Thursday, September 21, 2017

Blog Tour: The Clue in the Tree by Margi Preus...Review & Giveaway!


Have an interesting and quirky mystery to share with you all today...keep reading to learn more and to enter the giveaway!
The Clue in the Trees
(Northwoods #2)
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

Links:


Synopsis:
Francie’s brother Theo has secrets—secrets Francie thinks she wants to know. But what if one of those secrets is that Theo is a murderer? To avoid considering that possibility, Francie plunges into her senior year at a small-town high school near Enchantment Lake in northern Minnesota. It’s a radical change from her private school in New York, but she hopes to keep an eye on her great aunts and maybe finally learn more about the mother she never knew. A small silver box seems to hold the answers, and she is determined to get her hands on it.

But when her long-lost brother turns up, so does a dead body, and once again Francie is drawn into a mystery. A long list of suspects, with Theo at the top, keeps her head spinning. When Francie herself becomes a suspect she starts to feel like she is walking on thin ice, but it isn’t until she is literally walking on thin ice that the pieces start to come together—and by then it may be too late.

In her previous adventure Enchantment Lake, Francie was thrown into northern Minnesota lake living: fishing, berry picking, lost kayaks and scary boat rides, poisoned hotdishes, exploding bulldozers, a forest fire . . . and murder. But if she thinks things have settled down, she’s in for a surprise. A new school with new friends (and a few enemies), a lead role in a play, an encounter with a giant muskie, archaeological twists, secret tunnels, thin ice, and a strangely sticky murder are all coming her way in The Clue in the Trees.
Margi Preus is a New York Times bestselling author of several books for young readers, including the Newbery Honor book, Heart of a Samurai, the Minnesota Book Award winning West of the Moon, and Shadow on the Mountain, a Notable Book for a Global Society. New in 2015 is Enchantment Lake, a northwoods mystery, and The Bamboo Sword, which Bookpage says is “historical fiction at its best.”

“Margi Preus has a remarkable ability to create fascinating, page-turning stories that transport readers to faraway times and places. Whether she’s evoking Norway during World War II or 19th century Japan, Preus combines impeccable research with strong characterization and plot—the very elements that draw readers into history and spark the curiosity to learn more.” Bookpage, Sept. 2015

Links:
The publisher kindly sent me a copy of the first book featuring Francie Frye so I wanted to spotlight it here a bit as well write a brief review.  So before I tell you my thoughts on The Clue in the Trees, here's a little about Enchantment Lake…but remember both books can be read as standalones.

From the back cover…
On the shores of Enchantment Lake in the woods of northern Minnesota, something ominous is afoot, and as Francie begins to investigate, the mysteries multiply: a poisoned hotdish, a puzzling confession, eerie noises in the bog, and a legendary treasure said to be under enchantment—or is that under Enchantment, as in under the lake? At the center of everything is a suddenly booming business in cabin sales and a road not everyone wants built. 

My thoughts:
In this fun mystery, former child actor Francie Frye heads to mysterious Enchantment Lake when she becomes concerned about her great aunts. Once there the seventeen-year-old uncovers some strange happenings and gets more than she bargained for when her aunts ask her to investigate the mysterious deaths of a few of their fellow residents. Reluctant, but curious this amateur sleuth does her best to figure out what is going on at Enchantment Lake and uncovers a few secrets along the way.

This is such a fun, quirky story with a likable and colorful cast of characters and some unexpected twists and turns.  I enjoyed Francie's suspense-filled adventures from moonlight fishing excursions with possible suspects to blindfolded boat rides with suspicious treasure hunters.  Francie is such a fun character, if a bit too analytical and overeager at times, and I couldn't wait to see where her investigations and curiosity would take her. In addition to Francie, I also absolutely adored her eccentric aunts and the other memorable residents of Enchantment Lake.  This is a charming and entertaining mystery with plenty of humor, but the ending was a bit rushed and there are a few unanswered questions that I hope get resolved in future books.  But overall, Enchantment Lake is a delightful book I'd recommend to mystery fans of any age.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
After reading and enjoying the antics of teen-detective Francie in Enchantment Lake, I couldn't wait to read more of her adventures and the peculiar residents of Enchantment Lake in The Clue in the Trees and I was not disappointed! 

In The Clue in the Trees, former child actress and reluctant amateur detective Francie Frye is starting her senior year of high school near the quirky Enchantment Lake rather than in New York. Now she can keep an eye on her great aunts as well as possibly search for answers about the mother she never knew.  As Francie prepares to settle in, her estranged brother unexpectedly returns to her life and brings with him more questions than answers. 

It’s not long before Francie finds herself caught up in another murder mystery on Enchantment Lake.  However, Francie is not sure she wants this one solved when it looks like her brother could have something to do with it.  To distract herself from the case and the mystery that surrounds her brother, Francie returns to acting as the star in the school’s production of Antigone.  But much to Francie’s surprise, many around her seem to want her to put her investigative skills back to work despite her reluctance to get involved.

The Clue in the Trees was just as delightful as the first Francie Frye mystery. And because I know you may be wondering if you haven't yet had the chance to read Francie’s first mystery, Enchantment Lake, you could read this one first, but I'd recommend reading them in order as we get a few answers to some discoveries made in the first book as well as references to people, places, and events from Enchantment Lake.

We also get to revisit some of the same quirky and fun characters from Enchantment Lake, such as the eccentric aunts, as well as meet a few more memorable characters, such as Francie's brother Theo and classmate Raven.  For me, the characters are truly what make this read so entertaining. You never know what they are going to say or do next.  It was especially nice to meet a few more closer in age to Francie and to see her interact with her peers.  But I kind of missed the quirks and oddness of the older folks that called Enchantment Lake home.  This one just didn't feel quite the same for some reason.

And Francie, an accidental Nancy Drew I guess you could say, is such a fun and relatable main character.  I enjoyed reading the story from her POV.  Her observations and conversations are sometimes a bit random and she can be easily distracted. I have to admit that I completely relate to this and found some of them to be hilarious and sometimes even distracting myself (Google is my friend).  

As Francie slowly learns to adjust to a new school and to make new friends, she finds herself starring in the high school’s production of Antigone. All of this while she worries about her brother and does her best NOT to get involved in the murder investigation (even though almost EVERYONE wants her to get involved…which is so weird).  That's a lot for an adult to handle yet alone a teenager. Francie actually reminds me a bit of some of my favorite female detectives such as Jessica Fletcher (Murder, She Wrote TV series) and Nancy Drew (but don't tell Francie I said that) as trouble and dead bodies seem to find them wherever they go.

As for the mystery of the story, it was not predictable or too formulaic and the suspense was there as were the plot twists you’d expect in a murder mystery.  However, the pacing was a bit slow and at times I had to stop myself from reading ahead just to see how it ended.  But I am so glad that I didn't as it turned out to be quite different than I was expecting.

Laced with humor and a few laugh-out-loud moments The Clue in the Trees is an entertaining mystery.  I hope more books are to come as I look forward to more of Francie Frye’s mysterious adventures.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
ABOUT THE GIVEAWAY:
1 copy of THE CLUE IN THE TREES by Margi Preus
It can be read as a standalone
US Only

The Fantastic Flying Book Club


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Blog Tour: Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George...Review, Giveaway & More!


So happy to be a stop on the Speak Easy, Speak Love Blog Tour today!
Isn't that cover just gorgeous? 
Anyway, keep reading to learn more about this fabulous book!
Plus, there's a giveaway and a chance for you to discover which character from Speak Easy, Speak Love you are most like...
Speak Easy, Speak Love 
September 19, 2017
Greenwillow/HarperCollins

Six teenagers’ lives intertwine during one thrilling summer full of romantic misunderstandings and dangerous deals in this sparkling retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

After she gets kicked out of boarding school, seventeen-year-old Beatrice goes to her uncle’s estate on Long Island. But Hey Nonny Nonny is more than just a rundown old mansion. Beatrice’s cousin, Hero, runs a struggling speakeasy out of the basement—one that might not survive the summer. Along with Prince, a poor young man determined to prove his worth; his brother John, a dark and dangerous agent of the local mob; Benedick, a handsome trust-fund kid trying to become a writer; and Maggie, a beautiful and talented singer; Beatrice and Hero throw all their efforts into planning a massive party to save the speakeasy. Despite all their worries, the summer is beautiful, love is in the air, and Beatrice and Benedick are caught up in a romantic battle of wits that their friends might be quietly orchestrating in the background.

Hilariously clever and utterly charming, McKelle George’s debut novel is full of intrigue and 1920s charm. For fans of Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, and Anna Godbersen.
McKelle George is a reader, writer of clumsy rebels, perpetual doodler, and reference librarian at the best library in the world. She mentors with Salt Lake Teen Writes and plays judge for the Poetry Out Loud teen competitions (but has no poetic talent herself). Her debut young adult novel Speak Easy, Speak Love comes out from Greenwillow/HarperCollins in 2017, and she currently lives in Salt Lake City with an enormous white german shepherd and way, way too many books.

Title: Speak Easy, Speak Love
Author: McKelle George 
Format: Digital ARC
Source: Edelweiss

From the fun, detailed story to the vivacious characters, Speak Easy, Speak Love is one of the most memorable and entertaining books I've read in awhile. From start to finish, there was rarely a dull moment and I couldn't put it down!

Wonderfully-written and set during the fabulous 1920s when jazz was king and a little thing called Prohibition was law, Speak Easy, Speak Love is a highly entertaining retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.  This is definitely one of the most unique and fun Shakespeare retellings I've come across in awhile, but to be honest with you I quickly forgot all about that whole retelling thing and found myself lost in the world and characters that McKelle George created.

Before I even started reading and as someone who is intrigued by the past, I was fascinated by the author’s choice of the 1920s as the setting for this reimagining and curious to see how it would work.  But it was honestly perfect for this story and had all of the fun and history for which the decade is notoriously famous…speakeasies, bootleggers, mobsters, jazz, and more!  It all just worked perfectly. It was obvious that the author had done her research of the era and the story was all the better for it. And now I wouldn't mind more stories set during this time period.

As for the story of Speak Easy, Speak Love itself, I absolutely loved it. An unlikely group of people are unexpectedly brought together one summer thanks to a speakeasy at the Hey Nonny Nonny.  Beatrice had hoped for a quiet summer at her uncle’s home so she could study for medical school.  However, she didn't plan on her cousin Hero running a speakeasy out of the basement. Now along with an assortment of colorful characters from a struggling writer to a talented blues singer, Beatrice finds her summer to be anything but quiet as she and her unlikely companions deal with crooks, bootleggers, rival gangs, and more…including a little matchmaking and romance...as they try to save the Hey Nonny Nonny.

Speak Easy, Speak Love is such a unique and fun take on Shakespeare's classic tale.  McKelle George manages to pay homage to the Bard and still create her own rollicking good time and unpredictable and entertaining story filled with wit and charm.  And no, you don't need to be familiar with the original at all to enjoy this one. Speak Easy, Speak Love can definitely be read and enjoyed on its own.  But if you are familiar with the play, you'll probably enjoy this fresh reimagining of the classic.

As well as enjoying the fantastic story, I fell in love with the characters of Speak Easy, Speak Love. McKelle George has created fun, vibrant characters each with distinct personalities that definitely live up to their Shakespearean counterparts, but with enough differences and unique characteristics to more than hold their own.  From their individual struggles to their relationships and interactions with one another, I loved how well the characters worked and meshed together.  

Plus, fun and witty banter is something I simple adore in books and McKelle George is a master at it in Speak Easy, Speak Love!  I especially enjoyed the battle of wits between Beatrice and Benedick. Their banter combined with the setting brought to mind some of my favorite classic romantic film pairings from the 1930s-40s such as Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn or Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. I absolutely loved the chemistry between these two characters as well as other characters in the book.

As you can probably tell, Speak Easy, Speak Love is definitely one of my favorite reads of the year and I look forward to reading more of McKelle George’s work!
*I received a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.*

So for fun, the author of Speak Easy, Speak Love, McKelle George has created a character quiz so you can determine which character from the book you are most like

I got...

Benedick Scott
You're Benedick! You're full of passion and charisma. With a natural confidence that begets influence, you take a great deal of pride and joy in cheering and guiding those around you. You have a natural way with words and are able to bring ideas together and communicate them with an eloquence that is nothing short of mesmerizing. You might have a slight tendency to over-reflect on and analyzing your own feelings--and you're a little sensitive, but if someone doesn't like you, you take it as a challenge and a chance to exercise your effortlessly quick wit..

A couple of these things are somewhat accurate…hmm.

Here’s a link so you can discover which Speak Easy, Speak Love character you are…

Be sure to share who you got! I’d love to know!
Giveaway:
1 ARC of SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE by McKelle George
Pre-order swag including:
1 SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE bookmark
1 signed SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE bookplate
1 signed SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE postcard
The full set of SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE character cards




Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Blog Tour: The Long Ride Home by Tawni Waters...Guest Post & Giveaway!


The Long Ride Home by Tawni Waters
Release date: September 5, 2017

After the loss of her mother, Harley can barely handle her grief. And she can’t shake the guilt that it was her fault. No matter how she tries to dull the pain, the memories of all she lost keep surfacing. Her only distraction is Dean, her best friend (with benefits), but even their relationship has become an emotional minefield since the night they spent together on the beach…

Harley’s one true escape? The open road. So she sets out on a cross-country trip to scatter her mother’s ashes. This is her chance to finally make peace with her mom’s death, and with Dean by her side, it may be just what they need to get over the awkwardness between them. 

Except Harley has a secret, one that has the potential to change her life—and Dean’s—forever. And no matter the distance they travel, there’s no avoiding the truth.

Tawni Waters is a writer, actor, and college teacher. Her first novel, Beauty of the Broken, was released by Simon Pulse in fall 2014. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. Find her at tawniwaters.com.

Find Tawni Online
Twitter: @TawniWaters
Instagram: @TawniWaters 

Tawni was kind enough to share her inspiration for The Long Ride Home...

I started writing this novel when I was teaching a summer creative writing workshop at Lehigh.  I’d just won the ILA for my first novel, Beauty of the Broken, so I felt very pressured to produce something “good.”  I gave writing something proverbially “good” three tries.  I sent my agent three chapters of three different novels, and he turned them all down. I realized that what was missing from my work was a sense of a joy, so I went to the bar on my day off, drank a few glasses of wine, and gave myself permission to write whatever I wanted, even if it was categorically bad.  

As I was scribbling on napkins, the song “Unknown Legend” by Neil Young came on.  It starts, “Out along the desert highway, she rides her Harley Davidson, her long blond hair flying in the 
air she breathes.”  Instantly, a character based on that lyrical image started speaking to me.  She said, “If you picture me as a rugged girl on a Harley, you might be right.”  I wrote the words down.  Within an hour, I had the first chapter of the book.  I sent it to my agent, and he said, “THIS IS IT! YOU ARE A GENIUS! WRITE THIS NOVEL!” So I did.  

Lyrics often inspire my writing.  I love music.  My editor at Sourcebooks had to go through and remove about 20 lyrical quotes from this manuscript, because it’s difficult and expensive to acquire rights to use lyrics in a written work.  But man, did I want to give homage to the music that was inspiring me.  I’m a groupie at heart.  I followed a rock band around the country for 20 years, so the experience of road tripping is very familiar to me.  I hope the book has an inherent music to it, even if the lyrics got nixed

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Blog Tour: Light Years by Emily Ziff Griffin...Review & Giveaway!


Today I have an interesting new book to share with you...

Keep reading to learn more about Light Years by Emily Ziff Griffin!
Light Years
by Emily Ziff Griffin
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: September 5th, 2017
Genre: Young Adult

Synopsis:

As a mysterious virus infects the world’s population, a girl embarks on a quest to find a cure in this thrilling debut from Emily Ziff Griffin.

Luisa is ready for her life to start. Five minutes ago. And she could be on her way, as her extraordinary coding skills have landed her a finalist spot for a fellowship sponsored by Thomas Bell, the world’s most brilliant and mercurial tech entrepreneur. Being chosen means funding, mentorship, and most importantly, freedom from her overbearing mother. Maybe Lu will even figure out how to control the rare condition that plagues her: whenever her emotions run high, her physical senses kick into overload, with waves of color, sound, taste, and touch flooding her body.

But Luisa’s life is thrust into chaos as a deadly virus sweeps across the globe, killing thousands and sending her father into quarantine. When Lu receives a cryptic message from someone who might hold the key to stopping the epidemic, she knows she must do something to save her family—and the world.

Suspenseful, lyrical, and thought-provoking, Light Years features a remarkable heroine on an intensely physical and emotional quest for hope and existential meaning.

Emily Ziff Griffin lives in LA where she writes, produces, teaches, daydreams, and mothers two young kids. When she was 25, she co-founded Cooper’s Town Productions with Philip Seymour Hoffman and produced the Academy Award-winning film, ‘Capote,’ along with Hoffman’s directorial debut ‘Jack Goes Boating,’ and John Slattery’s ‘God’s Pocket.’ She's run three marathons, slowly, and holds a degree from Brown University in art-semiotics, the study of how images make meaning. She believes children are way more sophisticated than adults typically give them credit for and writes for the teenager who is ready to claim their own worldview and be grounded in their own power. ‘Light Years’ is her first novel. Find her at www.emilyziffgriffin.com.

Links:
Title: Light Years
Author: Emily Ziff Griffin
Format: Digital ARC
Source: Blog Tour/Publisher 

To be honest, I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I started reading Light Years. Obviously,  I had read the synopsis, but even after reading it I still wasn't 100% sure and once I started reading, I still had no idea where Emily Ziff Griffin was taking us.  I never could've have predicted the fascinatingly complex and multifaceted story Light Years turned out to be.  It is so much more than what the synopsis describes.

In Light Years, we meet Luisa, a highly intelligent teenager who has just interviewed for an internship with a well-known tech genius and is still struggling to figure out her future and her place in this world.  Then a deadly virus hits the world and Luisa is suddenly thrust into a role she never expected when she receives a cryptic message from someone who might know cure.  The race to find a cure to this worldwide epidemic becomes personal and especially important as some of Luisa’s loved ones become infected and Luisa is willing to do anything to help.  Soon Luisa, her brother, and a couple of friends find themselves risking their own lives as they journey to find answers.

Light Years, a story I found to be fast-paced, has a little bit of everything and definitely took some unpredictable turns.  There are quite a few heavy topics dealt with or discussed in story such as death and alcoholism.  It also deals with familial conflict, friendships, self-discovery and so much more.  There’s drama, science, technology, mystery, suspense, and plenty of other things packed into this story.  How the author was able to pack so much into this book and still manage to have a coherent and entertaining story, I couldn't tell you. But the more I read, the more engrossed I became in Luisa’s story and couldn't wait to see what would happen next.

Luisa is a fascinating character with an interesting condition.  Extreme stress as well her emotions cause her senses to go haywire resulting in overwhelming colors, sounds, tastes, smells, and more.  For example, seeing or encountering a sick person literally causes her to see the color red. Or sometimes seeing someone or something might make her taste a certain flavor or get a specific feeling.  It’s a condition that affects her greatly and sometimes hits unexpectedly, but it can also be quite useful as you’ll see if you read the book.

Luisa is also quite relatable and deals with many of the same emotions and experiences as most of us do.  She's trying to find her place in the world and just wants to feel normal.  She wants to help people however she can. Her condition as well as a difficult childhood and current family dynamics have affected her and her decision-making a great deal.  More so, than even she realizes, I believe, at times.  It was interesting to see her grow throughout the story as she became stronger and more confident despite the obstacles she faced.

As I mentioned before, Light Years contains quite a few important relationships that help to drive the story.  From Luisa’s relationships with her parents and brother to her friendships, each impact Luisa in various ways and help motivate her.  It was interesting to see this as well as to see the different types of relationships represented in Light Years.  A few of her relationships deal with some heavy or emotional issues, but all appeared to be quite believable and nicely written by the author.

With Light Years, Emily Ziff Griffin has managed to write a book that not only had me on the edge of my seat, but also affected me emotionally.  At times heartbreaking, Light Years is an beautifully written story that I thoroughly enjoyed.



*I received a free Digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.*

2 signed hardcover copies of LIGHT YEARS by Emily Ziff Griffin
US Only
No Giveaway account



GOOD LUCK!