Friday, January 30, 2015

Looking Ahead: Never Always Sometimes Cover Reveal

Image from alloyentertainment.com

Adi Alsaid just mentioned on Twitter about his new book Never Always Sometimes. The cover was revealed earlier today. The novel has a release date of August 4, 2015. I am looking forward to this novel. Even though Let's Get Lost wasn't my favorite, I hope I like this one. The synopsis looks promising.

According to Alsaid on Alloy Entertainment's site, he mentioned the following:

"We are six months away from the release of NEVER ALWAYS SOMETIMES, but as I learned with LET’S GET LOST, it’s never too soon to start the journey! Or is it sometimes too soon? Just kidding, as always. Okay, I promise that’s the last of the bad title-based jokes in this post.

I’m thrilled to be presenting the cover of my second novel, and so excited for everyone to get to meet Dave and Julia. The night before high school started, these two loner best friends came up with The Nevers, a list of clichés they promised themselves never to do. They didn’t want to change in high school, didn’t want to become like everyone else. But now it’s March of Senior year, and time is dragging on. Out of sheer boredom—or maybe something else—Dave and Julia decide to check off every item on the list, confident that they avoided turning into high school cliches. Their adventures lead them to parties, road trips, and to a handful of unexpected realizations about the people they’ve spent four years avoiding.

NEVER ALWAYS SOMETIMES was a lot of fun to write, especially because of the chemistry that naturally developed between Dave and Julia. After the sprawling, ensemble-cast feel of LET’S GET LOST, it was great to change gears and zoom in on two people that are as close as it gets (though not that close; Never date your best friend was the last item on the list). It’s an intimate book, and—dare I set myself up for people disagreeing?—a funny book. I hope readers, new and returning alike, will fall in love with Dave and Julia like I did, and discover that, every now and then, it’s okay to embrace the clichés."

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Title: I Was Here
Author: Gayle Forman
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication date:  January 27, 2015
Pages: 288
Source/format: ARC from Emma of Miss Print

Rating: ☆☆☆ 

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Cody and Meg were inseparable. 
Two peas in a pod. 
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.

My Thoughts:

Cody and Meg were best friends until Meg took her life. Cody didn't expect this to happen and her life starts falling apart. At first she thought the e-mail was a hoax. But then she finds out that maybe there was something or someone that pushed Meg over the edge.

The first two pages hit me hard. I knew a little bit of the synopsis but I didn't know that the suicide letter was going to be the first paragraph of the novel. Although a tough issue to tackle, Gayle Forman writes with emotion and writes a novel that you can't put down. I have never read anything by Forman and I am glad I was able to read I Was Here. I am usually not one for very emotional books but this one hit me hard in the chest. I seriously couldn't sleep because I kept thinking about the book.

I think it has to do with knowing a few students in my high school who took their own lives as well. I learn to cherish the time I spend with my friends and family because life is too short. You never know what is going to happen.

Having Cody uncover why Meg decided to end her life is chilling. This book, although contemporary, could also be a mystery thriller. Cody is doing her own investigating about what happened. Also, the way that Cody approached Meg's "mentor" is disturbing. No one would approach some random stranger like that. It's just plain dangerous. Even though Cody wants to get to the bottom of the case, she doesn't use her common sense.

Forman writes beautifully with raw sentiment. It's like I can feel the emotions she pours onto the pages. I can feel what Cody is feeling. It's like I am there with Cody when she embarks on this journey. What bothered me about the novel was the romance between Cody and Ben. It turns me off no matter how wonderful their chemistry is especially since Ben is connected to Meg. Also, I didn't expect Cody to engage in romance with Ben. Meg was her friend. There are certain rules of friendship that you abide to no matter what.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top Ten Books I'd Love to Read If I had a Book Club


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to list their top ten books we'd love to read with our book club/if we had a book club. I don't have a book club but the following list of books are books I would suggest reading if I had book club. The following books are in no particular order. I feel like many of these books will appeal to majority of readers and if read in a book club, will generate good feedback for discussion.

1. Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal is one of my favorite books I've read and for good reason. I love the character development in this novel. Definitely pick up this book when you have a chance!


2. Landline by Rainbow Rowell is a perfect contemporary read for the holidays or during the winter months. Rowell adds a bit of magical realism to spice things up!


3. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley is a must read book. It covers a variety of issues that everyone should know and read about. Although an excellent book, the dialogue and content of this book may be hard to read for some. This novel should definitely be read by all high schoolers.


4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is the first book that made me cry. So many feels with this one. Definitely read with a box of tissues next to you. The film is fabulous as well.


5. Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See is a book that I read in my Literature for Young Adults class in college. I loved this novel and it introduced me to See's other books. I am a big fan of historical fiction and See does not disappoint.


6. 1984 by George Orwell is a classic. I read it in high school and it's my second Orwell book that I've read. It's dystopian at its finest.


7.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is one of my all time favorite reads and one I read back in high school. I love the characters and beautiful writing. It's definitely a memorable coming-of-age novel.


8. The Giver by Lois Lowry is another book I read in my Literature for Young Adults class. This is definitely a good book to read and to discuss about.



9. All Souls: A Family Story from Southie by Michael Patrick MacDonald is one of my favorite books from high school. I was fortunate enough to attend an assembly with MacDonald as a guest speaker at my high school over 10 years ago.


10. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is a series that must be read. It a series that will appeal to any age. There is something magical about Harry Potter and everyone deserves to experience it.



Friday, January 23, 2015

Pages to Tea (1)


P A G E S  to  T E A

I'm not sure if you know but I am a big tea fanatic. I have so many bags and tins of tea I probably can create a great wall of tea. I love how teas have different properties. Some teas can be energizing and some teas can be calming. My favorite time to enjoy a cuppa is when I am reading a book. Hence why I am showing you some awesome book and tea pairings.

[Anna and the French Kiss + Harney & Sons' Paris Black Tea]

 
 
Anna is sent to a boarding school in Paris! I think I can say that the Harney & Sons' Paris Black Tea is a perfect match for Anna and the French Kiss. Paris is a fruity black tea with vanilla and caramel flavors, and a hint of lemony Bergamot. This is one of Harney & Sons most popular teas. 

[The Bane Chronicles + The Republic of Tea's Lapsang Souchong Black Tea]


Who doesn't love Magnus Bane? He is a reoccurring character in The Mortal Instruments series, The Infernal Devices series and in The Bane Chronicles. His favorite tea is Lapsang Souchong so it's a no brainer that I would pair him up with this black tea. This particular tea of mystery from The Republic of Tea is entrancing and smoky in character. It is achieved through an elaborate process. According to The Republic of Tea's website, the hand-picked leaves are smoked over pinewood embers, for a distinct and mysterious cup. Sounds like Magnus all right.

[Tuck Everlasting + Teavana's Youthberry White Tea]

 
 
Would you ever want to live forever like the Tuck family? This sweetly timeless elixir doesn't extend your life or make you young but it's packed full of fruity flavor. This white tea is a refreshing sweet pineapple and fruity acai berry infusion with subtle floral finish. Teavana's Youthberry White Tea is a great tea to blend with another white tea or a green tea. What a perfect cuppa for Tuck Everlasting.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

Title: Salt & Storm
Author: Kendall Kulper
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:  September 23, 2014
Pages: 398
Source/format: ARC from BEA 2014

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2

Synposis (from goodreads):

You don't know what you must give up to become a witch. 

Avery Roe wants only to claim her birthright as the witch of Prince Island and to make the charms that have kept the island's sailors safe at sea for generations, but instead she is held prisoner by her mother in a magic-free life of proper manners and respectability. 

Avery thinks escape is just a matter of time, but when she has a harrowing nightmare, she can see what it means: She will be killed. She will be murdered. And she's never been wrong before. 

Desperate to change her future, Avery finds a surprising ally in Tane—a tattooed harpoon boy with magic of his own, who moves her in ways she never expected. But as time runs out to unlock her magic and save herself, Avery discovers that becoming a witch requires unimaginable sacrifice. 

Avery walks the knife's edge between choice and destiny in Kendall Kulper's sweeping debut: the story of one girl's fight to survive the rising storm of first love and family secrets.

My Thoughts:

I absolutely love this novel. Kendall Kulper has a gift for not only amazing writing but for story telling. Kulper intertwines fantasy with historical fiction, creating a magical experience for the reader.

Avery Roe is descended from a line of witches who are bound to Prince Island. Each woman is a product of a curse and each Roe woman has a special gift. A Roe woman becomes a witch when she falls in love only to find that her love will her hurt in some way. This pain from the heartbreak powers up her magic. It stirs within her and she creates powerful magic. Everyone on Prince Island relies on the Roe witch for basic charms and spells. However, Avery is about to break that curse even though she has to sacrifice her one true love.

Avery has always wanted to be a witch. She wants to take her grandmother's place when her grandmother's passes. I loved how Kulper weaved the world of whaling in this 19th century story. I felt Avery's pain as she progresses throughout the Salt & Storm. We see her as a little girl living with her grandmother and we see her as a young lady when her mother comes to take her away from grandmother. Without knowing about how a Roe woman becomes a witch, Avery falls right into the eye of the curse.

Avery has a special gift of dream telling and she foresees her death in a dream. Throughout the whole novel, she tries to prevent this murder but it is fated in the stars that all dreams she tells come true.

What saddened me was how Avery fell in love with Tane. At first, she didn't pay any mind to him until she was desperate to visit her grandmother. Through dream telling and ancient magic, Avery and Tane bond and start to love each other. I love the world Kulper created and the relationships Avery built. Avery only wanted to chase her dreams but didn't expect for those who love her to hurt her. Even though Tane is her one true love, there are other characters in the novel that hurt Avery. I feel like Avery has so much to gain but lost so much.

Meeting Kendall Kulper:

Kendall Kulper is such a sweetheart. I was fortunate enough to meet her at the Boston Teen Author Festival back in September 2014. I read an ARC of Salt & Storm prior to the event and I purchased a finished copy the day of the event for the signing. Everyone was standing in line to meet Alexandra Bracken and I was so ecstatic to be the first to meet Kulper since no one lining up near her table. Salt & Storm was one of my coveted books I was able to get at Book Expo America 2014 and I was beyond exited that Kulper was able to attend the Boston Teen Author Festival.

How awesome is the cover art? Kulper mentioned how knots are important in her book and how she wanted knots to be somehow incorporated into the cover design. I love the rich purple, the typeface and the rope heart knot. It's whimsical yet fits the story of Salt & Storm well.
 
Another book?

The prequel to Salt & Storm is called Drift & Dagger and it has a release date of September 8, 2015. I can't wait to read it! Let me know in the comments what you thought about Salt & Storm and if you are planning to read the prequel when it's published.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Top Ten Favorite Books from Childhood


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a freebie. I decided to list my top ten favorite books from childhood. The following books are in no particular order. Sorry for only listing 8. I figured because I named quite a few series in the list, 8 will suffice.

1. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White is a book I often recommend to children in grade school. Not only is the book fantastic but the movie is suburb as well.


2. Matilda by Roald Dahl is a book that every kid should read! I loved it so much that I gifted a copy to my 8-year-old cousin for Christmas.


3. Any book by Shel Silverstein was on my TBR list as a child. I loved his books when I was a child and I still love them to this day.



4. The Redwall series by Brian Jacques is a series I pretty much ate up in grade school. My absolute favorite book in the series is Mossflower. I was always checking out the books from the library. Apparently there are 22 volumes now which means I have to catch up since the last one came out in 2011. I believe I've only read half the series.


5. Tales of the Dimwood Forest series by Avi. The series includes 4 books. I read the first book, Poppy, in 6th grade at school and I fell in love with the characters.


6. The Babysitter's Club series by Ann M. Martin is a classic! I loved these books when I was elementary and middle school. Unfortunately, I never finished reading the entire series. There are just too many of them.


7. Sweet Valley Twins series by Francine Pascal were books I devoured when I was younger. I couldn't get enough. However, I didn't get to read all the books in this series as well since there are so many books.


8.  The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is definitely a series that is super important to me. Although I didn't read the first book right when it came out, Harry Potter made a huge impact on my life since about 9th grade to today.



Saturday, January 17, 2015

Fairy Revel with Holly Black

I was able to attend a Fairy Revel with Holly Black on Wednesday, January 14, 2015 with Melissa from Novelty Podcast. The event was held at the Public Library of Brookline in the Teen Room. I love how Robin Brenner, the teen/young adult librarian, decorated the room with vines to make it look more like an enchanted forest. She even made fairy bread with this amazing strawberry butter which everyone loved. Check out the Public Library of Brookline's teen tumblr for more pictures.


Holly Black did a reading from her latest book, The Darkest Part of the Forest, and she also did a Q&A with her fans. I thought it was nice of her to give free posters to those who asked her a question. And how fabulous is Black's jacket? Her hair and jacket are nicely coordinated.



Tithe was published in 2002 and Black wanted to return back to her roots and to write about fairies. After all, the fairies helped her become a better writer. The Q&A was very informative. The audience had good questions about her past works such as The Coldest Girl in ColdtownThe Spiderwick Chronicles and Curse Workers series. Black also answered questions about what her favorite POV is to write, about her writing process and she also talked about a couple fairy tales like The White Cat.

I was interested when Black described her writing process when she wrote The Iron Trial with Cassandra Clare. Both women would sit in the same room and one will write 200-500 words. The first will then hand over the laptop to the other and that person will edit the prior's writing. After editing, the latter will write some more and then will hand over the laptop to the initial writer. This process will repeat over and over until the book is finished. It also provides Callum's voice to be consistent. Black despises first drafting and this process works so well. Writing with Clare makes the process less agonizing. Black and Clare will continue this process for the remaining books in The Magisterium series.

One question I loved was how do you know if your book is finished. Black answered the question and said that there is a feeling you get when you reach the end of a book. She likes to write the first chapter, rewrite the chapter, write two chapters, rewrite the chapters, etc. She repeats this process until she reaches the last line of the novel. Although she doesn't know the right ending or exactly how the book ends, she has an idea of an ending and the book is done. From there is will polish up and edit the novel until she is happy with all the changes she makes.

Black gets to know her characters when she starts writing the first couple of chapters. There is no definite outlining of characters beforehand. She likes to step back and pull the camera back. She wants to see the story from the reader's view and not in the heads of the characters. Sometimes seeing the big picture instead of the nitty gritty is important.

When Black writes, she reads a lot of cadence of what she is writing about. She wants to keep the voice and the language in her books. She read a lot of Noir when she wrote the Curse Workers series and read a lot of fairytales when she wrote the Modern Faerie Tales series and The Darkest Part of the Forest. Occasionally she will go on a tangent and read something like high fantasy. Recently she read The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison.

Black also touched upon fan fiction/fan work. When she found out about fan fiction, she was surprised people are writing for fun.
How? And why? were her first two thoughts.
"What is this?  Okay, this is interesting."
She realized the fan fiction cuts out everything except the joy of the fandom. The writing is about appealing to the reader self and not the writer self.

Before writing Tithe, Black was still learning about plot. She started writing short stories and poetry. After writing Tithe, her friend who is a children's librarian explained to Black that YA as changed over the years. This helped Black figure out what books are "categorized" as YA. In terms of genres and labels of YA and MG, it's hard to determine what horror is for children. Is Doll Bones too scary? Is it not scary enough? Black mentions what scares us the most is what we bring to it. She is scared of zombies but Libba Bray is scared of dolls. Doll Bones isn't scary to Black but for Bray it might be a book she might avoid. Black also mentions labels are often imposed by the publisher and can be helpful but they can also obscure.

The posters Black gave out are the same ones that you can receive when you pre-ordered The Darkest Part of the Forest from one of the six indie bookstores listed on her website. I love how the blue horns match Black's hair. So perfect!

Image from hollyblack.tumblr.com/

Black recently had an interview with Lisa Parkin. You can check out the interview at Huffington Post. I am super excited that Brian Froud and Alan Lee influenced Black with their Faeries book. I have always been a fan of Brian Froud. Make sure you check out his other books! While you're at it, check out Amy Brown's Art of Amy Brown Volume I and Art of Amy Brown Volume 2. I am a big fan of fairy art and I am glad it influenced Black.

Also, check out this enchanting yet creepy book trailer for The Darkest Part of the Forest. It definitely captures the mood of the novel and everything fairy!


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Alienated by Melissa Landers

Title: Alienated
Author: Melissa Landers
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication date:  February 4, 2014
Pages: 344
Source/format: Hardcover, library

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them. 

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket. 

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking. 

But when Cara's classmates get swept up by anti-L'eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn't safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara's locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class. 

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she's fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

My Thoughts:

Cara Sweeney is an over achiever. She is valedictorian, president of the Honor Society and is a two time state debate champion. Her school nominated her to participate in an intergalaxy exchange program called the Leihr Exchange Ambassador Program (LEAP). She is paired up with Aelyx, a L'eihr student ambassador. Cara's family hosts Aelyx for a year of schooling while Aelyx shadows Cara at school. This exchange program is meant for the alliance between Earth and L'eihr to grow stronger.

Cara's family is super supportive which I liked. A lot parents aren't so supportive in a teen's life so I found Cara's family very likable. However, Cara's boyfriend isn't so supportive. He believes that the L'eihrs should not be on Earth and are not to be trusted. He even joins this group called Humans Against L'eihr Occupation aka HALO. Some people do not support the alliance and protest at the school and treat the L'eihrs poorly. It gets to the point that Cara breaks off the relationship with Eric due to their different views. Eventually Cara and her best friend of six years decide to break off their friendship as well.

Cara is super thoughtful in terms of making Aelyx feel like he is at home. She asks him how his room looks like at home and replicates it as close as she can on Earth. She tries to make him foods similar to what he eats at home and was successful when she had her mom cook a pot roast which tasted similar to Aelyx's favorite dish back at home called l'ina. I think it's cute how Aelyx calls Cara Elire.

Alienated reminds me of the the CW show Star-Crossed that got canceled after the first season. It is fairly similar except a small group Atrians (alien species) are integrated with humans at a high school of a suburban town. The Red Hawks are the equivalent to HALO. Both Alienated and Star-Crossed have alien species who have a plant that can cure humans from certain illnesses/diseases. However, I believe that Alienated would make a better TV series.

I like how Melissa Landers would start or end some chapters of Alienated with a blog post written by Cara. I also enjoyed reading the dual POV in the novel and I can tell which POV is Cara's and which POV is Aelyx's. Reading from Aelyx's POV and Cara's POV helps the reader feel what they are thinking and what they are going through. Landers does a good job developing the relationship between Cara and Aelyx. There is no instalove and THANK GOODNESS! I love how their relationship blossoms. Both are indifferent to each other when they first meet but over time they start to grow fond of each other. The ending of the novel is action packed. There is so much going on it was pretty intense and crazy! Definitely pick up a copy of Alienated when you have a chance. The sequel, Invaded, has a publication date of February 3, 2015.

There is a pre-order deal for signed copies of Invaded and Alienated. Check it out on Melissa Landers' site. The last day for the pre-order is January 15, 2015.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Top Ten 2014 Releases I Meant to Read


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to list their top ten 2014 releases they meant to read but didn't get to. The following books are in no particular order. I hope to read a good amount of these books this year but I won't make any promises just in case I can't keep them.

1. Vampires of Manhattan by Melissa de la Cruz is the first book in the New Blue Bloods Coven series and is also the spin off of the Blue Bloods series. The spin off is focused on Oliver Hazard-Perry.


2. Rebel by Amy Tintera is the second book in the Reboot duology. I have had my eye on this book ever since I read Reboot. I can't wait to read this installment.


3. White Hot Kiss and Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L. Armentrout are the first two books in The Dark Elements series. I hope to read these two before Every Last Breath is released. I have a good 6+ months before the release date to marathon both paranormal romance novels.


4. China Dolls by Lisa See has been on my TBR list for quite awhile. I have been a big fan of Lisa See's novels and I still have yet to read this novel. I must plan some time in 2015 to read some adult fiction. Definitely check out her other works such as Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.


5. Guardian by Alexander London is the second book in the Proxy duology. I love Proxy and I hope Guardian is up to par or even better than the first installment.


6. The Penguin Book of Witches edited by Katherine Howe is chock full of transcribed primary source documents of accused witches. I am a big fan of everything Salem related and would love to read more about witchcraft accusations besides the Salem Witch Trials.


7. Bane Chronicles by Sarah Rees Brennan, Cassandra Clare and Maureen Johnson has been on my TBR list forever! I should have already read this by now since I pre-ordered it and received it on release day. I need to jump into this book ASAP! I mean it's Magnus Bane!!! Who doesn't love Magnus?



8. Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King is a contemporary novel that I have been looking forward to read ever since I attended the Boston Book Festival. I heard good things about this novel and I can't wait to dive right into it.


9. The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness has been on my TBR list forever. I loved the first two books of the All Souls Trilogy so it's a no brainer that I should read the third installment. I need to make a date with this book ASAP.


10. Winterspell by Claire Legrand has been on my list to read since the Boston Teen Author Festival. Yes, I should have read this book last month around the holiday season but I was super busy and frankly I was horrible at prioritizing. This Nutcracker retelling sounds amazing and look at that stunning cover art!




Monday, January 12, 2015

Inked by Eric Smith

Title: Inked 
Author: Eric Smith
Publisher: Bloomsbury Spark
Publication date:  January 20, 2015
Pages: 191
Source/format: e-ARC from Netgalley

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Tattoos once were an act of rebellion.

Now they decide your destiny the moment the magical Ink settles under your skin.

And in a world where Ink controls your fate, Caenum can't escape soon enough. He is ready to run from his family, and his best friend Dreya, and the home he has known, just to have a chance at a choice.

But when he upsets the very Scribe scheduled to give him his Ink on his eighteenth birthday, he unwittingly sets in motion a series of events that sends the corrupt, magic-fearing government, The Citadel, after him and those he loves.

Now Caenum, Dreya, and their reluctant companion Kenzi must find their way to the Sanctuary, a secret town where those with the gift of magic are safe. Along the way, they learn the truth behind Ink, its dark origins, and why they are the only ones who can stop the Citadel.

Eric Smith takes you on a high-octane fantasy adventure, perfect for anyone who has dreamed of being different… only to discover that fate is more than skin deep.


My Thoughts:

Caenum is scared about his fate. When one turns 18, one will get inked. Dreya, his neighbor and his best friend, is already inked and is happy with her fate. Everyone tells Caenum not to worry about the Inking. When Caenum meets Kenzi, he thought it was odd that Kenzi's skin was bare. Kenzi is an apprentice scribe. When a Scribe comes of age, the Scribe performs his or her first Inking. However, the Scribe also gets Inked that same day. Something goes wrong with Kenzi's Inking and Caenum's grandmother knows the reason why. Kenzi is a Conduit.

The Citadel hunts Conduits because of their inherent magic is dangerous when they get inked. Molivar and the rest of the people of the Frosthaven believe that Kenzi is Unprinted and is wreaking havoc in the town.

Caenum volunteers to take Kenzi to the Conduit Sanctuary instead of his grandmother going. There are so many feels for what Caenum is going through with his grandmother and Dreya. And so many feels for what Dreya has to go through. I was literally seating on the edge of my seat almost in tears. When Caenum thinks he has lost all of his family, he uncovers a familiar face. I am so glad Caenum reunites with his only family he has left but there are secrets that are yet to be unveiled. This familiar person is not the same as who Caenum remembers from the past.

Dreya is the Hermione of the group. She knows about Caenum's grandmother's hints about the Sanctuary and the secret ingredient of Pepper Thistle in Caenum's grandmother's stew. She is very logical throughout the whole novel. When Caenum, Kenzi and Dreya are traveling to find the Sanctuary, it reminds me how Harry, Ron and Hermione are searching for the horcruxes. When Trackers Vikash and Tabor find the trio in Inked, it reminds me how the Snatchers found the Harry Potter trio in the Forbidden Forest. Both trios have magical abilities as well.

It's crazy how being inked is so important to the Citadel. It provides control over the masses. It provides order and it crushes dreams. The Citadel shuns the Unprinted like how the Factionless were shunned in Divergent. Conduits are treated like those who are Divergent. Both societies in both books fear those who are different. The origins of the ink for the Inking is shocking. I did not see that coming at all.

I love how Inked is reminiscent of Divergent and Harry Potter series. However, the novel is beautifully written and Eric Smith makes it his own. Smith is an amazing writer. I was drawn into the book from the first paragraph. Smith has a way with words. All the words flowed smoothly and there is enough dialogue and enough action to keep the book moving at a good pace. Smith describes everything in Inked with such detail. I love the book so much I wish Inked is part of a series! Seriously, it's that good! And the cover is absolutely stunning! I highly recommend Inked to anyone who loves a good fantasy read.

Pre-order your copy now if you haven't! Check out Smith's website for some pre-order goodies such as a signed poster and postcard!

Image from ericsmithrocks.com


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Speak; Dutton Juvenile (first)
Publication date:  July 16, 2013; December 2, 2010 (first published)
Pages: 372
Source/format: Paperback, gifted from Melissa at Novelty Podcast

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Can Anna find love in the City of Light? Anna is happy in Atlanta.

She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her coworker at the movie theater, who is just starting to return her affection. So she's less than thrilled when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year.

But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new people, including the handsome Étienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately, he's taken —and Anna might be, too. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she's waiting for?


My Thoughts:

Stephanie Perkins is an amazing writer. I love her writing style. The only piece I've read by her was her short story in My True Love Gave to Me. The first page of the book was the perfect start to Anna attending the School of America in Paris aka SOAP. There she meets Meredith who lives next door. Meredith introduces her to some friends in the circle and that's when Anna is acquainted with Étienne St. Clair. Anna is smitten with him at first sight. Anna can't resist Étienne but Étienne has a girlfriend.

The novel is super cute. I understand how she became to love Étienne overtime but the whole love at first sight sometimes turns me off. I mean, Étienne has a girlfriend. Anna should know not to step over those boundaries even though Étienne keeps flirting with her. And Anna should also be wary about Christopher aka Toph.

However, Anna keeps questioning herself whether if she likes Étienne or Toph. There was one point she wasn't sure if she likes Dave. I was quite upset when she was hanging out with Dave just to piss off Étienne. I think Anna needs to decide who she likes and who she wants to be with. Also, it doesn't help that Étienne secretly likes Anna but is still with Ellie but Étienne and Ellie are having relationship problems. But then again, it doesn't help with Anna's best friend from back home is dating Toph and doesn't tell Anna. There is so much relationship drama in this novel! And there is so much cheating. I am okay with certain love triangles but I am not okay with cheating.

I am glad that Anna found something she likes to do in Paris other than flirting with Étienne day and night. I know at first Paris was overwhelming and intimidating but Anna found the courage to venture out of SOAP. Her love for cinema helped her enjoy the city to it's finest. She loves watching films and reviewing them on her Femme Film Freak website.

I kind of laughed when I found out Matt is Anna's ex-boyfriend. He still cares for her as a friend. It reminds me of Matt Donovan in The Vampire Diaries and how he is still good friends with his ex-girlfriend, Elena Gilbert. I thought it was cute how Anna Oliphant has a nickname of Banana Elephant. I love how Étienne gifted Anna the glass banana bead. He is super thoughtful when it comes to gifts like when he gave her the left handed note book for taking notes for her film reviews.

I was so sad when Étienne found out about his mom having cancer and how his controlling dad wouldn't let Étienne visit his mother. It was heartbreaking. The different family dynamics that Perkins includes in Anna and the French Kiss shows readers that families aren't perfect and there are always obstacles that everyone has to face. Running away does not help diffuse the family problems and issues. Anna helped Étienne face his father and to stand up to him!

I am looking forward to reading Lola and the Boy Next Door and also Isla and the Happily Ever After. I hope they are a tad better than Anna and the French Kiss. I thought it was awesome that we get to meet Isla Martin in Anna and the French Kiss. I also respect Isla for backing up Anna when Anna had that fight with Amanda. I cannot wait to read more about Isla and her happily ever after.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

Title: Rebel Belle
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publication date:  April 8, 2014
Pages: 345
Source/format: Hardcover, Purchased

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
 
Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth. 

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y'all beg for more. 


My Thoughts:

Harper Jane Price is a southern girl attending Grove Academy in Pine Grove, Alabama. She is living her normal life as president of the SGA and head cheerleader. She hopes to be crowned Homecoming Queen. However, life as a teenage girl is difficult when she obtains powers of the Paladin. The janitor, Mr. Hall, dies right after she obtains her powers and her history teacher is trying to kill her on the day of Homecoming. Even though Harper becomes Homecoming Queen, she has other things on her mind.

Harper finds out she is a Paladin who has to protect the Oracle. Unfortunately for Harper, the Oracle happens to be her nemesis, David James Stark. I laughed when I read the name David James Stark. It reminded me of James Stark from The House of Night series. People are out there trying to kill David because he is a male Oracle. Most Oracles are female. Harper and David are living a dangerous life and trying to avoid being killed.

I love reading about the Cotillion. Even though my high school has an annual Cotillion, it's not as intense as Grove Academy's. However, I can relate to Harper about how Cotillion is super important and it has to be almost perfect.

I love the idea of having this kick ass female guardian in a private academy setting. It reminds me of Vampire Academy of how Rose is Lissa's guardian and needs to protect her at all costs. The Mages who work with the Paladins and the Oracle remind me of the Alchemists who conceal any crazy shenanigans that have to do with the Paladins and the Oracle from mundanes.

The word choice for the teenager dialogue could be a bit better. I felt like the way Harper and Blythe talk to one another is not what 17-year-olds would say. I expected them to be a bit more mature. I do have to admit that Rebel Belle is pretty hilarious. I was laughing most of them time when I was reading. It wasn't up to par with the Hex Hall series though. Maybe I had high expectations since the Hex Hall series is pretty amazing.