Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Title: The Sun is Also a Star
Author: Nicola Yoon 
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication date: November 1, 2016
Pages: 384
Source/format: Library//Hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

M Y  T H O U G H T S

The Sun is Also a Star is a touching novel about a girl named Nastasha Kingsley. Most of her family is undocumented and will get deported to Jamaica that night. Praying someone will help her and her family, she pleads one more time and asks for help from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USIS) and a lawyer. However, no avail.

She ends up meeting Daniel Bae, the poet, who is a Korean American who lives in his brother's shadow. His parents have high expectations for him to go to the best school, which to them, is Harvard or at least to go to second best school aka Yale. Natasha and Daniel spend time together asking each other questions, visiting a record store and a coffee shop and try to learn more about each other. Destiny collides and fate is met but what happens when other people are trying to separate you apart?

Nicola Yoon is a master when writing Natasha's and Daniel's voices. They both are symbiotic. Both are destined to meet. The novel is a fact pace read, compressing a day's worth of action and dialogue in under 350 pages. The ending is bittersweet yet it works well.

Most of the chapters are from Natasha's and Daniel's POVs with a smattering of chapters from POVs of other characters close to Natasha and Daniel. It's nice to get insight from secondary characters about backstory but I have to admit it was hard for me to follow the chapters. However, I did like the chapters about the history of things such as the love history or the hair history.

Yoon did an excellent job with weaving many cultures together. I appreciate the diversity within the book. Not only is culture and race included but Yoon includes what the difference is to be a first generation American compared to a second generation American compared to a documented immigrant compared to an undocumented immigrant. I have worked with students that have fallen under all the above and it's great that people will learn the difference and will know the facts before they judge.

The Sun is Also a Star is a wonderful book about acceptance, tolerance and about finding yourself. This is an emotional read but is a very important one.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Obscurials


WARNING: This discussion post contains spoilers for Harry Potter series and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Read at your own risk. Image from flickeringmyth.com

I absolutely love Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them the film. I you haven't seen the movie, I suggest you see it soon. You can check out my review on the film here. I plan to delve into discussing more about the film in this post. Please do not read further if you do not want to read spoilers about theories and the plot of the film.

The Obscurus poses a lot of questions yet provides many answers. This single entity connects both the Harry Potter world with the 1920s Wizarding World. Credence Barebone has magic running in his veins and his adoptive mother shuns all magic so of course Credence keeps this magic bottled up inside him However, it's not good for a child to bottle up the magic. This repressed energy will explode if the child doesn't learn how control it. The child is often forced to repress their magical talent or face consequences.

Tina Goldstein describes the Obscurus as "an unstable uncontrollable dark force that busts out and attacks, and then vanishes." The Obscurial is the host who developed a dark parasitical magical force through suppression of magic in result of psychological or physical abuse. This young person eventually loses control and awakens the Obscurus who consumes them once they an emotionally mental breaking point. The Obscurus a invisible wind like entity that can morph into a black, fluid-like ink cloud and sometimes has a red core depending on it's power and strength. It's a violent catastrophic fury. This dark mass can cause major destruction, often destroying and killing anything in its path. The more powerful the Obscurial, the more powerful the Obscurus.

GIF from radiotimes.com
So how does this connect with Harry Potter? Do you remember Ariana Dumbledore? Yes, Albus and Aberforth's younger sister who died at a young age. She was bullied by Muggle boys when they saw her use magic. Soon after she vowed never to use magic again because she became emotionally and magically unstable. Her mother kept her at home, away from the magical community due to her random outbursts. However, after about eight years, she had an outburst that killed her mother. Because she repressed her magical talent, I see this as the first stage of Ariana walking the path of becoming an Obscurial. Ariana ended up dying during a three-way duel with Albus, Aberforth and Gellert Grindelwald.

Image from cdn.fansided.com
It is curious that Grindelwald is involved with Ariana and Credence. Yes, Grindelwald posing as Percival Graves indeed had a great interest in the Obscurus and I believe he started studying more about them after what happened to Ariana. Right when I saw Graves holding the Deathly Hallows, I knew he had to be connected to Grindelwald. Very few people know about the Deathly Hallows and the symbol was well known was Grindelwald's mark.

Usually a child that produces an Obscurus will die before they are ten due to the immense power the Obscurus creates and that they are consumed by their repressed magical powers. However, there are some cases like Ariana and Credence where they are much older and are into their teens. It seems like the older the child is, the more powerful the Obscurus becomes. There is no concrete proof that Ariana is an Obscurial but I pose the theory that she is. Time will let us know whether she is one or not.


So what do you think about Ariana Dumbledore being an Obscurial? Also, do you want to see more theory based discussions about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Harry Potter?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Tsar's Guard Spotlight Tour: Nail Polish Art


I can't believe The Crown's Fate is out in a few months! I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Crown's Game with all the enchantment and magic. For those who love The Night Circus and Russian culture and history, definitely pick up this series. You will be dazzled by the characters and the wonderful, delicious foods! Thank you Brittany from Brittany's Book Rambles for spearheading this tour!


Title: The Crown's Fate
Author: Evelyn Skye
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Expected publication: May 16th, 2017
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 432 pages
Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kepler's Books

Synopsis:

The gorgeous and darkly compelling sequel to The Crown’s Game—perfect for fans of Red Queen and Shadow and Bone.

Magic is growing, shadows are rising, and the throne is at stake…

Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.

ABOUT EVELYN SKYE

Evelyn Skye is the New York Times bestselling author of THE CROWN’S GAME (out now!) and THE CROWN’S FATE (May 16, 2017). She was once offered a job by the C.I.A., she not-so-secretly wishes she was on “So You Think You Can Dance,” and if you challenge her to a pizza-eating contest, she guarantees she will win. When Evelyn isn’t writing, she can be found chasing her daughter on the playground or sitting on the couch, immersed in a good book and eating way too many cookies.

Author Links: Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr | Instagram | Facebook


NAIL ART DESIGNS

I decided to showcase a couple of nail art designs in celebration of The Crown's Fate. I wanted to highlight simple designs that anyone can recreate. As long as you have a steady hand, a creative mind and a sense of patience, you will be able to recreate these little portable pieces of art.

The first design is The Crown. Yes, this design is fairly simple with the crown on the tips of the nail. You can decide whether to paint crown tips on all the nails or you can paint them on one or two accent nail(s). I chose to paint them on two nails in the colors of red and blue on a white background. I used gold to make the highlights. You can use a variety of tools such as paintbrushes, toothpicks and dotting tools to create the nail art below. I changed the order of the colors on the nails accidentally but to stay true to the Russian flag, paint freehand stripes in the order white, blue and red.



The second design is a little bit more elaborate with design from architectural Russian cathedrals. I love the colors of the domes. This design I found on a nail blog website called Break Rules Not Nails. Start with a light blue for the background and use very bright colors to create the tops of the cathedrals. Highlight the domes along with some gold and silver. Fine tipped paintbrushes in different sizes will help you recreate this design.


Image from breakrulesnotnails.wordpress.com


THE TSAR'S GUARD SPOTLIGHT TOUR: THE CROWN'S FATE

Check out the tour here.

Jan. 9th - Brittany's Book Rambles: The Crown's Fate Review
Jan. 10th- Sarcasm & Lemons: Fancast
Jan. 11th- The YA Book Traveler: History of Russian Crowns
Jan. 12th- Picnic Reads: Character-Based Book Tag
Jan. 13th- Book Nerd Addict: Inspired Tote Design

Jan.16th- Dazzled by Books: Top 5 Reasons I Love The Crown's Game
Jan. 17th- Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile: Characters Matched to Teas
Jan. 18th- The Book Buzz: New Enchanter
Jan. 19th- The Aus. Library: Famous Russian Fairytales
Jan. 20th- My Thoughts Literally: Character Inspired Dessert

Jan. 23rd- Omg Books and More Books: Books that Characters of TCG Would Enjoy
Jan. 24th- It Starts at Midnight: Virtual Tour of Russia
Jan. 25th- Next Page Please!: Character Blog
Jan. 26th- The Book Nut: Playlist
Jan. 27th- Arctic Books: Make-up Looks

Jan. 30th- Two Chicks on Books: Pinterest Recipe Board
Jan. 31th- Lost in Ever After: Typical Date for Nikolai & Vika
Feb. 1st- Alexa Loves Books: Fashion Book Look
Feb. 2nd- Sophie Reads YA: Russian History In and Out of The Crown's Game
Feb. 3rd- 21st Century Once Upon A Times: Drink Your Way Through The Crown's Game

Feb. 6th- The Eater of Books: 10 Reason I'm Excited for TCF
Feb. 7th- A Thousand Words A Million Books: Top 5 Magical Moves in The Crown's Game
Feb. 8th- Seeing Double in Neverland: Fanmade Bookmarks & Swag
Feb. 9th- A Page With A View: YA Fantasy Books set in Russia
Feb. 10th- Dana Square: Recipe from The Crown's Game

Feb. 13th-YA Wednesdays: Favorite Quotes from The Crown's Game
Feb. 14th- Juniper Reads: Sorting Characters into Fandoms
Feb. 15th- Nicole's Novel Reads: Nail Polish Looks
Feb. 16th- The Queen Reads: What the Characters of TCG would take to a Deserted Island
Feb. 17th- A Perfection Called Books: The Crown's Fate Review


GIVEAWAY


Friday, February 10, 2017

Typography Talk (4)

Typography Talk is an original feature where I discuss about book cover design and typography. Even though people always say that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, you know everyone does. A book's cover art needs to captivate the potential reader. There are some readers who will be more inclined to purchase a book not only based on the synopsis, but also based on how the cover looks like. Colors, typeface, medium, spacing and originality are all factors that help make up a cover.


Passenger by Alexandra Bracken has a stunning cover. The colors are subdued and cover art is cleverly designed. The colors hint at a historical fiction novel.

The bottle holds New York City where the main character Etta resides. The reflection of the city resembles a ship which is very important to the plot of the novel. A ship represents travel back in time. It represents history. Any type of transportation could have been reflected in the water but it makes sense to have a ship since ships have been around for a long time. In this sense, the ship can take you anywhere back in time.

The decorative typeface for the title bleeds off the page which is a nice touch. It reminds me of how people believe ships would sail off the map because they thought the world was flat. The slight cursive script hints to the past where cursive reined over print.





The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee is Lee's first contemporary novel and it shows in the cover design of the novel. This heartfelt novel translates well with a soft pale blue background and the title is framed with flowers. Because Mim and her mother are aromateurs, flowers and herbs are very important to fine-tuning a person's essence. Blue creates a sense of calmness and relaxation. Blue is giving and is not a taker.

Showcasing Mim looking into the plant life indicates Mim searching for something. She is always helps others find love. However, Mim never looks for love but even though she tries her hardest not to fall in love, love finds her instead. Because she is always gathering different flowers and herbs for her perfumes, it is fitting that she walking through nature. Mim is also soul searching and trying to come to terms about who she is and what she wants in life.


Caraval by Stephanie Garber is Garber's debut novel and it doesn't disappoint. The cover art is absolutely stunning! It is captivating and draws the reader in to the most magnificent show on Earth! The colors are very symbolic especially the blue. Blue and gold sparks represent childhood dreams. The decorative whimsical type treatment adds a sense of unpredictableness with the twists and turns within the story.

The background is mysterious and magical just like the games. The red reminds me of the mysterious roses in the rooms. Even the whimsical shapes of the red lines look like petals. The red represents a sense of urgency. It's an urgency for Scarlett to find her sister Tella. Also, red can also represent Scarlett herself. Scarlett is following her childhood dreams to attend the mysterious Caraval but she needs to find and save her sister.

Keeping the rest of the type in a sans serif font creates a focal piece for the title Caraval. The way the blue star and the red wisps are located, it creates a stage for Caraval. All eyes are on the stage and hence the show.

Erin Fitzsimmons and Ray Shappell did a fantastic job with designing the cover to Caraval!


What do you think about the cover art for these three lovely novels? Have you read any of them?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Starfall Launch Blitz & Giveaway

I am so excited for Starfall! This is the second installment to the Starflight duology! If you want to see my thoughts about Starflight, check out my review here. Don't forget to check out the giveaway at the bottom of the post.


Title: Starfall
Author: Melissa Landers
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication date: February 7, 2017
Pages: 368


Synopsis (from Goodreads.com)

When Princess Cassia Rose fled her home world of Eturia to escape an arranged marriage, she had no idea her sudden departure would spark a war. Now after two years hiding as a ship hand, she is finally returning to her beloved home, but not in the way she imagined. Shackled by bounty hunters, she is violently dragged back to account for her crimes. Her only solace is that the Banshee crew managed to evade capture, including Kane Arric, her best friend...with occasional benefits.

Meanwhile, Kane and the rest of the crew of the Banshee plan a desperate rescue mission. But when they arrive on Eturia, Cassia isn't exactly in need of heroics—she's claimed her birthright as Eturia's queen, but has inherited a war-torn planet simmering with rebellion. Cassia must make alliances, and Kane, the bastard son of a merchant, isn't a choice that will earn her any friends. Kane knows he will never find someone to replace Cassia—and is certain she returns his feelings—but how can he throw away his own promising future waiting on a queen?

When the outer realm is threatened by the dangerous Zhang mafia, Cassia, Kane and the rest of the Banshee crew uncover a horrifying conspiracy that endangers the entire universe. In the face of unspeakable evil, Cassia must confront her own family's complicated legacy on Eturia and decide once and for all who her real family is.

Hi, booklovers!

I’m author Melissa Landers, and I’m so excited to launch STARFALL, the second and final book in my Starflight duology! This story picks up shortly after the first book ends, but now Cassia and Kane are the main characters, with Doran, Solara, and the rest of the Banshee crew pitching in to help take down an intergalactic mafia. (You know, just an ordinary day in space.) And while saying goodbye to characters is never easy, I think I gave the crew a proper sendoff with plenty of humor, heart, and action. I hope you love STARFALL as much as I do!

Haven’t read the first book? You’re in luck, because for a limited time, Starflight is on sale for 99 cents in all e-formats. Now you can binge read the entire duology in one sitting!

Praise for Starflight
“Smart, action-packed and utterly addictive!” – New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman

“Starflight has the cinematic appeal, warp-speed action and unlikely heroes of Star Wars.” – Justine Magazine

“A lively tale of romance, space pirates, conspiracy, and made (as opposed to genetic) families.” – Booklist

“A great choice for fans of raw sci-fi action, reminiscent of the lawlessness presented in the television series Firefly.” – School Library Journal

If you love sci-fi adventure with a dash of romance, I hope you’ll pick up the Starflight duology today. Starflight and Starfall are both available in stores and online.


Starflight purchase links
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

Starfall purchase links
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound 


To celebrate my book birthday, I’m offering one lucky winner a Starflight duology swag pack, complete with bookmarks and two signed mini posters! The giveaway is open internationally. Due to sweepstakes laws, entrants must be 18 years or older to participate.


Best of luck, and happy reading!


ABOUT MELISSA LANDERS

Melissa Landers is a former teacher who left the classroom to pursue other worlds. A proud sci-fi geek, she isn’t afraid to wear her Princess Leia costume in public—just ask her husband and three kids. She lives outside Cincinnati in the small town of Loveland, “Sweetheart of Ohio.” For more information or just to say hello, visit www.melissa-landers.com.

GIVEAWAY


Monday, February 6, 2017

Why Do I Blog?

Being a blogger can be hard work but it's rewarding. It's a way for you to express your thoughts about something that you are passionate about. Blogging is about being creative. It's an outlet for you to talk about whatever you want to talk about. There are general blogs and there are niche blogs. Some bloggers will focus on niche topics.

Even though I am considered a book blogger, it doesn't mean that I don't like to blog about other things. I have other passions that I will include in this blog such as Harry Potter. Although I blog about books, I don't always read book blogs. I often love reading food blogs, lifestyle blogs and nail art blogs. Maybe one day I will start a food blog since I love cooking and baking.

Blogging to me is like an interactive online journal. I mainly blog for myself but I love co-hosting features and being involved with the book blogging community. I love to interact with my readers. Blogging will always be there for me. I won't stop blogging just because someone doesn't like what I say or because I don't get free things such as ARCs. Don't blog for others. Don't blog for the free stuff. You should always blog for yourself first.

Blogging has always been a nice way for me to organize my thoughts or to just get my thoughts onto something physical. With so much things going on everyday, I forget a lot of things. Blogging helps me jog my memory. It helps me fine tune my writing and even how I analyze things. Blogging has opened many doors to a multitude of opportunities.

Blogging helps me create awareness and to make a difference. Blogging teaches me how to manage my time. It helps me commit and it teaches me responsibility. Blogging helps me meet new people that I would not have met if I didn't blog. Being part of a community is amazing. Not only can you share the same passions but you make new friends. I can be reserved at times but blogging has helped me break out of my shell a bit. I learned how to be more assertive, confident and not to be afraid to step out of my bubble. The ambiance of blogging creates a sense of self-fulfillment.


What does blogging mean to you? Why do you blog and how did you decide to start a blog?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Wintersong Blog Tour + Giveaway



Thank you Rockstar Book Tours for this wonderful opportunity to promote and to share an excerpt for Wintersong! I absolutely adore this novel and S. Jae-Jones is a fantastic writer. I hope everyone enjoys this snippet to Jae-Jones's debut book! Its gorgeous prose is enchanting! You can read my review about Wintersong here.


Title: Wintersong
Author: S. Jae-Jones
Pub. Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: A Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 448
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Audible, Goodreads
Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

WINTERSONG EXCERPT

Once there was a little girl who played her music for a little boy in the wood. She was small and dark, he was tall and fair, and the two of them made a fancy pair as they danced together, dancing to the music the little girl heard in her head.

Her grandmother had told her to beware the wolves that prowled in the wood, but the little girl knew the little boy was not dangerous, even if he was the king of the goblins.

Will you marry me, Elisabeth? the little boy asked, and the little girl did not wonder at how he knew her name.

Oh, she replied, but I am too young to marry.

Then I will wait, the little boy said. I will wait as long as you remember.

And the little girl laughed as she danced with the Goblin King, the little boy who was always just a little older, a little out of reach.

As the seasons turned and the years passed, the little girl grew older but the Goblin King remained the same. She washed the dishes, cleaned the floors, brushed her sister’s hair, yet still ran to the forest to meet her old friend in the grove. Their games were different now, truth and forfeit and challenges and dares.

Will you marry me, Elisabeth? the little boy asked, and the little girl did not yet understand his question was not part of a game.

Oh, she replied, but you have not yet won my hand.

Then I will win, the little boy said. I will win until you surrender.

And the little girl laughed as she played against the Goblin King, losing every hand and every round.

Winter turned to spring, spring to summer, summer into autumn, autumn back into winter, but each turning of the year grew harder and harder as the little girl grew up while the Goblin King remained the same. She washed the dishes, cleaned the floors, brushed her sister’s hair, soothed her brother’s fears, hid her father’s purse, counted the coins, and no longer went into the woods to see her old friend.

Will you marry me, Elisabeth? the Goblin King asked.

But the little girl did not reply.

ABOUT S. JAE-JONES

S. Jae-Jones, called JJ, is a voracious and indiscriminate reader, an avid traveler, and something of an adrenaline junkie.

Born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, she lived in New York City for 10 years before relocating down to Dixie, where she is comfortably growing fat on grits and barbecue. When not writing, she can be find rock-climbing, skydiving, taking photographs, drawing pictures, and dragging her dog on ridiculously long hikes.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

GIVEAWAY

3 winners will receive a finished copy of WINTERSONG, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
TOUR SCHEDULE

Week One:

1/30/2017- Dazzled by Books - Review
1/31/2017- Adventures of a Book Junkie - Interview
2/1/2017- Nicole's Novel Reads - Excerpt
2/2/2017- A Backwards Story - Review
2/3/2017- Two Chicks on Books - Interview

Week Two:

2/6/2017- Buttermybooks - Review
2/7/2017- Mary Had a Little Book Blog - Guest Post
2/8/2017- OMG Books And More Books - Review
2/9/2017- YA Books Central - Interview