*Blog Tour + Giveaway* Lady Smoke – Laura Sebastian

lady smoke designer credit billelis @billelisTitle: LADY SMOKE (Ash Princess Trilogy #2)

Author: Laura Sebastian

Pub. Date: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 512

Find it:

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The sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller that was “made for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Sabaa Tahir” ( Bustle ), Lady Smoke is an epic new fantasy about a throne cruelly stolen and a girl who must fight to take it back for her people. 

The Kaiser murdered Theodosia’s mother, the Fire Queen, when Theo was only six. He took Theo’s country and kept her prisoner, crowning her Ash Princess–a pet to toy with and humiliate for ten long years. That era has ended. The Kaiser thought his prisoner weak and defenseless. He didn’t realize that a sharp mind is the deadliest weapon.

Theo no longer wears a crown of ashes. She has taken back her rightful title, and a hostage–Prinz Soren. But her people remain enslaved under the Kaiser’s rule, and now she is thousands of miles away from them and her throne.

To get them back, she will need an army. Only, securing an army means she must trust her aunt, the dreaded pirate Dragonsbane. And according to Dragonsbane, an army can only be produced if Theo takes a husband. Something an Astrean Queen has never done.

Theo knows that freedom comes at a price, but she is determined to find a way to save her country without losing herself.

A darkly enchanting page-turner you won’t be able to put down.” –Bustle on Ash Princess, Book 1 in the Ash Princess series


About Book 1:

ashTitle: ASH PRINCESS (Ash Princess Trilogy #1)

Author: Laura Sebastian

Pub. Date: April 24, 2018

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 432

Find it:

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Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess–a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.


About Laura:

author-photo-300x200Laura Sebastian was born and raised in South Florida (the Redlands and Key Largo) and has always loved telling stories–many apologies to her little brother who often got in trouble because of them. No copies of her first book, a Cinderella retelling about angels circa 2nd grade, remain. Thankfully.

After getting her BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design, she moved to New York City thinking that she would stay for a couple of years before going somewhere better suited for a small-town, sun-loving girl. Five years later, she’s still here and madly in love with it.

When Laura isn’t writing, she’s probably reading, baking cookies or cupcakes, buying more clothes than her overstuffed closet can fit, or forcing her lazy dog Neville to take a walk.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram


My Review

Lady Smoke, an exquisite and breathtaking read, is a perfect bridge between Ash Princess and Ember Queen, the final book in the trilogy. Lady Smoke continues where Ash Princess ends, and brings the readers on a journey full of history and the continuous game of cat and mouse.

In Lady Smoke, Theo meets many potential suitors who, in exchange for her hand in marriage, will give her a big enough army to take down the Kaiser and reclaim Astrea. What I liked about all these suitors is that we are given the chance to learn more about the other countries and why none assisted Astrea in that time of need ten years ago. And, of course, Theo’s heart still battles with her feelings for Blaise and Soren; one she knows she loves and one she denies her feelings.

Theo is still playing a dangerous game in Lady Smoke, using her wits to outsmart those who underestimate her and treat her as a China doll. The only main difference is that she’s playing multiple games with her aunt, the Kaiser, and King Etristo. She will have to prove to them all that she is strong enough to be Queen. But she also understands that she has more to lose than she did when she was in the possession of the Kaiser, so she must be choose her battles. As the reader, I was rooting for Theo to come out victorious in her battles; I want to see her take her country back.

In Lady Smoke, Theo discovers more about herself and what she’s capable of, and that power, that realization, is going to set up the third book to begin with a bang (especially with THAT ending). She battles with her actions as Queen; she starts to realize that some of her actions are similar to the Kaiser and that slowly scares her. Not only does she have to figure out how to get Astrea back, she also has to determine how to get the Kaiser’s voice out of her head. But her actions as Queen are not the only thing keeping her up at night. How she left things back in Astrea with the Kaiser haunt her and bring a surprising realization to what she is actually capable of and who she is potentially meant to be.

Overall, Lady Smoke provides a wonderful sequel to Ash Princess, one that will not disappoint. Lady Smoke leads up to what will be a heart pounding end to an amazing trilogy. Queen Theodosia is an ember burning among flames, and she won’t stop until the Kaiser pays for what he did; she won’t stop until she has reclaimed Astrea. The Ash Princess is no more; make room for the Queen of Astrea, the Queen of Flame and Fury.

Lady Smoke releases February 5, 2019.


Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of LADY SMOKE, US Only.

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Tour Schedule:

Week One:

1/1/2019- To Be Read– Review

1/2/2019- A Dream Within A Dream– Review

1/3/2019- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review

1/4/2019- Random Bookish Banter– Review

Week Two:

1/7/2019- Tween 2 Teen Book Reviews– Review

1/8/2019- Jrsbookreviews– Review

1/9/2019- Omg Books and More Books– Review

1/10/2019- Fiction Fare– Review

1/11/2019- Du Livre– Review

Week Three:

1/14/2019- Loie Dunn– Review

1/15/2019- A Court of Coffee and Books– Review

1/16/2019- Paws and Paperbacks– Review

1/17/2019- A Gingerly Review– Review

1/18/2019- Lifestyle of Me– Review

Week Four:

1/21/2019- Paper Reader– Review

1/22/2019- Adventures and Reading– Review

1/23/2019- Popthebutterfly Reads– Review

1/24/2019- Adventures Thru Wonderland– Review

1/25/2019- YA Books Central– Interview

Week Five:

1/28/2019- Confessions of a YA Reader– Review

1/29/2019- Colorimetry– Interview

1/30/2019- Smada’s Book Smack– Review

1/31/2019- Kat’s Books– Review

Hosted by Rockstar Book Tours; thank you so much for including us on this blog tour!

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*Blog Tour + Giveaway* Pretty in Punxsutawney by Laurie Boyle Crompton

Pretty in Punxsatawney_RD3Title: Pretty In Punxsutawney

Author: Laurie Boyle Crompton

Publisher: Blink

Release date: January 22, 2019

Genre: Young Adult — Contemporary, Romance

Synopsis:

A mashup of Groundhog Day and Pretty in Pink, the book stars a senior who is forced to relive the first day at her new school in an endless loop. Andie is convinced she needs true love’s kiss to break the curse, but instead discovers how a high school filled with cliques and misfits can find common ground despite everyone’s differences.

BOOK LINKS

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36168849-pretty-in-punxsutawney

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2rdEb48

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pretty-in-punxsutawney-laurie-boyle-crompton/1128209537?#/

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Pretty-in-Punxsutawney-Laurie-Boyle-Crompton/9780310762164

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/search/book?keys=Pretty+in+Punxsutawney


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

laurieboylecrompton (1)Laurie Boyle Crompton is the YA author of the upcoming PRETTY IN PUNXSUTAWNEY (Blink/HarperCollins 2019) as well as ADRENALINE CRUSH (Macmillan/2014, Square Fish/2016), BLAZE (or Love in the Time of Supervillains), THE REAL PROM QUEENS OF WESTFIELD HIGH and LOVE AND VANDALISM (Sourcebooks/2013, 2014, 2017). Growing up in ‘Pennsyltucky’ in the 1980s, Laurie couldn’t wait to escape rural life. After saving up her tips from waitressing at a local greasy spoon at 18 she packed up her acid wash jeans and moved to NY. Where everyone else had stopped wearing acid wash.

She graduated first in her class from St. John’s University with a BA in English and Journalism. Since then she’s written for national magazines like ALLURE, survived a teaching stint at an all-boy high school, and appeared on Good Day New York several times as a Toy Expert. And yes, ‘toy expert’ is an actual profession. Really.

She has lived in places like Orlando, Florida where she and her husband spent all of their spare time and money visiting theme parks before moving to the Cotswolds in England for six months, which was every bit as cool as that sounds. The Cromptons are now back in New York where their two children resent never going to Disney.

Laurie occasionally enjoys hanging out in fields of blooming flowers and also refering to herself in the third person.

Website: https://www.lboylecrompton.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lbcrompton

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lbcrompton/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laurie.b.crompton


MY REVIEW

This book was absolutely adorable! When I read that Groundhog Day would be the main basis for this book, I knew I needed to read this. Pretty in Punxsutawney is a cute and fast-read contemporary that hooked me from the very beginning. It’s a wonderful mash-up of Groundhog Day and Pretty In Pink, which makes for a fun and laugh-at-loud read. I loved how much Andie evolved over those repeating days. Each day brought a new scenario for Andie, which gave the reader a little snippet into another part of Andie’s personality.

When Andie wakes up the next morning after her first day of school, only to find out that she’s reliving the same day over and over again, she thinks it’s a blessing, yet also a curse. She thinks it’s the world’s way of telling her to get the day right and to find true love. And, of course, to get her first kiss. But little does she know that not everything is going to go as planned and not everyone is who they seem. And maybe, just maybe, you don’t need a kiss to break a time loop.

I loved Andie as a character. She’s strong and funny and someone I could really connect with throughout the book. I enjoyed seeing her dynamics with the many characters along the way, especially with Tom. She interacts with kids from different cliques in her high school, where she sees that many people put on an image at school and hide who they really are. And through all these characters, all these interactions, she starts to understand the person she wants to be. Even though her days are filled with angst and high school drama (like having to deal with a girl trying to steal the guy she thinks she likes), she stills fights to figure out who she is and what she’s supposed to do to break the curse.

One of my favorite things about Pretty in Punxsutawney was all the references to classic 80s movies, like Pretty in Pink. I’m a huge movie buff, so I loved all the references and how they all incorporated into the story. Andie references some of her mom’s favorite 80s movies to help her get through each repeat day, and each movie reference helps create a different outcome, which, in turn, teaches Andie something about herself she didn’t know.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Pretty in Punxsutawney. It was different from any contemporary books I have read and referring to 80s nostalgic movies definitely put the cherry on top. If you enjoy contemporaries with big-screen features similar to Groundhog Day and other well-known movies, I highly recommend!

Pretty in Punxsutawney comes out January 15, 2019!


GIVEAWAY

Prize: 5 finished copies of Pretty In Punxsutawney by Laurie Boyle Crompton (USA only)

Starts: 1/7/19

Ends:  1/16/19

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TOUR SCHEDULE

http://fantasticflyingbookclub.blogspot.com/2018/12/tour-schedule-pretty-in-punxsutawney-by.html


Thank you so much, Fantastic Flying Book Club, for having us on this amazing book blog tour!

*ARC Review* The Similars by Rebecca Hanover

similars

Title: The Similars

Author: Rebecca Hanover

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: January 1, 2019

Page count: 352 pages

Genres: Young adult, Science Fiction

My Review: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary:

When six clones join Emmaline’s prestigious boarding school, she must confront the heartbreak of seeing her dead best friend’s face each day in class.

The Similars are all anyone can talk about at the elite Darkwood Academy. Who are these six clones? What are the odds that all of them would be Darkwood students? Who is the madman who broke the law to create them? Emma couldn’t care less. Her best friend, Oliver, died over the summer and all she can think about is how to get through her junior year without him. Then she comes face-to-heartbreaking-face with Levi—Oliver’s exact DNA replica and one of the Similars.

Emma wants nothing to do with the Similars, but she keeps getting pulled deeper and deeper into their clique, uncovering dark truths about the clones and her prestigious school along the way. But no one can be trusted…not even the boy she is falling for who has Oliver’s face.

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My review

“I stop in my tracks as I arrive at our old spot. I’m not alone. They’re ten, fifteen feet away, at most. Their presence — their existence — sends my heart hammering in my chest. I freeze, watching, observing. I don’t think they can see me, not yet — but I can see them.”

When I first came across The Similars, I instantly was drawn to the cover and the optical illusion. It has a type of cover you don’t see very often in YA. And then I read the summary and I just knew this was a book I had to read. And I was not disappointed.

The Similars had surprising twists and turns, where even some of the twists caught me off guard that I literally went “holy crap!” And trust me, for me, that doesn’t happen very often. I’m usually very good at predicting what is going to happen, but I missed some of the shocking discoveries in this book. The last one hundred pages of the story, I was gripping the book, hoping that the clues I desperately needed to solve this mystery would surface. Most did, but the author did a marvelous job at revealing those clues only when they needed to be revealed. And that made for a very intriguing story.

The idea behind The Similars is brilliant and wonderfully unlike anything I have read in the YA genre. I thoroughly enjoyed the aspect of the six clones and what they represented in a world that didn’t want anything to do with them. And the dynamic between Emma and Levi brought the story to a whole new level, in the sense of how their relationship evolved over the story.

Like the summary states, Emma wants nothing to do with the Similars. She doesn’t want to constantly be reminded of the best friend she lost. But every mystery she uncovers links back to the Similars, and she soon realizes she has no choice but to become involved in their lives. Over the course of a year (or close to a year), Emma unearths dark secrets about the Similars, which tests her loyalty to those closest to her and puts a strain on the relationships she has with each Similar.

Rebecca Hanover’s writing will pull you in and keep you planted in the story’s roots until the very last line. And even after that, you’ll be craving more of Emma’s story. Hanover’s storytelling was captivating and so on-point, in the sense that she only gives the readers enough details to try to uncover each mystery before Emma does. I wholeheartedly enjoyed Emma’s voice and how her opinions slowly changed overtime. It was not an instant switch of emotions. Emma is easily a character that will charm readers, with her strong-headedness and personality.

“The boy is Oliver–only he is not. he is, and he isn’t….He has every feature that Oliver has–had. Only none of the memories. None of the stuff of our lives, the stuff that made us us. This boy has none of it; he knows none of it. Because Oliver is dead, and this, most definitely, is not him.”

And Levi. Oh, my sweet, sweet Levi. Levi has quickly become one of my favorite characters. In his own way, he’s charismatic and alluring, which Emma soon realizes as she becomes tangled in the Similars’ lives. He may look like Emma’s dead best friend, but he is in no way like him. Levi is one of those complicated souls that easily captures your attention. I looked forward to his scenes in the book, not just because he added a type of complication to the story, but because he swiftly became my favorite character in the story.

How The Similars ended left me open mouthed and going, “well, where’s the rest?” I need to know what happens after that ending, so I cannot wait for book two.

The Similars hits bookshelves January 1, 2019.

All quotes are from the advanced reader copy and may not appear in the final novel.

nikole

*ARC Review* Prince of Secrets and Shadows by C. S. Johnson

secretsTitle: Prince of Secrets and Shadows, book two in the Order of the Crystal Daggers trilogy

Author: C. S. Johnson

Publisher: Prodigy Gold Books

Release Date: December 4, 2018

Genres: Young adult, Romance, Historical fiction, Fantasy

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary:

“How do I know you’re telling me the truth?” The last thing I wanted to do was hurt him, but if I did not find a way to break free of him, I would risk doing even more harm.

Ferdy met my gaze with his. “I promise you this, Ella, that as of now, I will never lie to you again.” He leaned forward and kissed me again, and I stood there, letting him, desperately debating whether I could trust him or not. His promise burned through me, his words scorched into my being. It was so tempting to believe him, more tempting than anything else I had ever faced in all my life.

Freedom was only freedom if I could trust it to be true.

PRAGUE, 1870

After joining the Order of the Crystal Daggers, led by her dauntless grandmother, Lady Penelope, Eleanora Svobodová set out to save her kingdom from oncoming devastation.
And she failed.

Following the attack on Prague Castle, Eleanora is determined to redeem herself. She sets out to win Karl’s trust while distancing herself from Ferdy, whose secrets and lies have done nothing to stop her from falling in love with him. As she struggles to let him go, questions about the mission and her mother’s past cause a rift between Amir and Lady Penelope and add to the growing discord between Eleanora and her brother. 

But when a cunning provocateur arrives in Prague, Eleanora discovers there is an even more deadly game afoot, one that reaches into Amir’s past and threatens Lady Penelope’s future. Now, the members of the Order must work together if they are to uncover the true enemy hiding in Bohemia. 

Can they work together despite their divisions? Or will their division lead to even more destruction?

With spies, secrets, and suspense, Prince of Secrets and Shadows is the second book in The Order of the Crystal Daggers, a spy adventure series from C. S. Johnson.


My review

Please note: this is the second book in the Order of the Crystal Daggers trilogy and may contain spoilers from the first book. You can check out my review of the first book, Kingdom of Ash and Soot, here


Dozens of authors write fantastic first books in a trilogy. And most struggle with writing an excellent sequel. Sometimes the sequel doesn’t live up to the first book, but it’s still good. And sometimes the sequel is just as good as the first book, if not better. In this case, Prince of Secrets and Shadows exceeds its predecessor, Kingdom of Ash and Soot.

“You are young yet, but even you know there are things worth dying for.”

I knew this book was going to be phenomenal when I started the first chapter. I adore books that start almost right where the previous book left off. It’s a wonderful way to refresh your memory and get a feel for the impact the first book left on the main characters. And just like the first book, C.S. Johnson starts the story off with an important scene, one that involves one of my all-time favorite characters. Johnson sets the boundaries straight in the first chapter and gets the reader ready for what to expect throughout the novel. It’s exciting and a great way to start a sequel.

And then enter the one known as the Prince of Secrets and Shadows. He was a very interesting character and added a lot of grief to the story, in the sense that he did not make it easy for the characters. He’s a double-edged sword and, frankly, not someone I would want to mess with. It’s not that he’s necessarily a dangerous character, but he plays a dangerous game of cat and mouse. And his role in this story thickened the plot in a way I did not see coming.

“I used to think being free meant an escape; I thought it meant I would be able to move away from authority and addiction, to be still against the forces of time and space. But as he held me there, pushed against a wall, I knew freedom was not an escape, but a coming home.”

In Prince of Secrets and Shadows, Ella struggles with deciding what she wants to do with her life. She’s in the Order because she wants to follow in her Mother’s footsteps. But her heart desires something different, something more than the life Ella has chosen. Ella wants freedom and love and not to be controlled like she has been most her life. And throughout this book, she starts to realize that freedom and love can decidedly be the same thing.

“Even if you deny your heart, your heart does not go away. That is why everyone lies, everyone has secrets, and everyone has regrets.”

Ella struggles with many of her relationships, in more ways than one. Her brother distances himself from her, causing an unforeseen rift in their relationship. She connects with one of her trainers in a way she didn’t expect. And her relationship with Lady POW grows stronger in a surprising way.

And then there is Ferdy. Oh, Ferdy. There isn’t a part of me that doesn’t love this character. He’s charming, considerate, and just an all-around great character and love interest for Ella. And though Ella battles with her heart and what she perceives as right, he never once gives up on her. Most of my favorite chapters consisted of Ferdy and the tension between him and Ella.

In the first book, Ella is a strong and courageous character. I’m not saying she isn’t in the second book (she’s quite brave and strong-headed), but she now realizes she has way more at stake than just her freedom. And to protect those she loves, she may have to knowingly play that game of cat and mouse.

If you haven’t ready Kingdom of Ash and Soot, I highly recommend. C.S. Johnson has beautifully woven a story that you will not soon forget. Kingdom of Ash and Soot is available now and Prince of Secrets and Shadows comes out next Tuesday, December 4!

Thank you to the author for sending an advanced e-copy for me to read and write an honest review! All quotes are from the advanced e-copy and may not appear in the final novel.

nikole

 

Tips and Tricks for Attending YALLFest

YALLFest is this Friday, which means it’s time to prepare for all the fun! This is my third year attending YALLFest and along the way, I’ve learned some tips for attending YALLFest. If this is your first time going to YALLFest, or you’ve been before but would love some pointers, then check out my tips below!

Tips and Tricks for Attending YALLFest

Bring water and food

This, to me, is one of the most important tips for YALLFest. It’s important to stay hydrated, especially when you will be standing in lines for most of the day. You will constantly be on the move and may not have time to stop to get food or something to drink. So, always bring food with you, even if it is snacks. Trust me, having water and food with you will make your experience ten times better because 1) you won’t feel faint or nauseous and 2) you won’t be hangry. 🙂 I usually bring a refillable water bottle and a couple meal bars, along with some chips and crackers.

Plan ahead – create a schedule

Every year, I create a schedule for Friday and Saturday. This helps me stay on track and also remind me of the authors I really want to meet and the ARCs I want to try to grab. Below is a glimpse of my Friday schedule. It’s very small, but still important to have on the schedule. I try to stay very organized and even highlight the events that are at the top of my to-do list. As you can see, I label it by time, event, location, author(s), why I want to go to this event, and notes. If there were multiple events going on at the same time (like on Saturday), I would highlight one event as the top event I want to go to and then try to attend the other events after that. Overall, having a schedule comes in handy. You may  not stick with that schedule, but that’s okay; there’s nothing wrong with veering from your schedule!

Friday, November 10 Notes
Time Event Location Author(s) Why?
2:00 PM YallCrawl Blue Bicycle Books Laura Sebastian
Megan Shepherd
Get Shelby’s books signed

With planning ahead, it’s also important to decide when you would like to line up for authors, panels, and ARC drops. The times below are what I have done in the past. It does not mean you need to do the same; it just helped me.

  • Authors: 30-90 minutes; this honestly depends on how popular the author is.
  • Panels: 30-60 minutes; this is an estimate, only because I did not attend any panels last year or the year before.
  • ARC Drops: 30-120 minutes; this also depends on how popular the ARC drop is. For example, when Caraval by Stephanie Garber dropped at YALLFest a couple years ago, the line was insane and people lined up over an hour in advance. So, if you think the line for a specific ARC drop is going to be long, you can always check in and see, or line up early. I’ll for sure be in line early for the two ARC drops I want, so just be prepared to line up early for these.

Be realistic

YALLFest can get pretty crowded, so if you have two or more events/signings going on at the same time, chances are you will only make it to one, two if you’re lucky. The lines get long and if you are going solo, it won’t be easy running to and from signings. I’m not saying it isn’t doable (it definitely is), it just will not be as easy as someone who came with their parents or a group of friends. Depending on the author lines and locations, you may be able to see multiple authors within the hour. It really just depends on how long their lines are and if their locations are in the same vicinity or close by. Now, when it comes to ARC drops, chances of getting two different ARCs that drop at the same time are pretty slim. People line up 30 – 90 minutes in advance for ARC drops. So, what I advise doing is if there are two ARCs dropping at the same time, decide which one you really want to try to grab more and then you can always talk to someone at the booth to see if they have extras of the ARC drop you missed. But also don’t get upset if the answer is no. These publishers are absolutely amazing and it truly is a blessing to have ARCs be handed out at YALLFest, so never take it for granted. Besides, you can always try trading on Twitter or a Facebook group. So, basically, just be realistic about your schedule and understand you may not make it to every event.

Be friendly and courteous to others

This goes such a long way. Never treat the authors, volunteers, publishing staff, and attendees with anything but excitement, courtesy, and respect. The volunteers spend months putting this event together for everyone, and they deserve nothing but the utmost respect for all their hard work. And the same is said for the authors and publishing staff. They don’t have to be at the event, but they are, and that’s amazing. If an author can only sign three books, but you brought four, please don’t get upset. We’re lucky to have the authors attend. And if you’re in line for an ARC drop, but the publishers run out of ARCs before you get up to the table, still be friendly and understanding. I know it’s upsetting, but the publishers don’t need to bring ARCs; attendees are very lucky that they do. So no matter what the circumstances are, always be friendly to the workers, authors, publishers, and other attendees.

Follow publishers on Social Media

All the publishers participating at YALLFest will have announced their schedules before the festival. However, some publishers announce some un-publicized booth drops, such as ARCs or swag items. I advise to follow the publishers on Twitter and even Instagram. The publishers are: HMH Teen, Underlined (Penguin Teen), Epic Reads (HarperCollins), Fierce Reads (Macmillan), Riveted (Simon Teen), NOVL (Little, Brown), Pique (Amulet Books), and I Read YA.

Make friends in line

Last year, I met a ton of wonderful people in line. I still talk to friends I made at YALLFest and it was honestly one of the best parts of the festival. Talk with people who look friendly in line or who are wearing really cool bookish-themed merchandise. Or anyone reading a book you have read or want to read. YALLFest is not just about meeting your favorite authors and getting books and swag. It’s also about meeting people who share the same love as you do for books. And that in itself is worth the whole trip. So, make friends and have fun. And side note: if you’re flying solo (like I am this year), then it’s always an added bonus to make friends in line, especially when you have to use the bathroom 🙂 But also understand that not everyone in line is going to want to make conversation, and that’s okay. Either way, you’re bound to find some awesome people to talk to while you wait in lines!

Dress accordingly

Always check the weather before you leave for YALLFest. My first year, I brought my fall jacket and a sweatshirt and I ended up having to carry both because the weather was in the 70s and sunny. I did not check the weather beforehand and I definitely wished I had. As of right now, it’s looking to be rainy on Friday and Saturday 😦 and in the 60s. Make sure to bring an umbrella or a poncho for yourself, and bring Ziploc bags to protect your books and swag. So, dress in what will keep you warm but is also comfortable. I also recommend wearing sneakers because a lot of walking and standing will be involved.

Don’t over pack

My first year of YALLFest, I brought two bins full of books to get signed, and I barely got any of those books signed. Lines were long, sidewalks were crowded, and I was extremely tired. Some authors I needed wristbands for and I waited in line for over an hour to get those. Most authors didn’t have wristbands, but their lines were still crazy long (which is awesome for the authors). I did my best to meet as many authors as I could, but I definitely over packed. If there’s a ton of authors you want to meet Saturday, make a schedule and understand that you may not meet all those authors. I know, it’s not the advice you want to hear. But if there’s two authors you want to meet that have signings at the same time, you are most likely going to have to pick just one. So don’t over pack with too many books; it will be a lot of carting around. Plus, you can buy pre-signed books at Blue Bicycle Books, so you don’t have to lug around bins of books! That definitely comes in handy! 🙂

And the most important tip…

Have fun!


I hope these tips and tricks help you with your YALLFest visit! And if you have any questions, ask me in the comments! I’ll also be walking around at YALLFest, so if you see me, come say hi! I’ll be posting constantly on my Instagram story (@acourtofcoffeeandbooksblog), so make sure to check there to see where I’ll be throughout the day! I can’t wait to meet you all, and make sure to have a fun time at YALLFest!

nikole

*Blog Tour, Review, and Q&A* What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra

Thank you to Tale Out Loud for having A Court of Coffee and Books on this blog tour! I absolutely loved this book and I’m glad I am able to be part of this!

What the Woods Keep US CoverTITLE: What the Woods Keep

AUTHOR: Katya de Becerra

PUBLISH DATE: September 18th, 2018

PUBLISHER: Imprint/Macmillan

GENRE: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dark Fantasy

SYNOPSIS:

What the Woods Keep is the stunning debut of Katya de Becerra, who combines mystery, science fiction, and dark fantasy in a twisty story that will keep you mesmerized right up to the final page.

On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home―on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.

Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She’s getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it’s all catching up with her: her mother’s mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father’s outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden’s own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.

As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, her friend Del in tow, it begins: Neighbors whisper secrets about Hayden’s mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible―something that threatens reality itself.

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Pre-Order Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1250124255?tag=macmillan-20

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/what-the-woods-keep-katya-de-becerra/1128980012?ean=9781250124258#/

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/What-Woods-Keep-Katya-De-Becerra/9781250124258

Books-A-Million: http://www.booksamillion.com/product/9781250124258

Indiebound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781250124258 

Author Information:

Katya de Beccera Author Photo (2)Katya de Becerra was born in Russia, studied in California, lived in Peru, and then stayed in Australia long enough to become a local. She was going to be an Egyptologist when she grew up, but instead she earned a PhD in Anthropology. What the Woods Keep is her first novel.

Author website: http://katyabecerra.blogspot.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15140719.Katya_de_Becerra

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KatyaDeBecerra

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katyadebecerra/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katyadebecerra/


My Review:

“There are terrible forces hiding in this town, in these woods, that we don’t understand and that are dangerous.”

This wonderfully dark atmospheric novel will keep you fixated on the world and Hayden’s journey. What the Woods Keep is an eerie novel that will make you question the daily noises you hear and the things you see and quite possibly your own sanity. This book gives a new meaning to uncanny and the obscure. I was pleasantly hooked to this haunting tale.

What the Woods Keep bends mystery, paranormal, and fantasy. It does so in wonderful fashion, equally sufficing all genres in one book. There’s also the sense of an unknown horror. I’m one of those people that loves the horror genre, along with all the genres listed above. I don’t read a lot of horror, but when I do, I’m usually engrossed in the novel or bored because I know how everything will play out. What the Woods Keep was in no way boring or predictable, but rather an edgy new addition to the YA genre.

The book starts off with the reader meeting Hayden, the main protagonist, and learning surprising aspects about her life, the main one being that her mom died in a rather suspicious way. Hayden finds out on her eighteenth birthday that she has inherited her old house, a Manor in Promise, Colorado, based on her Mom’s will. However, her Mom leaves her a set of cryptic conditions:

“My first condition is that Hayden goes to the Manor and looks for the gifts I left her. They’ll call to her. She needs to listen with her blood.

“My second condition is that Hayden uses my gifts to destroy my darkest secret – my hidden treasure, my heaviest burden.

My third and final condition is that Hayden trusts no one where my treasure is concerned, especially the ravens.”

Cryptic yet intriguing messages, all that immediately pique Hayden’s (and the reader’s) interest. From there, Hayden and her best friend, Del, take a trip to Promise, Colorado, hoping to find answers not just about her Mom, but also Hayden’s upbringing and why her own Father wants her to never return to Promise (and also to see Shannon, an old — and very good-looking — childhood friend).

“It’s springtime, but Promise seems frozen in an eternal fall, its spirit crushed by rain and wind. It’s wet and miserable, and yet this place feels right to me. As if, despite it being inhospitable and damp and glum, it wants me here — and I belong.”

Hayden knows there is something unusual going on in her old hometown, but she can’t quite pinpoint it. People stare at her as if they’ve seen a ghost. There’s a research facility collecting blood NOT for a traditional blood drive. And then there’s a few members of the town that have been waiting for Hayden’s arrival for quite some time. And even though a lot of red flags go off in Hayden’s head, she is determined to uncover her Mom’s death and buried secrets. She never once thought the paranormal beings, Nibelungs, would be linked to her Mom, nor to her, especially when she believes scientific theories can explain everything.

“For the first time I truly wonder if all of it — my recurring dream about the shadowy army, Mom’s clues, and Dad’s crackpot science — point toward an impossible truth.”

The atmosphere in this book is astounding and unlike most fictional towns. As the reader, you know something is just off when the town is first introduced. The only issue: you don’t know what. But the mysterious townsfolk and luring woods will draw you in and keep you guessing. Just how does everything connect? And how does Hayden and her Mom fit into all of this?

I was overall happy with this book. The ending was a little fast, but the book itself is a tantalizing read. Katya de Becerra weaves beautiful and breathtaking writing to bring to life this haunting and eerie read. With strong characters, mystery, and an undeniable pull to the world, you won’t want to put this book down.

What the Woods Keep hits shelves next Tuesday, September 18! Pre-order now and check out the cool pre-order campaign!

Thank you to the publisher and Tale Out Loud for the advanced e-copy in exchange for an honest review! Any quotes used are from the advanced e-copy and may not be in the final publication. 

My rating: 4.5 stars out of five stars

Read on for my wonderful interview with the author of What the Woods Keep, Kayta de Becerra!


Q&A with Katya de Becerra

Thank you so much, Katya, for stopping by on A Court of Coffee and Books! We are so excited to have you!

The idea for your novel is unique and very intriguing. Did you have to do any research for your novel? If so, were there any interesting facts you stumbled upon?

Thank you! I’m a total mythology buff, so it’s no surprise at all that my debut novel is mythology focused. Aside from myths, I researched physics and psychology to make the science in What The Woods Keep as realistic as possible (though it is still science fiction, emphasis on fiction!). In terms of interesting facts… The Dyatlov Pass Incident is perhaps the strangest. It remains the kind of enduring mystery that several generations of people obsess over. I actually learned about Dyatlov Pass from my mom! I thought she was describing something fictional to me until I looked it up myself and learned all the facts. I just knew then, it had to be in my book in some way!

What character would you want to be stranded on an island with?

From my book or any other? If former, then with Del (the bestie of Hayden, who is the protagonist of What The Woods Keep), because of her optimism and ingenuity. If latter, then Katniss Everdeen, because if anyone can find a way to save herself from a deserted island (I’m assuming it’s deserted?), it’s Katniss – and maybe I can tag along.

What is a quirky or unique habit you have?

It’s more a rule, but let’s cheat and call it a habit. No caffeine after 12pm. Or I won’t sleep at night. At all.

Of course I have to ask: what Hogwarts house would each of your main characters fall in?

Hayden thinks she’s Ravenclaw but probably more of a Hufflepuff. Del is definitely a Gryffindor, through and through. And Shannon is Hufflepuff disguised as Slytherin.

If you could have coffee or tea with any author (even if they have to be brought back from the dead), who would it be and why?

Leigh Bargudo, because she’s awesome.

If you could have your book made into anything (Broadway musical, TV show, movie, ballet dance, soap opera, etc.), which would you choose and why?

Probably a movie, the moody psychological maybe-horror kind. But ballet would be super awesome too, now that you’ve mentioned it.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write what’s important to you. Don’t pay much attention to trends. Read a lot. Only accept critic/feedback from people you know and trust.


Don’t forget to enter the What the Woods Keep Giveaway!


Want to see the other blog stops on this tour? Check them out below!

What the Woods Keep Blog Tour Schedule

*ARC Review* The Demon Race by Alexandria Warwick

DemonTitle: The Demon Race

Author: Alexandria Warwick

Publisher: Wolf Publishing

Release Date: September 18, 2018

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary:

Hidalgo meets An Ember in the Ashes in this Middle Eastern-inspired YA fantasy debut.

A race across the desert.

An unimaginable prize.

It occurs once every thousand years: the Demon Race. A test of will and strength, it is a race across the Saraj, a fight for the prize of a lifetime. And it is the key to Namali Hafshar’s freedom.

When shy, seventeen-year-old Namali learns of her arranged marriage, she flees home and enters the Demon Race for the chance to change her fate. But to compete, she must cross the Saraj on a daeva, a shadow demon that desires its own reward: to infect her soul with darkness.

Namali soon learns the desert holds more dangers than meets the eye. The only person she can trust is Sameen, a kind competitor seeking his own destiny. As her affection for him grows, however, so too does the darkness in her heart.

In this race of men and demons, only one can win. But the price of winning might be more than Namali is willing to pay.

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My Review

“Light, darkness…one cannot exist without the other, for the very definition of light is the absence of dark. They are both necessary for the balance of the world.”

Have you ever read a book that pleasantly surprised you? That was different from your initial reaction? For me, The Demon Race is one of those books. I’ve actually had The Demon Race on my radar for quite some time, so I was ecstatic when I received an email from the author to review her book. Hidalgo is one of my favorite movies; plus, a race across the desert on the back of a daeva all the while trying to prevent the demon from crawling into your mind? Count me in! The Demon Race will bring you up close to Namali’s adventure of self-discovery and worth. She will determine what it really means to be her true self in a world that has been set against her since birth. But the question arises: will Namali like the person she becomes during and after the race?

“It was true what people said: the world appeared most beautiful on the eve of death.”

Many believed the Demon Race to be a myth. A race that takes place once every one thousand years, granting the winner one wish, a wish their heart most desires. Namali knows the stories are true when she gets word of the legendary and very real race taking place in mere days. And she knows, that if she stays in her small town and marries a man she does not love, she will never become the person she wants the be. Nor will she get what she most desires: freedom. So, Namali does what hopefully any woman in her situation would do: she leaves home and enters the race.

The race is unlike anything I’ve ever read. To partake in the race, each contender must ride a daeva (a demon), all the while steering clear of the daeva’s luring capabilities. Afterall, each daeva wants a reward from each rider: to fill their souls with darkness. Namali has to constantly fight to escape the lure of the darkness. And the times she can’t help but be overtaken by the deceiving demon, she loses a piece of herself. The race not only sets her on an adventure toward a desirable prize, but also on an adventure of self-discovery.

“In order to escape alive, she must push forward with ferocity and unwavering belief. She had done it before. She could do it again.”

Namali is a girl who is strong in her religious beliefs. And that was something I really enjoyed. There’s times where she questions her faith, but she always sticks to her beliefs and I really liked that. There are times she loses her faith, loses the telltale signs of who she really is, but she never once lost sight of her religion. The Demon Race adequately describes the different religions in a way that connects wonderfully with the story. What I also liked about Namali is how strong of a character she becomes. She has a mind of her own and she knows what she wants entering the race. Namali struggles with the concept of strength, thinking it’s not something she deserves. But it’s been with her all along, and her journey is quite something to read.

“She was sinking. Sinking into warm, deep waters. They tugged her down to a murky, gray existence, where shadows twined around her leaden limbs, absorbing into her skin until they disappeared below the surface.”

The Demon Race is a book with such gorgeous prose. There were scenes where the writing was so well described and beautifully illustrated that brought the story to life. The author embellishes her stunning writing with scenes that jump off the page and words that will utterly captivate you. Alexandria Warwick has a way with words; I had pages upon pages bookmarked for quotes and it became difficult only selecting a few. Her writing is something I absolutely loved and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

“It was true what people said: the world appeared most beautiful on the eve of death.”

The Demon Race will be released on September 18, 2018.

Thank you to the author for sending an advanced e-copy for me to read and write an honest review! All quotes are from the advanced e-copy and may not appear in the final novel.

♥Nikole