 21.

Enter to win!

Giveaway: “The Monsters We Defy”

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Book: “The Monsters We Defy” by Leslye Penelope

Publishing Info: Orbit, August 2022

Where Can You Get this Book: Amazon | IndieBound | WorldCat

Book Description: Washington D. C., 1925

Clara Johnson talks to spirits, a gift that saved her during her darkest moments in a Washington D. C. jail. Now a curse that’s left her indebted to the cunning spirit world. So, when the Empress, the powerful spirit who holds her debt, offers her an opportunity to gain her freedom, a desperate Clara seizes the chance. The task: steal a magical ring from the wealthiest woman in the District.

Clara can’t pull off this daring heist alone. She’ll need help from an unlikely team, from a jazz musician capable of hypnotizing with a melody to an aging vaudeville actor who can change his face, to pull off the impossible. But as they encounter increasingly difficult obstacles, a dangerous spirit interferes at every turn. Conflict in the spirit world is leaking into the human one and along D.C’.s legendary Black Broadway, a mystery unfolds—one that not only has repercussions for Clara but all of the city’s residents.

Giveaway Details:

I was super excited when I received a copy of this book from the publisher. Not only is the cover very eye-catching, but it looks to be covering a unique time period and perspective for historical fantasy. I’ve read a million and one Regency fantasy novels (not that I’m complaining, I’ve read three excellent ones just this summer!), but it’s always refreshing to see authors pushing the boundaries on what we expect from this particular sub-genre. On the other hand, heists with a quirky group of people has also been done to death. So….I guess we’ll have to see what this book has to offer!

This is another pen name for the author L. Penelope. I’ve read a decent number of her books in the past, and have reviewed some of them here (“Song of Blood and Stone”, “Whispers of Shadow and Flame”, and “Cry of Metal and Bone”). She’s a solid fantasy author who also writes excellent romances into her stories. All of the books I’ve listed above were set in a fictional world, so I’m also excited to see what she can do with a historical book.

Per the usual, my review for this book will be up Friday. But don’t wait until then to get in on the chance to win a copy of this book! This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on August 31.

Enter to win!

Giveaway: “The Book of Gothel”

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Book: “The Book of Gothel” by Mary McMyne

Publishing Info: Redhook, July 2022

Where Can You Get this Book: Amazon | IndieBound | WorldCat

Book Description: Haelewise has always lived under the shadow of her mother, Hedda—a woman who will do anything to keep her daughter protected. For with her strange black eyes and even stranger fainting spells, Haelewise is shunned by her medieval village, and her only solace lies in the stories her mother tells of child-stealing witches, of princes in wolf-skins, of an ancient tower cloaked in mist, where women will find shelter if they are brave enough to seek it.

Then, Hedda dies, and Haelewise is left unmoored. With nothing left for her in her village, she sets out to find the legendary tower her mother used to speak of—a place called Gothel, where Haelewise meets a wise woman willing to take her under her wing.

But Haelewise is not the only woman to seek refuge at Gothel. It’s also a haven for a girl named Rika, who carries with her a secret the Church strives to keep hidden. A secret that unlocks a dark world of ancient spells and murderous nobles behind the world Haelewise has always known…

Giveaway Details:

I always love fairytale retellings, so it was pretty much a given that I would get my hands on this book somehow this summer. It also just happened that bookclub had finished up reading “Circe” (which I loved), so when I saw that this was also being compared to that plus “Wicked,” I knew this was going to jump my order of reading for July releases. It’s always so interesting to see what authors manage to dream up for characters who are not only “wicked,” but also only feature very briefly in someone else’s tale. Not only do these bare bones characters need to be fleshed out, but you have to imagine an entire history and world that will weave into a tale that must remain somewhat familiar to readers. It’s a challenge, for sure, but there are also a number of ways to go with it. So half the fun is seeing what each author chooses to do. I can’t wait to see where we go with this retelling!

Per the usual, my review for this book will be up Friday. But don’t wait until then to get in on the chance to win a copy of this book! This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on August 2.

Enter to win!

Giveaway: “Ordinary Monsters”

This post may contain affiliate links for books we recommend.  Read the full disclosure here.

Book: “Ordinary Monsters: by J.M. Miro

Publishing Info: Flatiron Books, June 2022

Where Can You Get this Book: Amazon | IndieBound | WorldCat

Book Description: England, 1882. In Victorian London, two children with mysterious powers are hunted by a figure of darkness —a man made of smoke.

Sixteen-year-old Charlie Ovid, despite a lifetime of brutality, doesn’t have a scar on him. His body heals itself, whether he wants it to or not. Marlowe, a foundling from a railway freight car, shines with a strange bluish light. He can melt or mend flesh. When two grizzled detectives are recruited to escort them north to safety, they are forced to confront the nature of difference, and belonging, and the shadowy edges of the monstrous.

What follows is a journey from the gaslit streets of London, to an eerie estate outside Edinburgh, where other children with gifts—the Talents—have been gathered. Here, the world of the dead and the world of the living threaten to collide. And as secrets within the Institute unfurl, Marlowe, Charlie and the rest of the Talents will discover the truth about their abilities, and the nature of the force that is stalking them: that the worst monsters sometimes come bearing the sweetest gifts.

With lush prose, mesmerizing world-building, and a gripping plot, “Ordinary Monsters” presents a catastrophic vision of the Victorian world—and of the gifted, broken children who must save it.

Giveaway Details:

I always love it when I can find books that cross over two (or more!) genres that I enjoy. It’s the reason why most of the mystery novels I read/review for this blog are also historical pieces and not modern murder mysteries. Much of the fantasy I read, however, is second-world fantasy, meaning the entire setting, time period, and culture is unique to the story. But there’s a pretty solid subgenre of historical fantasy, stories that simply recreate a time and place and add a dash of magic to the entire affair.

Reading through this description, “Ordinary Monsters” essentially sounds like Victorian “X-Men” if you ask me. And who’s not interested in that?! Of course, my usual wariness of large casts of characters is at play, but there are some solid examples of ensemble stories, so hopefully this is one of those!

Per the usual, my review for this book will be up Friday. But don’t wait until then to get in on the chance to win a copy of this book! This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on June 14.

Enter to win!

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