Friday, November 30, 2018

2019 Most Anticipated - Somewhere Only We Know

The next book in my 2019 Most Anticipated event is who takes its inspiration from one of my favourite movies. It mixes Kpop with the Hollywood classic ...

I have often tweeted how much I wanted a YA novel inspired by Roman Holiday and this one sounds incredibly fun and like it'll offer a fresh take on the story as well.

The Goodreads synopsis for this novel sets the tone of lighthearted fun and a late night hamburger hunt is always a bonus.
Sparks fly between a K pop starlet and a tabloid reporter in this heartwarming rom-com from Maurene Goo.

10 00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she's just performed her hit song "Heartbeat" in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She's about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She's in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.
11 00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She's very cute. He's maybe curious.
12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.

With her trademark humor and voice, Maurene Goo delivers a sparkling story of taking a chance on love--and finding yourself along the way.
The teen with a tabloid job could work well within this type of story and it sounds like Maurene has modernized this story quite a bit as well.

As mentioned, this year's event was going to offer up some different posts than usual and this is one of them. I am going to share my personal top three reasons to be excited about this book!

1 Maurene Goo's previous novels are excellent. I see her writing style pairing nicely with this story type and cannot wait to see what she does with the character of Lucky

2 The setting! Based on the synopsis alone I am guessing it is set in Hong Kong (since it mentions her JUST performing her hit song there) and I am totally excited about a late night hamburger hunt in Hong Kong! I can see it being a great city for a Roman Holiday style romance.
3 Did I mention it was inspired by Roman Holiday? One of the most delightful rom-coms out there? Somewhere Only We Know is going to be all kinds of adorable!

Somewhere Only We Know releases May 7, 2019 but you can pre-order it right now from any retailer (or snag it with those holiday gift cards).

You can find out more about Hannah by following her on Twitter, and by visiting her her website. You can also find out more about her books on the publisher website.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow to for the next book on my 2019 most anticipated list. 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

2019 Most Anticipated - The Dead Queens Club

The next book in my 2019 Most Anticipated event is one that is pitched as Mean Girls meets The Tudors.  It is no secret that I am obsessed with all things Tudor, and especially my girl  .....

I was immediately intrigued and the synopsis only made me more so. Hannah Capin's The Dead Queens Club modernizes the tale of the King who had six wives and sets it in a high school. 

The Goodreads synopsis for this novel sets the expectation for two of Henry's girlfriends to have 'tragic accidents' (and possibly by his hand) so I am curious as to how that will be dealt with.
What do a future ambassador, an overly ambitious Francophile, a hospital-volunteering Girl Scout, the new girl from Cleveland, the junior cheer captain, and the vice president of the debate club have in common? It sounds like the ridiculously long lead-up to an astoundingly absurd punchline, right? Except it’s not. Well, unless my life is the joke, which is kind of starting to look like a possibility given how beyond soap opera it’s been since I moved to Lancaster. But anyway, here’s your answer: we’ve all had the questionable privilege of going out with Lancaster High School’s de facto king. Otherwise known as my best friend. Otherwise known as the reason I’ve already helped steal a car, a jet ski, and one hundred spray-painted water bottles when it’s not even Christmas break yet. Otherwise known as Henry. Jersey number 8.

Meet Cleves. Girlfriend number four and the narrator of The Dead Queens Club, a young adult retelling of Henry VIII and his six wives. Cleves is the only girlfriend to come out of her relationship with Henry unscathed—but most breakups are messy, right? And sometimes tragic accidents happen…twice…
We all know what happened to Anne Boleyn and Katheryn Howard but the high school setting makes me think we're in a for a twist to that part of the story.

Hannah took the time to answer a few questions about her book and offers up why she thinks we're still so intrigued by Henry (and his wives) all these years later.

1 What gif do you feel represents The Dead Queen's Club?

This one from MEAN GIRLS--with Regina George representing every girl at Lancaster High School, the bus representing everything that *happens* at Lancaster High School, and Cady standing in for protagonist Cleves, who's just trying to live her life (and also solve murders and end misogyny).

2 If someone were to make a signature cocktail in honour of your book, what might be included?

I'd imagine, in a very "do not try this at home" sort of way, a cocktail involving one shot for each of the six wives of Henry VIII, plus one extra shot for the unfairly maligned Jane Boleyn (née Parker), Lady Rochford. Also Red Bull. It may surprise you to learn that I am in fact not a mixologist.

3 Your novel is a modern twist on King Henry VIII. Why do you think we're still fascinated by him and his wives all these years later?

Short answer: no one does drama like Henry VIII! Better answer: Henry VIII had a larger-than-life personality magnified by exceptional PR. His reign followed a soap-opera-style arc that would be unbelievable in fiction if it hadn't happened in real life. Personal answer: I've been fascinated with the six wives since I was a kid. All of them were impressive and accomplished women in their own right, and almost all of them have been alternately praised and maligned in both serious scholarship and popular culture over the years. Most are finally getting the respect they deserve--with the exception of Katheryn Howard, who is often still dismissed as "an empty-headed wanton" when in fact she was a generous, gracious, charismatic teenage girl thrown into a situation beyond her control and ultimately executed because she hurt a powerful man's ego. I've carried a torch for her since I was 12 or so, and a major reason I wrote DQC was to set the record straight--both for the historical Katheryn Howard, and for the girls and women today still facing slut-shaming and victim-blaming.

4 Name a song you listed to for inspiration while writing this novel 

"The King Is Dead But The Queen Is Alive" by Pink is absolutely the DQC theme song! And "Pastime With Good Company" by Henry VIII himself--he composed it at age 17 or 18, and there's a 21st-century version of it in DQC.

5 If you could travel to anywhere, in any time period, when and where would you want travel?

The early morning hours of February 13, 1542, to Katheryn Howard's rooms in the Tower of London. She was beheaded later that morning, and the night before her execution she requested that they bring the chopping block to her so she could practice--she wanted to comport herself in a queenly way even to the very last, and that detail about her completely devastates me. If I could time-travel, I'd literally just go back to that night and give her a hug.

6 What 2019 release are you most anticipating?

I had the extraordinary privilege of reading Rory Power's debut, WILDER GIRLS, a few months ago, and it was phenomenal! I can't wait until it's out so I can yell about it without spoiling it for everyone. I'm also really excited to read Hafsah Faizal's debut, WE HUNT THE FLAME.

7 If not too spoilery, can you share the first line of The Dead Queen's Club.

"Henry calls me at 12:01 the night before homecoming." Late-night pranking: commence!

I am excited by the research that was obviously done for this book. I also love the idea of Anne Of Cleaves as a mini detective. It feels right in a lot of ways.

The Dead Queens Club releases January 29, 2019 but you can pre-order it right now from any retailer (or snag it with those holiday gift cards).

You can find out more about Hannah by following her on Twitter, and by visiting her her website. You can also find out more about her books on the publisher website.

Are you a fan of stories that are taken from history but put in a more modern setting? Do you love Tudor history as much as I do? Let me know in the comments!

Be sure to stop by tomorrow to for the next book on my 2019 most anticipated list. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

2019 Most Anticipated - Spectacle

The next book in my 2019 Most Anticipated event is one that focuses on a young newspaper reporter whose job is to summarize the new arrivals at the local morgue and discovers a potential serial killer in the process. Amazing right?

The book is set in Paris in the 1800s which adds another intriguing element. The book is Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok! It's a 2019 debut that I think will pique a lot of interest.

The Goodreads synopsis for this novel sets the expectation for lots of danger, excitement, creepy Parisian Catacombs and much more.
A YA murder mystery in which a young reporter must use her supernatural visions to help track down a killer targeting the young women of Paris.

Paris, 1887.

Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal. Her job is to summarize each day's new arrivals, a task she finds both fascinating and routine. That is, until the day she has a vision of the newest body, a young woman, being murdered--from the perspective of the murderer himself.

When the body of another woman is retrieved from the Seine days later, Paris begins to buzz with rumors that this victim may not be the last. Nathalie's search for answers sends her down a long, twisty road involving her mentally ill aunt, a brilliant but deluded scientist, and eventually into the Parisian Catacombs. As the killer continues to haunt the streets of Paris, it becomes clear that Nathalie's strange new ability may make her the only one who can discover the killer's identity--and she'll have to do it before she becomes a target herself. 
Any YA reader with an interest in mysteries, crime novels, or atmospheric reads will  immediately want to add it to their 'to be read' pile.

Jodie took the time to answer a few questions about her book and let us know where she would travel to with a time machine.

1 Describe Spectacle in three words  

Dark, atmospheric, intriguing

2 If someone were to make a signature cocktail in honour of your book, what might be included? 

Chartreuse (for Paris) and vodka (for my Polish heritage), and a splash of lemon to cut it a bit. And maybe absinthe (for the era) and a Chambord sinker (symbolic of blood--did I just gross everyone out with that?) as a nightcap. 

3 Spectacle is a historically set novel. What sort of research did you do in order to capture the time period accurately? 

I have a BA and two MAs in History, and European History was my particular area of interest. I read a lot of books and articles about cultural history in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a student, so I had a fair amount of baseline knowledge. Internet research was useful for tracking down obscure details at times, but recreating a time and place with so little visual documentation was a challenge. I also tried to write with words that would have been in use at the time, which meant very, very frequent etymology and usage checks; you'd be surprised how many everyday phrases we say today didn't exist back then. Lastly, I've been to Paris twice, so I had a good sense of the geography of Paris and some of the sites in the novel (some, such as the morgue, aren't in existence anymore). And given the name of this blog, I'd like to give a shout out to the red wine I had while I was there (also the macarons, which are unrelated to my novel or this blog but get a nod anyway. My sweet tooth is incurable).

4 Name a song you listed to for inspiration while writing this novel ?

I'm one of those rare authors who doesn't make playlists or listen to music (except classical, because Mozart...

5 If you could travel to anywhere, in any time period, when and where would you want travel?

I'd fill up my time machine passport in a heartbeat! I'd like to visit Rome under Augustus, Berlin and NYC in the 1920s, and 1940s Hollywood (and maybe end up as an extra in a now-classic movie). I also wouldn't mind swinging by the Paris Morgue in the late 19th century, just to see how well I captured it. 

6 What 2019 release are you most anticipating?

I've had the privilege of reading a few YA and MG by my fellow 19s, and I have quite a few more on my TBR pile (let's hear it for ARC tours!). THE BONE GARDEN by Heather Kassner and DESCENDANT OF THE CRANE by Joan He were superb. I'm looking forward to reading THE STORM CROW by Kalyn Josephson, THE LAST WORD by Samantha Hastings, and INK IN THE BLOOD by Kim Smejkal. 

7 If not too spoilery, can you share the first line of Spectacle  

Nathalie used to think that if she wrote of death, she’d only need two words. 

I am very encouraged by the level of research that seems to have gone into this. I cannot wait to see what Jodie's Paris is like and what type of character Nathalie is. I love that she is a writer for a newspaper.

Spectacle releases February 12, 2019 but you can pre-order it right now from any retailer (or snag it with those holiday gift cards).

You can find out more about Jodie by following her on Twitter, and by visiting her her website. You can also find out more about her books on the publisher website.

Are you a fan of mysteries? What about historical set novels? Let me know in the comments!

Be sure to stop by tomorrow to for the next book on my 2019 most anticipated list. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

2019 Most Anticipated - Kelly from KellyVision

I mentioned in the announcement post for this year's event that I was going to be mixing it up a little bit from the usual format from previous years. This next post highlights books that someone else thinks should be on your radar for 2019! My friend Kelly, from KellyVision, was kind enough to share her list with me and offer up some commentary as to why her picks should be on your list as well. She's broken them down into categories so there is sure to be something for everyone!

I'm very excited to do this guest post because one of the things I love most in the world is talking about books. (Also reading books, preordering books, buying books in general and attending bookish events.) These are books I haven't gotten for review, and so these are books that I will be buying and that I will be reading the second I can. (I tend to still buy books but then not read them right away because I have a ton that I've gotten for review and I try to read those first.)

YA & Middlegrade:

1) Tell Me Everything by Sarah Enni 

Amazon // Chapters // Barnes and Noble

Out Feb. 26

I forget how I initially heard about this, but it sounds amazing. I'm drawn to stories about secrets, and I especially love stories where people suddenly become famous or infamous. It's a debut novel and I also love supporting those.

2) Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt 

Amazon // Chapters // Barnes and Noble

 Out May 7.

I am a huge fan of Lynda Mullaly Hunt and I feel like I've been waiting for this book FOREVER. I've deliberately tried to not learn anything about it. (With some authors, it doesn't even matter what it's about. Like, "Oh, it's written by this person? I NEED IT.)

3) Good Enough by Jen Petro-Roy 

Amazon // Chapters // Barnes and Noble

I've read an early version of this, but I know the finished version will be so different. Jen and I are friends and I loved PS I Miss You so much, and I think her books are so great and so important.

4) In the Woods by Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel 

Amazon // Chapters // Barnes and Noble

Out July 16.

Speaking of books I've been waiting forever for, THIS ONE. It's supposed to be scary and it's their first collaboration since After Obsession. This is the scary book I've waited years for.

5) Scary Stories Complete Set by Alvin Schwartz 

Amazon // Chapters // Barnes and Noble

Out April 30.

I think everyone who's roughly my age read these books when they were little. Copies were passed around my elementary school playground and I don't have my copies anymore. And so when I found out that they were releasing them for the Kindle, there was an actual shriek of joy.

6) Rayne & Delilah's Midnight Matinee by Jeff Zentner 

Amazon // Chapters // Barnes and Noble

Out Feb. 26.

And speaking of shrieks of joy. I hate winter and this is the reason I'm actually looking forward to it in general and looking forward to February (the worst month) in particular. This sounds amazing and since I've loved his first two books, my expectations are literally sky high for this.

7) Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills 

Amazon // Chapters // Barnes and Noble

Out January 15.

Emma Mills is another of my favorite authors and this one is almost here. (Only two months or so to go!) I'm from a small town and I didn't particularly love it, so I'm excited to read this and see life in a small town from a different perspective.

8) Far Away by Lisa Graff 

Amazon // Chapters // Barnes and Noble

Out March 5

This one sounds fantastic and heartbreaking. CJ lives with her psychic aunt after her mom died, and it's about how she tries to stay close to her mom and I expect to cry buckets.

9) Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi 

Amazon // Chapters // Barnes and Noble

Out March 5.

I am literally taking March 5 after work, so that I can read this (and Far Away) without the distraction of work. If you haven't read Children of Blood and Bone, you need to. Like, IMMEDIATELY. I loved that book and I'm so excited for this one.

Adult fiction:

1) Saving Meghan by DJ Palmer

Amazon // Chapters // Barnes and Noble 

Out April 9.

I love mysteries and suspense novels and this one sound amazing. Is it Munchausen by Proxy? Is Meghan actually really sick? Is there a third option? I have so many questions and this is going to be an excellent present for me.

2) Run Away by Harlan Coben 

Amazon // Chapters // Barnes and Noble

Out March 19.

Harlan Coben is one of my favorite authors and has been since I read Tell No One probably 15 years ago or so. This one sounds a little different (drugs are involved) but I'm on board for everything he writes.

3) The Bride Test by Helen Hoang. 

Amazon // Chapters // Barnes and Noble

Out May 7.

I haven't read her first novel, The Kiss Quotient, but I have it. I've heard excellent things and this one sounds even better. I'm hoping I'll read The Kiss Quotient before this one comes out.

4) The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory 

Amazon // Chapters // Barnes and Noble

Out July 16.

I am so psyched for this one! I haven't read The Wedding Date yet but I loved The Proposal. Jasmine Guillory writes these completely delightful books and I'm excited for another one in that world.

5) The Other Mrs. Miller by Allison Dickson. 

Amazon // Chapters // Barnes and Noble

Out July 16.

In the interest of full disclosure, Allison and I are friends, but I would be desperate to read this book either way. I'm hoping that I don't have to wait until July to read this domestic suspense novel.


1) Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark 

Amazon // Chapters // Barnes and Noble

Out May 28.

If I only get one book in 2019, it will be this one. I'm a murderino (thanks to Kathy!) and I am so excited for this book. It should be so good and so funny.

2) This Promise of Change by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy 

Amazon // Chapters // Barnes and Noble

Out January 8.

I love books about women who make a difference, and Jo Ann is someone who's done that...except she was actually a 14-year-old girl when she was one of the Clinton 12 who desegregated a high school in Tennessee. This looks heartbreaking and amazing. She's a hero in her time and in ours.

3) Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson 

Amazon // Chapters // Barnes and Noble

Out March 12

Laurie Halse Anderson is one of my favorite authors and this is her first memoir. It's going to be written in verse and that's about all I know about it: memoir in verse by Laurie Halse Anderson.

4) The Witches are Coming by Lindy West 

Amazon // Chapters // Barnes and Noble

Out May 28. (NOTE: I need to take May 28 off work.)

Embarrassing Confession: I haven't read Shrill. I have it and I want to read it; I just haven't yet. But this one is about pop culture, politics and feminism and I am always here for that.

A huge thank you to Kelly for taking the time to write this post!

Be sure to stop by tomorrow to for the next book on my 2019 most anticipated list. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

2019 Most Anticipated - A Curse So Dark And Lonely

It's time to kick off my annual Most Anticipated event! Each year I spotlight the books that I am eager to get my hands on in the upcoming year in hopes it'll put them on your radar as well.

This year I am starting with a novel that reimagines one of my favourite fairytales into something that sounds pretty unique and a little more modern.

That's right... It's a Beauty and the Beast retelling. A Curse So Dark and Lonely is written by Brigid Kemmerer so I anticipate a whole lot of emotional payoff in this one along with some great writing.

The Goodreads synopsis for this novel makes it seem like it is set in modern times but keeps that classic feel by having Harper be sucked into Rhen's world.
Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.
This sounds incredible right? I like the different perspective it seems to taking while still having all the classic elements of the Beauty and the Beast story. I cannot wait to discover the world of Emberfall and all of the cursed characters within it.

Brigid, very kindly, agreed to take part in my event this year and the result is the very fun interview where I get her to reveal some details about A Curse So Dark and Lonely.

1 Describe A Curse So Dark and Lonely in three words.

Prince. Castle. Swords.

2 If someone were to make a signature ice cream in honour of your book, what might be included?

Chocolate, but only because I think chocolate ice cream should always be included, no matter what.

3 Fairytale retellings are always popular. What about the classic Beauty and the Beast tale made you want to make it your own?

I think what I love the best about Beauty and the Beast is that, at its core, it's a story about seeing beyond the exterior and finding someone's true humanity underneath. I tried to capture that magic in Curse, just without all the Stockholm Syndrome stuff that comes with kidnapping or imprisoning a girl to break a curse. In Curse, Harper is definitely kidnapped, but she doesn't want to be there, and she's very much her own person.

4 Name a song you listed to for inspiration while writing this novel (if you didn't listen to music let me know and I can quickly send another question)

I have a whole playlist! I would say that "Sound of Silence" by The Disturbed most closely captures Rhen's mood. If you haven't heard it, I insist that you give it a listen:

It's not so much the lyrics, but the way his voice conveys the mood.

5 If you could travel to anywhere, in any time period, when and where would you want travel?

This is such a tough question!! Right off the cuff, I'd say Renaissance Italy, but that's only because it seems so beautiful and charming in my imagination. I'm sure it was a really challenging time to be alive for the average person.

6 What 2019 release are you most anticipating?

This is such a tough question because there are so many!! Probably Sabaa Tahir's next book.

7 If not too spoilery, can you share the first line of A Curse So Dark and Lonely?

Not too spoilery at all!

"There is blood under my fingernails. I wonder how many of my people I've killed this time."

That opening line has me thinking that this Beast is more terrifying than those in previous adaptations. This Beast seems to be deadly and have a body count.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely releases January 29, 2019 but you can pre-order it right now from any retailer (and it is perfect use for those holiday gift cards).

You can find out more about Brigid by following her on Twitter, and by visiting her her website. You can also find out more about her books on the publisher website.

Do you love fairytale retellings as much as I do? What do you think of Beauty and the Beast ones in particular? Let me know in the comments!

Be sure to stop by tomorrow to for the next book on my 2019 most anticipated list. 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Weekly Obsessions

The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday.

A little late with some of these but it has been quite hectic. There is a lot to be excited about though as we head into the much slower holiday season!


Dirty John First Episode

True crime fans... your newest 'watch while indulging in wine and popcorn' obsession is here. Bravo just released the first episode of Dirty John early and I am hooked!

They have since taken down the sneak peek of the first episode but it airs on Bravo TOMORROW!

I am fascinated by the character that Connie Britton is playing. I already have LOTS of thoughts about so much of this story. I never got into the podcast but I am going to be watching the rest of this series. I understand that Netflix has the international distribution rights so hopefully they'll release it week to week!

Lion King Live Action Trailer

Disney has been releasing live action versions of their beloved animated movies and Lion King is the next to have a trailer be released. 

Baby Simba is ADORABLE! I love that they have James Earl Jones back to voice Mufasa. That voice over gave me chills as a result. I am excited to see a full length trailer and hopefully see more characters!

Lion King Live Action Poster

More Simba cuteness came in the form of the first poster reveal for the movie.

Simba stepping into the footsteps of his father is such a strong image for them to use. It says so much about what the story is. This is going to be as heartbreaking as the animated version and I cannot wait!


HappyHello's Holiday Bookmarks (link)

It is no secret that I ADORE this Etsy shop. The bookmarks are adorable and the service is great. A bunch of holiday themed bookmarks were just put up and I am in love with one set in particular.

Wendy and Peter look adorable and cozy! I especially love the little kiss on his cheek. I urge you to check out this shop because I am sure there will be something you love on there (and it is perfect for holiday gift giving).

What are you obsessed with this week? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

An Assassin's Guide To Love and Treason by Virginia Boecker

An Assassin's Guide To Love and Treason by Virginia Boecker
Release Date - October 23, 2018
Publisher Website - Hachette Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  374 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
When Lady Katherine's father is killed for being an illegally practicing Catholic, she discovers treason wasn't the only secret he's been hiding: he was also involved in a murder plot against the reigning Queen Elizabeth I. With nothing left to lose, Katherine disguises herself as a boy and travels to London to fulfill her father's mission, and to take it one step further--kill the queen herself.

Katherine's opportunity comes in the form of William Shakespeare's newest play, which is to be performed in front of Her Majesty. But what she doesn't know is that the play is not just a play--it's a plot to root out insurrectionists and destroy the rebellion once and for all.

The mastermind behind this ruse is Toby Ellis, a young spy for the queen with secrets of his own. When Toby and Katherine are cast opposite each other as the play's leads, they find themselves inexplicably drawn to one another. But the closer they grow, the more precarious their positions become. And soon they learn that star-crossed love, mistaken identity, and betrayal are far more dangerous off the stage than on.
I've always loved historical novels that offer something extra. Virginia Boecker's An Assassin's Guide To Love and Treason offers a well researched historical read but it also offers a well paced, thrilling story that weaves together romance, deception, and mistaken identity.

The characters are the driving force of this story. The plot is quite straight forward so it is the characters and their development that really shone for me. It's easy to become engrossed in a story like this because of the way the characters are written. The writing style ensures that the story is a fast read which also brings the reader further into the story. It's a historical set novel that has a very contemporary feel because of the way it is written.

Toby and Katherine are both fascinating characters.There is an element that adds an additional layer to their story that should have been obvious from the synopsis. Katherine is cast in a play during a time period where only men were cast in plays. This means that she would have to be disguised as a boy for her to be able to take part. This additional twist adds tension to the romance that wouldn't be there originally. It also makes the character of Toby more nuanced than he could have been. His bisexuality is addressed on the page and in a way I felt worked for both the time period, and story being told. It's never far from the reader's mind that Toby could be in danger if discovered. It makes their scenes have a sense of urgency that only added to the tension of the story.

The characters of both Queen Elizabeth and William Shakespeare are standouts. The Queen is a shrewd, smart, calculating woman who manages to make a lasting impression. She's an imposing figure and it is easy to see  how she would inspire both fear and devotion. Shakespeare is delightfully silly at times, brilliant, and dizzying. He manages to capture your attention whenever he appears and ensures that you immediately love him. I like that of these characters create such a strong reaction but neither overshadow the main characters. They work within the storyline and serve their purpose without being overwhelming. These larger than life type characters could easily feel caricature but Boecker manages to keep them feeling grounded even as they are fantastical.

This is a revenge plot at its core. Katherine wants revenge for her father's death. The Queen's laws, and therefore the Queen herself, are to blame so to Katherine the obvious answer is to hold the Queen responsible. This novel works as a spy/assassin thriller on every level. I felt constantly on edge with worry that Katherine was going to be caught. I easily found myself caught up in the plan and the pieces that needed to fall into place for it to happen. There is a sense something impending that keeps the readers on their toes in a way that is more than just the growing tension.

Those of you who love historical novels that are a mix of fictional and non fictional characters will certainly find much to love within these pages. Virginia Boecker weaves together a solid plot with some memorable and intriguing characters to create a book that I predict even those who are not fans of the historical genre will love.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Waiting On Wednesday ... Somewhere Only We Know

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pick is Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Sparks fly between a K pop starlet and a tabloid reporter in this heartwarming rom-com from Maurene Goo. 

10 00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she's just performed her hit song "Heartbeat" in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She's about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She's in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.
11 00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She's very cute. He's maybe curious.
12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.

With her trademark humor and voice, Maurene Goo delivers a sparkling story of taking a chance on love--and finding yourself along the way. 
I have always wanted a book based on Roman Holiday and Maurene Goo is delivering exactly that with her next novel.

How cute does that synopsis sound? How cute is the cover?! I am so excited to get my hands on this one.

It's a bit of a wait as this doesn't come out until May but we can always just rewatch Roman Holiday to help pass the time.

Expected release date - May 7, 2019

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

American Horror Story: Apocalypse - Return To Murder House

The tenth (and final) episode of this season, titled Apocalypse Then, brought our time in the apocalypse to a close. This has been one amazing season and I am excited to see whatever Ryan Murphy does next!

With the usual reminder of spoilers lets break down what happened. 

We start this episode with Myrtle showing up at Mutt and Jeff's business. She sasses with Ms Venable (which is everything). They clearly have little use for each other. Ms Venable snarks that since Myrtle doesn't have an appointment or a package to deliver that she has no business there. She wants Myrtle to leave. Myrtle wants to be taken to Mutt and Jeff however and stands firm. Ms Venable wants to know how she got past security. Myrtle snaps her fingers and utters an incantation that puts Ms Venable into a trance like state. Myrtle steals the key off her and gets in one last dig with this great line as she saunters off:

Meanwhile Mutt and Jeff are arguing about their outpost placements. Mutt wants to put all the smart people together (which includes them) and Jeff wants to go where the hot people are. They also discuss that Michael wants Robot Miriam in outpost three and that he wants the memories of him being the Antichrist removed for her system. Jeff muses that it is Michael's show so whatever he says goes. Myrtle walks in at this point and immediately goes to their map. Mutt and Jeff immediately get up to try to kill her. She puts a spell on them that seems to make them compliant to her wishes. She asks where outpost three is. She explains to them that Coco's parents will be buying four tickets and that they better let them and put them in outpost three. They tell her that the outpost is full. She basically tells them that they better make it work and expresses that she is upset that she has to leave without killing them. She snaps her fingers as she leaves ensuring the spell lifts. 

We next see Cordelia breaking the news of the impending apocalypse to the witches. Mallory bemoans that they do not have the fire power to combat the amount of destruction Michael is going to cause. Coco is feeling sorry for herself and the fact that she just found her place in the world and now it was ending. She really doesn't want to die.

Cordelia lets them in on her plan. They need time for Mallory to be ready so they are going to use Coco's family money and connections to secure four spots in the outpost and one of those spots will be for Mallory. Madison, smartly, points out that Michael will know what they are and just kill them. Cordelia reveals that they'll be tampering with their memories and making them forget they are witches. The spell will give them new identities and new personalities. Coco's job will be to demean Mallory and make her doubt herself (in order to suppress her natural abilities) so they modeled her new personality after Madison. This explains why Coco was so awful to Mallory. Coco takes great offence to this and Madison tells her to consider it an upgrade. Coco wants her family to come and that plan is immediately shot down. Both Mallory and Coco are worried and unsure about being able to do this. Mallory wants to know if she'll remember Cordelia. The spell will remove all of their memories so Mallory clues in that this is a goodbye of sorts. Her and Coco have a great moment where Coco is teary and apologetic about having to be awful to her 'best friend'. They're total friendship goals. They hug it out with Mallory promising to not let anything bad happen to Coco. Cordelia performs the spell which includes an incantation, blowing some white dust from her hand onto them. It works and they are entirely different people.

We flashback and we see Coco's first meeting with Mr Gallant. Their Uber driver was Madison who sees a bus with Dinah's face on it advertising her new talk show. Mr Gallant is dismissive of Mallory pretty much immediately. We also see that she met Brock at this hair salon as well who tells her that she doesn't even need a haircut because she's already perfect. It's cute. 

We cut to Madison arriving back at Misty's place super upset and making demands.

She wants to burn Dinah for her betrayal and fills the rest of the coven in on what she saw (the bus with the show advertisement). Myrtle is totally in but Cordelia urges caution. Rash action could tip Michael off. She wants to wait until it is the right time to make her pay. Smart move in my opinion. Michael's going to realize something is going on if Dinah all of a sudden ends up getting burnt at the stake. 

We next flash to the present day. We see Mallory and Michael's interactions in the outpost again. Mallory's flash of power that causes Michael to be intrigued also wakes up the other witches! They survived the blast by burying themselves under the ground. They dig themselves out and head to the outpost which brings us to where we left off before this season became a bunch of flashbacks. 

Michael waxes on about how the world has been remade in his father's image. Michael believes he has already won. Myrtle tells him that his father obviously didn't tell him the most important part to bringing about an apocalypse - making sure all the witches are actually dead. Michael isn't too bothered. He thinks he could kill them all quite easily. He offers them mercy if they will kneel before him and pledge allegiance. The witches, obviously, decline his offer.

Dinah tells Cordelia that while she may have brought Dinah back to have access to the power of the Voodoo Queen she has picked the winning side and that is Michael's. As she goes to step towards him a very alive Marie Laveau enters the room. It turns out that Cordelia made a deal with Pappa Legba. He wasn't satisfied with Marie's torturing (she apparently doesn't have the heart for it) so Cordelia offered up another soul that would be more to his liking - Dinah's! Papa Legba took the deal so Marie got to come back and Dinah has to go to hell in her place. Marie kills Dinah while calling her trash. It's amazing and Angela Bassett looks stunning.

Robot Miriam goes to shoot everyone but Cordelia performs a spell that literally makes her blow up. The blast sends Michael flying. Miriam's head lands beside him and she is singing a childhood song. Michael is obviously upset by all of this. Madison picks up the gun and shoots Michael a bunch of times. Myrtle rushes over and grabs some of Michael's hair (which she mentions is as smooth as silk). Michael obviously isn't dead. I knew it wouldn't be that easy to get rid of the Antichrist. Cordelia says that they have to find a spot to perform the spell to send Mallory  back to a time and place where they can kill Michael before he wakes up. Madison says she'll stand guard and for them to go. They rush off with Mallory out in front. She runs into a very pissed off Brock who stabs her as revenge for taking his spot on the plane. Myrtle sees this happen and is enraged. She sets Brock on fire as payback (because she likes revenge hot).

We cut back to Michael who is waking up and healing super quickly. We literally see the blood flow back into his body. Madison quickly realizes she is screwed and is going back to hell.

Michael wastes no time in killing Madison by making her head literally explode with his powers. Bye, Madison. Have fun working in retail hell forever. She was never my favourite.

Cordelia panics as it looks like Mallory is dying. Marie tells her to take Mallory and go. She'll try to hold off Michael. She does this spell that creates a barrier that he cannot pass through and it least at first. Michael stabs her but what Marie really wanted was to distract Michael so Coco could stab him (with a 'Die, Fuckface' for good measure). Michael scoffs at their pathetic attempts to kill him. He tells them that normally it would have worked but he is nothing like normal. He rips out Marie's heart and takes a bite while snapping Coco's neck with his powers. 

He pulls out the knife and rolls his eyes like this is all a big inconvenience to him. It's almost funny.  It's also incredibly awkward that Michael is still so hot while all of this is going on.

We cut back to Cordelia who is freaking out because Mallory is not getting any better. Myrtle offers the best summary of their situation.

Cordelia tells her that she loves her and rushes out of the room. Cordelia is totally going to do the self sacrifice thing and make it so that Mallory gets her full powers as the Supreme. It's such a Cordelia thing to do and the exact opposite of what her mother would have done. 

Cordelia runs into Michael in the hallway and he asks her how she expected this to go. She had to know that he was always going to win. She points out that he couldn't do it alone. He had to be led by his father, the warlocks, and others. All she sees is a  'sad, scared little boy' who couldn't even kill her with nuclear bombs. Michael tells her that he expected her to survive like a cockroach and he wanted her to so that he could kill her with her knowing that she failed. Cordelia tells him that there is so much more than just winning or losing. You only lose when you have no  hope. She tells him that he'll get to watch her die but he won't get any enjoyment from it. She uses her powers to take the knife from him and says this iconic line before stabbing herself:

She trusts her sisters to get the job done when she's gone. She is giving them everything she can to succeed and she knows they will. I love Cordelia! I love the very feminist slant this season had as well. 

Cordelia's face as she stabs herself is a mix between happiness that Michael was going to fail, pride that she was able to play a part in it, and pain. It's a great piece of acting from Sarah Paulson. 

Her stabbing herself displeases Michael who, I think, realizes something is going on.

Mallory sense her powers surging and immediately rejuvenates. She says the incantation and slips back through time as we cut to a shot of Cordelia looking like an angel surrounded by a pool of blood.

We are back to when Michael killed the priest that Constance brought him. She looses it on him and Michael apologizes and asks for help. He reminds her that he is a child. Constance screams that he is not her grandson and not a child. She gets fed up and kicks Michael out. She no longer wants him in her house. Michael begs and promises to change. She tells him that she doesn't want him and tells him not to come back. Michael finally snaps and starts to strangle her and she begs him to put her out of her misery. He stops before killing her and she calls him a coward. Michael storms out and right into the street where he is promptly hit by a car. We see that Mallory is driving it and she runs over him a few times for good measure. 

Constance comes out and as Michael lays dying her tells her that he is scared. He uses his last breaths to ask her to take him to the house so he can die on the property so he can be with her forever. Everyone who saw Murder House knows why he is asking this. If you die on the property you become a ghost. He literally just wants to be loved. Michael is actually really sympathetic even though he did destroy the entire world. Constance, however, isn't having any of it. She is not going to take him back to the property. Her response is to tell Michael:

Ouch. Michael basically takes his last breaths knowing that his own grandmother didn't want him around anymore. 

We flash to when Mallory first arrives at the school. She remembers everything but nobody else remembers that the world ended and was rest by the witches. Cordelia is in great health and alive. She asks Mallory if they met (indicating she has some repressed memories) to which Mallory jokes that she has that kind of face. We see that Zoe is alive and teaching again. The only witch who is not back among them is Myrtle. There was no threat from Michael so Cordelia never broke her promise to not bring her back. 

Queenie comes in and excitedly tells them that she is going to California to attend the Price Is Right and she is super excited about this cute hotel she found and starts to describe the Hotel Cortez. Mallory immediately jumps in and tells her not to stay at that hotel because it is too far from the beach. Queenie thanks her for the advice and decides to look for another place to stay closer to the beach.

Mallory's voice over reveals that she knows Madison is in hell and that they'll eventually have to go get her but for now she can sweat it out. She also reveals that since she killed the spawn of Satan she has some pull in the Underworld. This means she was able to bring Misty back! Misty and Cordelia have a great reunion and Misty is introduced to Mallory.  Mallory leaves them alone to catch up (and hug a whole lot). 

We next flash to 2020 (five years after Mallory arrives at the school) and we see Timothy and Emily meet cute. She's protesting a coffee place that he is exiting from and she bumps into him spilling his coffee. They share some cute banter and they go off together so that Emily can buy him a new coffee from a place that she deems more appropriate. 

We flash to Emily having their first child (so I guess the date went well) and then them discussing how horrible their three year old son, Devan, has been in the car after a date night. Their kid seems to have a bit of a temper. They leave the car and the signs of the Antichrist are everywhere. Oh, no! They go into the house and find their adorable tyke with a dead babysitter on the floor (just like Michael at the end of season one). They even have it set up exactly the same with him in the rocking chair. This tyke has dark hair though instead of Michael's blonde. Mallory said that the devil wasn't going to just give up and she's totally right.

There is a knock at the door and Anton LaVey and his followers are there. They reveal that they are there to help. Looks like the witches work is never done (and that sometimes you can't fight fate).

Seems that Emily and Timothy were Satan's back up plan. Does that mean he knew Michael wasn't going to make it? Perhaps. There could be an entire other season answering the questions I have. Was it the devil in the Rubber Man suit? Did he have a direct hand in creating Devan? Does the fact that Timothy and Emily have 'special DNA' have anything to do with them having the next Antichrist? So many questions.

We've survived the apocalypse (if only to be left on the possible brink of a new one) and now all we can do is eagerly await the next season of this insane and wild show.

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