Author Interview with Kerri Maniscalco | Escaping From Houdini Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted September 12, 2018 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 8 Comments

Author Interview with Kerri Maniscalco | Escaping From Houdini Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour of Kerri Maniscalco’s Escaping from Houdini! As one of the brand new co-owners of The Fantastic Flying Book Club, I had the exciting privilege of organizing this blog tour (creating the tour banner was especially fun!) and am delighted to be hosting Kerri’s welcome interview here on my blog as well! This book has been my #1 anticipated release of 2018, and for very good reason. Pretty sure you’re going to love it!


Author Interview with Kerri Maniscalco

Jana: Hi Kerri! I hosted an interview with you on SJtR back in 2016 as part of the Debut Author Challenge I host, and I’m super excited to talk to you again! As the biggest fangirl ever in life for the Stalking Jack the Ripper series, I’m so excited to talk to you about Escaping from Houdini and the rest of the series!

Kerri: Hi Jana, I remember! Thank you for continuing to support the series, it means the world to me!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

1. When did it dawn on you that you wanted to be a writer?
Writing is always something I’ve done for fun, but I never really thought about doing it professionally until around 2009. When I was little I’d make scripts for my Playskool farm animals—I’d give the cows a backstory as to why they were on the pillow/field and the family dynamics of the farmers. (And then I’d make my poor dad take videos so I could watch it back and see what parts needed improving…I was a weird kid ;)

2. How many unpublished and half-finished books have you written?
Oh gosh, I think there’s like seven or eight full novels that I trunked before selling SJTR. Fun fact: I rewrote some scenes, but used a good portion of a trunked book in HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA.

3. Who is in more control of your writing: you or your characters? Why?
I think it’s a little of both. Before I sit down to write, I always like to know who my characters are as people, what their interests are, what secrets people would be surprised to learn about them. From there I give myself a loose outline of where I’d like them to end up, but they usually surprise me with how they get there.

4. Which takes you longer: researching the subject matter of your books or writing your books?
Research! First drafts are always the hardest for me because I can’t just sit down and write everything out. I spend a lot of time stopping to look up some tiny detail and it can take upwards of two or three hours to find something that literally is like a sentence long. It’s hard to switch back and forth from creative to mechanical in those early stages, but I am ALL about revisions.

5. What have you learned about writing since your debut, Stalking Jack the Ripper? What have you learned about yourself?
I’ve learned to be much less structured in some ways and to think outside the box. Since I’d written so many novels before SJTR, I thought I had my method down. Cue writing to a deadline and everything I thought I knew about how to draft a book went flying out the window. It really is a MUCH different experience. Once I figured out that I could write however I needed to in order to finish that first draft, things went much easier and I was SO much less stressed about it.

6. What’s been your favorite experience with a fan of you/your books?
Oh gosh, I have been SO blown away by the huge response from readers. So many people connect with Audrey Rose and her determination to live her life as authentically as possible. One of my favorite things though has been from a teacher who reached out to me. A student in his class dreamed of being a forensic pathologist and was getting made fun of by classmates. He handed her SJTR and said she felt vindicated in pursuing her dreams.

7. As an author, what would you say has been the best compliment you’ve received?Honestly, any time someone tells me they connect with any of my characters is such a huge compliment. As a reader, getting lost in a story is so huge for me, and to have my own readers say they were transported from any hard times in their life? I get teary just thinking about it!

8. Tell us about an early reading experience of yours, when you really fell in love with books.
My grandmother used to read to my mom while she was pregnant with her, and people would make fun of her and say the baby couldn’t hear her. Well, my mother is a HUGE reader. Both her and my dad would take me and my sister on weekly trips to local independent bookstores, or to the library. My entire childhood is filled with memories of hunting down the most magical book and staying up way too late to finish it.

9. What’s been your favorite read so far this year?
This is a trick question, right??? I loved LEGENDARY by Stephanie Garber. I also adored ENCHANTEE by Gita Trelease. GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE by Natasha Ngan. GIRL AT THE GRAVE by Teri Bailey Black. THE WICKED KING by Holly Black. I could go on…

10. What are you up to when you’re not writing?
I’m either reading or cooking! I absolutely love being creative in the kitchen and would have probably ended up doing something in the restaurant business if the writing thing didn’t work out.

ABOUT THE BOOK/SERIES

1. Why Houdini?
Originally I’d planned on having this story be about Tesla, but, alas, there’s a movie out that features him and a Victorian circus. I started researching Houdini and thought he was a MUCH better fit and the rest is history!

2. I love that Escaping from Houdini takes place aboard an ocean liner. Tell us about it! What about this setting is special?
Having a closed setting is something I’ve always been interested in writing, though it’s always been slightly terrifying too. I think that I really enjoyed the challenge of having this confined space, though. Everything felt claustrophobic and the idea of a murderer running wild on a cruise ship gives me chills. I’m always looking for new ways of including tension in my books, and this was too fun to pass up.

3. Is there a particular scene in this book that you’re excited for your readers to experience?
The opening sequence is pretty fun. But I also really like the other carnival acts and performances. I’m probably most excited for readers to see the ship transform each night to reflect whichever act is on stage. I really enjoyed imagining this extravagant dinner show being juxtaposed by murder.

4. Do you have a favorite quote from this book?
I had a really great time with Mephistopheles’s character and most of his lines. Regardless of the havoc he tries to cause, his dialogue was always so much fun to write. I think when he says, “So, I inquire once more, which will you lose before the week is through? Your heart? Your head? Perhaps,” he drawled, face cast in shadows as the chandeliers dimmed slowly before winking out, “you will lose your life, your very soul, to this magical traveling show.” It captures everything I’d tried to infuse into this book and more.

5. Audrey and Thomas are perfection. How did you dream up this dynamic duo?Initially I’d been interested in doing a VERY loose retelling of Sherlock and Watson. Except I wanted my Dr. Watson to be a young woman struggling to find her way in a world run by men. I decided to scrap that and continued with my own characters and their own struggles, but some traits from their original inspiration remained. One of my favorite things is watching two characters banter—and that “will they, won’t they” vibe slays me.

6. Thomas is a swoony dreamboat. Is he inspired by anyone you know?
Haha I get asked this question a lot, and while I’m sure there are plenty of Thomas Cresswell’s out there in real life, this one lives strictly in my imagination. (I don’t like mixing my personal life or relationships/friendships into my work, just in case someone finds my portrayal of them less than flattering. It would make for awkward dinner chats.)

7. If you could tag along on any of the murder cases across the series so far, which one would it be?
This is hard! There’s aspects of each one that I’d love to be a part of. Being on the ground during the Ripper murders would have been something. But…being in Dracula’s castle while studying potential vampire attacks would also be fun. I’m scared of cruises, though I like boats, but I’d probably want to see the performances of the Moonlight Carnival. Plus, since Audrey Rose has got Thomas, that leaves Mephistopheles up for grabs ;)

8. If you could spend a day with one character from your book, who would it be? What would you do together?
Thomas would be either super fun or super annoying to hang out with, depending on which version of him showed up. I’d love to spend time in Mephistopheles’s workshop, watching him engineer some of the more elaborate carnival acts. But I’d definitely choose Audrey Rose over everyone. I’d love to go have high tea and talk about forensics and anything else that we felt like.

9. Is there anything you can share with us about the 4th and final book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series?
I’m being VERY tight-lipped about this book, but readers can expect murder, mystery, romance, betrayal (intentional or accidental), and a story that ties everything—from the novella + bonus content to the main books—together into one, satisfying conclusion. The title and cover will probably be revealed in the early part of the new year, and I am VERY excited to share more soon!

10. Do you already have a plan for what you’ll be doing next after this series is complete?
I always have several ideas going at once, and there’s a few that I’d love to explore more of. Two or three would be within the SJTR universe, (different standalones) but there are also other stories I’d really like to tell outside of this world too. I’d started one right before SJTR sold, and I keep eyeing it up, waiting for the perfect time to dive back into that dark, fantasy world.


Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco
Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper #3
Published by Jimmy Patterson on September 18, 2018
Genres: Young Adult — Historical Fiction, Mystery
Add to Goodreads • Amazon • B&N • Book Depository

In this third installment in the #1 bestselling Stalking Jack the Ripper series, a luxurious ocean liner becomes a floating prison of scandal, madness, and horror when passengers are murdered one by one…with nowhere to run from the killer. .

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?


About Kerri Maniscalco

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats.

Her first novel in this series, Stalking Jack the Ripper, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history.

Website | Twitter | Instagram
Author photo credit: Kelli Maniscalco @ Dogwood Lane

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Top Ten Amazing Books That You Rarely Hear About

Posted September 10, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 20 Comments

This week we’re talking hidden gems in books! Which books do you love that didn’t get enough buzz when they were released? Which amazing books do we never hear about anymore that need some extra love? My picks are below!

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
Roman Crazy by Alice Clayon
I Temporarily Do by Ellie Cahill
Heir to the Sky by Amanda Sun
The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni
What Is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore
Renegade by J.A. Souders
The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer
The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland
Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell

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The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater | Mini Audiobook Review

Posted September 10, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 8 Comments

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater | Mini Audiobook ReviewThe Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by Scholastic on October 18, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology
Pages: 409
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

I read and loved Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy years ago before I started blogging, and was captivated by her storytelling and beautiful writing style. The Scorpio Races sounded like something I would love and I immediately aded it to my TBR, but then The Raven Boys came out a year later and I DNFed it (I know, I know… total black sheep here), so I was worried Maggie was a one hit wonder for me (especially since Books of Faerie duology was just ok for me). Needless to say, I was worried that I’d never love another Stiefvater book and that broke my heart a little. But I LOVED it. I’ve broken this review up into sections: my thoughts on the audiobook and my experiences listening to it, and then my thoughts and feelings about the story itself and the world and the characters. If you’re not interested in the audiobook, feel free to skip the first section!

Audiobook Thoughts:

While looking for a great audiobook to listen to, I remembered how much Brittany loved Steve West’s narration of The Scorpio Races, and that he made her really fall in love with Sean Hunter. I listened to the sample and YES STEVE WEST, so I jumped right in. Basically, the stars aligned and I took a leap of faith regarding Maggie and audiobooks (because those don’t always work for me either). I am so glad I did, because I loved this book and I loved listening to it more than I think I would have loved reading it. Steve West’s voice drew me in and took hold of my heart. His voice drips with emotion and feeling, and he brought Sean to life. I think I fell a little in love with both Sean and Steve. Hehe. Whoops. Fiona Hardingham’s voice really complimented Steve’s. I loved listening to both of them, and the personality and depth they brought to the characters. I loved the musical bits that were composed by Maggie throughout the book. It totally set the celtic tone of the story and transported me right to the beaches of Thisby. I tried to actually read the book instead of listen to it one day because then I could read faster, but I just couldn’t do it. I made it a page and things felt so wrong. This is truly a book to listen to.

Story Thoughts:

This. Story. It has become a part of me, and I loved it so much. It’s very simple: a girl named Puck feels compelled–both by the need for money and the need to prove herself to herself–to enter the races and become the first female ever to do so. Sean, the reigning champion of these races needs to win, too, but not for the same reason Puck does. They both need it, they both need each other, they both need Thisby, and they both need their horses. This is their story. It’s not just about racing. It’s not just about horses. It’s about two lonely, incomplete souls risking everything to gain everything. They are both incredibly flawed and lost, and they find something in each other. I wouldn’t say this is a romantic book in the lovey-dovey sense. There’s definitely intrigue and feelings, but it’s romantic in the sense that it’s emotional. There’s so much feeling and mystery surrounding the water horses and the people who ride them. The mystical aspects of the island and the races themselves made me forget I was even reading anything. It’s really hard to explain.

Maggie’s prose and style is so breathtakingly beautiful that it almost hurts. I love how she so intricately weaves her words together to create such a perfect and mesmerizing atmosphere. The story alternates back and forth between Sean’s and Puck’s points of view, and it’s done in first person. I usually do not like first person or multiple points of view, but they are both done so well in this book.

There’s so much I can say about Thisby and the characters and the yummy food, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise. I think the synopsis is vague for a reason. That’s the magic! Bottom line, I LOVED The Scorpio Races. It’s the perfect fall story, with an eerie atmosphere; biting, salty winds; harsh waves; and monstrous creatures that will take you a bit by surprise, with their viciousness and intellect. These horses are magical in more ways then one. I do hope you pick up a copy and discover the magic and mystery of autumn on the tiny island of Thisby.

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Interview with A Touch of Gold Author Annie Sullivan

Posted September 7, 2018 by Jana in Author Interview / 2 Comments

Magic, Myth, & Mischief, hosted by me and Bonnie, is a month-long event that celebrates fairy tales and mythological retellings, as well as retellings of favorite classic novels and books featuring mythical beasts such as mermaids, dragons, and fae! Find the schedule of events and other information here.

Today I’m welcoming Annie Sullivan, author of A Touch of Gold, the magical retelling of the Greek myth of King Midas, to the blog to participate in our fun interview series!


Interview with Annie Sullivan

1. What makes your book magical, mythical, or mischievous?
My young adult book, A Touch of Gold, is magical and mythical! Not only does it involve the daughter of King Midas who has deadly gold powers, but it also deals a lot with Greek mythology and the Greek gods.

2. Which mythical character do you see yourself in the most, or do you relate to most and why?
Dragons! There are so many stories about dragons. They can be friendly or ferocious—or maybe they’re shape-shifting humans. I just love the possibilities that dragons bring to a story. Plus, when I think of fantasy, dragons are one of the first things to come to mind. Not to mention that I’m always cold, and I feel like a fire-breathing dragon would always be warm.

3. What magical power do you wish you had?
I would love either the power to heal or to fly! I think healing would be great because you could help so many people and make their lives better. But the power to fly would be awesome because you could get places really quickly with a great view!

4. If you found yourself trapped in a fairy tale or myth, which would you want it to be?
I would want to be Belle in Disney’s version of Beauty and the Beast. Belle is such a strong character. She sets out to find and rescue her father. Plus, she’s very selfless. And don’t even get me started on that library she gets when she marries Beast ;)

5. Mermaids or fae?
Mermaids! There’s just something so intriguing about half-human beings who can swim in the sea. So much of the sea is unexplored that you never know what could be hiding down there.

6. Hans Christian Andersen, Grimms Brothers, or Disney?
Disney!!! I love a happy ending, and Disney tends to have that more than the other. Plus, they have lots of catchy songs.

7. What are your favorite fairy tales and/or myths? Why are you drawn to them?
I love any fairytales with a fun adventure and a promise of a love story. There’s just something so familiar and heartwarming about good overcoming evil and people finding true love or just finding out that they’re stronger than they ever though they could be.

8. Who are your favorite villains of lore?
I’ve always been interested in Ursula. In the Disney version, she and Triton are siblings, and yet, she’s been cast out. People clearly still go to her for solutions to their problems. I’d like to know why exactly she and her brother had a falling out.

9. Would you rather be a hero or a villain?
I’ve always wanted to be a hero, but I do often think that villains can sometimes have more flair and style than heroes. But at the end of the day, I would want to be the one saving and sacrificing for others, and I would want people to like me.

10. Would you rather be locked up in a tower or a dungeon?
Tower all the way! Dungeons have too much of a reputation for being dark, dreary, cold, and full of rats. I’d much rather have a tower. Plus, if there’s a window, then you could have nice views and sunshine, so at least there’s that. I feel like a tower would be easier to escape from in some ways too

11. What elements of the King Midas myth did you use when incorporating the tale into your own novel?
I used a lot of Greek mythology since the King Midas myth is originally a Greek myth. I also used a few creatures inspired by other Greek myths. I wanted the world of A Touch of Gold to have familiar elements but also new twists on a world people sometimes think they know.

12. What sets your retelling apart from other retellings of the same story?
There really aren’t many retellings of the King Midas story, but mine is truly unique because it focuses on the daughter of King Midas who has gold powers of her own. In the original myth, King Midas’s daughter is such a forgotten character. She’s a means to an end so her father learns his lesson. I wanted to bring her to the forefront and explore her life—and her curse—after she was turned to gold as a child by her own father.

13. What lesson do you want your readers to learn from your retelling?
I want readers to learn that they’re stronger than they ever thought. I also want them to see that maybe something they thought was a flaw may actually turn out to be their greatest strength. I want them to come back to the real world after reading A Touch of Gold and be a little more hopeful.

14. What made you want to incorporate a myth into something brand-new?
I love fairytales, but I’ve always wondered about what would happen if one element or another was changed. How would that change the story? I also love looking for the forgotten characters—like the daughter of King Midas—who might have a story of their own to tell.


A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan
Published by Blink on August 14, 2018
Genres: Young Adult — Mythology, Retelling, Fantasy
Add to Goodreads • Amazon • B&N • Book Depository

King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.

Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed.

Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?


About Annie Sullivan

Annie Sullivan is a Young Adult author from Indianapolis, Indiana. Her work has been featured in Curly Red Stories and Punchnels, and her novel, Goldilocks, won the Luminis Books Award at the 2013 Midwest Writers Workshop. She loves fairytales, everything Jane Austen, and traveling and exploring new cultures. When she’s not off on her own adventures, she’s teaching classes at the Indiana Writers Center and working as the Copy Specialist at John Wiley and Sons, Inc. publishing company, having also worked there in Editorial and Publicity roles. You can follow her adventures on Twitter (@annsulliva).

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The Forbidden Sister by Kieran Higgins | Book Spotlight

Posted September 7, 2018 by Jana in Book Spotlight / 2 Comments

Magic, Myth, & Mischief, hosted by me and Bonnie, is a month-long event that celebrates fairy tales and mythological retellings, as well as retellings of favorite classic novels and books featuring mythical beasts such as mermaids, dragons, and fae! Find the schedule of events and other information here.


Today we’re spotlighting a new book in the Tales of Camelot series by Kieran Higgins called The Forbidden Sister, companion novel to The Forgotten Sister. These books both incorporate a lot of Arthurian lore, and feature the half sisters of King Arthur. Both books can also be read as standalones, so pick the one that sounds the most exciting and intriguing to you!

The Forbidden Sister by Kieran Higgins
Series: Tales of Camelot #2
Self-published on September 7, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling
Add to Goodreads • Amazon

Married off to the island kingdom of Orkney, the Princess Morgause thinks her new kingdom, and new husband, are deathly boring. However, she soon discovers that King Lot trades in more than eastern spices. But as the politics of Britain draw her home to Camelot, Morgause is quickly lured into the intrigues of her sister, the vengeful sorceress Morgan Le Fay. The result is a forbidden love that will change the face of Britain forever, and may spell doom for those she holds dear.

A companion novel to The Forgotten Sister, this book is a must for readers wanting more Tales of Camelot from the pen of Kieran Higgins. Though this can be read as a standalone, it is best enjoyed alongside or after The Forgotten Sister.

The Forgotten Sister is currently on sale, and
today is the last day you can purchase it for $2.99.

The Forgotten Sister by Kieran Higgins
Series: Tales of Camelot #1
Self-published on May 30, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling
Add to Goodreads • Amazon

The Princess Elaine promises the dying Uther Pendragon that she will support the ascension of her half-brother Arthur to the throne. Believing in his vision for a glorious Britain, Elaine is soon swept up in the intrigues of Camelot and caught firmly between her warring siblings – the High King Arthur, the vengeful Morgan LeFay and the devious Morgause.

She is a queen, a warrior and a witch. Yet none of these things may save her brother from those who plot against him, or the poison at the very heart of his kingdom. He became myth, but she was forgotten. This is her tale.

Perfect for fans of Alison Weir, Philippa Gregory and the Mists of Avalon, this magical, thrilling Arthurian retelling makes familiar characters new once more.

If you win the MMM giveaway and choose The Forbidden Sister, Kieran will send you a signed bookplate!

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A Dance of Silver and Shadow by Melanie Cellier | Book Review

Posted September 6, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 4 Comments

A Dance of Silver and Shadow by Melanie Cellier | Book ReviewA Dance of Silver and Shadow by Melanie Cellier
Series: Beyond the Four Kingdoms #1
on September 4, 2017
Genres: Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Retelling, Romance
Pages: 345
Format: Audiobook
Source: Christmas Present
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
When Princess Liliana and her twin sister set sail for new lands, Lily hopes to find adventure and romance. But the people of Marin live under the shadow of a curse--one powerful enough to destroy entire kingdoms. To protect them all, Lily and eleven other princesses are forced to participate in a mysterious and secret tournament.

Lily spends her nights competing in a magical underground realm and her days unraveling the dangers of this new court. Although she needs the help of the Marinese prince, Lily knows she can't let herself grow too close to him. There's no time for romance when the duchy is about to fall to the encroaching darkness and the winner of the tournament faces a terrible fate.

But Lily and her twin have a secret advantage. And Lily grows increasingly determined to use their magical bond to defeat the tournament, save the princesses, and free Marin. Except she might have to sacrifice true love to do it.

In this reimagining of the classic fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, there's a lot more at stake than worn out dancing slippers.

I’ve always really loved fairytale retellings, and I accidentally stumbled across this one last year while I was browsing Amazon looking for Christmas present ideas for people. That’s a super dangerous thing to do, isn’t it? I always find more things that I want than anything else! This was a beautiful story, though, so I don’t even regret it! As always, my main points are bolded.

1. A Dance of Silver and Shadow is a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, which I’m really unfamiliar with. And when I say unfamiliar, I mean that I know absolutely nothing. I’m tempted to go read it now to see how closely this story follows the original. Anyway, this book is centered around a “Princess Tournament” (the characters all refer to this as the “Princess Tourney”, which drove me absolutely insane until I learned to live with it). Twelve princesses from various kingdoms have been gathered together to compete in a series of challenges. The tournament itself is governed by magic, and the tasks that the princesses must perform reflect the prince that the tournament is being held for. The winner of this particular tournament will enter a betrothal with the beastly prince of Palinar (any guesses which fairytale the next book in this series will retell?). None of the girls want to win, as tales of the beast are frightening, but harm will come upon them and their families if they don’t put forth and honest effort.

Every few nights, a ball is held where the princesses dance and mingle with members of the kingdoms who have come for the tourney. After the ball is over the girls are all sent into a room, where a magical portal opens in the floor and they climb down to enter an underground realm with forest, a lake, and a mirror version of the palace above ground. This is where the challenges, some of them very dangerous, occur. The princesses return in the wee hours of the morning, their slippers worn through. The magic of the tourney prevents them from discussing the goings on with anyone, even amongst themselves. The premise is really very interesting!

2. Princess Lily and Princess Sophie are our two main characters. They are twins, who can project their thoughts to each others’ minds. They are incredibly close, and I loved their sisterly bond. They are also two of the older princesses in the tourney (17, I believe). Lily narrates the story, and I liked her voice. She’s strong and brave, and feels it is her duty to protect the other princesses (some of them much younger) during the tourney. She takes it upon herself to help them and keep them safe. She also finds herself falling for the Marinese prince. While residing in Marin for the tourney, she learns of the dangers in the kingdom and decides she must save Marin as well! It’s a pretty big undertaking for a young princess.

3. I listened to the audiobook version of this story, and found it to be mostly enjoyable. I didn’t love the sharp voice the narrator used for some of the characters. Luckily the voice she used for Lily did not bother me, since we listened to her narration a lot. The male voices were not done well at all, in my opinion, but I was able to look past that and enjoy listening.

4. The tourney was very creepy to me, and I loved reading about the different tasks the princesses had to complete. The realm where everything takes place has been corrupted by a sinister magical force, so things felt very unsettled. It was exciting and suspenseful! 

5. Some of the other princesses really bothered me, particularly the younger ones. They were very whiny and complained a lot, but I did like Celine. I’d love to read a book about her soon.

6. A Dance of Silver and Shadow is completely clean, with no bad language and just a light romance on the side.

7. I LOVE Melanie’s writing. It’s so lush and descriptive!

8. The ending made me immediately start the second book because I had to know more. Make sure you don’t read the synopsis for A Tale of Beauty and Beast, though, until you read this book or you will find out who wins the tourney!

Overall, I really loved this story and I’m so excited that I’ve found an author I like who does retellings. I don’t read nearly enough good ones. I don’t know how closely this one follows the original, but that didn’t matter to me at all. If you enjoy retellings, magic, fantasy worlds, mysterious kingdoms, sister bonds, strong female characters who don’t need a man to save them, and beautiful writing, definitely give this book a try!

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Dragon Nail Art | As She Ascends Creative Blog Tour (+Giveaway)

Posted September 5, 2018 by Jana in Blog Tour, Giveaway / 4 Comments

Dragon Nail Art | As She Ascends Creative Blog Tour (+Giveaway)

Welcome to my stop along the creative blog tour for Jodi Meadows’s As She Ascends, book 2 in the very dragony The Fallen Isles trilogy (read my review for book 1!). I’m reading and loving this book right now, and am excited to share my review with you next week! For now, let me show you some of the fun dragon nail art designs I’ve seen around the Internet lately. I wish I was could re-create some of these myself, but I’m lucky if I’ve got a solid color on my nails that’s not half peeled-off! Read more about the book and Jodi Meadows, the As She aScends pre-order campaign, and enter the giveaway below for a chance to win handmade knitted dragon mitts by Jodi Meadows, a signed paperback of Before She Ignites (book #1 in the trilogy), Mira and Lala magnetic bookmark, and a Hopebearer Candle by Cornerfolds Candles!


Dragon Nail Art Design Inspiration

(Artists linked below)

1. The Adorned Claw
2. petitepeinture
3. 365+ Days of Nail Art
4. Copycat Claws
5. PiggieLuv
6. A Different Shade of Polish


As She Ascends by Jodi Meadows
Series: Fallen Isles #2
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on September 11, 2018
Add to Goodreads 
Amazon • B&N • Book Depository 

MIRA, THE HOPEBEARER
Mira Minkoba is on the run with her friends after a fiery escape from the Pit, where she’d been imprisoned for defending the dragons she loves. And she wants answers. Where have all the dragons been taken? Why are powerful noorestones being shipped to the mainland? And did the treaty she’s been defending her whole life truly sell out the Fallen Isles to their enemies?

MIRA, THE DRAGONHEARTED
As her connection to the dragons—and their power—grows stronger, so does Mira’s fear that she might lose control and hurt someone she loves. But the only way to find the truth is to go home again, to Damina, to face the people who betrayed her and the parents she’s not sure she can trust.

Home, where she must rise above her fears. Or be consumed.

The second page-turning novel in Jodi Meadows’ Fallen Isles trilogy scorches with mysterious magic and riveting romance as one girl kindles a spark into a flame.


Pre-order gift includes:

  1. Signed As She Ascends bookplate
  2. As She Ascends dragon stickers
  3. As She Ascends bookmark
  4. As She Ascends dragon card

If you order a book from One More Page, then you get all of the above plus:

  1. Exclusive Fallen Isles tapestry card
  2. Access to behind-the-scenes goodies
  3. A signed, personalized, and stamped edition

The tapestry card and access to the behind-the-scenes content will come with your book when it arrives.  One More Page doesn’t typically ship internationally. Arrangements have been made with them to do it this time! Thing to note: they’re having trouble getting the site to calculate international shipping, so email them and they will be happy to help you! info@onemorepagebooks.com

How to claim your gift:

  1. Preorder As She Ascends
  2. Take a photo of the receipt or forward the receipt to unicornwarlord@gmail.com
  3. Make sure to include your address at the top of the email — and write it out exactly as it needs to be on an envelope.
  4. If you order multiple books, then you get multiples . Just be sure to point it out at the top of your email.
  5. This is first come first serve.

FAQ:

  1. This is available to international readers.
  2. ebooks and physical books count.

About Jodi Meadows

Jodi Meadows wants to be a ferret when she grows up and she has no self-control when it comes to yarn, ink, or outer space. Still, she manages to write books. She is the author of the INCARNATE Trilogy, the ORPHAN QUEEN Duology, and the FALLEN ISLES Trilogy (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen), and a coauthor of MY LADY JANE (HarperTeen). Visit her at Website: www.jodimeadows.com

Twitter  Goodreads Instagram


Giveaway

Enter to win an As She Ascends prize pack, available within the US only.

Pack includes:

  1. Handmade knitted dragon mitts by Jodi Meadows
  2. Signed paperback of Before She Ignites
  3. Mira and Lala Magnetic Bookmark
  4. Hopebearer Candle by Cornerfolds Candles.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Top Twelve Most Bingeworthy TV Shows of All Time

Posted September 3, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 30 Comments

I don’t know about you, but when I’m not reading I’m usually watching TV, be it stuff on Netflix, from my DVR, or my from my pretty sizable DVD collection. Since September is the magical month of the new TV seasons starting up again, I thought it’d be fun to share what we all watch when we’re not reading! I’m sharing my very favorite shows, regardless of whether they are still on the air or not.

Friends
The Big Bang Theory
Wings
White Collar
Baby Daddy
JAG
When Calls the Heart
Happy Days
MASH
Man With a Plan
Bachelor In Paradise
Saved By the Bell

What are some of your favorite bingeworthy TV shows?
Do we have any picks in common?

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Illusions by Aprilynne Pike | Book Review

Posted September 3, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 2 Comments

Illusions by Aprilynne Pike | Book ReviewIllusions by Aprilynne Pike
Series: Wings #3
Published by HarperTEEN on May 3, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 375
Format: Hardcover
Source: From the Publisher
Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
"I don't do patrols, I don't go hunting, I just stick close to you. You live your life. I'll keep you safe," Tamani said, sweeping a lock of hair from her face. "Or die trying."

Laurel hasn't seen Tamani since she begged him to let her go last year. Though her heart still aches, Laurel is confident that David was the right choice.

But just as life is returning to normal, Laurel discovers that a hidden enemy lies in wait. Once again, Laurel must turn to Tamani to protect and guide her, for the danger that now threatens Avalon is one that no faerie thought would ever be possible. And for the first time, Laurel cannot be sure that her side will prevail.

Illusions is  my favorite of the Wings series so far. It was magical, romantic, adventurous, and I got through it in 24 hours!

For the most part, I really like the characters. There’s Laurel, her boyfriend David, her sentry/guardian Tamani, her best friend Chelsea, and Chelsea’s boyfriend Ryan. There’s also a troll-hunter, Klea who I don’t like, and Klea’s foster child from Japan, Yuki. They are all different, they have personality, and they are all people I could see myself being friends with. These people are not annoying, whiny little teenagers. I forget they are in high school. Thank you, Aprilynne.  It’s so nice to read a book where the high schoolers don’t act like stereotypical high schoolers.

So, these characters are off attending high school, keeping the secrets of Faerie a secret, going to school dances heavily guarded by more sentries, protecting themselves and their human families, and avoiding the trolls that are out to discover the secret gates to Avalon, home of the faeries. Laurel spends most of her free time with David, Tamani, and/or practicing her faerie skills in her bedroom. This brings in a whole new cast of characters: the other faeries who live in Avalon and train Laurel on being a faerie during her summer breaks. She has one friend there, Katya, who I really like. She’s adorable. I also like Laurel’s teachers and mentors. The descriptions of Avalon are amazing. It sounds gorgeous, from the scenery, to the description of an out-of-this-world new year’s festival, to the architecture, even the clothing and accessories the faeries wear. I would LOVE to go to Avalon!

And then we have the characters in between: the sentries, faeries who keep a watchful eye on everyone else,  and Laurel’s parents, who are extremely understanding. SO many characters to keep track of, but it doesn’t seem like it while you’re reading. It just sounds like a lot when I type them all out in a list like this.

Obviously there’s a love triangle, just like there is in any other YA romance. I like both the guys, David and Tamani, involved in this love triangle! I find myself rooting for one, and then the other. Usually I have one favorite and I root for him throughout the entire book/series. I’m confused on who Laurel should end up with, though. I can only imagine how confused SHE is, since she’s the one actually living it. She has a very sweet bond with both the boys. In this book, though, she takes the time to focus on the guy who she’s spent most of her time brushing off, and it was adorable! This guy loves her so much, and he is so willing to wait for her to decide. I swear, I wish I had one of these guys going after me. Laurel gets both. It’s not fair. Or maybe it is. I think I’d really get stressed out loving two different men.

There’s tense moments, romantic moments, tender moments, beautiful writing, amazing settings, fun characters, and magic, magic, magic! The end had a twist I wasn’t expecting, and dropped to quite a cliffhanger! I really feel like giving away any more details would spoil everything, so I need to just stop and let you read them for yourself! I hate writing such a vague review, but it must be done! If you have read these, I’d love to hear what you thought! If you haven’t read them, hopefully my review pushed you towards giving them a try. I hope I didn’t spoil anything for anyone, and at the same time I hope I did the book justice.

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2nd Annual Magic, Myth, & Mischief | Event Info, Schedule, & Giveaway

Posted September 1, 2018 by Jana in Blog Event, Giveaway / 5 Comments

Welcome to the 2nd annual Magic, Myth, & Mischief event, which Bonnie from A Backwards Story and I host each September!

This month-long event celebrates fairy tales and mythological retellings, as well as retellings of favorite classic novels and books featuring mythical beasts such as mermaids, dragons, and fae! It’s going to be a really fun month of book reviews, blog tours, guest posts, and author interviews, so make sure to join back each day for fun new content!

Here you will find the event schedule on my blog (links will be added as posts go live, and additional content will be added as we receive it from authors and guest bloggers), the calendar for the coordinating Instagram photo challenge that we hope you will participate in, an awesome giveaway, and the link-up for anything you’ve posted that fits our event (we want to come visit!).

Our official event hashtag is: #MagicMythMischief

Event Schedule

9/1 – Event Information, Schedule, & Giveaway

9/3 – Illusions by Aprilynne Pike | Book Review

9/5 – Dragon Nail Art | As She Ascends Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

9/6 – A Dance of Silver and Shadow by Melanie Cellier | Book Review

9/7 – The Forbidden Sister by Kieran Higgins | Book Spotlight
Interview with A Touch of Gold Author, Annie Sullivan

9/10 – The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater | Mini Audiobook Review

9/12 – Author Interview with Kerri Maniscalco | Escaping from Houdini Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

9/13 – Heartless by Marissa Meyer | Book Review

9/14 – Fairytale Retellings In the Real World: Melanie Dickerson’s Medieval Fairy Tale Series | Book Blogger Guest Post

9/17 – An Entreaty for Under-Represented Mythological Creatures In Recent Fantasy | Book Blogger Guest Post

9/18 – Interview with Seventh Born Author Monica Sanz

9/19 – Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown | Book Review

9/20 – The Dragons of the Fallen Isles by Jodi Meadows | Author Guest Post

9/21 – Firelight by Sophie Jordan | Book Review

9/24

9/26

9/27

9/28

(Here is the schedule of posts on Bonnie’s blog, too!)

 

Instagram Photo Challenge

 

Giveaway

During Magic, Myth, & Mischief, we’re giving away a book of your choice featured during the event! You can enter each day of the event by visiting our blogs and commenting on our posts. This giveaway is open anywhere Book Depository ships.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Link-Up

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