Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Sisterhood of the Traveling ARC: The Last Harvest by Kim Liggett


Marci from The Plot Bunny and I are showcasing Kim Liggett for the third post for Sisterhood of the Traveling ARC! Elizabeth from Book YAbber will be skipping this round but will be back next round. 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 Kim Liggett's first book, Blood and Salt and it is beautifully written. Her sophomore book, The Last Harvest, has been on our TBR lists for the longest time and we are fortunate to read it early! Kim has wowed us with her writing and keeps us on our toes!


Title: The Last Harvest
Author: Kim Liggett
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication date: January 10, 2017
Pages: 352
Source/format: ARC from publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

“I plead the blood.”

Those were the last words seventeen-year-old golden boy quarterback Clay Tate heard rattling from his dad's throat when he discovered him dying on the barn floor of the Neely Cattle Ranch, clutching a crucifix to his chest.

Now, on the first anniversary of the Midland, Oklahoma slaughter, the whole town's looking at Clay like he might be next to go over the edge. Clay wants to forget the past, but the sons and daughters of the Preservation Society—a group of prominent farmers his dad accused of devil worship—won't leave him alone. Including Ali, his longtime crush, who suddenly wants to reignite their romance after a year of silence, and hated rival Tyler Neely, who’s behaving like they’re old friends.

Even as Clay tries to reassure himself, creepy glances turn to sinister stares and strange coincidences build to gruesome rituals—but when he can never prove that any of it happened, Clay worries he might be following his dad down the path to insanity...or that something far more terrifying lies in wait around the corner.

M Y  T H O U G H T S 

Clay Tate is forever haunted about the incident that happened one year ago with his father. His father's last words still linger. Living in Midland, Oklahoma can be tough especially when everyone knows the whole town. Clay becomes suspicious of the Preservation Society and what his father was trying to tell him before he died. From branding to occult rituals, Clay has no clue what he is in for. All Clay knows is that he gave up his dreams to play football and to go to college in order to take care of his mother and sisters.

Clay is a character that I can connect with. I love how he is family orientated. Clay's mother and his sisters, Jess and Noodle, are important to him. After all, he has to step up into a parental role ever since his father passed away. The way Clay is observant trying the piece all the clues is the best! He knows something is wrong and wants an answer. He will not settle until he finds out what his father was trying to prevent.

Kim Liggett is the queen of writing novels that are not only terrifying but they permeate deep into your core. After reading the first chapter, Liggett is not shy to dive right into the gruesomeness of the Neely Cattle Ranch slaughter. She goes right for the kill on page 3. She is a genius! Liggett leaves many clues and I had no idea how the novel was going to end which is freaking fantastic! I had two guesses about the prophecy. The ending is eerie and perfect in every way.

Liggett sets the bar for horror very high. The Last Harvest is absolutely frightening and mesmerizing! I was able to read this engrossing and horrific masterpiece in October which is the perfect time of year to be creeped out. You will never look at cattle and dolls the same anymore. There are mentions of religion, creepy dolls, occult rituals, death, mutilation of animals and possible incest. The Last Harvest is chilling to the bone and exquisitely twisted! Liggett knows how contort a story where your brain explodes. Beware when you read The Last Harvest.

"I plead the blood."

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

My Wizarding Patronus

Elizabeth from Book YAbber, Marci from The Plot Bunny and I will be revealing our Patronuses today and discuss the significance of our Patronuses. For those who are following Pottermas 2016, make sure to check out the introduction here. Also, follow us with the hashtag #Pottermas2016.


According to Pottermore, the Patronus is a defensive charm and it produces a silvery-white guardian or protector in the form of an animal. The spell is effective against Dementors and is casted when the witch or wizard has a pure, protective magical concentration of happiness and hope. After Pottermore released the Patronus quiz, I didn't hesitate to find out what animal my Patronus takes the form of. My Patronus is the Grey Squirrel.




According to spirit-animals.com, a person who has a squirrel spirit animal has the following qualities:

You are often resourceful and have a way of manifesting all the things you need in the present and for the future. You like to be prepared for all occasions and are ready to socialize at any given moment. People with squirrel energy are very good at balancing their lives with work and play.

Squirrel people tend to be a little erratic at times, often trying to do many things at once. Take the time to stop and listen to your inner self and focus on one thing at a time.

The squirrel is very fitting for my personality. I am resourceful and I'm a planner. I like to be prepared for all situations. I am the type of person who asks "What If?" I like to multi-task but sometimes I need to slow down and focus my energy toward one task at a time.


What is your Patronus and do you think you Patronus is a good fit for you?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Favorite Underrated Moments in Harry Potter

Elizabeth from Book YAbber, Marci from The Plot Bunny and I excited to talk about what some of our favorite underrated moments in Harry Potter are. There are so many to choose from so I had to narrow down to some important moments that I love and also moments that aren't emphasized in the films but are found in the books. Don't forget to follow Pottermas 2016 with the hashtag #Pottermas16 on social media!


WARNING 
For those who haven't read the Harry Potter series, all book discussions WILL HAVE spoilers. If you do not want to read spoilers, please do not read ahead.

Malfoy, the amazing bouncing ferret! This is one of my favorite moments in the book. It's interesting how Hippogriffs's diets consist of ferrets and Draco was "attacked" by Buckbeak.

Dobby is Free. Dobby tries to save Harry's life multiple times.Without Dobby, Harry Potter would have to weasel his way out of many tight spots.

Image from buzzfeed.com
Boggart in a wardrobe or writing desk shows peoples' fears and only with laughter can you defeat this boggart. This shows how people are only human and that everyone fears something whether it be your family dead to the moon shining to a huge spider crawling out.

Luna's paintings of her friends on walls and ceiling shows how Harry, Ron, Hermione, Neville and Ginny are her true friends and that she is loved. She is very unique and talented despite her eccentricities. Image from CaseyRobinArt.
Weasley Twin's jokes adds humor to the darkest time and more serious times throughout the series. Life needs a bit of humor. Life shouldn't always be serious and you need to live your life to its fullest.

Peeves adds some more comic relief to the series. I wish he had a part in the films because he definitely added some spunk to Hogwarts. His allegiance to only the Bloody Baron and Albus Dumbledore later expands to others such as Professor McGonagall and Fred throughout the the last few books.

Snape's potion puzzle is something that is often forgotten. It's important to know that magic isn't everything and that logic is important. Hermione mentions how many witches and wizards do not have an ounce of logic.

Image from pottermore.wikia.com
Crookshanks is a clever part Kneazle who aids Padfoot with his plans to capture and reveal who Wormtail really is. Never estimate creatures.

Harry disarming Draco at the Malfoy Manor is one of the most important moments in Harry Potter. Without this single action, Harry wouldn't be able to master the Deathly Hallows and wouldn't be able to finally defeat Voldemort.

It's important when Tonks's Patronus changes to a wolf for the fact that her Patronus only changes when she starts having feeling for Remus Lupin. Her love grows and so does her Patronus.

Image from pottermore.wikia.com
How Neville could have been the Chosen One but Voldemort marked Harry instead. It was very important for Neville be the one to destroy the last Horcrux in order to make Voldemort mortal again. This gave Harry the opportunity to overcome Voldemort with the alliance of the Elder Wand.


What are some of your favorite underrated moments in Harry Potter?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Pottermas 2016: The Introduction

Happy December everyone! I am ecstatic that Pottermas 2016 is finally here! Elizabeth from Book YAbber, Marci from The Plot Bunny and I are celebrating Pottermas 2016 which is a fun filled December feature showcasing our favorite fantasy series, Harry Potter! This feature, Pottermas 2016, will be broken down into book general HP discussions, HP gift guide, HP recipes, HP craft tutorials and more. Follow the hashtag #Pottermas16 all month long!

Elizabeth and I came up with Pottermas last year and Marci joined us for this year. If you want to see what Elizabeth and I did last year during Pottermas 2015, you can check out the magical posts here. If you want to know more about my journey with Harry Potter, check out this post.

December is always one of my favorite times to re-read Harry Potter and to watch the HP movies. Also, we are lucky that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is in theaters now! The Wizarding World will always be with us. Harry Potter has sparked a movement of literature, social activism, self-discovery and a sense of belonging.

For those who don't know my house affiliations, Patronus, etc., please see below for my Harry Potter Pottermore stats.

Image from harry potter.wikia.com

Name: Nicole
Hogwarts House: Ravenclaw
Ilvermorny House: Thunderbird
Patronus: Grey Squirrel
Wand: Sycamore, unicorn hair, 10 inches and slightly springy


Are there certain discussions you want to see about Harry Potter for this month? What house(s) do you belong to? What is your Patronus?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide: Top Contemporary Books to Give

 

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 Holiday Gift Guide freebie. I decided to crete a list of some of my favorite contemporary reads to gift to others. The titles are in no particular order.


1. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum involves a friend with a secret identity who helps Jessie cope with her new life. The formatting of the book definitely mixes things up with text exchanges, IMs and e-mails.


2. The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord is perfect in every way. Paige is trying to move forward after her boyfriend passed away a year ago. From strong, healthy friendships to a slow burning romance, this book is for you if you genuinely want to read an honest book with feels!


3. Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch is full of adventure and love in Florence, Italy! Lina discovers her mother's journal and finds out more about her after she moves to Italy for the summer.  She definitely finds about more than she bargains for.


4. The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee doesn't come out until after Christmas, two days to be exact. But it shouldn't stop you from pre-ordering this heartfelt book. Those who are intrigued by fragrances, the language of flowers, family relationships and first loves will love this novel! It will tantalize your senses!


5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is my favorite book of all time. I first read this book back in the early 2000's when I was a teen and I fell in love. The book is raw and doesn't sugar coat anything about what a teen goes through. You will feel infinite!


6. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han is an excellent book about sisterly relationships. The family dynamics are excellent and all the food Lara Jean makes and describes will have your mouth watering! Of course you will find all about Lara Jean's secret past crushes!


7. Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli is a coming-of-age novel about a high school boy named Simon who finally finds someone who actually understands him. The novel is an adorable read and you will love all of the food and pop culture references.


8. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is a must read for those who love romantic contemporary novels set at a boarding school. Anna moves to Paris, France for her senior year of high school. Little did she know that she will be charmed by √Čtienne.


9. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is another book I read back in the early 2000s and it's the first book I read by Anderson. Ever since then, I have fell in love with Anderson's writing. Anderson writes about realistic and difficult teen topics. In this novel, she talks about how Melinda was raped at a party. It's a very powerful book.


10. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is definitely a favorite of mine! I have so many versions of this book that I lost count. I love everything about this novel and it is very dear to me. Cath enters her first year of college and her head is still stuck in the world of fan fiction. Not only can I relate to Cath, her love for a Harry Potter like series (Simon Snow in Fangirl) but I love how she bonds over fan fiction with her sister.


11. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone touches upon mental health. Stone does a fantastic job including supportive adult figures in Sam's life. The Poet's Corner has helped Sam immensely and she was able to meet people who treat her as a true friend.


12. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales is an inspirational coming-of-age story about self-discovery. Elise is an outcast and she finds her calling through music and DJing.


What contemporary novels do you enjoy reading? What books are you gifting this year? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee

Title: The Secret of a Heart Note
Author: Stacey Lee
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication date: December 27, 2016
Pages: 384
Source/format: e-ARC from publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

An evocative novel about a teen aroma expert who uses her extrasensitive sense of smell to mix perfumes that help others fall in love while protecting her own heart at all costs

Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking—all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make.

At once hopeful, funny, and romantic, Stacey Lee’s The Secret of a Heart Note is a richly evocative coming-of-age story that gives a fresh perspective on falling in love and finding one’s place in the world.


M Y T H O U G H T S

Mimosa (Mim) wants to experience life as a teenager but because she is from a family of aromateurs, it is her duty to carry on the legacy. There are many rules Mim's mother sets aside in order to set a certain reputation. One can not go swimming or eat certain foods. If one falls in love, she will lose her sense of smell to whip up such elixirs. Welcome to the elixir magic of a love witch.

Stacey Lee lush descriptions are splendid. Her writing is a dream! She touches all five senses and The Secret of a Heart Note is very unique. The novel reminds me of all the notes in my candle fragrances and my indie perfumes. I love how Lee breaks down the different top notes, heart notes and base notes of an elixir and scentprints. The Secret of a Heart Note is memorizing and tantalizes all the senses. Lee educates readers about language of flowers and how to concoct the perfect essence.

Mim is relatable and is so compassionate. I was rooting for her throughout the whole novel. Her relationship with Court is adorable. Mim has an amazing best friend, Kali, who sticks by Mim's side no matter what. Mim is also willing to correct and learn from her mistakes. She is independent and a go-getter. However, her relationship with her mother is on the rocks. Lee is able to shine the spotlight on the mother-daughter relationship between Mim and Mim's mother. There is also a sisterly relationship between Mim's mother and Mim's aunt that is covered throughout the novel.

Although I love Lee's historical fiction novels, Under a Painted Sky and Outrun the Moon, The Secret of a Heart Note is so heartfelt and romantic. She pulls at your heartstrings with this novel. This emotional roller coaster is bursting! I even teared up at the end of the book because the ending is flawless! I couldn't ask for anything more.

If you're looking for a cute contemporary romance with a touch of magical realism and relationship building, definitely check out The Secret of a Heart Note. It's a hybrid of Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman and Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday Thanksgiving Freebie: What I am Thankful For


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 a Thanksgiving freebie. I decided to list what I am thankful for! I didn't want to narrow myself to only book related things but you will see how my list includes some bookish thanks!


1. J.K. Rowling is the queen! She has created one of my favorite series of all time and this series has impacted my life greatly. I jumped into the Wizarding World back in 2001 and never looked back. I would not be the person I am today without Harry Potter in my life. Harry Potter has opened new opportunities for me and has help me break out of my shell. And now she has opened the door to the era of the 1920s with Fantastic Beasts and can I say I am in love!

2. Harry Potter meet up groups and conventions is where I find home! The Potterheads I meet through meet up groups and conventions are some of the nicest and non-judgemental people you will meet in your life. We are all here for one thing and that's Harry Potter! We can set our differences and come together to celebrate everything Harry Potter! They are my second family.

3. YA Book Community is another group of people that I love to interact with via online and in person. For the most part, everyone is very helpful. I love meeting new friends through our love of books. Going to book signings and to book events is fantastic! Also, thank you to the publishers, literary agents and authors for your hard work in creating masterpieces!

4. My Boyfriend is my #1 supporter and is always there for me no matter what. We've just celebrated our 9 year anniversary together and I cannot wait to celebrate many more years! I love him so much!

5. Supportive coworkers and amazing students at TRiO and Upward Bound! My coworkers have been supporting each other for the last three months through tough times at the office. I am so thankful for their bravery and their encouragement. We worked hard through many tears and have overcome many obstacles together. My students at Upward Bound are like another family. Our relationship in Upward Bound is unique and different from most educator and student relationships.

6. Music brings out the emotions and helps soothe the soul. Although I love books, music is something that helped me a lot during me teenage years and even now to this day. It helps me get through things and music also evokes memories.

7. Food is the substance of life! I love cooking and baking. I love traveling to taste the culinary wonders of the world! The savory and sweet morsels of food lingering on the tongue is a treat! The aesthetics of food is picture perfect!

8. Art and Design is visually pleasing and is another facet to being creative. Like books and music, art is like a window into someone's soul. It's an expression of the imagination.

9. My immediate family has been very supportive with all the choices I have made in my life. They are always there for me.

10. My friends who have been there for me during all the happy and tough times in my life. I don't know what I would do without you!

11. You! Thank you for supporting my blog! It's readers like you that encourages me to share my life with you. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


What are you thankful for this year? Do you have big plans for Thanksgiving?