Thursday, June 30, 2016

Double Review: Wicked Heart and Dirty

Today I have mini reviews to share of two NA books I read recently that I really enjoyed! :)

Title: Wicked Heart (Starcrossed, #3)
Author: Leisa Rayven
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: May 17th, 2016!
*Physical review copy kindly provided by St. Martin's Press.

From Goodreads...
Liam Quinn is talented, gorgeous, and one of the biggest movie stars in the world.

He's also only man Elissa Holt has ever truly loved.

After being out of her life for six years, he and his gorgeous fiancé are set to star in the new Broadway show Elissa is stage managing. The only trouble is, when late night rehearsals bring Elissa and Liam together, the line between what is and what could have been gets blurred, and one moment of weakness will create a scandal that echoes around the world.

Elissa knows that falling for Liam again would be a tragedy in the making, but as any good romantic will tell you, love doesn't always follow the script.


My Review!
*Really minor spoilers! 

I'm glad to say that I REALLY enjoyed this one! I hadn't read the other two before this, but since it was a standalone and there were only a few references to them in this, I didn't mind so much. It could definitely stand on its own. What I really liked was how the author dealt with the second chance romance when one of the characters was involved. There was a) no villainization of the fiance; she was actually my fave character, so sweet and fun! and b) NO (UNNECESSARY) DRAMA! I, um, kind of liked the secondary characters more than Elissa and Liam (namely Josh and Angel). I appreciated Lissa and how she didn't let her feelings for Liam affect how she treated Angel and or do her job. It was just, that. She'd been cheated on before THREE TIMES, so you would think she'd be more sympathetic and less likely to want anyone to go through that kind of pain. And Liam. Ugh, he could've treated both the girls a lot better than he did. He's a sweet guy who definitely has a good heart, but he needed to just STOP AND THINK sometimes. The way the story unfolded was pretty convenient, tbh (especially because it kind of made me think that I was supposed to be okay with everything now that I knew the real story), but I couldn't really find it in me to care. Things turned out perfectly in the end (maybe a little too perfectly, but I digress, I enjoyed that ending so much!). I would've loved more flashbacks spread throughout the story, instead of that one big chunk near the beginning. It was there to give us the background and to make us believe they deserved a second chance, but I had started to prefer it to the present, so whoops? Haha. Overall, this was a sweet and maturely handled story, filled with fun banter and characters you could see yourself spending time with if they weren't fictional. :D

RATING:

*****

Title: Dirty (Dive Bar, #1)
Author: Kylie Scott
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: April 19th, 2016!
*Physical review copy kindly provided by St. Martin's Press.

From Goodreads...
The last thing Vaughan Hewson expects to find when he returns to his childhood home is a broken hearted bride in his shower, let alone the drama and chaos that comes with her.

Lydia Green doesn't know whether to burn down the church or sit and cry in a corner. Discovering the love of your life is having an affair on your wedding day is bad enough. Finding out it's with his best man is another thing all together. She narrowly escapes tying the knot and meets Vaughan only hours later.

Vaughan is the exact opposite of the picture perfect, respected businessman she thought she'd marry. This former musician-turned-bartender is rough around the edges and unsettled. But she already tried Mr. Right and discovered he's all wrong-maybe it's time to give Mr. Right Now a chance.

After all, what's wrong with getting dirty?


My Review!
I thought this was SUCH a fun book! I've never read a Kylie Scott book, and my introduction to her style left a good impression. It focused on the romance between Vaughan and Lydia. Their first meeting was HILARIOUS, and I knew then that I'd love this. The banter was fabulous, between those two, but also between the group of characters who I DEFINITELY want more of! I even want to read the Stage Dive series now! (Not that I didn't before, but I'm infinitely more willing to get to it soon after enjoying this book a hella lot). The romance did develop way too quickly for me to totally believe in their love. (I mean, they knew each other a week and were making plans for the future by the end, so). It was such a cute story though, but one that also had emotional depth and three-dimensional characters. I especially LOVED that Lydia was a feminist, and that she didn't take Vaughan's shit and actually called him out the few times he needed to understand where she was coming from. I really liked the both of them, though, and thought they had a good relationship filled with fun, communication, and trust. I'm really looking forward to Twist now (even though I'd been hoping it would be about Nell, tbh).

RATING:

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

(58) Top Ten Authors I Still Have Yet to Meet

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic: FREEBIE WEEK!

I have been incredibly lucky the past two BEAs. I've been able to meet SO MANY authors, favorites and new-to-me ones. But there are still some authors who have eluded me these past couple of years. So that's why I decided to use the freebie week for the top ten authors I still have yet to meet. And here they are! :D

*****

1. Mindy McGinnis. I devoured Madness back in October, and then really enjoyed her debut novel. I also read The Female of the Species in May, and oh my god guys it's her best book yet. I love her writing, and her stories, and I just really need to meet her asap.

2. Nora Roberts. Nora has been my #1 favorite author since I was in high school. Meeting her would be a one-of-a-kind experience, but I have no idea if she'll ever do tours again (or if she ever did?? idk these things). (I think I only ever hear about signings when they're at her hometown). Anyway, it's a freaking MUST.

3. Laini Taylor. I missed her at BEA this past year, and I was kinda devastated. I absolutely adore her Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, and I'm (im)patiently waiting for the release of Strange the Dreamer. She's a goddess of words, and I know I'm going to love it. And damn it, I need to meet her someday!

4. Chelsea Fine. THIS LOVELY LADY WHO HAS ALL BUT DISAPPEARED. Okay, she hasn't really. But she hasn't published any new books since 2014, and I'm d y i n g for more. I guess I could just reread the Archers of Avalon series, which is one of my all-time faves. ;) But honestly, even if she doesn't publish more books for awhile (or *GASP* ever), I still want to meet her.

5. Brighton Walsh. Brighton is one of my forever faves. I love her books and being a part of her street team. And just overall, I think she's a wonderful human being. Meeting her would be so freaking fabulous, and I hope it happens in like the next year or two!

6. Rachel Harris. Much like with Brighton, I love her books and I've been a part of her srtreet team for YEARS now. I've known her since I was just a baby blogger, and I've still kept up with her releases for all this time (which is kind of a record, I've been known to stop reading an author's books, even if I loved them). Also she is such a great person, and it'd be a blast hanging out with her IRL, even if it's for like two seconds.

7. Melina Marchetta. Since she lives in Australia, I DON'T KNOW IF THIS WILL EVER HAPPEN BUT IT'S A VERY, VERY FIRM PRIORITY. FOR ME. Melina is a goddess of words and I love her books and I need to meet her and oh how my fangirl heart aches for it!

8. Emery Lord. Who doesn't want to meet Emery Lord?! That's the question. But really, her books are fabulous and wonderful, and just based off of social media, she'd be SO fun to chill with IRL. I was so sad she wasn't at BEA both times I went, and I hope our paths will align at some point in the near future. *crosses fingers for a Michigan tour date next year*

9. Victoria Schwab. I MISSED MY CHANCE OT MEET VICTORIA. She was in my state back in January, but I couldn't go to her signing. It suuuucked. So I'm hoping the second time around will work out, whenever that will be. I'm so obsessed with her Shades of Magic series, and I need to meet her!

10. K.A. Tucker. She was another author I missed at a BEA (the 2015 one). I could have gone to her signing but I didn't, instead choosing to wait in line for Jennifer Niven (which is where I met CJ, so really, it was a good thing I skipped out). ANYWAY. I don't know when she'll be back in the states for a signing, and that worries me. But the next chance I get to meet her, I won't pass it up. Ten Tiny Breaths is still a book that means a lot to me and will always hold a special place in my heart. And I want to meet the author who wrote that.

Honorable mentions (I know, I know, I'm cheating, whatever :p): Kasie West. So really, it's a top 11. I couldn't keep her off of it, and I didn't want to, because meeting her IS one of my priorities. SO, THERE. Oh! And Michelle Smith because I adore her and Play On is one of my all-time faves. *whispers* and Mary E. Pearson. Also Elizabeth Wein. OKAY, I'M DONE NOW, I ASSURE YOU.

*****

What authors do YOU still need to meet yet? Would any of these lovelies make your list? :) 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Put This On Your Radar: The Female of the Species

It's very rare when I read an ARC months in advance (I'm talking like at least more than 2 months in advance). So when I do, I have to wait SO LONG to post my reviews. Since it's like once in a blue moon that I have this dilemma, I've never made it into a regularly occurring feature. BUT I have been reading a lot of my BEA ARCs early because I want to get a head start on them. And I want to talk about one of them today, since I can't post my *mini* review until September. Because I fucking loved it and I NEED to make sure that it's on everyone's TBRs! 

Title: The Female of the Species
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: September 20th, 2016!
*Physical ARC from BEA.

From Goodreads...
 Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.

While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.

But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.

So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.

Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

*****

1. It's Mindy McGinnis at her best. This author is now a forever fave of mine. I devoured Madness back in October, and then immediately read her debut. And once I got home from BEA, I knew I'd get to this one asap. It was so fucking good, guys! Seriously, I think it was her best book yet.

2. It's an important read. It's not an easy book to read, though. Mindy does not water down her story. The teens' voices are so realistic and relatable. It can definitely bring up some of the more annoying aspects of high school (i.e. mean girls, drama, partying/drinking), but in such a way that it feels just like any other part of this book. It also deals with tough subjects to read about (rape and violence and animal death). It's hard and raw. But it's SO important. Like, wow. I might've read it too fast to grasp a lot of it, which whoops. Haha. But I do know it's something that has fantastic points about society and people.

3. It has characters you will root for SO hard. Though I didn't care for Jack's POV all that much (honestly could've done without it), all three of them made this book that much better. I liked Jack, but I especially loved Alex and Peekay. Both of whom are so different from one another, but who develop a lovely friendship. And who take care of one another. Alex feels like the main character, though, and she's someone that you'll find yourself rooting and cheering for. She's so filled with anger and grief after her sister is murdered, and it's something that makes her so protective of people she cares about. I want to say more about her, but I can't because reasons. Let's just say, she was very socially awkard and quiet, but also volatile and not afraid to stand up for someone else or herself. Her character was complex, but relatable. I loved her.

4. It's a fast-paced, intense, and compelling story. I seriously read this in record time, given that it's a 300+ page book. It's that quick and thrilling, but it's still deep. It has a lot of depth. It asks and answers a lot of questions about humanity and what it means being a female in this world. And its focus on these three characters, and their lives and their relationships with each other, was compelling. I found that I could not, and didn't want to, stop reading.

5. And it will blow your mind by the end. Like oh my god, I still don't really know what to make of where the story went. I NEED TO DISCUSS IT WITH SOMEONE ASAP. (So hey, Shannon, get to reading this book soon? Please and thank you).

*****

Guys, make sure this book is on your radar for the fall! If you like contemporaries, thrillers, and/or books with strong characters and themes, you're going to LOVE this one!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Stunning and Gripping Sequel: The Vanishing Throne

Title: The Vanishing Throne (The Falconer, #2)
Author: Elizabeth May
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: June 21st, 2016!
Get It: Amazon
*eARC kindly provided by Chronicle Books via NetGalley*

From Goodreads...
The second book in the Falconer trilogy is packed with surprises and suspense. Aileana Cameron, the Falconer, disappeared through the portal that she was trying to close forever. Now she wakes up in the fae world, trapped and tortured by the evil Lonnrach. With the help of an unexpected ally, Aileana re-enters the human world, only to find everything irrevocably changed. Edinburgh has been destroyed, and the few human survivors are living in an uneasy truce with the fae, while both worlds are in danger of disappearing altogether. Aileana holds the key to saving both worlds, but in order to do so she must awaken her latent Falconer powers. And the price of doing that might be her life. Rich with imaginative detail, action, fae lore, and romance, The Vanishing Throne is a thrilling sequel to The Falconer.


 My Review!
*Spoilers for the first book!

I am dead. And this book killed me.

I don’t know how it was possible for this to surpass my expectations and love for the first, but I do believe it did. I thought The Falconer was so good, but this one was HOLY SHIT SO AWESOMEPAINFUL OMG. Upon finishing this, not only is my heart is shatters, but this series has become a FAVORITE of mine, and these characters are just freaking amazing. And I have no idea how I’m gonna be able to wait for the final book. It better not be a freaking 2 year wait like the one in-between the first two books! I would especially be upset after this other goddamn cruel ending! What a fucking cliffhanger, I can’t even deal right now. WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO MY BABIES.

I have so much love for Aileana. I love that she’s not only a badass heroine, but also a person who feels and thinks and chooses her own destiny. Throughout everything she goes through, she just doesn’t give up. Not once. Even when she so deserves to, when she deserves a break, a chance to chill. When she’s captured, Aileana is forced to withstand torture of a mental kind, almost worst than if it had been physical. Lonrach stole her memories, her will, her fight. He stole a piece of her that she won’t ever get back. But damn if she’s going to let him win. Damn if she’s going to let those months trapped in that room of mirrors defeat her. In The Vanishing Throne, Aileana is not only working through that pain and anger, but also the guilt that she wasn’t able to save her world. Edinburgh is gone. Her father, most likely dead. Her friends, forced to hide and lean on the cousins of the creatures that destroyed their lives. The price of her failure haunts her. She’s never backed down from her duty, but I believe she takes on too much. Her martyrdom was a *wee* bit annoying just because I KNOW she doesn’t deserve the way she beats herself up for things she can’t control. It’s not her fault. It’s not, and Aileana is TRYING to get that. She’s trying to forgive herself, as well as trying to survive in this new world. And she’s trying to understand her relationship with Kiaran. It frustrates her, but also gives her strength. Strength that she clearly doesn’t need, but one that she welcomes. And one, that I think, is super good for her.

Kiaran has always been a bastard. Partly because of his past, but also because he’s lived too long to let himself feel, and give humans patience. But in the sequel, he’s growing as well. His love for Aileana is something that he hasn’t felt in so long that it’s basically foreign. And he stumbles. He pushes and needles and sometimes he doesn’t understand human emotions even though, since he’s lived among them for thousands of years, you’d think he would by now. But he’s trying, too. He’s trying to be, like, worthy of Aileana. Like her, he also beats himself up for things he shouldn’t have to. Er, well, in some respects. He did baaaaad things when he was leading the Wild Hunt, but I also think the Cailleach had been the biggest reason for that. She pushed him and his sister into war, as was the custom of their culture, and he was born into a world that valued war and death and revenge above all else. He’s clearly not a great guy if his past is any indication, but he tries to do right by Aileana. And he’s always understood her, even when she didn’t feel like she knew herself at all. Throughout the book, their relationship is pushed to the test. In a new era such as this, the two of them together is hard for people to understand. Not only that, but Aileana is still trying to reconcile Kiaran with his Kadamach self. She’s seen into his past and his life, and she has to decide whether or not he’s worth the shot. She has to decide whether to forgive (but NEVER forget) what he’s done and move on from all of that. He may not have been a good person in the past, or not always even now, but he’s her EQUAL. He matches her in all ways, and he’s a steadfast anchor when her world falls apart.

I, um, clearly have a lot of feelings on their romance. I feel like I need to defend it sometimes, especially considering everything that happens in these books, but I also think it’s another way that Aileana grows and strengthens as a character, and I’m ALL for that. What also helps her is her relationships with her best friends, Catherine and Gavin (who incidentally pissed me off big time with what he let happen to Aileana, but who she also finds it in herself to forgive), and that of the faeries Derrick and Aithinne. You know my thoughts already on Catherine, Gavin, and Derrick. I love that they’re big supports for Aileana, but that they’re also 3-dimensional characters. They’re not pushed to the background. I loved learning more about Derrick’s past, as well as seeing where Gavin and Catherine are at after 3 years. 3 years have passed since the events of The Falconer (which was super hard to actually reconcile, ngl, I didn’t expect such a big time gap), which is also something that completely trips Aileana up. For her, two months in the faerie world, but not for Edinburgh and her friends. And the person who got her out of that mirror prison is Aithinne, Kiaran’s sister. AITHINNE IS ONE OF THE MOST PRECIOUS CHARACTERS OF EVER. Her quiet strength, her willpower, her grace in fights and with other people. She’s a compassionate person, which is kind of not-normal for faeries. And she’s also loyal, loving, and forgiving (even when she doesn’t have to be). She’s got a past too, one that isn’t nearly as bad as her brother’s but still, not good. But people change as time moves on. They’re both different from who they were back then, and I loved seeing that. Also, their sibling banter was one of my favorite parts of this book.


The Vanishing Throne
upped the high stakes from the first book, and somehow was more intense, grueling, and character-driven. I loved everything about it. From the kickass Falconer to her world-weary trainer. From the humans who bring light back into a darkened Scotland to the faeries who protect them at a cost. From the confidants who lend the main character much-needed support now that both of her parents are gone to the newest arrival who simply tells Aileana that it’s okay to be angry and hurt for what had been done to her in the faery world. From the passionate and believable romance to the sibling rivalry turned new beginning for two people who had been fighting each other for so long. Basically, the characters are what makes these stories so freaking fantastic. The world itself is engaging and magical, but the characters are what breathe life into it.


RATING:

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Faeries and Machines: The Falconer

Title: The Falconer (The Falconer, #1)
Author: Elizabeth May
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: September 19th, 2013
Get It: Amazon

From Goodreads...
One girl's nightmare is this girl's faery tale

She's a stunner.
Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title—and drop-dead beauty.

She's a liar.
But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she's leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense the sìthíchean—the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans—and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.

She's a murderer.
Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons—from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols—ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.

She's a Falconer.
The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother's murder—but she'll have to save the world first.

The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller combines romance and action, steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read.



My Review!
I started this one a whim, and I’m super happy I did! This book was just so much FUN. Honestly really loved it and can’t believe it took me so long to read it. I’m not a huge fan of steampunk or even of faeries anymore, so it’s surprising to me that I was hooked the entire way through. It did take a bit to really get INTO the story, at least, for the momentum to kick off. But I hardly ever wanted to put it down. The combination of fantasy and historical and steampunk kept me intrigued, and I loved the mix of the time period with the mechanical elements and the faerie hunts. Though most of the time the inventions and machinery just went over my head. Haha. I also ended up loving all of the main characters! They made the story stand out.

You’ve got Aileana Kameron, a socialite and daughter of one of the wealthiest and important men in Edinburgh. She’s been raised to be a “lady,” to want to be a wife and mother for the rest of her days. But after her mother’s murdered, and her eyes are opened up to a world beyond what she knew, she knows that she’ll never be content with what she wanted before finding a faerie killing her mother. Her grief, and her rage, weigh on her, and weigh her down. Aileana cannot find the right balance between what her father wants of her, the world she was brought up in, and between her natural instinct to kill faeries. I really loved her character; she’s witty and has a feministic ideal in a time when women were considered the inferior gender. I also could totally understand her grief and rage. And I felt for her, that she wanted out of the path her father chose for her, that she didn’t want to marry anymore. That she lost her mom and can’t seem to let go of that; that her grief is so great that it clouds everything for her. But she can’t ignore the duty she’s been given, any more than she can set aside her mission to kill the faerie that murdered her mother. (Even though at times it makes her SO RECKLESS). Throughout the book, she’s tested, challenged, trained, and forced to pick sides. She’s forced to be all that’s standing between the faeries escaping from their underground prison, and her beloved Edinburgh and friends and family. It’s a dangerous and terrible fate that rests on her shoulders, but she’s willing to step up and save her city. She’s got courage, heart, and a fiery passion that turns her into a fighting machine, with the help of a certain Fae.

Kiaran, my preciousssss. Though he can be a right bastard, and he can be quite mean and ill-tempered, I loved him. I don’t know what that says about me, but whatever. His icy exterior extends beyond everything, even when he shows glimpses of the humanity he’s kept buried deep inside. The mysteries behind him turning his back on his own, training Aileana, and helping her prepare for the battle to come. But he’s keeping lots of secrets from her, ones that rock Aileana to her core once she finds some of them out. Kiaran only gives her what she needs to know at hand, but never anything more. But throughout the book, he opens up a little, lets her in. He’s been around for thousands of years, and he’s had to steel himself against love and friendship because humans die and he lives on. That kind of pain is immeasurable, so I could understand his attempt to keep her at a distance, and his means of pushing her away when he lets her get too close. Because I do think he’s got feelings for her, and it’s in the way he cares for her when she’s hurts, in the way he gave her so much of his power when she needed it. He’s done bad things, and he’s got even more secrets, I’m sure. But I loved the beginnings of a romance between the two of them. It’s like caring snuck up on the two of them. Aileana doesn’t let him get away with shit; she calls him out when he’s being an asshole. When she first met him, all she wanted was to kill faeries and get better and better. And he challenges her to reach her full potential, in a way that she appreciates, because she wants to get stronger. But she was strong already; he just helped her tap into that. Gah, I love the two of them together. I ship it SO HARD, guys. Fave OTP.

I also loved the other characters; mainly Catherine, Derrick, and Gavin. Catherine is AWESOME. I wish she’d been in the novel a bit more, but I loved the huge focus on hers and Aileana’s friendship. I’m such a sucker for the ladies sticking together in books, and these two do, even when they’re angry at each other. Well, Aileana had been keeping huge secrets, so the anger was no surprise. But I loved that their relationship was such a support and comfort for the main character when she really needed it. She also had Derrick, a little pixie who somehow found his way into Aileana’s room and dresser. He mends up her clothes when she’s done fighting, gives her comfort when she’s feeling down and out of sorts, and he’s always got her back. Like, when Kiaran pisses her off or hurts her, he’s all LEMME AT ‘IM. The two don’t like each other, Kiaran and Derrick, and I definitely want to learn more about the whys. They’ve got history, and ugh I love rich history between characters and I want it all. (And I want more of Kiaran’s past, damn it). I also appreciated Gavin’s character. Aileana fancied herself in love with him once upon a time, being that she grew up with him as he’s Catherine’s older brother. But their friendship is solid, and one that I was glad never turned into anything more. He’s got Aileana’s back, too, and he’s there for her when she has no one HUMAN that she can talk to. Because Gavin’s a Seer, and he’s now involved in the Falconer and the seal breaking down business. And even though he’s scared out of his mind, he’ll do whatever it takes to help Aileana. I loved that about him! Though he did need to back off a bit at times and stop being so overprotective.


The characters really made this story that much richer. Like I said above, I’m very surprised by how much I came to love this one, and I honestly think it’s because of the characters and their relationships with one another. Especially the one between Kiaran and Aileana because c’mon it is SO shippable! I now fully understand why people were shouting in all caps about this book when it first came out. This had like the perfect blend of historical fiction and fantasy, and I LOVED that it was set in Scotland. And it kept me hooked the whole way through, especially when it came to the faerie aspects. The Falconer was just such a fun story! But goddamn that cliffhanger was so cruel, and I’m lucky I have the sequel on hand.


RATING:

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

(57) Top Ten Favorite 2016 Releases So Far This Year

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic: Top Ten Favorite 2016 Releases So Far This Year!


1. You Were Here by Cori McCarthy: this is probably one of my favorite contemporaries EVER. I could relate SO well to the main character. This was one of the best portrayals of grief I've read (though this is certainly subjective). It also had the shippiest ship you could ever ship and the combination of artwork and prose made it such a unique read.

2. The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh: this is, hands down, one of my favorite series. It was so magical and wonderful, and so intense at times. But my favorite part about it is the ship. Shazi and Khalid are my otp forever.

3. When We Collided by Emery Lord: this book was so full of great banter, the cutest romance, but also dealt so well with mental illness. It's one of the better portrayals of MI I've read in books. Loved it and the characters so much!

4. Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand: the first MG book to EVER get higher than 4 stars for me (also one of the few I've read in the last couple of years, but I digress). It was so flipping good! It was a book about magic and mental health and a character who came to learn that it's okay to have bad days. :)

5. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab: ugh, this series kills me, in a good way. The characters kill me. The ships kill me. My love for a certain someone kills me. Basically, I'm going to die after reading the 3rd book. The wait is torture, but I'm yet so terrified of it that I'm glad I won't have to finish this series for awhile.

6. The Reader by Traci Chee: this is my favorite 2016 debut so far! It was so unique and wonderful, and the storytelling was super cool. I loved the characters so much, and I can't believe how long of a wait I have until the sequel. Why oh why did I read it so far ahead of time?! #mistake

7. Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff: this series is so hard to describe, I didn't understand like 50% of what was going on in this sequel, and I didn't love it quite as much as Illuminae, but it was still so fucking brilliant. The way the story is told just works SO well for these books. I NEED MORE.

8. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater: though I won't be giving this 5 stars, it was still one of my favorite reads this year. This series is one of my all-time favorites, and I'm so sad it's over. But good thing I have all of the books, and I can just reread them over and over again and pretend it continues forever. ;) 

9. Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse: I love WWII books, and this one was no exception. It was full of hope and love and the greatest (and even darkest) parts of humanity. It was about a girl who just wanted to survive, to save her family, but who helped because she could. And because she was so courageous. Just wonderful!

10. The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May: okay, so technically this book was first published in 2015 in the UK, BUT SINCE I AM IN THE US AND IT ONLY JUST RELEASED THIS MONTH HERE, I AM COUNTING IT. I am counting it because this series became a forever favorite after binge-reading in April, and I need the 3rd book now, please and thank you.

*****

I am having SUCH a good reading year, guys! So, what about you? What are some of your favorite 2016 releases so far? Did any of these make your list? :)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Thank God It's Monday with Jessica Brody

 
 I'm so excited to be participating in the blog tour for A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody! I read this book awhile ago, and really enjoyed it! It's such a cute story, but also one that has a great message of not changing yourself for anybody else and just being yourself. The main character, Ellie, came to learn this throughout the story, and I loved how she stopped letting everyone decide who she is and started figuring it out herself. :) I can't wait for others to read this book! Later in July, I will have my own post about my best and worst Mondays. But today, I'm sharing a guest post from Jessica, talking about her book and the campaign. Here's a bit more information about the book first:

*****


Title: A Week of Mondays
Author: Jessica Brody
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: August 2nd, 2016!

From Goodreads...
Ellie is having the worst Monday of her life. She messes up her school speech for the class vice presidency position, she manages to take the world's worst school picture, she bombs softball tryouts, and the icing on top of this awful cake: her perfect boyfriend who is in a high school rock band dumps her. At the end of the day, Ellie wishes she could redo everything. When she wakes up the next morning, she discovers that it's Monday again! She has six more chances to redo the day in the hopes of having everything go exactly the way she wants. But in the process, she just may find out that what she really wants and what she actually needs are two very different things.


*****

ELLISON “ELLIE” SPARKS: An idealistic, ambitious sixteen-year-old junior with a lot on her plate.

Those were the first words I ever wrote about Ellie Sparks. They were written in a synopsis for my publisher when I was first trying to sell them on the idea for a book called A WEEK OF MONDAYS.

Of course, you can’t write an entire book about a one-sentence character. Just like you can’t live your entire life as a one-sentence person. But every character has to begin somewhere. And this is where Ellie began for me.

As an idealistic, ambitious sixteen-year-old junior with a lot on her plate.

In my mind, this is who she had to be. I thought, if you’re going to write about a girl who relives the same horrible Monday over and over again, trying to “get it right,” these are the adjectives that must describe her. She has to be idealistic enough to think she can fix everything in her life. Yet, she also has to be ambitious enough to try it. And how else are you going to fill seven Mondays with interesting storylines if the main character doesn’t have a lot on her plate.

So there was Ellie. And there was me, ready to write her, thinking I understood her. Thinking I knew everything I needed to know about her. 

This is the writing process for me. I start with an idea of who someone is. I draw a box around them, like an identity fence. I stuff them inside and I lock the gate. I tell them, “This is who you are. Don’t try to change that. Don’t try to be or do anything else. I don’t have time for detours. I’m on a deadline.”

I never learn.

A WEEK OF MONDAYS is my tenth published novel and I’m still trying to lock characters inside fences. Eventually, though, they always break free. They always get bigger than their boxes. And even though I try to adjust, I keep drawing bigger and bigger boxes around them, trying to contain them to the world I built, the world I envisioned, they never quite want to stay inside. Just like people. You can try to identify them, label them, build a fence around them that makes you feel safe, and yet they’ll always surprise you. Because no character—no human being—fits inside a box.  

One of my favorite reviews of A WEEK OF MONDAYS says, “Watching Ellie relive her horrible day is something like peeling an onion. Each Monday, a piece of her people-pleaser facade melts away, revealing more of her real self.”

I smiled when I read that because it wasn’t until then that I realized exactly what had happened in the writing of this book. I had done it again. I had tried to put yet another character in a box, and she had slowly, word by word, page by page, Monday by Monday broken free.

This book is ultimately a story of self-discovery.

Seven days. Seven chances to completely reinvent yourself. Wear different clothes, make different choices, explore different paths, say different things, be different people.

Because sometimes it takes a whole week of Mondays to figure out who you really are. And when you finally do, you may find yourself thinking 'Thank God It's Monday' after all.

For the next five Mondays, blogger friends across the internet will be sharing their best and worst Monday. Follow along with us online with #TGIM and #AWeekofMondays, because whether a Monday is memorable for good reasons or memorable for bad reasons, we stand to learn a lot about ourselves.

 
About the Author
Jessica Brody is the author of several popular books for teens, including the Unremembered trilogy, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, and The Karma Club, as well as two adult novels. She splits her time between California and Colorado. Find out more at jessicabrody.com.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Goldfish Blog Tour: Guest Post from Nat Luurtsema

I'm so excited to be participating in this blog tour! I read Goldfish back in May and thought it was really cute and funny. This was one of the few books I've read in the last couple of years that featured a competitive athlete MC. They seem few and far between, and it's weird to me because many teens grow up playing sports and competing seriously. I think books should definitely feature them more often, especially in YA. And I'm so happy to be sharing a guest post from Nat Luurtsema about this very subject!

*****

Why More Books Should Feature Competitive Athlete Main Characters
Admittedly, athletes aren’t always the most gregarious, articulate of folk. You’ll see them interviewed after a football match or a race, talking about how the team really pulled together and it looked like they were going to lose it in the first half but the team really pulled together and it’s a great result and a testament to how the team really pulled together. Sigh.

In their defence, if your job is to run really fast, lets say, and you go to a race and you run really fast and you win…. When a journalist puts a microphone in your face and says ‘how do you think that went?’ there isn’t much more to say than ‘well, I ran really fast. As was the plan. And it worked and now I have a medal.’

But that’s the beauty of a book, it has the ability to burrow inside a person’s mind and soul and show you how it really feels to win, to lose and to dedicate years of your life training to achieve something.

One of my favourite books with an athletic main character is The Art Of Fielding by Chad Harbach. I know nothing about baseball and I’m fine with that. I think a person can have only so many interests and I am all about writing in the sunshine with my kitten on my lap. But, Chad Harbach takes you so deeply into the world and the wants of Henry Skrimshander that as a reader I’m rooting for him all the way and I feel his set-backs and struggles as keenly as any baseball fan.

I think it’s a very particular mind-set to be in, to have such a determined, narrow focus on a certain goal. Most of us won’t experience it too often and it’s really interesting to step inside someone else’s mind for a while.

That’s why YA literature is so important. I remember as a teenager, trying out other peoples’ lives and loves through the books I read and searching for who I wanted to be. I think I’m as influenced by Roald Dahl and Elizabeth Bennett and JK Rowling as I am by anyone I’ve ever met. And the mind of an athlete is such an unusual place to be, I think more readers should have the chance to poke around inside one and see if it’s something they’d like to be.


About the Book

Title: Goldfish
Author: Nat Luurtsema
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: June 7th, 2016!
Get It: Amazon

From Goodreads...
Lou Brown is one of the fastest swimmers in the county. She’s not boasting, she really is. So things are looking pretty rosy the day of the Olympic time-trials. With her best mate Hannah by her side, Lou lines up by the edge of the pool, snaps her goggles on and bends into her dive…

Everything rests on this race. It’s Lou’s thing.

… or it was. She comes dead last and to top it all off Hannah sails through leaving a totally broken Lou behind.

Starting again is never easy, particularly when you’re the odd-one out in a family of insanely beautiful people and a school full of social groups way too intimidating to join. Where do you go from here? Finding a new thing turns out to be the biggest challenge Lou’s ever faced and opens up a whole new world of underwater somersaults, crazy talent shows, bitchy girls and a great big load of awkward boy chat.

Lou Brown guides us through the utter humiliation of failure with honesty, sass and a keen sense of the ridiculous. This girl will not be beaten.

Cover Reveal: Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas

I know it's really annoying with two cover reveals in a row, but I couldn't resist signing up for this one!! Penelope Douglas is one of my all-time fave authors. (And Bully is still one of my forever fave books). I'm so excited about her upcoming releases, Hideaway and Punk 57. The former's cover won't be revealed until later today, but I'll be sharing the latter's cover with you now! :D

Title: Punk 57
Author: Penelope Douglas
Genre: New Adult

Release Date: September 20th, 2016
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29104680-punk-57
Pinterest Board: https://www.pinterest.com/penelopedouglas/punk-57-2016/

Synopsis:
"We were perfect together. Until we met."

Misha


I can’t help but smile at the words in her letter. She misses me.

In fifth grade, my teacher set us up with pen pals from a different school. Thinking I was a girl, with a name like Misha, the other teacher paired me up with her student, Ryen. My teacher, believing Ryen was a boy like me, agreed.

It didn’t take long for us to figure out the mistake. And in no time at all, we were arguing about everything. The best take-out pizza. Android vs. iPhone. Whether or not Eminem is the greatest rapper ever…

And that was the start. For the next seven years, it was us.

Her letters are always on black paper with silver writing. Sometimes there’s one a week or three in a day, but I need them. She’s the only one who keeps me on track, talks me down, and accepts everything I am.

We only had three rules. No social media, no phone numbers, no pictures. We had a good thing going. Why ruin it?

Until I run across a photo of a girl online. Name’s Ryen, loves Gallo’s pizza, and worships her iPhone. What are the chances?

F*ck it. I need to meet her.

I just don’t expect to hate what I find.

Ryen

He hasn’t written in three months. Something’s wrong. Did he die? Get arrested? Knowing Misha, neither would be a stretch.

Without him around, I’m going crazy. I need to know someone is listening. It’s my own fault. I should've gotten his number or picture or something.

He could be gone forever.

Or right under my nose, and I wouldn’t even know it.

 
 *****

Author Bio:
Penelope Douglas is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. She dresses for autumn year round, loves anything lemon flavored, and shops at Target almost daily.

Her books include the Fall Away Series (Bully, Until You, Rival, Falling Away, and Aflame), as well as, Corrupt and Misconduct. Please look for Punk 57, coming September 2016 and Next to Never (A Fall Away Novella), coming January 2017.

She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and their daughter.

Author Social Links:
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/PenelopeDouglasAuthor
Website: www.penelopedouglasauthor.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/pendouglas
Instagram: www.instagram.com/penelope.douglas/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7139136.Penelope_Douglas

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/penelopedouglas/