Tuesday, August 30, 2016

As I Descended by Robin Talley

Title: As I Descended
Author: Robin Talley
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: September 6, 2016
Pages: 384
Source/format: e-ARC from Edelweiss 

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.

Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.

Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.

But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.

Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.

But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.

From acclaimed author Robin Talley comes a Shakespeare-inspired story of revenge and redemption, where fair is foul, and foul is fair

M Y  T H O U G H T S

As I Descended is a modern day loose retelling of Shakespeare's play, Macbeth. I was super excited to read this novel and it doesn't disappoint. Acheron Academy, located in Virginia, is an elite boarding school where the Cawdor Kingsley Prize Scholarship is what everyone has their eyes on. Maria has a good circle of friends which include Brandon, Mateo and Lily. Power couple Maria and Lily will do anything to get what they want and unfortunately Delilah is in the way.

As I Descended opens up with an intriguing scene where Maria and her friends are trying to use an Ouija board at their boarding house school. However, something goes wrong. Maria is haunted by a premonition by the spirit she spoke to through the Ouija Board. Throughout the whole novel, Maria and Lily try to usurp Delilah in order to obtain the Cawdor Kingsley Prize.

Robin Talley does an excellent job incorporating paranormal horror within this Macbeth retelling. The eerieness of the haunted boarding school built on a old Southern plantation is the perfect setting for the story. Talley's modern day version of Macbeth will capture the attention of those who adore Shakespeare as well as those who normally don't enjoy reading Shakespeare. She is able to suck you into the plot from page one.

Although, I enjoyed the retelling in terms of plot and pacing, the character development seemed weaker than in Talley's Lies We Tell Ourselves. This may be in part that are many more key players in As I Descended. I wish the characters were fleshed out more since I only gravitated toward Mateo. What I love is how Talley included all types of diversity within the novel including ethnicity, disability and gender and sexuality.

I found it uncanny how Brandon has to write a paper on Julius Caesar in the novel and how Romeo is addressed in the novel. It's very fitting how two Shakespeare plays are mentioned in a Shakespeare play retelling.

The third person narration in As I Descended alternates between characters every so often which gives the reader the inside of what is going on and how each character thinks and reacts to certain things. This fast paced novel is perfect for those who are seeking an entertaining Macbeth paranormal thriller.

Friday, August 26, 2016

#Booksfortrade and what it has become

#Booksfortrade is a hashtag on twitter has become out of control lately. For those who don't know how the hashtag works, pretty much someone will tweet out that they have certain books or ARCs via photos, Google doc or list. If someone has a book off the wishlist, they will tweet or DM the person looking for the title. A trade is made.

Sometimes people aren't as picky and will show their books they plan to donate or give away. They will ask to see what others have in order to make a trade or they will tell the person interested in a title that only shipping is needed to make the trade. That sounds reasonable, right? Well what if people start asking for only new ARCs. And I mean they only want 2017 ARCs for their old ARCs or books. Or what if they only want highly coveted items like certain swag, exclusive editions or even manuscripts? But what if you offer one of their wish list (WL) items and they still prioritize certain WL items over other WL items?

Some people collect ARCs because they love the book so much or because their favorite author wrote the book. People like to complete their collection. Some people have been searching everywhere for an ARC to complete their collection. However, what if they found the ARC they have been looking for but the trader doesn't want to trade because they are looking for something better? Seriously, think about it. Many people are so picky about their trades. Why not give a book to a collector who loves that book that you didn't really care about so much. Why do you need to try to make a better trade? This is not eBay. The tag is not meant to be an auction house to trade the book to the "highest bidder." Why are people so greedy?

In the past I used #booksfortrade more than I do now and I have made so many successful trades. Most of the time I want to unhaul ARCs and books that I either read or don't want anymore. I am usually not that picky about what books I'll trade for because if I don't make trades, I usually will donate the books somewhere in my town. ARCs, swag and finished copies are accepted. Occasionally I will be looking for an item on my wishlist but if the trade doesn't work, it's not meant to be.

I like using the hashtag to trade for books that I want to add to my collection or books that I haven't read yet but am interested in. It's a good way to find out what titles are out there, old and new. I also like to help other collectors out. If I can offer a book to someone that they have been trying to find for awhile, then I will make a trade most of the time. It's a win win situation.

I have been cutting back on using the hashtag because lately because people want things more than they want to give. What happened to spreading the bookish love? If it's an ARC of an unreleased book, wouldn't you want to share it to promote the book and author? If someone is collecting an ARC or book by a certain author, don't you want to help them complete their collection? What happened to giving? Why can't we pay if forward?

What do you think about #bookfortrade? Do you use the hashtag on twitter? I would love to hear your thoughts and comments about what #booksfortrade means to you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Stalking Jack the Ripper Blog Tour: Tea Pairings

Thank you Ava from Bookishness and Tea for organizing this wonderful Stalking Jack the Ripper blog tour! I am super excited to be part of the Knights of Whitechapel! For my blog tour post, I decided to combine my Pages to Tea feature with my love for Stalking Jack the Ripper. I hope everyone has a chance to read Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco. Check out my review of the book if you want to read about my thoughts. You can pre-order your very own personalized copy of Stalking Jack the Ripper from Books of Wonder. Perhaps you can have a cuppa while you unravel the mysteries of the novel.
Character Images from phantomrin.tumblr.com and Jack image from davepalumbo.deviantart.com.


[Audrey Rose Wadsworth + Earl Grey Darjeeling Organic Black Tea by American Tea Room]

Audrey Rose is not your conventional lady. This particular Earl Grey is the champagne of Earl Greys made entirely of fine Darjeeling black tea and scented with fine bergamot citrus. It's a little woodier than a traditional Earl Grey, with a hint of soil which is perfect for Audrey Rose since she is not afraid to get her hands dirty. The Darjeeling Earl Grey twist is a homage to her English and Indian roots and her sophistication.

[Thomas Cresswell + Vanilla Bean Black Tea by Rishi]

Rishi's Vanilla Bean Black Tea is perfect for the charming, sweet and smooth talking, Thomas Cresswell. This black tea is decadent and creamy. It's a blend of a malty, smooth-bodied tea from Yunnan with premium vanilla extract and high quality chopped vanilla bean to create a silky, layered taste experience. Have a cuppa with this lad!

[Jack the Ripper + Da Yu Lin Oolong by Red Blossom Tea

Da Yu Lin has a reputation as Taiwan’s most coveted tea. Although he is not coveted, Jack believes he is above all and it's a no brainer that Da Yu Lin Oolong is the perfect match for him. This particular oolong is rare and complex. The taste and the aroma morphs throughout the life span of each brew. This smooth and full bodied tea begins with a buttery texture and finishes with a hint of tangerine, sugar cane and cream. Jack is a slippery character and is able to fall through the cracks as people try to figure out the murderer.

Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Publication date: September 20, 2016
Pages: 336
Find it:
Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Presented by James Patterson's new children's imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion...

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story's shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.


Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats. Stalking Jack the Ripper is her debut novel. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history, and is the first in a new series of gothic thrillers. 

For more information about Kerri Maniscalco, check out her social media platforms.

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Website | Tumblr | Pinterest

Monday, August 22, 2016

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

Title: Furthermore
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Publication date: August 30, 2016
Pages: 416
Source/format: ARC from Publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

The bestselling author of the Shatter Me series takes readers beyond the limits of their imagination in this captivating new middle grade adventure where color is currency, adventure is inevitable, and friendship is found in the most unexpected places.

There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn't miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it's been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she's about to embark on one to find the other.

But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him she'll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. Her only companion is a boy named Oliver whose own magical ability is based in lies and deceit--and with a liar by her side in a land where nothing is as it seems, it will take all of Alice's wits (and every limb she's got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father, Alice must first find herself--and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Furthermore is a modern fairy tale about a girl named Alice who is born without pigment within a colorful world called Ferenwood. Because Alice lacks color, she is seen as an outcast since color means magic in this world. Alice and Oliver go on an adventure in the world of Furthermore to find Alice's father who disappeared over three years ago.

This is Tahereh Mafi's debut middle grade novel and boy it doesn't disappoint. Mafi sends a message to reader's that it is okay to be different. Just because you don't fit in with everyone else, it doesn't mean that you are not loved or special. Everyone is unique in his or her own way. Mafi created a masterpiece and a new classic!

The world building is fantastic! Mafi paints the world of Ferenwood and Furthermore perfectly. Her descriptions are lush and vibrant. She captures the emotions of the characters exquisitely. The quirkiness of the book lends itself to all possibilities. Nothing is ruled out in Futhermore. Anything is possible. Alice and Oliver explore different villages in Furthermore, each village with its own quirks and rules. Mafi is extremely creative to make each village one of a kind.

The concept of the Surrender for 12-year-olds is quite interesting. At the young age of 12, each child is given a score after presenting their magical ability. Based on the score, each child is given a task to complete based on their magical ability to better Ferenwood. I found Alice's true talent to be charming and ideal for her.

Alice can be stubborn at times and is definitely not patient. Oliver grounds Alice. Both characters are well-developed and compliment each other well. Even though they have their differences, they have a common goal. I am glad Alice was able to become more open-minded as the story progresses. Also, her love for bangles is very unique and how every month, she buys a bangle for each month her father is gone. Oliver, on the other hand, uses his talent to charm and lie in order to complete his task quite well. Without his persuasion, Alice and Oliver wouldn't have made it through Furthermore. Their friendship started fairly rough but they become the best of friends by the end of the novel.

Futhermore is a splendid and whimsical fairy tale for fans of Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland. This charming book is one for all ages but be forewarned that there are mentions of cannibalism. Furthermore is a coming-of-age story about acceptance, embracing your talents and discovering your deepest desires.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sisterhood of the Traveling ARC: The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics

Elizabeth from Book YAbber, Marci from The Plot Bunny and I are showcasing Amy Lukavics for the second post for Sisterhood of the Traveling ARC! Because the three of us love reading ARCs, we decided on sharing our ARCs with one another, not only to allow each of us to read a new title, but to promote how obtaining an ARC is not about trying to hoard an ARC for yourself.

ARCs are meant for promotional reasons. We figured that if we can share one ARC amongst the three of us, it means that the publisher is getting three times as much promotion from one ARC. Each of us will be doing a post on the title we decide to share.

Elizabeth, Marci and I have read Lukavics's first book, Daughters Unto Devils and it was just the right amount of creepiness. Her sophomore book, The Women in the Walls, is actually even better than her debut! The Women in the Walls have been on our list since we heard about it at the Halloween Teen Scream event in Salem, MA last October.

Title: The Women in the Walls
Author: Amy Lukavics
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication date: September 27, 2016
Pages: 304
Source/format: ARC from Elizabeth from Book YAbber

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Lucy Acosta's mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They're inseparable—a family.

When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she's ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother's voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin's sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.

"Something isn't right in this house."

M Y  T H O U G H T S

From the first page, I was hooked. The Women in the Walls devours you whole. From the beginning of the novel, Lucy Acosta knew something is wrong with the house she lives in. With all these random deaths and disappearances, she is suspicious about the house.

Amy Lukavics's sophomore novel blew me out of the water. I read her debut, Daughter Unto Devils last year and I couldn't wait to read The Women in the Walls. And boy, does it not disappoint. Lukavics writes description and dialogue well. The attic, the sinister voices in the walls and the creepy cemetery build up the eeriness. There are some instances of grotesque things in the book but it doesn't hinder the plot.

However, I was not a big fan of the lack of character development with some characters such as Margaret and Lucy's father. I did not see the twist at the end of the book. The ending is crazy but it's perfect!

Lukavics created a masterpiece. The Women in the Walls is equally intriguing, unsettling and chilling. This is a horror novel you want to pick up for sure!

If you want to follow the Sisterhood of the Traveling ARC feature on social media, please check out the hashtag, #TravelingARC3, for more reviews and photos. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Top Books with a New England Setting


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to post about their top ten books with X setting. I chose the top books with a New England setting. The books are in no particular order.

1. Lost in Thought by Cara Bertrand - Northwest MA

This is one of my favorite paranormal boarding house school books. It's a must read if you like books such as Hex Hall and The Vampire Academy.

2. How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather - Salem, MA

Is a new favorite. I love everything Salem so this is definitely a book to pick up if you like Salem book too. I might be biased since I live right next to Salem. This book is a hybrid of Hocus Pocus and Mean Girls.

3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - Concord, MA

This book is a classic. Although it's not my favorite classic, I always think it's awesome that I live so close to the Orchard House.

4. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey - Boston, MA

This classic picture book is one of my favorites. You can't miss the duckling statues in the Boston Commons! Also, who doesn't like ducks?

5. Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern - Boston, MA 

If you're looking for a cute chick lit book, definitely check this one out. Relocating from Ireland to the Boston, Alex and Rosie embark on new adventures. I still need to check out the film adaptation for this novel.

6. Carrie by Stephen King - Chamberlain, Maine (Fictional)

One of the first adult horror novels that I read, I actually totally forgot this one is located in Maine.

7. All Souls: A Family Story from Southie by Michael Patrick MacDonald - South Boston, MA

This memoir is one that I read back in high school and was able to meet the author. This memoir is raw and can be difficult to read but it's an important read.

8. A Separate Peace by John Knowles - New Hampshire

There is no doubt that I am in love with boarding houses and this novel is one of my favorites when I read it back in high school. If you're looking for a coming-of-age story around the Wordl War II, pick this one up.

9. Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper - Prince Island, New England (Fictional)

Want to read a book about a whaling town and witches? Definitely check out this historical fantasy novel. A little bit of romance and magic will entangle you!

10. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson - New Hampshire

This contemporary novel is an important one that deals with eating disorders. Anderson writes about real teen issues without the sugarcoating. It's important for everyone to know the truth. However, those who had a eating disorder should be careful reading this novel.

11. The Baby-Sitters Club - Stoneybrook, Connecticut (Fictional)

The Baby-Sitters Club books is one of my favorite series when I was a child. I loved reading these chapter books and it's cool how the series is located in New England even though it's a fictional town.

12. The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Wethersfield, Connecticut

This is a book I read back in school and it was one of my favorites in middle school. Although this is very similar to the setting of the Witch Trials in Salem, it's nice to read about other towns besides Salem.

What are you favorite books with a New England setting? Do we share any of the same favorite books located in the New England area?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday REWIND


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to go back and do a topic they've missed over the years or recently or a topic they really want to revisit. I choose Top Ten Most Inspirational Characters. The following characters  are in no particular order.

1. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling shows that being smart and a leader is not a bad thing. Although she loves to read and loves to learn, friendship is extremely important to her. She is a good role model for females.

Image from whatanerdgirlsays.com
2. Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is quirky and walks to the beat of her own drum. It's okay to be a little bit different. I can identify with Luna immensely. Also, she is my favorite Harry Potter characters.

Image from harry potter.wikia.com
3. Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is ambiguous and the most complex character in the Harry Potter world. He blurs the sense of black and white. He truly is a hero despite what everyone thinks, always.

Image from pinterest.com
4. Sydney Sage from the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead loves to learn. Education is super important to her and she loves anything logical and anything fact based. She is intelligent, organized and very responsible. Although she was closed-minded in the Vampire Academy series, she becomes more open-minded in the Bloodlines series. Her journey through 6+ books is astonishing.

5. Kestrel Trajan from The Winner's Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski is a brilliant strategist and a talented pianist. She fights people with her mind and with her words. She is very aware of her surroundings and what is moral and what isn't. Kestrel is also resourceful.

Image from pinterest.com
6. Charlotte Branwell from The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare is former head of the London Institute and is the first female Consul in the late 1800's. Charlotte is a naturally born leader who can do anything a male can do. She is independent, responsible and knows when to lay down the law.

Image from fan forum.com
7. Tessa Grey from The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare is brave, determined, understanding and sometimes stubborn. She is naturally curious and is a bookworm.

Image from Roleplay.chat
8. Matilda from Matilda by Roald Dahl, possesses qualities that even adults would love to have. She is witty, loves to learn and pushes herself to overcome many obstacles.

Gif from goodreads.com
9. Audrey Rose Wadsworth from Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco is a quintessential renaissance woman. Not only does she like the finer things like embroidery, tea and conversations with females but she also loves to learn and can do anything that a guy can. She dresses like a boy in order to learn forensic medicine during lectures, she works side by side with her uncle in a laboratory and she wants to solve a mystery. She can do it all despite her gender as a lady.

10. Adelina Amouteru from the The Young Elites series by Marie Lu can manipulate illusions. Although, her father and many others see her as a disgrace and an outcast, she is a strong-willed anti-hero.

Images from theyoungelites.wikia.com

What characters are inspirations for you? What did you decide for your Top Ten Tuesday Rewind topic?