Book Review: Black Ice

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick
Release Date ~ October 7, 2014
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
ISBN13: 9781442474260
ARC received from S&S Canada for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
Danger is hard to resist in this sexy thriller from Becca Fitzpatrick, the New York Times bestselling author of the Hush, Hush saga.

Brit Pheiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn't prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage.

Britt is forced to guide the men off the mountain, and knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there and in uncovering this, she may become the killer's next target.

But nothing is as it seems, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally?

Black Ice is New York Times bestselling author Becca Fitzpatrick's riveting romantic thriller set against the treacherous backdrop of the mountains of Wyoming. Falling in love should never be this dangerous. 

Black Ice is a fast-paced, mysterious read that left me guessing the whole time I was reading it; as much as I thought I had predicted all the twists, I usually ended up being surprised by one reveal or another. I never read Hush, Hush so this was my first impression of one of Becca Fitzpatrick's books.

  1. Britt's natural growth and changes:

    Britt's character is going to bother some readers, I knew that from the very first chapter. She isn't your standard character who's easy to like or maybe even identify with - she's definitely spoiled and rather immature because she hasn't had to figure out much of life for herself yet. But the idea behind Black Ice is that Britt is forced to go through a situation where she can only rely on herself - and you can see her fight that at times. She doesn't have a clue what to do or how to deal. And by the end of the book, I'm not sure I'd say that she's figured that out entirely - but she's clearly changed and there is improvement. She's flawed and far from perfect, but that made the story seem more real to me.
  2. A story with a heavy crime element:

    I am one of those people who has always enjoyed crime stories (weird? maybe a little) so these elements in Black Ice really worked for me. There's a larger part of the plot devoted to a big mystery, but there are a few smaller ones as well. I liked how suspenseful the book was (particularly in a few scenes), but it also doesn't cross that line in to horror/scary territory for readers who are wary of that. 
I had a much harder time with some of the secondary characters - a couple of them are left without any redemption (which is fine) but it can feel awkward when other "bad" characters get their moment to explain at least some of their poor behaviour and actions. It's one of the main ways that a character instantly feels shallow to me. 

I'm not too sure where to include this in my review, but I had very mixed feelings about Mason. I wasn't entirely sold on his character but I also didn't hate him. He clearly had his own issues to work through, and I almost wish I could have a book about Mason in order to see his development - he's certainly not a lost cause and there were many times when I liked him. But by the end of the book, I just wasn't wholly convinced. 

The simplest way of putting it is that while I enjoyed Black Ice as a thriller, I had a harder time with it as a romantic book. Depending on how you feel about either of those genres (and the types of elements you like in those genres) will likely determine your thoughts on Black Ice. 


Sleeping Secrets

I have had trouble sleeping soundly for as long as I can remember. But lately, it's been worse. Sleeping pills are a last option for me - I always try other things before resorting to those. Along the way, I've picked up a few different tricks to help with this and I'm sharing my secrets with the hope that some of you might find them helpful!

Secret #1 ~ Tea to make you feel sleep-tea 

I'm a big fan of tea (all tea, all day!) and it's a normal part of my bedtime ritual to have a cup of caffeine-free tea before bed.

I love DavidsTea because they sell good tea, and I love supporting Canadian brands. There are two options which include valerian root: their organic Mother's Little Helper and The Big Chill (also organic). If valerian root is an ingredient you'd rather avoid, try the herbal Sweet Dreams (which is somewhat similar to Mother's Little Helper with its chamomile and lemongrass flavour) or Jessie's Tea (a rooibos with lavender and coconut).

I've been eyeing the Relaxed Collection, which includes smaller bags of Sweet Dreams, Mother's Little Helper, and Jessie's Tea - I've been meaning to try Jessie's Tea and I can always use a refill of Little Helper!

Secret #2 ~ White noise and music

I actually like a little bit of background noise while I'm falling asleep so I have two picks for this - first, a handy white noise app for my phone and second, a great music album. I've grown accustomed to the Thunderstorm setting on iHome Zen, but I'm also not very picky. My A/C works too (in the summer).

But on a more exciting note, lately I've been listening to Ellie Holcomb's latest album titled As Sure As the Sun and letting Night Song repeat about three times - works like a charm.  Her voice is so gorgeous and soothing. This song is peaceful for me, and very calming when I often feel anxious at night.

Secret #3 ~ A silk eye mask

Even though I like a little background noise while drifting off, I need darkness! Since I'm a die-hard Audrey Hepburn fan, I'm currently using this Breakfast at Tiffany's-inspired mask which I purchased from AdorabellaBaby on Etsy. I love that it's large so it covers my eyes well, it has an adjustable strap, and it's silk which is nice for my facial skin! (I have one tiny little complaint which is the plastic connector on my strap broke after a couple of months - it's an easy enough fix, but still disappointing.)

Do you have any tips or suggestions that work for you? 
I'm always on the look out for new things to try. Lately I've been thinking I'd like to try some lavender scented body lotion before bed - I've always heard that lavender can help, but I haven't been a big fan of floral scents until this year. I've been using a nice vanilla body lotion from LOVEFRESH (another Canadian brand! The vanilla scent is divine, FYI) and I'm dying for their lavender body butter. Well, I'm actually dying to try out a whole bunch of their products but the lavender is first on my list!


Book Review: Stitching Snow

Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis
Release Date ~ October 14, 2014
Disney-Hyperion ~ Hachette Book Group Canada
ISBN13: 9781423187974
ARC received from HBG Canada for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.

Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.

When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.

Science-fiction infused fairytale retellings are no longer completely out of the ordinary, thanks to the popularity of Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles books, but R.C. Lewis makes Stitching Snow all her own. Despite the popularity of both sci fi and fairytale retellings right now, Stitching Snow is a refreshing story that is thrilling from the very start with memorable characters.

  1. A truly creative take on Snow White:

    I love when an author can take a story readers are familiar with and then write a completely unique spin on that same story. The trick is to maintain enough of the familiar features while infusing them with different explanations and purposes. Stitching Snow is a perfect example of how well this can work, because while it's very clearly a "Snow White" story, at the same time... well, it isn't. It's Essie's story and her adventures as she's plucked from her familiar life and thrown into a political mess.
  2. Essie's independent personality:

    When we first meet Essie, she's living on the snow planet Thanda (let's be honest, I'm picturing Hoth in my mind when I think of Thanda) and the icy temperatures are only partially responsible for her icy heart. She's fine with her mundane and mostly isolated life. And this is precisely what makes it interesting to see her emotional walls begin to crumble in Stitching Snow. She's forced out of the life she's built for herself, and thrust into a life she's been trying to avoid. I love that throughout all of this, Essie continues to take control of her situation - she's an assertive young woman!
  3. Exciting sci fi elements:

    I'm a fan of science fiction, so it is extremely pleasing to me when I read a book that reads like true sci fi and Stitching Snow is a recent addition to my collection of fantastic YA science fiction. I loved learning about the different planets, and I thought it was very cool that Essie was a mechanic who's great at computer programming. 
Once I started reading Stitching Snow, I had a hard time putting it down. I devoured it fairly quickly, and the pacing was perfect for me - there's tension gradually building throughout the story, yet there's action from the very beginning and enough hinting at secrets to grab my interest and hold it. Stitching Snow also has excellent romance - it doesn't overpower the entire story, and it has a nice, natural build to it. 

My only (small) issue was that this is the type of story that I could easily live in if it was spread out over a few books - I would be happy if this was a series. There are some interesting secondary characters introduced, and I think they could have benefited from further development (but I understand, books can only be a certain length before it's ridiculous). Some parts of the plot are fairly predictable, but it didn't bother me since the story was still interesting and there were still a few surprises for me.


Book Cover Reveal: Anne and Henry

I'm very excited to share with you the cover reveal for Dawn Ius' upcoming 2015 release, Anne and Henry! But first the description:

A love worth losing your head over

Wild, brazen, mischievous, bewitching

Driven, haunted, charming, magnetic

Apart they are bound to destroy themselves. Together, they are bound to destroy each other.

HENRY TUDOR’S LIFE HAS BEEN mapped out since the day he was born: student president, valedictorian, Harvard Law School, and a stunning political career just like his father’s. 

But ever since the death of Henry’s brother—perfect, high-achieving Arthur—his family has been twice as demanding. And now Henry’s trapped: forbidden from pursuing a life as an artist or dating any girl who’s not Tudor-approved.

Then Anne Boleyn crashes into his life. 

Anne is wild, brash, and outspoken. She is everything Henry is not allowed to be—or to want. But soon Anne is all he can think about. His mother, his friends, and even his girlfriend warn him away, yet his desire for Anne consumes him. Henry is willing to do anything to be with her. But once he has her, their romance could destroy them both. 

Inspired by the true story of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, ANNE & HENRY reimagines the intensity, love, and betrayal between one of the most infamous couples of all time.

Interesting, yeah? You can really tell that it's a modern story, and I'm curious to see Dawn's take on Henry VIII's relationship with Anne in a contemporary, updated setting.

You can add Anne & Henry to your Goodreads shelf here!

About the Author
DAWN IUS is a short-story author, novelist, screenwriter, professional editor, and communications specialist. She is an active member of the International Thriller Writers association, co-founder and senior editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and the author of nine educational graphic novels published by the Alberta Canola Producers Commission. When she’s not slaying fictional monsters, she’s geeking out over fairy tales, Jack Bauer, Halloween, sports cars, and all things that go bump in the night. Dawn lives in Alberta, Canada, with her husband, Jeff, and their giant English Mastiff, Roarke. 

Connect with Dawn:
Twitter: @dawnmius

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