Saturday, 16 May 2015
Saturday, May 16, 2015 Yolanda Sfetsos No comments
Well, it's that scary time of the month when HORROR BLOCK arrives and I'm filled with excitement because I can't wait to see what's inside.
Like I mentioned last month we no longer look online to watch any unboxing videos for this one because we like to be surprised. I did know that there was going to be something Ghostbusters, Bates Motel, and Evil Dead, but had no idea what.
Here's what the first glimpse revealed:
Ooooooh. SO many goodies packed inside. No, seriously, the box was bulging at the top because there was so much inside. :)
And here are all the awesome goodies:
Do you see all the amazing stuff that was packed inside this month? OMGosh, I honestly didn't think they could outdo last month's Block, but this is another FANTASTIC box. I LOVED everything inside. SO darn cool.
I have to admit that I think HORROR BLOCK is the best subscription box we get. I mean, not only have I been a horror freak since my teens, but this genre lends itself to SO MANY awesome items. I just love this box.
Wonder what they'll come up with next time...
Horror-ble day to ya! ;)
Friday, 15 May 2015
Friday, May 15, 2015 Yolanda Sfetsos No comments
Welcome to Midnight, Texas.
It's a quiet little town, perched at the junction between Davy Road and Witch Light Road, and it's easy to miss. With its boarded-up windows, single traffic light and sleepy air, there's nothing special about Midnight . . . which is exactly how the residents like it.
So when the news comes that a new owner plans to renovate the run-down, abandoned old hotel in town, it's not met with pleasure. Who would want to come to Midnight, with its handful of shops, the Home Cookin diner, and quiet residents - and why?
But there are bigger problems in the air. When Manfred Bernado, the newest resident in town, is swept up in a deadly investigation suddenly the hotel and its residents are the least of the towns concern. The police, lawyers and journalists are all headed to Midnight, and it's the worst possible moment . . .
As you probably already know, I'm a big Charlaine Harris fan, so I was very excited when I received the second book in the Midnight Texas series last week.
Midnight is a small place located in Texas. The residents of this town like the fact that it's out of the way because they all have their personal reasons for keeping a low profile. Now, the formerly rundown hotel has been renovated and a small group of people have moved in.
As concerned as they are about this fact, that's the least of their problems.
Manfred Bernardo hasn't been in Midnight for long but he really likes it. He's gotten to know everyone and has assimilated into the tight-knit group well. Besides, it's the perfect location for him to conduct his psychic business. When he decides to spend a weekend in a flashy hotel in Dallas so that he can administer some private readings, all is going well.
Until one of his clients dies suddenly during the reading.
He's now answering questions for the detectives and a bunch of reporters follow him to Midnight after Rachel Goldthorpe's crazy son accuses him of stealing his mother's jewellery. This sets Manfred into a tailspin because he has to spend a lot of money on a lawyer, while he's under suspicion.
The worst thing is the attention this problem is bringing to Midnight.
Manfred isn't the only one who wants to be left alone. The mysterious Rev has a special guest staying with him--a kid who seems to grow on a daily basis--and it's important to keep him off the radar. Diederik was dropped off by his father for a reason, so the Rev enlists Olivia to solve the mystery of what's really going on with the Goldthorpe family. Agreeing to help reveals some of Olivia's secrets, and it looks like someone from her past has just caught up with her.
As the community sticks together to overcome all of these obstacles, we slowly catch a glimpse into each of the residents' secrets. Joe and Chuy appear be a happy, friendly couple who run an antiques store/nail salon, but they are a whole lot more. Fiji is a witch and is always ready to help whoever she can. Whether it's with a spell, some of her delicious cookies, or by helping the young boy who is growing at an alarming rate. Not to mention that her cat is a bit of a smart mouth.
This time there are two mysteries to solve. One revolves around Manfred's legal issues and his need to clear his name so that it doesn't affect his reputation. The other is the intriguing fast-growing kid that they're all curious about, yet are determined to help. Just like the first book, the characters are all interesting and keep you glued to each page. The intimate multiple POVs slowly reveal some of the secrets that these characters are keeping, but not all of them.
You know what I love about this series? I'm getting a kick out of connecting the appearance of characters from some of her other series. Manfred is from the Harper Connelly series. Bobo is from the Lily Bard Mystery series. Arthur Smith is from the Aurora Teagarden Mystery series. There are several creatures that are also in the Sookie Stackhouse series, and even several cameos by actual characters from Sookie's world. I loved one particular character, because he was one of my favourites.
Day Shift is another awesome Charlaine Harris book that hooked me in from the beginning. I loved it! I'm enjoying the development of these wonderful characters and finding out how they fit into the much larger world. Also, I think there's something weird going on in that renovated hotel, and I'm looking forward to finding out more.
Can't wait to join the residents of Midnight on more adventures.
Day Shift, May 2015, ISBN 9780575092891, Gollancz
Friday, May 15, 2015 Yolanda Sfetsos 1 comment
At Casa Sfetsos, we're all about the subscription boxes. And hubby couldn't resist this one:
Yep. It's the Marvel Collector Corps.
The quality of the box is actually awesome, and this is the first thing you see when you open it:
That's cool, right?
Then when you grab your patch and pin, this is what's underneath:
Even the inside of the box is pretty!
Here are all the goodies on show:
As you can see, we were lucky enough to get the Thor tee--which is cool because he's my fave. And since hubby's super awesome, he insisted I take it. :)
Oh, and Ultron never looked cuter than this:
Overall, I think the quality of the packaging and products was great. The Hulkbuster Pop! is worth the subscription price alone, and all the other stuff is a very cool kudos to the latest Avengers movie.
My only problem with this box is the admin. When they first announced this box they totally ignored International fans for ages. And now, we're in Limbo-Subscription Land.
The next box is based on Ant-Man, so if we get it I'll definitely post the contents here. :)
Thursday, 14 May 2015
Thursday, May 14, 2015 Yolanda Sfetsos No comments
I'm a bit slow at posting the April LOOT CRATE. We actually received it at the end of last month, but I haven't had time to post anything about it here.
So, let's get started...
This is what we found when we opened the box:
And these are all the items:
The theme for April was FANTASY, and I think they did a pretty good job.
These playing cards were my favourite item:
Plus I also liked what happens when you turn the box inside out:
But the best thing about the contents of this box was how dapper Loki looks wearing the bowtie...
Wednesday, 13 May 2015
Wednesday, May 13, 2015 Yolanda Sfetsos No comments
Yikes. It's been a while.
Can you believe we're almost halfway through May? I certainly can't. O.o Where is the year going? Why is it moving so fast? It needs to slow down a bit because there just aren't enough hours in the day to do all the stuff I want to do.
So, as you've probably noticed it's been a while since I last popped in for an update. The backend of April was filled with real-life stuff and guest blog writing. When you spend almost a week brainstorming + writing other posts, the last thing you feel like doing is jumping onto your own blog to post something.
Then after that I decided to have some time away from the computer, and instead read up a storm. Yeah, at least I've been posting my reviews. LOL.
As soon as May hit I got stuck into the third (and final draft) of Willow's spin-off story. If you've read my SIERRA FOX series, you know that Willow is her younger sister. She happens to be a necromancer, and this is her story. Which takes place about five years after A STITCH ON TIME. It was a lot of fun to write and I just finished up yesterday. It took me a little longer than planned, but it was my fault because at the last minute I decided to make several key changes to add more drama and atmosphere to the novel.
Now, I'm very happy with how it's turned out and have already loaded it onto my Paperwhite. That's the last step--which I call revision-check--before calling it done. Reading your own story on an eReader makes a huge difference. Things that might not have stood out on the laptop suddenly glare at you. So I'm looking forward to tackling this final read. But not until Monday.
The rest of this week is going to be spent reading, plotting and watching BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.
B&tB is a show that I've been interested in watching since it started, but hubby and daughter just didn't seem too keen on it. So, instead of watching an endless cycle of CHARMED episodes on TV while I'm having lunch, last Monday I decided to watch one B&tB episode a day. Don't get me wrong, I loved CHARMED and have watched it from start to finish about three times already. I was just ready for something new. And, this is it. I'm really enjoying the cop drama side of things as Catherine and her partner solve some pretty nifty crimes. I also LOVE the chemistry between Catherine and Vincent. Vincent isn't so beastly. Well, except when he loses control, LOL.
I just want them to get together already. :)
I'm currently up to S1 E10, and things are heating up. So, looking forward to sneaking in some more eps. Like I said, I'm aiming for one a day, but because I'm taking a breather after the hard revision work during the last week and a bit, I might squeeze in a few more than that until Friday. Actually, yesterday I watched three! I know, what a rebel. :P
So, I've been pretty busy with the writing side of things and trying to keep the reading going because there are just TOO MANY books that I want to read from my bookshelf. And on my Paperwhite... As well as the ones I borrow from the library... Yeah, you get the picture.
My self-imposed WILLOW deadline is still on track. I'd like to have the book and synopsis completed by the end of this month. And if I stick to my revision-check next week, then I can work on the synopsis the following Monday and hopefully have everything wrapped up by then.
Anyway. Have a great day!
Sunday, 10 May 2015
Sunday, May 10, 2015 Yolanda Sfetsos No comments
The haunting cover of this book caught my eye when I first saw it posted on Twitter. I also found the blurb intriguing, so I grabbed myself a Kindle copy.
Bryony is a girl destined to die. It's what everyone thinks from the moment she is born. Even her mother can't bear to stick around because she doesn't want to see her die. In spite of this, she survives one year and then another, and even makes it into adulthood. But she spends her life running from one place to another because when she stands still people die around her.
When she dares to tempt fate by settling in one place--finding good friends, and even allowing herself to fall in love--she catches the eye of a killer.
I really enjoyed this enchanting, yet eerie story. I liked Bryony, and the fact she wasn't as weak as everyone thought she was. She's nice, kind, loving--a delicate presence that touches the heart of everyone she meets until all they want to do is protect her
The lyrical writing style of this story sucks you in, until you also want to protect Bryony.
This odd, heartbreaking, and often disturbing book about life and death turned out to be a chilling, yet wonderful tale.
Friday, 8 May 2015
Friday, May 08, 2015 Yolanda Sfetsos No comments
This week I've been busy working on revision, so every night I rewarded myself with this book. I took my time with it, and enjoyed every single minute of it!
I absolutely loved Cinder, and my daughter keeps telling me how awesome this series is, so I was eager to get stuck into this one.
Scarlet Benoit wears a red hoodie and she stumbles on a guy called Wolf. Love that! This story is a futuristic twist of one of my favourite fairy tales.
Anyway, when Scarlet's grandmother is taken and the authorities don't take her disappearance seriously, she's determined to do whatever she can to find her. And the mysterious street fighter Wolf just so happens to be willing to help her. So, they trek across the French countryside and head for Paris. But danger is at every turn, and they soon find themselves the target of a feral pack of 'animals'.
Meanwhile, Cinder has escaped prison and is now stuck with the hilarious Captain Carswell Thorne. He cracked me up, and the two actually make a great team. This guy's a total scoundrel, but turns out to be quite useful in the end. I mean, how else would Cinder have escaped New Beijing? And thanks to his ship, Iko now has a new body. Love her, she's so cute.
These guys are having a hard time, but so is Emperor Kai. He's having a really bad week. One that ends with him making an awful sacrifice that actually made my skin crawl. Ugh.
I loved the second book in this series as much as the first one. I also think it's awesome how with each instalment the POVs grow and we get to see this massive story from all possible angles. These characters are all amazing and wonderful in their own way, and that makes me happy.
Can't wait to read the next one. I've got it on my Kindle already, but I need a break between books because this one was heart-wrenching and I need to recover. :)
Sunday, 3 May 2015
Sunday, May 03, 2015 Yolanda Sfetsos No comments
Sometimes, something happens in your life that changes everything. When Sasha was six, her dad died suddenly and the world changed forever. Now she's twelve, it feels like things are changing all the time: her twin brother hardly talks to her any more, her mum's dating a teacher from school, her best friend Lily keeps going on about boys ... and Sasha doesn't feel ready for any of it. Why can't things just stay the same?
The one place she can escape to is Blossom House, her secret place – an old, echoey, overgrown, beautiful, empty mansion, where the only thing that changes is the weather and the flowers in the garden. There's just one problem: it isn't hers. And even a house can have secrets ...
I received this ARC from Bloomsbury Australia about a week ago and was intrigued by the blurb. I also love the bright cover, it's so pretty. Anyway, I picked it up on Friday and was pleasantly hooked right away!
Sasha is twelve and her life is changing in so many ways that she's finding it hard to keep up. Her mother is now engaged to one of her teachers--who also happens to be a younger man. Her best friend Lily is more concerned with clothes, boys and hanging out with popular girls--but Sasha still shared a big secret with her. Her other friend, Priti, sometimes feels left out--and isn't friends with Lily at all. Even her twin brother Sean is doing stuff without telling her--like taking his friend Zack to Blossom House so they can hide a snake.
The dilapidated old Victorian house has been vacant for years, and until now has been a refuge for the twins. A place to go and hang out when things got hard to deal with at home. They've seen their mother at some pretty low points. They lost their father when they were very young, and afterwards their Mum crumbled for a long while. Then kept getting caught up in complicated relationships that took her back to that dark place.
Blossom House is a special hideaway for Sasha and Sean, and she wasn't ready to share it with anyone else. Though it looks like there are finally people interested in buying it.
As the days go by, Sasha finds herself developing a huge crush on her friend's older brother. She also breaks her own rules by agreeing to throw a party at Blossom House. Something that throws everything off balance. Not only does it get her in trouble, but might also affect her mother's job and causes a domino effect that could end her relationship. Not even their grandmother can help pick up the pieces this time because she's got her own reasons to be upset.
I read this book very quickly because it's such a captivating story. I could totally relate to Sasha. Even when she said and did stupid things it was never because she's an awful kid. She's just trying to do the best she can with what she's got. She wants to be a good friend, a good sister, a good student, and a good daughter. She's trying to balance her emotionally unstable mother while looking out for her brother, as well as trying to manage two sets of friends that are sometimes too hard to satisfy.
Cherry Blossom Dreams is a wonderful and very emotional story about a kid who is on the cusp of becoming a teenager. She's growing up fast, but seems both willing and unwilling to face that fact. It's also a very melancholy ride that played havoc with my emotions because when things got bad, they became really awful. But like Sasha, I never gave up and was very satisfied with the conclusion to this lovely story.
I loved this book for many reasons--it features a great narrator, it's a great story, and I enjoyed finding out the mystery of Blossom House. But mostly I loved how this story reminded me that no matter what age you are, circumstances can often make your life both awesome and terrible at the same time. It's all part of growing up, and this is a great coming of age story.
Cherry Blossom Dreams, June 2015, ISBN 9781408852637, Bloomsbury Childrens
Friday, 1 May 2015
This is another series that I really enjoy and have fallen behind on. So, I picked up the second last book and got sucked in right away!
Edie and her boyfriend Asher are on vacation. After months of staying out of shapeshifter, werewolf, vampire--all supernatural trouble--the couple decides to go on a cruise. The Maraschino is a huge ship headed for Hawaii, and this couple is determined to have a good time. But as soon as they set sail, things start taking a bad turn. Someone from Asher's past is on the ship, a bad man with vicious ambitions. And before they know it people start to get sick from a mysterious illness.
Only problem is that they've just found out something really special has happened to them and they're both determined to make the best of it. It's just too bad that fate has other plans, and their nice vacation quickly turns into a nightmarish situation on a ship that might just become their coffin.
Yikes! This is such a great book. I love Edie's no-nonsense attitude to life, so it's always great to follow her on her latest adventure and this one didn't disappoint. So many shocking things happen, and the ending was... wow. Did not see that coming at all.
I can't wait to see how it all ends.
Man, going on a cruise has never appealed to me, but after reading this book my decision been solidified. ;)
Ivy Pocket is a twelve-year-old maid of no importance, with a very lofty opinion of herself. Dumped in Paris by the Countess Carbunkle, who would rather run away to South America than continue in Ivy's companionship, our young heroine (of sorts) finds herself with no money and no home to go to ... until she is summoned to the bedside of the dying Duchess of Trinity.
For the princely sum of £500 (enough to buy a carriage, and possibly a monkey), Ivy agrees to courier the Duchess's most precious possession – the Clock Diamond – to England, and to put it around the neck of the revolting Matilda Butterfield on her twelfth birthday. It's not long before Ivy finds herself at the heart of a conspiracy involving mischief, mayhem and murder.
Illustrated in humorous gothic detail by John Kelly, Anyone But Ivy Pocket is just the beginning of one girl's deadly comic journey to discover who she really is ...
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC edition of this gem from Bloomsbury Australia and it totally hooked me in!
Ivy Pocket is twelve, and she's a lady's maid. According to her she's very capable, has many talents, can conjure up a remedy for just about anything, and has been bestowed with a series of spectacular gifts. But others have a different opinion. So much so that Countess Carbunkle dumps her in Paris with only a note and not much else. So Ivy finds herself alone, without any money, and in need of a place to stay.
That's when she decides to get a job in the hotel. She's denied employment, but a bellboy seeks her out.
It turns out that the Duchess of Trinity is dying and wants to speak to Ivy. She has a very special job for her. One that entails the safe delivery of a precious necklace called the Clock Diamond. The Duchess gives her very precise instructions about getting the necklace to England, as well as when to give it to the recipient.
This is a very important gift with a very special message. If Ivy does this, she will receive £500 and will be able to start fresh and live her own life. So of course she accepts.
As soon as she sets sail from Paris to London, strange things start to happen. At least she manages to make a friend. Miss Always is a peculiar writer and spinster who seems to be just about everywhere Ivy turns--something she finds endearing.
However, when Ivy breaks one of the rules and tries on the necklace, strange things start to happen. All of a sudden she can see things inside the diamond, such as events from her past. She starts having a desperate need to be around the necklace, plus feels very protective of it, and finds the perfect hiding spot as soon as she reaches Butterfield Park.
Unfortunately, she also manages to capture the attention of ghosts and cloaked dwarves. Not to mention the suspicious governess. Ivy soon realises that she's caught up in something even her awesome wits might not be able to handle...
I didn't know anything about this book when I picked it up, and when I started reading and met Ivy, I have to admit that I was a little sceptical. I mean, she was so delusional and quite frankly sounded like the infuriating person everyone in the book seems to think she was. She insults just about anyone and can't keep her opinions to herself. But something soon started to happen. I found myself getting lost in the story, and was totally captivated by the narration.
Ivy Pocket might not appear to be the most reliable character, but if you ignore her constant bragging and see beyond the words, you really get to know her.
She tries to make herself out to be larger than life and capable of just about any challenge, but she's a lot more than that. She's a young girl who was left in an orphanage at a young age and has since tried to find somewhere to belong. She's longed for real parents so much that she makes up a different marvellous story about them each time. Ivy's really a lost child who dreams of having loving parents.
Another thing that I loved about this book was the female presence. Although it's set in a time when women might have struggled to be properly heard, this story is filled with amazing woman and girls. Some stronger than others and with differing levels of annoyance and cunning, but they all add a little spice to Ivy's tale.
Anyone But Ivy Pocket turned out to be a charming and very quirky surprise. Not only is the narrator awesome, but so are the other zany characters. I got swept up in the glorious story about a seemingly average girl who turns out to be quite amazing. Ivy Pocket can be infuriating, is filled with self-importance and delusions, but she sure is smart. She's a strong and very resourceful heroine. She also takes readers on one hell of a fun, hilarious, and dangerous ride into a wondrous world filled with clocks, murderous villains, secrets and ghosts.
I loved this, and had such a great time reading it! I can't wait to read more about Ivy Pocket.
Anyone But Ivy Pocket, May 2015, ISBN 9781408858639, Bloomsbury Childrens
Feyre's survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price...
Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre's presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.
The start of a sensational romantic fantasy trilogy by the bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series.
I'm a huge fan of the Throne of Glass series, so when I found out that Sarah J. Maas had a new trilogy coming out this year, I was intrigued. It sounded really interesting, so I was looking forward to it.
Feyre made a promise to her dying mother. She promised she would look after her father and sisters, as well as help them stay together. Now, years later her father is a ruined man who lost all his wealth. He doesn't provide for the family and they live in a cramped cottage. Four people living inside a dilapidated house with hardly enough food to eat is a hard life, but Feyre has taken charge.
She hunts and kills animals so they can eat and trade the fur at the market. If she doesn't hunt, the family starves. Winter is the worst time, so when she scores by killing a huge wolf as well as the doe she was stalking, she's sure they can have meat for a long while and make a bit from the pelts. However, she didn't count on the wolf being a faerie. And certainly didn't expect a beast to storm into the cottage to spirit her away for her crime.
As the Treaty states, she now has to pay for the life she took by giving her life over to the beast. Tamlin takes her over the wall and deep into the Spring Court of Prythian. Where she's supposed to live the rest of her life. But she's not really a prisoner, or a slave. She's just to stay within the estate's boundaries and listen to what she's told. She hates it at first and dreams of escaping to return to her family. It's not until Tamlin finally tells her he arranged for her family to be taken care of that she finally surrenders to her fate.
Living in such luxury with the mysterious Tamlin and mischievous Lucien isn't as bad as she imagined. And before she realises what's happening she starts painting her days away and spends fun days with the masked men. Tamlin introduces her to their world, and it's not long before she gets comfortable and realises there's love building for one of the men, and deep friendship for the other one.
But life in Prythian is dangerous and a lot more than she suspected is going on. There's danger at every turn, and a situation dawning that will ruin Tamlin and his court. He tries to do what he can to save her--a mere human--from being in further danger, but Feyre can't let go.
Instead of listening to reason, she listens to her heart and throws herself at the mercy of a very dangerous faerie. A faerie determined to ruin everything for the one thing she wants.
This book hooked me in right away. I loved the lavish and dangerous world Feyre lives in, and got swept up in the story. There's a lot of heart in this tale, and though there are faint shadows of fairy and folk tales we've all heard, it's also a very unique tale of its own. I have to admit that although it was great and very well written, I found the middle to drag a little. But it was definitely worth staying to the end, because everything erupts in a very violent and devastating way.
A Court of Thorns and Roses is an intriguing story set in a very dark, yet wondrous world. The book is filled with interesting characters and a strong narrator who doesn't give up. I found myself racing to the end because I wanted to know what was going to happen next.
I have to admit that although I enjoyed it, I didn't love it as much as the Throne of Glass series.
A Court of Thorns and Roses, May 2015, ISBN 9781408857861, Bloomsbury Childrens
Wednesday, 29 April 2015
Wednesday, April 29, 2015 Yolanda Sfetsos No comments
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I've put off reading this book for ages because I just wasn't ready to finish this series. But, I couldn't put it off any longer... And as soon as I started, I was hooked.
Cady was beaten at the end of the third book so badly that she almost died. She also found out something unexpected... something that she is determined to 'forget' just so her psychotic mother can't get to it.
Yeah, that's cryptic but I don't want to give anything away. ;)
Anyway, Cady's past catches up with her and she can't run any longer. It's time to face her past, and with Lon by her side, she's determined to put the past behind her and face the future.
I really enjoyed this book. It's as good as the rest of the series and reaches a very satisfying end. I'm going to miss Cady, Lon, and Jupe.
View all my reviews