*First Line Friday 8/9/19* A Dress for the Wicked- Autumn Krause

42650795. sy475 Nothing much happens in the sleepy town of Shy in Avon-upon-Kynt. And for eighteen years, Emmaline Watkins has feared that her future held just that: nothing.

But when the head of the most admired fashion house in the country opens her prestigious design competition to girls from outside the stylish capital city, Emmy’s dreams seem closer than they ever have before.

As the first “country girl” to compete, Emmy knows she’ll encounter extra hurdles on her way to the top. But as she navigates the twisted world of high fashion she starts to wonder: will she be able to tailor herself to fit into this dark, corrupted race? And at what cost?

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“When I was growing up, the rector of our parish told me, Don’t judge people by the way they dress, there can be angels in rags and demons in silk.”

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? 8/5/19

This week is a very exciting week for books and I can’t wait to start all of these.

What are you reading this week?

Ziggy, Stardust and Me- James Brandon

36472241. sy475 The year is 1973. The Watergate hearings are in full swing. The Vietnam War is still raging. And homosexuality is still officially considered a mental illness. In the midst of these trying times is sixteen-year-old Jonathan Collins, a bullied, anxious, asthmatic kid, who aside from an alcoholic father and his sympathetic neighbor and friend Starla, is completely alone. To cope, Jonathan escapes to the safe haven of his imagination, where his hero David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and dead relatives, including his mother, guide him through the rough terrain of his life. In his alternate reality, Jonathan can be anything: a superhero, an astronaut, Ziggy Stardust, himself, or completely “normal” and not a boy who likes other boys. When he completes his treatments, he will be normal—at least he hopes. But before that can happen, Web stumbles into his life. Web is everything Jonathan wishes he could be: fearless, fearsome and, most importantly, not ashamed of being gay.

Jonathan doesn’t want to like brooding Web, who has secrets all his own. Jonathan wants nothing more than to be “fixed” once and for all. But he’s drawn to Web anyway. Web is the first person in the real world to see Jonathan completely and think he’s perfect. Web is a kind of escape Jonathan has never known. For the first time in his life, he may finally feel free enough to love and accept himself as he is.

A poignant coming-of-age tale, Ziggy, Stardust and Me heralds the arrival of a stunning and important new voice in YA.

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Tunnel of Bones- Victoria Schwab

43319657Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake . . . even more than usual.

She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass’s parents are filming their TV show about the world’s most haunted cities. Sure, it’s fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there’s true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs.

When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghosthunter — and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger.

And if Cass fails, the force she’s unleashed could haunt the city forever.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Schwab returns to the spooky and heart-pounding world of City of Ghosts, delivering thrilling new adventures and an unforgettable spin on friendship. (Because sometimes, even psychic ghost best friends have secrets. . .)

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Slay- Brittney Morris

43723509By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. But at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY. No one knows Kiera is the game developer, not her friends, her family, not even her boyfriend, Malcolm, who believes video games are partially responsible for the “downfall of the Black man.”

But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, news of the game reaches mainstream media, and SLAY is labeled a racist, exclusionist, violent hub for thugs and criminals. Even worse, an anonymous troll infiltrates the game, threatening to sue Kiera for “anti-white discrimination.”

Driven to save the only world in which she can be herself, Kiera must preserve her secret identity and harness what it means to be unapologetically Black in a world intimidated by Blackness. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?

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You Deserve Each Other- Sarah Hogle

46862557For fans of The Hating Game, a debut lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy about two unhappily engaged people each trying to force the other to end the relationship–and falling back in love in the process.

Naomi Westfield has an Instagram-perfect life, including the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family every bride dreams of being a part of. They never fight, complain, or disagree. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that’s three months away. And they are miserably and utterly sick of each other.

Tired of contorting herself to fit the ridiculous standards demanded by Nicholas’s family, Naomi wants out of the relationship. But there’s a catch: Whoever calls off the engagement will have to foot the enormous bill for the wedding. When Naomi finds out that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of wills to see who can annoy the other into surrendering through pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.

But now that they have nothing to lose, they’re finally being themselves. They’re having so much fun getting on each other’s nerves that it starts to feel like something else entirely. As Naomi discovers hidden feelings for Nicholas buried under three years of simmering resentment, she wonders if he feels the same way. Suddenly, the countdown to the wedding that may or may not come to pass feels more like a race to mutual destruction–and Naomi doesn’t want to be left alone at the finish line.

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*ARC Review* Kingdom of Ash and Soot – C. S. Johnson

Cinderella meets Mission Impossible in this spy adventure series full of political intrigue, family secrets, and a determined heroine.

39604038Title: Kingdom of Ash and Soot

Author: C.S. Johnson

Publisher: Prodigy Gold Books

Release Date: July 3, 2018

Page Count: 352

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:

“I want to be free.” The words came rushing out of me before I could think through their implications and consequences.

“There are two things you need to know about yourself if you want to be free—what you stand for, and what you stand against.” Lady Penelope held up her hands, brandishing a pair of daggers that had been hidden in her skirts. “This world lives enslaved to its destruction, and so long as you are living, as long as you are fighting, you will be free.”

I gazed at the daggers, transfixed. Each blade was clothed in a leather scabbard, but the silver and obsidian of the daggers’ hilts winked at me, as though it was calling for me.

PRAGUE, 1870.

For the last ten years, nineteen-year-old Eleanora Svobodová has worked as a servant in her stepmother’s household. Along with her older brother, she dreams of the day they will be free to live life on their own terms.

But everything changes when their estranged grandmother comes to Prague on behalf of Queen Victoria. Throughout Bohemia, a string of murders and secret whispers hint at a larger coup. As the leader of the Order of the Crystal Daggers, an ancient order of spies and soldiers that protect kingdoms and their rulers, Lady Penelope is determined to mete out the perpetrators. Now, Eleanora must make the choice between a life of intrigue and saving the lives of others.

Can Eleanora find a way do the right thing and still find freedom?

With a fun blend of historical fiction, true love, castle intrigue, and family dysfunction, The Order of the Crystal Daggers is the latest adventure series from C. S. Johnson.


Kingdom of Ash and Soot is beautifully written, offering alluring and intense character-driven scenes that make you feel like you are standing next to Eleanora the entire time. The historical parts of the novel are compelling and so intricately woven into the plot. The twists and turns will leave you guessing and when the pieces finally come together, you won’t be disappointed.

I’ve read a ton of books that have traces of Cinderella, but never one that includes action scenes, political intrigue, and the incredible spy component like Mission Impossible. There’s the stepmother and the god-awful stepchildren that torment Eleanora and her brother, Ben. And then there’s the wonderfully stubborn grandmother that comes to their rescue, to take them out of servitude and give their lives more meaning and to give the two siblings what they have always wanted: freedom. But as some know, freedom comes at a cost. Always.

It comes at a cost that Eleanora is willing to pay.

Eleanora is a strong and courageous character and refuses to let anything, and anyone, break her. She controls her own destiny and refuses to let anyone tell her otherwise. Family is important to her, and putting up with her stepfamily is what she does to ensure her and Ben have a future. She’s a lovable main character and one that deserves a happily every after.

Though I loved Eleanora and her bravery and her desire to do what’s right, I loved Ferdy more. Ferdy is such a lovable and fun character and, of course, he sounds so attractive on the page. I was more excited about the scenes with Ferdy than I was for any other scenes (I’m hoping there’s a ton more of Ferdy in book two). He showcases charm and his dazzling intellect, all the while trying to sweep Eleanora off her feet. Ferdy brings a giddiness to the book that I feel would be missing if he didn’t exist. All in all, Eleanora is one lucky girl to have a character like Ferdy vying for her attention. I also very much enjoyed Lady POW in all her stubborn and sassy glory. There were so many enjoyable characters in Kingdom of Ash and Soot that once I finished the first book, it felt like I was leaving family.

When I read the last line of the book, I was like, “That’s it?!” I craved more of Eleanora’s story (and Ferdy, of course), and I cannot wait to read the second book. Eleanora’s journey is no where near its end; her journey has just begun, and I’m determined to watch her finish it.

Kingdom of Ash and Soot comes out Tuesday, July 3 (only a few more days!). But you can pre order the book today from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. I have my copy on pre order; I loved the story of Eleanora so much that I had to order a paperback copy!

If you love the spy element, romantic intrigue, fierce action scenes, swoon-worthy love interests, and character-driven plots, then I highly recommend Kingdom of Ash and Soot.