Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #67: Vanguard (Razorland, #4) by Ann Aguirre

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine,
that showcases our most anticipated upcoming releases.

Title: Vanguard (Razorland, #4) 
Author: Ann Aguirre 
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends 
Expected Publication: July 25th, 2017 
Pre-order: Amazon | B&N 

Summary: The Razorland saga continues. Since the war ended, Tegan has dreamed of an epic journey, so when she has the opportunity to sign on as ship's doctor, she can't wait. It's past time to chart her course. Millie Faraday, the kindest girl in the free territories, also yearns to outrun her reputation, and warrior-poet James Morrow would follow Tegan to the ends of the earth.

Their company seems set, but fate brings one more to their number. Tegan will battle incredible odds while aiding Szarok, the Uroch vanguard, who has ventured forth to save his people. Szarok is strange and beautiful, like a flower that blooms only in the dark. She shouldn't allow him close, as such a relationship is both alien and forbidden. But through stormy seas and strange lands, she will become stronger than she ever knew. 


I loved the Razorland trilogy; and book three, Horde, had one of the best conclusions and most beautiful epilogues for fans of this series. I was so surprised to hear that the saga would be continuing and we'd be getting a companion book with this fourth installment. I wasn't sure how to feel about it until I realized this was Tegan's story. I definitely want Tegan's story.

What book are you waiting to get your hands on?

© at A Belle's Tales


Monday, May 22, 2017

Review: Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Title: Pretty Girls 
Author: Karin Slaughter 
Publisher: William Morrow 
Published: September 29th, 2015 
Purchase: Amazon | B&N 

Summary: #1 internationally bestselling author Karin Slaughter returns with a sophisticated and chilling psychological thriller of dangerous secrets, cold vengeance, and unexpected absolution, in which two estranged sisters must come together to find truth about two harrowing tragedies, twenty years apart, that devastate their lives.

Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia's teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that's cruelly ripped open when Claire's husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girls is a masterful thriller from one of the finest suspense writers working today. 


Pretty Girls is a book that I featured on an On My Shelf post, and readers' comments led me to bump this to the top of my reading list; and I am so glad I did. It’s been a while since a book kept me up until sunrise, but this one did it. It is equal parts enthralling and horrifying.

It’s been over twenty years since nineteen-year-old Julia disappeared. What happened to her has never been discovered. The impact it had on her family has never been reconciled. And the secrets and lies that are about to be exposed will change both of those things, for better or for worse. Cleverly told through Claire’s POV, Lydia’s POV, and letters from a father to a missing daughter, these stories that at first appear to have nothing to do with one another soon intersect in the most fascinating way.

One of my favorite parts of a thriller is the distrust factor; and in Pretty Girls, one main character realizes she can’t trust anyone. Absolutely anyone. Not the people who protect others for a living, not her so-called friends, and certainly not her own judgment. Not after the secrets she’s uncovered. It’s this doubt that has her confiding in an unexpected ally.

I realize I’m not divulging much about the story itself, and I don’t want to sound like a broken record in my reviews; but the best part of a mystery is the mystery. The things that take place in this novel must be discovered by the reader. This was an electrifying and exciting story that truly kept me on edge. I absolutely could not stop reading until I knew the outcome of this story, and I’m happy to say it was worth missing a night’s sleep. It was an outstanding conclusion. This book is a terrific thriller; but I warn you, it is graphic at times and it is a chilling storyline. But wow, can Karin Slaughter tell a story. I loved her writing, and she has landed herself on my must-read author’s list. If you’re a thriller lover, this is one book you don’t want to miss.

© at A Belle's Tales


Friday, May 19, 2017

On My Shelf: Deception's Princess (Deception's Princess, #1) by Esther Friesner

On My Shelf is an awesome feature hosted by Teresa at Readers Live A Thousand Lives that anyone can join. The idea is to spotlight a book from your TBR shelf; it's a fun way to discuss books with fellow bloggers and, with their help, decide which books are must-reads... and which ones can wait a while longer.

This was a total cover grab. All I knew was that it was a YA historical fantasy and that it was pretty. I've never read this author before; but after reading the synopsis, I think it sounds like something both Mckenzie and I could enjoy! 

Have you read Deception's Princess? What are your thoughts? 
Do I drop everything and start reading -- or put it back on my shelf for later?

Hope everyone has a great weekend! See you next week! 

© at A Belle's Tales


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Review: Skitter (The Hatching, #2) by Ezekiel Boone

Title: Skitter (The Hatching, #2) 
Author: Ezekiel Boone 
Publisher: Atria 
Source: Publisher 
Published: May 2nd, 2017 
Purchase: Amazon | B&N 

Summary: Tens of millions of people around the world are dead. Half of China is a nuclear wasteland. Mysterious flesh-eating spiders are marching through Los Angeles, Oslo, Delhi, Rio de Janeiro, and countless other cities. According to scientist Melanie Gruyer, however, the spider situation seems to be looking up. Yet in Japan, a giant, truck-sized, glowing egg sack gives a shocking preview of what is to come, even as survivors in Los Angeles panic and break the quarantine zone. Out in the desert, survivalists Gordo and Shotgun are trying to invent a spider super weapon, but it’s not clear if it’s too late, because President Stephanie Pilgrim has been forced to enact the plan of last resort: The Spanish Protocol. America, you are on your own. 


I loved and devoured Ezekiel Boone’s The Hatching and couldn’t wait to fall into Skitter and see what this author had in store for his characters and readers. I appreciate that we pick up right where we left off, and it was great to see the key characters that I became so invested in in book one along with a few additions. Thinking the nightmare is over only to realize it’s just beginning is horrifying, and I think Mr. Boone definitely upped the scare factor in this sequel. The Hatching made me shudder, but Skitter and the appearance of a new species of red-striped arachnids gave me more than a few “THEY’RE ON ME” moments. I’ve never been afraid of spiders – my phobias lie with things that slither – but I was around the 60% mark in this book when I stopped to fold some clean blankets. A black fuzzy lint ball flew across my folding counter, and I screamed as if a cluster of the spiders from the book had poured into the room and begun to engulf me. Family members were not amused. But I was. I think it’s pretty great that this author and this horrifying but fantastic story could get into my head like that. It’s the adrenaline rush that makes me love this genre. But for those readers who think they could never read this because they’re so afraid of spiders, I want to share that my daughter/co-blogger is most definitely an arachnophobe and she absolutely loves this series. Though she did get rather testy when I kept Googling pictures of certain spiders mentioned in the book so we could have a really good visual, and ultimately she made me stop with that. But boy, was that fun while it lasted.

Skitter follows the formula that made The Hatching such a success, but it branches out and finds its own path with new ways to surprise and repel you. I’m always going to wish for more Mike POVs, as well as Gordo and Shotgun perspectives – these are my favorite characters; and while I’m interested to see what’s happening elsewhere, I can’t help but be sad to leave them, if only for a little while. I don’t want to say anything about the plot of this sequel because I don’t want to spoil anyone, not just for this book but for its predecessor. The ending was a cliffhanger that made me a bit grouchy because I want MORE MORE MORE. I read Skitter right on the heels of The Hatching, so I know waiting for the next book to release in 2018 is going to be red-striped-spider-bite excruciating. I’ll be ready to grab it, though, as this has quickly become a favorite series! Highly recommend for thriller and horror fans.

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

© at A Belle's Tales


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #66: Wesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine,
that showcases our most anticipated upcoming releases.

Title: Wesley James Ruined My Life  
Author: Jennifer Honeybourn 
Publisher: Swoon Reads 
Expected Publication: July 18th, 2017 
Pre-order: Amazon | B&N 

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Quinn Hardwick’s having a rough summer. Her beloved grandmother has been put into a home, her dad’s gambling addiction has flared back up and now her worst enemy is back in town: Wesley James, former childhood friend—until he ruined her life, that is.

So when Wesley is hired to work with her at Tudor Tymes, a medieval England themed restaurant, the last thing Quinn’s going to do is forgive and forget. She’s determined to remove him from her life and even the score all at once—by getting him fired.

But getting rid of Wesley isn’t as easy as she’d hoped. When Quinn finds herself falling for him, she has to decide what she wants more: to get even, or to just get over it. 


This sounds super cute, but I confess that isn't the reason behind our wanting this book. When I (Michele) was a kid, I began babysitting a little boy named Wesley James; and although he didn't ruin my life,  he did rule my Saturdays for many years. He was adorable, hilarious, and fearless. I earned every bit of my pay just trying to keep that kid alive. He survived himself and last I heard, he is doing very well -- though I won't tell you his age now because that would just make me feel O-L-D. Anyway, the title alone makes me giggle, and the fact that there's a medieval England-themed restaurant and a score to settle makes this book sound like a lot of fun!

What book are you waiting to get your hands on?

© at A Belle's Tales


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Release Day Review: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1) by Renée Ahdieh

Title: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1) 
Author: Renée Ahdieh 
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons 
Source: Publisher 
Published: May 16th, 2017 
Purchase: Amazon | B&N 

Summary: The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she's quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she's ever known. 


“Be as swift as the wind. 
As silent as the forest. 
As fierce as the fire. 
As unshakable as the mountain.” 

I fell hard for Renée Adhieh’s stunning writing while reading her fantastic duology, The Wrath and the Dawn. Those books captured my heart, and I had no doubt that Flame in the Mist would do the same. Once again I was pulled in quickly by the power of her writing. This author has a way of threading words together and constructing sentences that ensures you aren’t just reading about a character… you are the character. I saw, heard, and felt whatever Mariko did; and that’s what makes this author’s books a reading experience.

Taking place in feudal Japan, Flame in the Mist is the story of Mariko and her twin brother Kenshin. They are the children of an important samurai, but they have been raised in very different ways. While Kenshin has been trained to be a fierce warrior, Mariko has been left out of all the things she most desires to learn about – all because she is a girl. But Mariko is a brilliant thinker and inventor; and although she has learned to keep her predilections to herself, she cannot stop dreaming of a different future. When her litter is attacked on the way to her arranged marriage, Mariko barely escapes the almost certain death that awaited her. As she struggles her way through the haunted forest, she formulates a plan and disguises herself as a boy in an attempt to gain the trust of the people she believes murdered her convoy and sought to take her life as well. From within, she will destroy the Black Clan and have her revenge. But never did she think she would find herself somewhere where her talents for inventing and quick thinking would be so appreciated. And what’s more shocking is that the Black Clan may not be who they are rumored to be. But the more answers Mariko finds, the more questions she has. And when her twin sets out to rescue her from the beasts he believes took her, will the sister he finds be the sister he remembers?

I had heard this was a retelling of Mulan; but it’s more of a reimagining, or a story inspired by Mulan. While there are a couple of similarities, I wouldn’t want anyone going into this thinking that it was a retelling and being disappointed. This is a very different story but one that is wonderful in its own right.

Bursting with female empowerment, Flame in the Mist is a thrilling tale intertwined with mystery and certain magic that is merely hinted at but promises much more to come. This story contains a strong and clever heroine, and it is blended with a romance that is slow burning and impeccable.

“There is such strength in being a woman. But it is a strength you must choose for yourself. 
No one can choose it for you. We can bend the wind to our ear if we would only try.” 

There are amazing characters throughout this book. I absolutely adore Mariko and her sharp mind and equally sharp tongue. The members of the Black Clan were also some of my favorites – Ranmaru, Yoshi, and Ōkami… ohhh, Ōkami *melts* They are not only intriguing but will keep you guessing. Though there were things I would have loved to see expounded on, I reminded myself that this is only book one; and I feel the author is building towards those things. With an ending and reveal that have me longing for the next book and sulking over the wait, this was a book I really did enjoy from start to finish.

Samurais, secrets, magic, friends that are foes, foes that are friends, a swoony romance, a female character that you’ll root for and aspire to be, all wrapped in an incredible setting? What are you waiting for? Beautifully written with characters that awe and inspire, Flame in the Mist is a gorgeous and essential addition to any YA fantasy lover’s library.

“The only power any man has over you is the power you give him.” 

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Quotes above are taken from the ARC and are subject to change. 

© at A Belle's Tales


Monday, May 15, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a great weekly meme now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It's where we share what we've just read, what we're currently reading, and what we're starting next. 

We did not intend to disappear from blogging last week! Real life reared its very demanding head, and we did not put up a note because every day we thought we'd be back the next day... but that just didn't happen. We're happy to be back now, and we'll be by to catch up with everyone this week. We hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day and that you will have a fabulous week!

Previously read:


Three books very different from each other but all amazing reads. Looking forward to sharing our thoughts on these this week.

Currently reading:  


Up next: 


Previous posts: 

Mother-Daughter Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
Mother-Daughter Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith
Michele's Review: Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick
Michele's Review: I Found You by Lisa Jewell
Mother-Daughter Review: What Happened to Ivy by Kathy Stinson
Mckenzie's Review: Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Mckenzie's Review: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

What are you reading this week? 
We hope you have a happy Monday! 

 © at A Belle's Tales