Blog Tour and Giveaway – There Once Were Stars


I’m excited to bring you my stop on the Xpresso Book Tours blog tour for There Once Were Stars. I’ve got my review to share and there’s a tour-wide giveaway for 5 e-copies of the book!

there once were stars


Title: There Once Were Stars
Author: Melanie McFarlane
Published by: Month9Books
Publication date: April 26th 2016
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult

Find it: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iBooks

My rating: 3.5/5

Peace. Love. Order. Dome. That’s the motto that the Order has given the residents of Dome 1618 to live by. Natalia Greyes is a resident of Dome 1618, a covered city protected from the deadly radiation that has poisoned the world outside for four generations. Nat never questioned the Order, until one day she sees a stranger on the outside of the dome. Now Nat wants answers. Is there life outside the dome and if so, what has the Order been hiding from everyone?

My Thoughts:

This YA dystopian was a quick read for me. I loved the concept of the story (people built domes to survive, now we start to wonder what’s outside the dome) and I was engaged with the story the whole time. The main character Natalia turns 18 and suddenly as an adult is done her schooling and must start contributing to the Dome. She quickly ends up thrust into a scientist position because of her parents legacy, not because she has any real aptitude for it. And she uses that opportunity to learn more about what happened to her parents, and what is really happening in the Dome. I’d have loved to see a bit more world building as the concept of the dome was fascinating to me and I feel like there’s more we could have learned. I didn’t connect really well with the main character. She did have some of the rebel traits that I like to see in a female lead, she also came across as being a bit whiny for me. I appreciate where her angst was coming from, she had a lot going on! But I didn’t get a strong enough sense of connection between the events happening and her attitude. The book acts as a stand-alone.  I’m not sure if there is a sequel in the works, but all of the major plot points were addressed and the ending does wrap everything up.  After reading a few books recently that left me with cliffhangers, this was a lovely change of pace! Overall I enjoyed There Once Were Stars.  It’s a good read, with an engaging plot.


Author Bio:

Melanie McFarlane is a passionate writer of other-wordly adventures, a little excitable, and a little quirky. Whether it’s uncovering the corruption of the future, or traveling to other worlds to save the universe, she jumps in with both hands on her keyboard. Though she can be found obsessing over zombies and orcs from time to time, Melanie focuses her powers on writing young adult stories to keep the rest of the world up reading all night.

She lives with her husband and two daughters in the Land of Living Skies.


• Five (5) ebooks of There Once Were Stars are up for grabs! Enter today for your chance.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stop by the rest of the tour to see other people’s reviews, excerpts from the book and guest posts. The full tour schedule is here.


Summer TBR Wipeout -Wrap Up

Thanks to The Candid Cover for hosting the Summer TBR Wipeout! I had lots of fun checking out other people’s reading lists and progress.  And it almost helped to keep my on track for my own reading.  But, I fell off the rails a bit and didn’t get through everything.

Here’s the list I was planning to read:

  1. Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman – Did not read
  2. Everland by Wendy Spinale – Did not read
  3. How 4 feet of Plywood saved the Grand Canyon – Read
  4. Starflight by Melissa Landers – Read
  5. The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig – Read
  6. There Once Were Stars by Melanie McFarlane – Read
  7. Throne of Glass by S.J. Mass – Did not read
  8. Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell – Did not read

I got through half of the books on my list.  And then I went a little off list and read a few other things:

  1. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (adapted version)
  2. Sweet Texas Kiss by Monica Tillery
  3. Sweet Texas Fire by Nicole Flockton
  4. Sweet Texas Charm by Robyn Neeley

And, I’m currently about halfway through reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Vacation actually got in the way of reading…there were lots of other fun things to do! And it definitely got in the way of reviews. So I’ve got some work to do in the next couple of weeks to get everything caught up. I’ve also learned that I’m not good at sticking to a plan. I like to read things that are the right style/genre/mood for the mood that I’m in.

I just reorganized my bookshelves and there are still lots of books left to be read, I may need another one of these challenges soon.  If you’re curious what others read, head over to the Candid Cover link up and check out the participating blogs!



Summer TBR Wipeout Update #2

It’s time for Update #2 on my Summer TBR Wipeout 2016.

I think I’ve firmly established that I’m terrible at sticking to my TBR. Once again I’ve gone a little off the list.

What ive read since the last update:

1. The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig – review to come on the blog but I really enjoyed this. It was a different take on time travel.

2. Starflight by Melissa Landers – I just finished this one and loved it! I read some negative reviews but it was exactly the read I was looking for so I thought it was great.

3.- 5. Sweet Texas Kiss by Monica Tillery / Sweet Texas Fire by Nicole Flockton / Sweet Texas Charm by Robyn Neeley – this was a trilogy about 3 men whose father passed away and leaves what they believed would be their inheritance to three random woman. Romance ensues. These were cute romance reads, great for relaxing at the cottage.

Whats up next? I’ve got a paperback of American Gods by Neil Gaiman and an ecopy of There Once Were Stars by Melanie McFarlane.

Check out some of the other participants in the TBR Wipeout by following the links on this page:

Comment Inspiration

Are you commenting on blogs and need some inspiration?

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I’m thinking of setting up a BINGO card with a bunch of these and seeing how long it takes me to get BINGO…anyone want to play along?😉

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Top Ten Tuesday – Books Set Outside the US

The lovely folks at Broke and Bookish host a weekly meme called Top Ten Tuesday. This week’s topic is: Ten Books Set Outside the US

One of the best parts of reading is getting to explore foreign lands and cultures. Here’s my list of Ten Books Set Outside the US.  I tried to limit the fantasy books that are set in fictional worlds.  I think these all count as backlist books for their authors, so here’s a chance for you to check out some older books. With the bonus that those which are part of a series already have the whole series available!

1.  Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (see my review here) – set in Scotland this is one of my all time favourite reads. It’s in a second season of a television show and is one of those books I push on everyone. Read it!

2. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery – set in the lovely Prince Edward Island, Canada. Another of my all time favourite reads this is one of those books that I own multiple copies of. Anne Shirley is a classic character that everyone needs to read at least once!

3. Shadows by Paula Weston – set (mostly) in the fictional Pandanus Beach in Australia. This is the first book in the four book Rephaim series. I loved these books. They are action packed contemporary fantasy books with half-angels, demons and whole bunch of intrigue.

4. Every Breath by Ellie Marney – set in Australia. This modern teenage take on Watson and Holmes is fantastic. The characters are great and the mystery keeps you guessing. I did find it challenging at times to understand the Aussie slang…but that’s what I love about books set elsewhere.

5. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – set in the Galaxy. While this book starts on Earth, most of it is set elsewhere in the Galaxy. On planets you probably didn’t know existed. This classic sci-fi book is full of Adams wit and humour. If you haven’t read it yet, you’ll want to add it to your TBR.

6. Air Awakens by Elise Kova – set in a fictional world. This is a great high fantasy book. As with many fantasy books it’s set in its own world. With a library apprentice turned sorcerer, political machinations, and elemental magic this is a great read.

7.  Jewels of the Sun by Nora Roberts – set in Ardmore, Ireland.  While this might not be great literature, it’s a typical Nora Roberts romance.  It’s got a romanticized view of Ireland but makes for an excellent read when you’re looking for some escapism.

8. Darkfever – by Karen Marie Moning – set (mainly) in Dublin, Ireland. The first in the Fever series this dark urban fantasy has fantastic world building and main characters that you’re not sure you even like. It’s dark, filled with fae, and seriously, I’m left wondering if I even like Mac and Jerricho. Yet, I love this series. Sometimes you need a break from the light and fluffy.

9. An Unwilling Bride by Jo Beverly – set in England.  There’s nothing like a historical romance to take you to another country. This is part of the Company of Rogues series. Each book stands alone, but there are character and minor plot links between them.  I enjoyed this. There’s decent characterization and while there’s a bit of a predictable plot twist towards the end it provides some lovely escapism reading.

10. The Wedding by Julie Garwood – set in Scotland/England. Once again, a historical romance to take us out of North America.  If you haven’t read any of Julie Garwood’s backlist this is one I love. Set in the 1200’s it has the typical issue of outgoing female leads and stereotypical emotionally stunted men. But there’s some good humour in it and I definitely was entertained as I read.

So, my bookshelves clearly lean towards Canada, Scotland, England and Australia. I’m looking forward to checking out what some other folks are recommending as it’s always fun to read books with a less common setting.

What’s your favourite book that is set outside the US?

Summer TBR Wipeout 2016 – Update #1

It’s my first update on the Summer TBR Wipeout, hosted by The Candid Cover. You can find my original post with my full TBR here.

Well….I’d hoped to be a bit farther along in working through my TBR. I’m going to blame it on a couple of very busy weeks at work. I’ve got some vacation time coming up soon so that should get me back on track.

Here’s what I’ve read so far:

how four feet of plywood

How 4 Feet of Plywood saved the Grand Canyon – this was an okay read.  I enjoyed it, I’d recommend it to others, but it didn’t stack up against some of the other books I’ve read in this genre due to some issues with style. You can read my full review here.

cowboys kissCowboy’s Kiss – This wasn’t on my planned TBR, but I’d received it for free and was looking for a light read on a day I wasn’t feeling great. I didn’t love this one.  It had some issues with insta-love that was jarringly out of context.  My full review is still to come.

What I’m currently reading:

the girl from everywhereThe Girl From Everywhere – I’m about half-way through and so far I’m really enjoying it. I love that much of it seems to be set in Hawaii. It’s not your typical setting and I love when books allow me to explore someplace new.

Check out some of the other participants in the TBR Wipeout by following the links on this page:

I’ll be back on July 31 with another update!

How’s your TBR Wipeout going? Are you making progress? Did you get distracted from it like I did?


Bookish Merch

If you’ve spent any time on Instagram you’ll know that it’s full of awesome bookish stuff. Mugs, pillows, posters, mugs, artwork, t-shirts, mugs (I kinda love mugs!). There are lots of places to buy stuff like this.  There are bookish subscription boxes that include these types of items, stores that carry them, lots of independent artists selling stuff, etsy, redbubble, and more. One of my fav places to look for bookish stuff is Society6. I’ve purchased mugs from them before and was pleased with the quality and speediness of my order.

Society6 Low Down (for those who have never heard of it)

This is a web-based retailer that allows artists to upload their designs and make it available on a variety of products.  They offer so many different products – mugs, art prints, t-shirts, phone cases, shower curtains, clocks, tote bags, pouches, duvet covers, beach towels and more. You can see the full list here: They frequently have sales and free shipping promos so I’d strongly recommend that you wait for one of these to place an order.

There are soooo many great artists that are selling bookish stuff on Society6 that I wanted to share some of my favourites with you. I could gush about each of these. Some have simple clean designs and others elaborate highly graphic ones and I love them all!

Here are some of my favs and a small (seriously…follow the link there is sooo much more) sampling of their work.

**All photo’s from the artists store**

Bookworm Boutique

Follow Bookwork Boutique on twitter  or Instagram

Evie Seo –

Follow Evie Seo on twitter or Instagram


Paper Fury –

Follow Paper Fury on twitter or Instagram


Helena Reads –

Follow Helena Reads on twitter or Instagram


E.A. Creative –

Follow E.A Creative on twitter or Instagram


Aentee Read at Midnight –

Follow Read at Midnight on twitter or Instagram


Demmi Writist Designs –

Follow Demmi Writist on twitter or Instagram


I have all sorts of designs bookmarked…my biggest challenge is choosing which to order!  I have a serious mug obsession collection, and I keep wanting to add to it.  If you search you can likely find something for whatever your fandom is.  I’m in awe of the talent that these artists have. And I want all the things!

If you place your first order by following through this link you’ll get $10 off your first order (full disclosure, it’s a referral link and I get a $10 credit too). And if you don’t want to do that, I’m good with that too. Mostly I just wanted to share some of the great bookish designers that are available since it can be hard to search for them sometimes.

Do you have any others that I missed and should add to the list?

Flashback Friday – Anne of Green Gables


My well loved copy, from PEI


Title: Anne of Green Gables
Author: Lucy M. Montgomery
Release Date: 1908
Find it: Amazon | Indigo | Goodreads
My rating: 5/5

Everyone’s favorite redhead, the spunky Anne Shirley, begins her adventures at Green Gables, a farm outside Avonlea, Prince Edward Island. When the freckled girl realizes that the elderly Cuthberts wanted to adopt a boy instead, she begins to try to win them and, consequently, the reader, over.

My thoughts:

This is one of my all-time favourite reads. It’s the one book that I own multiple copies of, and even have in French. I love the descriptive passages and the adventures Anne has. I first attempted reading it when  I was about 8 and I just couldn’t get into it. It’s not a fast-paced book and it’s not an easy read. I tried again as a pre-teen and fell in love with it. Anne gets herself into trouble a lot, and she has a very over active imagination (which is the cause of much of her trouble), but at her heart she is caring and kind. She sees the positive in almost everything. It’s important to remember that she’s only a young girl at the start of the book. She’s not 17 or 18 and on the verge of adulthood. She’s 11 and she’s had a tough life so far. You get to see her character grow and mature throughout the book as she ages.  The secondary characters in this are great as well. You’ll love to hate Mrs. Rachel Lynde and you’ll just love quiet, steady Mathew. This has the original (well probably not, but it was the first I read), hate-to-love, slow burn relationship between Anne and Gilbert

I know there are complaints about this book being boring and not having enough action. Or that it’s got too many words. I think it’s important to remember that this was first published in 1908. Way before Young Adult was a genre and in a time when books were typically written more in this style. Books such as this contributed greatly to the vocabulary I have today. And sinking into the lovely, descriptive text is like being wrapped in a warm blanket. You’ll likely have to work a bit harder to read it, and there aren’t any battle scenes as it’s all based in the quiet village of Avonlea, in Prince Edward Island. But if you can immerse yourself in the world you’ll find it’s a place you want to stay.

Review – How 4 Feet of Plywood Saved the Grand Canyon

how four feet of plywood

Title: How 4 Feet of Plywood Saved the Grand Canyon, 8 Little Known Inspiring True Stories from American History
Author: Jerry Borrowman
Find it: Amazon | Nook| Goodreads
My rating: 3/5

Summary:History turns on small points. From the world’s most catastrophic game of chicken to the nail-biting success story at the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River, discover fascinating events you’ve probably never heard of. In this compilation of eight true stories from the forgotten pages of history, learn about disasters caused by human error as well as calamities avoided by quick and clever thinking–the lawsuit that launched Abraham Lincoln’s political career, the collapse of the Teton Dam, the invention that revolutionized the world of sound, and more. This book is truly love at first sight for lovers of history.

Continue reading