Saturday, October 31, 2015

Harry Potter Salem Wizarding Halloween Ball

Halloween (All Hallow's Eve) is the day when the veil is thin between the two worlds of the living and the dead. On the last day of October, this day is celebrated. However, every since I read the Harry Potter series, Halloween is also the day James and Lily Potter sacrificed their lives for Harry! And because of this, let's talk about the Harry Potter Salem Wizarding Halloween Ball. Let's say a lot of characters were resurrected for the night.


On Saturday, October 24, 2015, after the Boston Book Festival, Elizabeth from Book YAbber and I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Harry Potter Wizarding Halloween Ball in Salem. This is my fourth year attending and Elizabeth's first. And boy this is definitely not Elizabeth's last Harry Potter event. The Harry Potter fandom community is always welcoming and they comprise of all ages. Also, I have feel like a lot of Harry Potter events are more like reunions but the events also allow room to make new friends.


After the Boston Book Festival, Elizabeth and I got ready at her place for the Ball and took an Uber to Salem. The night was a bit chilly but it was a perfect October night. All I can say is that the ball was a success full of chit chats with old friends and the making of new friends. I saw Voldie dancing with Bellatrix. Professor McGonagall made an appearance and I even saw a snitch zooming around a couple of Quidditch players. Plenty of people were dolled up in house robes.

I was super excited my sister was able to attend since she just moved yesterday. Also, the potions bar had some very fierce wizarding drinks. However, one of the bartenders had a heavier pour than the other and of course I preferred the latter for the tastier drinks.

All photos taken above is by BookYabber.com
For those are interested of what types of drinks were available, check the picture below. I definitely want to experiment making Butterbeer and maybe a few other drinks on the list for a future Harry Potter get together.



Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween Teen Scream Recap

I had the pleasure to attend the Halloween Teen Scream event hosted by Wicked Good Books and Harlequin TEEN at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, MA earlier this week. Salem kicked off the Halloween Author Tour with three amazing authors, Kady Cross, Gena Showalter and Amy Lukavics.

The event had fun intros, Q & A, delicious refreshments, a costume contest and a book signing. It was definitely a memorable night with Elizabeth from Book YAbber and Marci from Reading in the Tardis.


I found it interesting how the some of authors didn't start their careers wanting to be authors right away. Gena studied microbiology and nursing before dropping out of the programs to pursue writing. Amy was in a dental assisting program and decided to write at the age of 19 because dental assisting provided too much pressure. A light bulb popped in her head with the idea, "I could write a story." Her first three books are dark contemporaries before she decided to write what really loved. Horror. And with that, Daughters Unto Devils was born! Kady has always loved writing when she was younger probably because her mother was always making up stories. As a teen, Kady wrote a lot of stories with angst and Duran Duran. After writing about 35 books, only one book Kady wrote did not get published.

For authors who are looking for advice, Kady, Gena and Amy provided excellent advice. Kady told inspiring authors to read outside your comfort zone because it can be inspiring and new genres can be created. Amy said perseverance is valued as much as creative drive. Patience is required and learning not to quit is super important. When writing a novel, you want to look at completing a complex puzzle and not trying to finish a marathon. Amy prefers not to set a word count when writing. Gena and Kady prefer to set a daily goal for themselves. However, social media can be very distracting when trying to reach a word count or when on deadline.

But what happens when your editor disagrees with something you wrote? Gena remarked how when she turned in The Darkest Kiss manuscript, her editor did not like Anya, the Goddess of Anarchy, as much as Gena did. Her editor wanted her to rewrite the manuscript with more sophistication but Anya is pure chaos! Gena claimed how she can't make Anya more sophisticated! Gena battled for two months and won! Her editor allowed Gena to keep Anya how she was written originally. Gena discussed how authors need to voice out their opinions on what they are passionate for.


What are the authors #1 horror inspiration? For Amy, even though it's cliché Stephen King inspired her. She is very fond of Carrie. Kady prefers Dracula with Frank Langella while Gena never really watched or read horror.

In terms of marketing and promotion, the authors believe in word of mouth. Kady wants to be better at promoting her books but she commented how "you can only write the best book you can" and hopefully readers will pick up the book. Gena believes in social media since its information is easily shareable. Kady jokingly mentioned how doing events with more well-known authors also boosts the word of the author to the public. Amy loves the social media interaction because it is more genuine and organic. Many authors are good friends and will promote their friends' books on social media to spread the word.

All three authors had some cool moments and interactions with readers over the years. Gena loves how readers will dress up as characters in her books and she remembered one time when a girl gave Gena flowers and told her her books helped her when she had cancer. Kady met a 9/11 firefighter and her books helped the firefighter through tough times. Her favorite interaction is when she was shopping with a friend at Torrid and the saleslady was ringing up clothing. The saleslady saw Kady's credit card. Kady's real name is Kathryn Smith and the saleslady was mentioning how her favorite author's name is Kathryn Smith. She pretty much freaked out when the Kathryn Smith at Torrid is the same person as the author. She was so excited she went to the back room to call her mom. Amy described how a fan remarked how a book dedication was misprinted and Amy later found out that the fan is the same person who co-wrote a book with Guillermo del Toro.

One member of the audience asked each author what is their favorite character they wrote about. Kady loves her Jack Dandy in the Steampunk Chronicles. Gena has a soft spot for William in Lords of the Underworld. Amy's favorite character is in a book that didn't get published. She loves her Gemma.

A reader was curious about the authors' ages since they all look so young. Surprisingly Gena is 40-years-old even though she looks like she is in her teens or early 20's. Amy is 28-years-old even though she looks in her early 20's and Kady is 44-years-old even though she looks like she is in her 30s.

And one of my favorite questions is what are the authors working on next? Kady is working on the second book in the Sisters of Blood and Spells duet. She hates the word duology and prefers the word duet. She is also working on a book about a revengeance spree against a girl who is assaulted. Gena's next book is Firstlife which is a Everlife novel. She is working on a bunch of other titles such as Strawberry Girl and The Darkest Torment in the Lords of the Underworld series. Amy has another horror book coming out next year called The Women in the Walls!

Elizabeth, Marci and I had a blast at the event. Hopefully you were able to catch Kady Cross, Gena Showalter and Amy Lukavics on tour this week.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Top Ten Fantastical Halloween Reads


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to choose a Halloween theme as a Top Ten Tuesday freebie. I decided to choose some fantastic Halloween books. The following books are in no particular order.

Books I've Read


1. Trial by Fire by Jospehine Angelini is the first book in the Worldwalker trilogy. It's about witches in modern day Salem and an alternate Salem. Who doesn't want to read about witches and Salem for Halloween? This novel has a historic fantasy feel to it. Don't forget to check out the sequel, Firewalker was well.


2. Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett is probably one of my favorite books of 2015 and definitely my favorite horror novel. From the first page, the novel starts off super creepy with a dead girl in the kitchen. I also love how Liggett's writing is hauntingly beautiful and atmospheric. This novel is marketed as Romeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn.


3. Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics is one of my latest reads and boy did it scare the hell out of me at the end of the novel. It starts off slow but horror creeps into the crevices until it is busting out! This novel is horrific version of Little House on the Prairie.


4. Slasher Girls & Monster Boys edited by April Genevieve Tucholke comprises of some of the best contemporary horror short stories in the YA genre. This anthology has some well known authors such as Marie Lu and Leigh Bardugo.


5. Coraline by Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite Halloween reads. It's about a girl named Coraline whose parents are always preoccupied with other things and ignores her. One day she finds this other world with her an "other" mom and an "other" dad who seem perfect! However, there is a catch. The film adaptation is also wonderful and is one I love watching with my boyfriend.


6. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins is the first book in the Hex Hall series. Sophie is sent to Hex Hall which is an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters. Full of action and mystery, Hex Hall will have you craving for the remaining of the series.


7. The Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness is at the first book in the All Souls Trilogy. Diana Bishop is thrown into this world where everyone is trying to locate this one manuscript, Ashmole 782. This historical fantasy is full of paranormal goodness such as witches, daemons and vampires. Don't miss it!


8. Dead Until Dark by The Southern Vampire Mysteries series. If you are looking for an intriguing paranormal series, definitely pick this one up. Sookie Stackhouse is waitress in a small town in Louisiana. Little did she know that meeting Bill would take her on a roller coaster immersing herself in world of witches, vampires, werewolves and other supernatural creatures. True Blood, the TV show, is based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries.


9. The Spindle and the Sleeper by Neil Gaiman is creepy reimagined version of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. Chris Riddell's artwork works seamlessly with Gaiman's writing, creating a magical yet dark twisted fairy tale.


10. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski is intricate book that intertwines the narratives of two haunted individuals and is a fusion of mystery, horror and weirdness. If you're interested in non-traditional book layouts, definitely check out this book.


Books I Want to Read (Bonus 3)


11. Sweet Madness by Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Curie is a Lizzie Borden retelling in the eyes of the Bridget Sullivan. If you haven't heard the story about Lizzie Borden, it's pretty much Lizzie murdering Mr. and Mrs. Borden with a hachet with multiple whacks and how there wasn't enough forensic evidence to prove Lizzie guilty during the trial.


12. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black is book that I own and still need to read. Tana lives in a world where there is Coldtowns exist. These Coldtowns are populated with vampires and some humans. However, once you pass through a Coldtown, you cannot leave.


13. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is also another book that I own and still need to read. Yes, this is the third Neil Gaiman book listed on this week's Top Ten Tuesday. Gaiman is a fabulous writer and I am always excited to read his dark creepy stories. His storytelling is magical! This novel is about Nobody Owens whose family is murdered and ghosts in a graveyard ends up raising him.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Daughter Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics

Title: Daughters Unto Devils
Author: Amy Lukavics
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication date: September 29, 2015
Pages: 231
Source/format: Library // Hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):

When sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner's family decides to move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, she hopes it is her chance for a fresh start. She can leave behind the memory of the past winter; of her sickly Ma giving birth to a baby sister who cries endlessly; of the terrifying visions she saw as her sanity began to slip, the victim of cabin fever; and most of all, the memories of the boy she has been secretly meeting with as a distraction from her pain. The boy whose baby she now carries.

When the Verners arrive at their new home, a large cabin abandoned by its previous owners, they discover the inside covered in blood. And as the days pass, it is obvious to Amanda that something isn't right on the prairie. She's heard stories of lands being tainted by evil, of men losing their minds and killing their families, and there is something strange about the doctor and his son who live in the woods on the edge of the prairie. But with the guilt and shame of her sins weighing on her, Amanda can't be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or deep within her soul.

My Thoughts

Amanda Verner has lived in the mountains with her religious family until Pa mentioned how the winter is gong to be a rough one. The family relocates south to a stretch of free land in the prairie. After searching for an abandoned cabin, the family finds one. However, the floors are covered in blood. Instead of being normal people and moving on after seeing such thing, the family decides to clean the place up and to move in. Little did they know, evil lurks.

Amanda has always been fighting her internal sins. Amanda thinks about bad things happening and they come true. What does that mean? She is the only one that sense something wrong and something evil in the air besides baby Hannah. She is the only one that hears the knocking, the one that hears a infant crying near the water pump and the only one that sees a ghost of a baby standing outside. Her sister Emily thinks she is delusional and pays no attention to what Amanda sees or hears. Amanda is so frightened that she wants to relocate her family somewhere else.

The first half of the novel moved at a snail's pace but the novel picked up in pace and scared the crap out of me at the end. I have so many questions about what happened. The build up was agonizing for me since I wanted something to happen right away. Although it took forever for the creepiness factor to pick up, I love the ending. It was the perfect classic horror ending that I have been looking for. It is bone chilling and atmospheric. Daughter Unto Devils would make a good film.

I was bothered how Ma called Amanda Daughter several times in the book. Why didn't she just call her daughter by Amanda? I wish Amy Lukavics built more layers regarding the characters. I feel like I couldn't really connect with many of the characters in novel and that the character development could have been better. Their personalities seem lackluster. For those who are sensitive to gore, there is quite a lot of it in the novel. Also, as a warning, teen pregnancy is prevalent as well.

If you are looking for a quick creepy read, check out Daughter Unto Devils. Just be careful when reading at night.

Friday, October 23, 2015

What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

Title: What We Left Behind
Author: Robin Talley
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication date: October 27, 2015
Pages: 416
Source/format: ARC from Publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆ 

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):


From the critically acclaimed author of Lies We Tell Ourselves comes an emotional, empowering story of what happens when love isn't enough to conquer all.

Toni and Gretchen are the couple everyone envied in high school. They've been together forever. They never fight. They're deeply, hopelessly in love. When they separate for their first year at college—Toni to Harvard and Gretchen to NYU—they're sure they'll be fine. Where other long-distance relationships have fallen apart, their relationship will surely thrive.

The reality of being apart, however, is a lot different than they expected. As Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, falls in with a group of transgender upperclassmen and immediately finds a sense of belonging that has always been missing, Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside their relationship.

While Toni worries that Gretchen, who is not trans, just won't understand what is going on, Gretchen begins to wonder where she fits in Toni's life. As distance and Toni's shifting gender identity begins to wear on their relationship, the couple must decide—have they grown apart for good, or is love enough to keep them together?


My Thoughts

Toni and Gretchen first met at Martha Jefferson Academy for Young Women and are together ever since they first met. Time fast forwards and the two are heading to college. Toni is Harvard bound and Gretchen is planning to attend Boston University until she got off the wait list for New York University. Gretchen has always wanted to attend NYU but is afraid to tell Toni about her change of schools. Although the couple is four hours apart from each other, they try to make things work.

Toni finds friends who accept her. Not only does Toni learn about who she is and who she wants to be, but she feels comfortable in her new atmosphere. I don't know too much about genderqueer related topics but I am learning a lot from What We Left Behind. What I do like about What We Left Behind is the sexual and racial diversity. Most people are not educated about different terms and what the terms actually mean. We live in a progressive society and it is important for everyone to learn exactly what terms like genderqueer, intersex and non-binary mean. It helps everyone becomes more aware of others. A lot of people shun ideas and things they don't know about. By educating people, there is less confusion and more acceptance of others. Gender is more than just being male and female. It's about what you identify with.

The novel alternates between Toni's and Gretchen's POVs. However, I feel like the novel has an emphasis on Toni's journey. College is where one finds oneself and this is actually what Toni and Gretchen are doing. They are learning who they are. This coming-of-age story is eye opening to many issues most college students do not deal with daily. It is important that not only Toni and Gretchen have to live with the normal stressers in college, they also have to learn to accept who they are.

Although I like the premise of this novel, I feel like it falls short compared to Talley's debut, Lies We've Tell Ourselves. There is a lot of info-dumping, especially with the terminology, and the novel doesn't flow as smoothly as I would like it to. I would have liked to see the terminology being woven into the story in a less choppy manner. Instead of cementing a good relationship with Gretchen, who is totally open to pretty much everything, Toni is so obsessed with pronouns throughout the whole book. It is rather annoying at times. Toni contradicts herself throughout the novel by saying she is genderqueer or gender nonconforming and how she didn't like using labels. However, she judges each person she meets and tries to put them in a category. Nance even points it out to Toni. Also, so many people in the novel keep asking whether Toni is a freshman or not. Half the time in college, you cannot tell if someone is a freshman or sophomore. In high school you might be able to tell if someone is a freshman but it is definitely harder to depict different grade standings in college. I feel so bad for Gretchen because she keeps reaching out to Toni to talk or to meet up and Toni always cancels on Gretchen or says that she is too busy. I understand Toni is trying to figure out her life but it's not fair to keep Gretchen hanging like that.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Typography Talk (2)

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.

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski is stunning not only in writing but the cover art is gorgeous. The colors are tones of brown, rose and mauve and the type treatment is perfect. The artist opted to do a girl in a beautiful dress for the cover.

Without reading the book, it is assumed the girl is the main character of the book. I love how Kestrel is holding the R of Curse. The cover artist incorporated the type with the image as if they are one.

The type being rotated at a 90 degree angle is a nice touch as well. It makes the book unique and I love the sans-serif justified type.








Image from twitter.com/rainbowrowell

Landline by Rainbow Rowell has a simple cover. The title is in a more decorative typeface and I love how the cover artist incorporates a telephone coil at the end of Landline. The spine is gorgeous too. I would not expect the pink at all but the pink stripes works well with the overall packaging of the novel.

The magical yellow telephone is the focal piece of the cover which makes sense since it plays a huge part in the plot of the novel. The neutral colored background makes the yellow phone pop out more.

Keeping the author's name in a simple sans-serif font in white shows nice contrast with the black hand-lettering of the title.


Cinder by Marissa Meyer has a ravishing cover design. The decorative typeface is whimsical and the bright white pops against the dark background. I like the slight 3-dimensional look of the title as well.

The red high heel is the focal piece of the cover. Your eyes focus on the shoe and then to the leg. The artist did an excellent job hinting Cinder is a Cinderella retelling with the main character being a cyborg. The spotlight on the leg and heel indicates Cinder is the main character in the novel. The ombre gradient of black to blue to a faded white draws more focus on the shoe.

I love how Meyer's name is in a subtle decorative typeface in the spotlight. It doesn't distract the reader's eyes from the title or the heel.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Top Ten Wishes I'd Ask The Book Genie To Grant Me


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 wishes they'd ask the book genie to grant them. The following wishes are in no particular order.

1. A huge personal library (like in Beauty and the Beast) because what book lover doesn't want a huge library of books at an arm's reach?

Image from disney.wikia.com

2. A book written by Stephanie Perkins and Jenny Han because it will be the most romantic contemporary ever written by two wonderful and talented authors.

3. Hogwarts is REAL because it's freaking Hogwarts! I would love to explore the Hogwarts castle and the grounds. I want to meander around at Diagon Alley and I want to discover what Hogsmeade has to offer!

Image from Hogwartsishere.com
4. Meeting J.K. Rowling aka the Queen because she is my #1 author I want to meet before I die. She created my favorite series of all time. Harry Potter has been a lifesaver. Harry Potter never lets me down and I have met so many people through the Harry Potter fandom. Without Harry Potter, I would be a different person.

5. A complete collection of all the Harry Potter editions (foreign and unique cover art) because with a huge personal library, why not fill it up with my favorite series of all time?

6. A complete collection of everything Rainbow Rowell (this includes swag, all foreign copies and ARCs) because Rainbow Rowell is definitely another author that I LOVE. I especially want to collect every copy of Fangirl in existence because Fangirl means so much to me.

7. To provide books to all the children in the world because it's important for children to start reading at a young age and to read consistently for the rest of their lives. After all, the more you read, the more you learn.

Image from Quotefans.com
8. An opportunity to work in book publishing because I would love to see how the book publishing industry works. I've had the privilege to work in magazine publishing but I would LOVE to work in book publishing or just to have a career involving something bookish. I want to share my bookish love with others!

9. Having some of my favorite book characters come to life such as Lara Jean Song Covey from To All the Boys I've Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You or Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series.

10. More diverse books being introduced in picture books, MG and YA novels because I want to see everyone being able to see themselves in a book. I would love to see my students being able to relate to characters they read in novels because it is important for them to see themselves being represented in what they read.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Separated @ Birth: A True Love Story of Twin Sisters Reunited by Anaïs Bordier and Samantha Futerman

Title: Separated @ Birth: A True Love Story of Twin Sisters Reunited
Author: Anaïs Bordier and Samantha Futerman
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication date: October 14, 2014
Pages: 304
Source/format: Hardcover from Library

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):

Imagine one day opening Facebook and reading a message from a stranger that says, “I think we might be twins…don’t freak out…”

It all began when design student Anaïs Bordier viewed a YouTube video and saw her own face staring back. After some research, Anaïs found that the Los Angeles actress Samantha Futerman was born in a South Korean port city called Busan on November 19, 1987—the exact same location and day that Anaïs was born. This propelled her to make contact—via Facebook. One message later, both girls wondered: Could they be twins?

Thus begins their remarkable journey to build a relationship as sisters, continents apart. Over Facebook, Twitter, and Skype, they learned that they shared much more than a strikingly similar appearance. Eventually, they traveled to Korea together to discover more about the land of their separation. One of Facebook's Top Ten Stories of 2013, Separated @ Birth is a story that spans the world and peels back some of the complex and emotional layers of foreign adoption.



My Thoughts

Twins + Sisters = Twinsters.

Anaïs Bordier and Samantha (Sam) Futerman were separated at birth in South Korea. Anaïs was adopted by a French couple and Sam was adopted by an American couple. Two decades went by as the girls blossomed to young women living their lives not knowing they have a twin. Through YouTube and Facebook, the twins were reunited in a heartfelt way. Both the Bordier and Futerman families united through laughter and tears.

I saw the documentary Twinsters before picking up Separated @ Birth. The book goes into more detail about the twins's miraculous story. Although I was excited to read the biography, the book needs some more editing. The idea of the story is compelling but the length of the book could have been shorten since there was a lot of repetition in the book. I did appreciate the photos of Anaïs and Sam in the biography. It provided a nice visual way of explaining the twins' childhoods. 

Separated @ Birth is a good companion to Twinsters and I recommend seeing the documentary before reading the biography. The documentary gives the audience a good grasp of Anaïs and Sam's story and the biography fills in the gaps with their thoughts and emotions about what is going on. The documentary feels more fluid compared to reading the biography. At times I feel the transitions in the biography are a bit choppy and often, I wanted to know more about what happened instead of what the young women are thinking. Sometimes the things they are thinking are drawn out and they do not focus on how they reunited. I want to read more about how the sisters came together and the impact it has on their family and their lives. I want to know more about the timeline of how these events are connected and how two individuals find out they are Twinsters. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Looking Ahead: Cover Reveals #3

This past week has definitely been a week full of fabulous cover reveals for spring and summer MG and YA novels. I am looking forward to the new year full of wonderful books and I am hoping the novels live up to their names, synopsis and gorgeous cover art.

Epic Reads surprised the world with a STUNNING cover for Ruined by Amy Tintera on Tuesday. I enjoyed reading the dystopian Reboot by Miss Tintera and I am quite interested about how Tintera handles fantasy.

Title: Ruined
Author: Amy Tintera
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date:  May 3, 2016

Synopsis (from goodreads): 
A revenge that will consume her.

A love that will ruin her.

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.


Epic Reads revealed the cover for The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye on Wednesday. I am very intrigued about this cover. It definitely screams fantasy and it borderlines a cover design for an Adult fantasy novel. The palace made into a crown is an interesting take.

Title: The Crown's Game
Author: Evelyn Skye
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication date:  May 17, 2016

Synopsis (from goodreads):

Vika Andreyev can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear . . . the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.


Also on Wednesday, Hypable revealed the cover for the upcoming The School For Good and Evil: Ever Never Handbook by Soman Chainani. The cover art definitely has a handbook like look to it. The frame makes the cover look like an old fairy tale book along with the leather like texture in the background.


Title: The School For Good and Evil: Ever Never Handbook
Author: Soman Chainani
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: July 19, 2016

Synopsis (from goodreads):

Every four years, two Reader children are kidnapped and brought to the School for Good and Evil to be trained for a life in a fairy tale. There, Evers and Nevers take courses in Animal Communication and Uglification, among others. The highest ranked students become the heroes and villains of the fairy tales — while the lowest, well, we don’t want to talk about what becomes of them.

This handbook contains the scoop students need in order to get to the top of their class — the fairy tales you need to know, the myths it’s dangerous not to know, spells you won’t live without, Who’s Who and What’s What, and much more. And of course, it’s all in glorious color because in the School for Good and Evil, nothing is black and white.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Looking Ahead: What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

What We Left Behind by Robin Talley is definitely a book to look out for in the next couple of weeks. The novel will be released on Tuesday, October 27, 2015 by HarlequinTEEN.

I've read Talley's debut novel, Lies We've Tell Ourselves, and I was blown away! It is empowering! Talley writes compelling novels about ongoing, difficult issues. Lies We've Tell Ourselves is centered around two high school girls living in 1959 during the epoch of desegregation. Talley's sophomore book, What We Left Behind, is focused on two college girls during the modern age. I am currently reading What We Left Behind and I am loving it! Check the blog next week for a review of What We Left Behind.


About the Book:

From the critically acclaimed author of Lies We Tell Ourselves comes an emotional, empowering story of what happens when love isn't enough to conquer all.

Toni and Gretchen are the couple everyone envied in high school. They've been together forever. They never fight. They're deeply, hopelessly in love. When they separate for their first year at college—Toni to Harvard and Gretchen to NYU—they're sure they'll be fine. Where other long-distance relationships have fallen apart, their relationship will surely thrive.

The reality of being apart, however, is a lot different than they expected. As Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, falls in with a group of transgender upperclassmen and immediately finds a sense of belonging that has always been missing, Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside their relationship.

While Toni worries that Gretchen, who is not trans, just won't understand what is going on, Gretchen begins to wonder where she fits in Toni's life. As distance and Toni's shifting gender identity begins to wear on their relationship, the couple must decide—have they grown apart for good, or is love enough to keep them together?



About the Author:

Robin Talley, author of Lies We Tell Ourselves (September 2014) and What We Left Behind (October 2015), grew up in Roanoke, Virginia. A Lambda Literary Fellow, Robin now lives in Washington, D.C., with her wife, plus an antisocial cat and a goofy hound dog. When Robin’s not writing, she’s often planning communication strategies at organizations fighting for equal rights and social justice. You can find her on the web at www.robintalley.com or on Twitter at @robin_talley.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Top Ten Author Duos You'd LOVE To See Write A Book Together


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 author duos they would LOVE to see write a book together. The following author duos are in no particular order.

1. Stephanie Perkins and Jenny Han - romantic contemporary with strong family dynamics and possible foreign countries thrown into the mix

2. Stephen Chbosky and Becky Albertalli - humorous cute coming-of-age contemporary

3. Rachel Hawkins and Cara Bertrand - compelling boarding school paranormal

4. J.K. Rowling and Rick Riordan -  adventurous middle grade novel/series with an eclectic cast of characters

5. Emery Lord and Tamara Ireland Stone - contemporary with a emphasis on literature and writing with all the feels

6. Kim Liggett and Nova Ren Suma - ultimate creepy horror with wonderful atmospheric description

7. Kendall Kulper and Josephine Angelini - historical fantasy at its best with lots of magic

8. Leila Sales and Jennifer Walkup - coming-of-age contemporary surrounded by music

9. Marie Lu and Marie Rutkoski - dark fantasy, power dynamics and epic world building will collide! Strong women will lead the masses!

10. Neil Gaiman and Tim Burton - an anthology of fairy tales and folklore with a Gaiman and Burton dark twist

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Rose Society by Marie Lu

Title: The Rose Society
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication date: October 13, 2015
Pages: 416
Source/format: e-ARC from Edelweiss

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com): Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all.

Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she and her sister flee Kenettra to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good, when her very existence depends on darkness?

My Thoughts:

"It is nice, being powerful. Seeing others bend at your will." -  From ARC of The Rose Society

The Rose Society is a continuation of where The Young Elites left off. There is a new ruler of Kennetra and a new Beldish queen thrown into the mix. Adelina is on the run from Kennetra after the chaos that occurred in The Young Elites. Along with her sister Violetta, Adelina is on the search for an Elite named Magiano to join her in order to fight against the Inquisition Axis. The Dagger Society is now her enemy and she needs to recruit her own allies. Who can she trust? Will people betray the White Wolf? Can Adelina control her powers or will she spiral out of control? 

Just like The Young Elites, Adelina is trying to figure who she is. Nothing is black and white. She has become bitter over time because of how her family and friends have treated her for her entire life. Her powers feed off fury and fear which according to some, they can be deadly and uncontrollable. Does Adelina have the discipline to do what's right or will she feed off that fury and fear and cause chaos?

The Rose Society has mainly two POVs with a secondary third one. There is a love triangle in the novel but it is so slight that it doesn't take away from the plot. Adelina is so focused with her revenge that she is not in tune with her other emotions. Old characters return while new characters figure out who to ally with.

"Fear motivates, more than love or ambition or joy. Fear is more powerful than anything else in the world." - From ARC of The Rose Society

I am falling in love with Marie Lu's writing. I definitely think Lu should write more dark fantasy because she writes it well.  Lu expands upon The Young Elites with the same dark fantasy elements and epic world building. The Rose Society has more dimension and Adelina is not an apprentice anymore. She is no longer a student learning the basics of how to survive as an Elite. She takes control. Even though is is not a heroine in the novel, I cannot stop rooting for her. Adelina is dark, terrifying and is wicked. People fear her! She becomes a villain and a great one at it. Adelina is passionate and ambitious and will do what it takes to get the task done. Violetta is her conscious, reminding her to take a step back and not to feed on the darkness too long. After all, overexerting oneself has consequences. The power is consuming Adelina. With her power and influence, she creates the the Rose Society and diffuses her wrath against her enemies.

The Rose Society is emotionally gripping and a thought provoking story. There is so much going on and sometimes I have no clue how to feel when reading the novel. It's mind blowing! It's action packed with so much betrayal and deceit. The darkness amplifies in The Rose Society and I am not complaining because I love it so much more than the predecessor. I am curious how dark the third installment will be.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Looking Ahead: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare Cover Reveal

If you don't know me by now, I am a HUGE Cassandra Clare fan. I have been following the writings of Miss Clare since the days of her Harry Potter fan fiction, The Draco Trilogy back in the early 2000's. I was fortunate enough to meet her three times in 2014, one being the day of the City of Heavenly Fire launch at my former middle school. I am ecstatic that Harry Shum Jr, Magnus Bane in the new Shadowhunters TV Show, revealed the cover for Lady Midnight not too long ago today at New York Comic Con. Can I say the cover is absolutely STUNNING! It's INTRIGUING and I want to know more!






Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Los Angeles. It’s been five years since the events of the Mortal Instruments when Nephilim stood poised on the brink of oblivion and Shadowhunter Emma Carstairs lost her parents. After the blood and violence she witnessed as a child, Emma has dedicated her life to to discovering exactly what it was that killed her parents and getting her revenge.

Raised in the Los Angeles Institute with the Blackthorn family, Emma is paired as a parabatai with her best friend, Julian Blackthorn. A series of murders in the city catch her attention — they seem to have the same characteristics as the deaths of her parents. Could the murderer be the same person? And her attention isn’t the only one caught: someone has been murdering Downworlders as well. The Fair Folk make a deal with the Institute: if the Blackthorns and Emma will investigate the killings, they’ll return Mark Blackthorn to his home. The catch: they have only two weeks to find the killers. Otherwise it’s open war between faeries and Nephilim.

The Shadowhunters of the Institute must race against time to catch the killers, even as they begin to suspect the involvement of those closest to them. At the same time, Emma is falling in love with the one person in the world she’s absolutely forbidden by Shadowhunter Law to love. Set against the glittering backdrop of present-day Los Angeles, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches from the warlock-run nightclubs of the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica.

I am soooo stoked for March 8, 2016! Are you? What are you looking forward to in Lady Midnight?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman

Title: The Sleeper and the Spindle 
Author: Neil Gaiman, Chris Riddell (illustrator) 
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: September 22, 2015 (first published on May 3rd 2014)
Pages: 69
Source/format: Library // Hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆1/2

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):

It was the closest kingdom to the queen’s, as the crow flies, but not even the crows flew it.

You may think you know this story. There’s a young queen, about to be married. There are some good, brave, hardy dwarfs; a castle, shrouded in thorns; and a princess, cursed by a witch, so rumor has it, to sleep forever.

But no one is waiting for a noble prince to appear on his trusty steed here. This fairy tale is spun with a thread of dark magic, which twists and turns and glints and shines. A queen might just prove herself a hero, if a princess needs rescuing….

My Thoughts

Neil Gaiman works his magic and intertwines Snow White and Sleeping Beauty into one enchanting contemporary tale. A sleeping curse is creeping around the kingdom as roses start to bloom around the castle protecting it. Snow White is strong and reminds me of the Snow that is depicted in the TV show Once Upon a Time. Those who sleep in the kingdom are known as sleepers. Instead of the seven dwarfs, there are only three. I do not want to spoil the retelling but let me tell you that it is a MUST read. 

Chris Riddell creates such strong imagery through his ink illustrations that bring the story to life. The duo of Gaiman and Riddell create a dark thrilling twist to two well known fairy tales. Gaiman shocks his readers with twists and turns while Riddell captivates his readers with his whimsical yet beautiful illustrations. The fine ink work of the illustrations are remarkable and so intricate. The black and white illustrations with the occasional gold frame, gold thorns and gold vines on the drop cap make the book so much more special. I love the contrast between light and dark. Riddell uses negative and positive areas to his advantage. Gaiman weaves dark threads of horror into what seems to be an innocent mashup of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. The mysterious yet eerie narration leads to something more than meets the eye. It may be a bit morbid for some but I ate it up. 

That ending! I did not see it coming but it was perfect! There is not a prince in sight to save the princess. The women are in control in this retelling and I am devouring this story up. I absolutely love this retelling and I highly recommend it to those who are looking for a dark yet twisted version of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys edited by April Genevieve Tucholke

Title: Slasher Girls & Monster Boys
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke (editor and author), Stefan Bachmann, Leigh Bardugo, Kendare Blake, A.G. Howard, Jay Kristoff, Marie Lu,  Jonathan Maberry, Danielle Paige, Carrie Ryan, Megan Shepherd, Nova Ren Suma, McCormick Templeman, Cat Winters
Publisher: Dial Books
Publication date: August 18, 2015
Pages: 385
Source/format: Library//Hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):

For fans of Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Lois Duncan, and Daphne Du Maurier comes a powerhouse anthology featuring some of the best writers of YA thrillers and horror.

A host of the smartest young adult authors come together in this collection of scary stories and psychological thrillers curated by Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’s April Genevieve Tucholke.

Each story draws from a classic tale or two—sometimes of the horror genre, sometimes not—to inspire something new and fresh and terrifying. There are no superficial scares here; these are stories that will make you think even as they keep you on the edge of your seat. From bloody horror to supernatural creatures to unsettling, all-too-possible realism, this collection has something for any reader looking for a thrill.

Fans of TV’s The Walking Dead, True Blood, and American Horror Story will tear through tales by these talented authors:

Stefan Bachmann
Leigh Bardugo
Kendare Blake
A. G. Howard
Jay Kristoff
Marie Lu
Jonathan Maberry
Danielle Paige
Carrie Ryan
Megan Shepherd
Nova Ren Suma
McCormick Templeman
April Genevieve Tucholke
Cat Winters


My Thoughts

This is the perfect read for the month of October. Twelve chilling stories by 12 amazing authors are contained in one anthology. There are some gems hidden in this anthology but of course with all anthologies, some are the stories aren't up to par.

The Birds of Azalea Street by Nova Ren Suma

I absolutely loved "The Birds of Azalea Street." It's beautifully written with just enough eeriness. The imagery is strong and this would definitely make a good short on screen. The creepy weird guy, overly curious teenager girls and the birds made the perfect story. If you are a big Alfred Hitchcock fan, I am sure you will enjoy this short story since Rear Window and The Birds inspired Nova Ren Suma. 

Rating: 4.5/5

In the Forest Dark and Deep by Carrie Ryan

If you are looking for a twisted retelling of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in short story format, you are in for a treat. "In the Forest Dark and Deep" reminded of the PC game American McGee's Alice. The innocent girl longing for a tea party turns into a macabre story of madness.

Rating: 5/5

Emmeline by Cat Winters

I love reading historical fiction but I was disappointed in the lack of eeriness and creepiness of this story. Maybe I had high expectations for a horror story.

Rating: 3/5

Verse Chorus Verse by Leigh Bardugo

A teenage star names Jaycee goes under rehab and the ending is just creepy. Mother dearest is trying to make sure Babygirl is okay but that rehab center changed Jaycee. I think I need Bardugo needs to explain it to me a bit more because boy was the end chilling.

Rating: 3.5/5

Hide–And–Seek by Megan Shepherd

I enjoyed reading this story about Annie getting the chance to escape death for 24 hours before death claims her. It's action packed and it had a lot going on. 

Rating: 4/5

The Dark, Scary Parts and All by Danielle Paige

The short story was very predictable and it wasn't as scary as I hoped. It took forever to get to the ending. The story could have been shortened.

Rating: 2.5/5

The Flicker, the Fingers, the Beat, the Sigh by April Genevieve Tucholke

This story is inspired by Carrie and I Know What You Did Last Summer and I had high expectation since I enjoyed reading Carrie. However, I feel like this story wasn't up to par and the story was just okay.

Rating: 3/5

Fat Girl With A Knife by Jonathan Maberry

I could not get into this story at all. A girl named Dahlia, a knife and zombies are thrown into the picture but I didn't like way the short story was written.

Rating: 2/5

Sleepless by Jay Kristoff

Those texts were annoying and hard to read at first but I was able to get over the fact that I disliked the parts of the formatting of "Sleepless." However, that twist! I did not see it coming!

Rating: 4/5

M by Stefan Bachman

The rhyming song with the girls' names is sort of creepy and the whole premise of the story was creepy overall but it wasn't a shining star compared to the rest of the stories in the anthology.

Rating 3

The Girl Without a Face by Marie Lu

A closet that locks from the inside? A closet that never opens but one day the door is wide open. Richard has always felt this weird weight pressed against him when he is sleeping and he feels like someone is watching him. "The Girl Without a Face" creeped me out big time. Because I was reading this at night, I freaked out when I heard a noise outside my window. Lu wrote a fantastic classic horror story.

Rating: 4.5

A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow by McCormick Templeman

I was so bored of this story and at times, I felt like I wanted to skim it.

Rating: 2

Stitches by A.G. Howard

Inspired by Frankenstein, there is some dismemberment in the story and some creepy wrens. Sage, Clover and Oakley's mother has disappeared awhile back and their father drinks too much and beats his children. I love how Howard uses gingerbread to describe certain parts of the books; It's very symbolic. And that ending is twisted!

Rating: 4

I-5 by Kendare Blake

EmmaRae has been passing time in a diner until she meets Charles. After a car ride outside, something horrifying happens. I expected more to this story since I heard great things about Blake's other titles. I wish it had some more oomph and twists that I did not see coming.

Rating: 3.5

Monday, October 5, 2015

Literature for Young Adults

When I was in college, I took a Literature for Young Adults course in 2008/2009 despite not being an English Education major. My passion for reading Young Adult literature has never waned as I grew older. At the time, Young Adult literature was a little bit more popular than when I was a teen but not by much. The genre start gaining popularity around 2005 - 2006 What caused this popularity? Was it Twilight and later The Hunger Games?

What I loved about the class is that all the students were assigned multiple YA books to read. My homework became fun again. Carefully selected books were included on the syllabus and once in awhile, the instructor would require each student to select a book of choice to write a book report and review on. We would have discussions each class about the plot, narration, execution and characterization for each book. Sometimes we would do small group readings. The course was focused on how to teach YA to students in junior high and in high school. At the time when I took the course, I was majoring in Communications and had no desire to teach English literature classes. I just wanted to take the class for fun. I mean how many classes do you get to read YA? I learned a lot from the class and now I am able to apply what I learned from class to help my students choose their next read or even to just discuss about books they've read.

Below are some of the books I've read during the semester long class. Also, I listed some of the books students chose to read and discussed with the class for their free choice book.

Mandatory Class Reading

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
Feed by M.T. Anderson
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Individual Choice Reading

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
As Simple as Snow by Gregory Galloway
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Have you taken a Literature for Young Adults course? If so, what was your required reading? If you haven't taken a Literature for Young Adults course, what would you like to read in class?

Friday, October 2, 2015

This Ordinary Life by Jennifer Walkup

Title: This Ordinary Life
Author: Jennifer Walkup
Publisher: Luminis Books, Inc.
Publication date: October 1, 2015
Pages: 240
Source/format: ARC from BEA 2015

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):

Sometimes Hope is the Most Extraordinary Gift of All.

High-school radio host Jasmine Torres's life is full of family dysfunction, but if she can score the internship of her dreams with a New York City radio station, she knows she can turn things around.

That is, until her brother Danny’s latest seizure forces her to miss the interview, and she’s back to the endless loop of missing school for his doctor appointments, picking up the pieces of her mother’s booze-soaked life, and stressing about Danny’s future.

Then she meets Wes. He’s the perfect combination of smart, cute, and funny. He also happens to have epilepsy like her brother. Wes is living a normal life despite his medical issues, which gives Jasmine hope for Danny. But memories of her cheating ex-boyfriend keep her from going on a real date with Wes, no matter how many times he asks her.

Jasmine can’t control everything. Not who wins the internship, not her mother’s addiction, not her brother’s health--not even where her heart will lead her. She wishes she could just have an ordinary life, but maybe what she already has is pretty extraordinary after all.

My Thoughts

Jasmine Torres is a radio host at Easton High and her dream is to score an internship at WYN60 in order to help her chances to get into a good college majoring in communications. The only thing setting her back is her alcoholic mother and her younger brother who has epilepsy. She will do anything for her brother, Danny, but she is upset her mother isn't pulling her weight.

Every cloud has a silver lining. Although Danny's seizures prevent Jasmine from being in school, Jasmine ends up meeting Wes, aka Comic Book Boy, who also has epilepsy.  Due to her cheating ex-boyfriend, Jasmine is afraid to commit to a relationship and becomes friends with Wes.

Jennifer Walkup writes a touching coming-of-age story with emotions that covers a range of different topics. This contemporary read is uplifting. When Jasmine meets Wes, little did she know that he is the perfect guy for her. From the moment he called her Sunny and is always asking how she is doing and how Danny is doing, he has been lovestuck from the start. Although, Wes wants to be more than friends and Jasmine makes it clear that they are only friends, Wes is patient enough to wait until Jasmine is ready to open up about her feelings for him. I love Wes! Everything about him is pretty much perfect.

I love Jasmine's personality. She is independent, cares about her family and friends and can be sarcastic at times. I enjoy the texts between Jasmine and Wes and how she playfully teases him. I love how Walkup formats Jasmine's thoughts as if Jasmine is on air doing a broadcast. This Ordinary Life is definitely an adorable read. Despite the hard life that Jasmine has to juggle, there is light at the end of the tunnel. When times are hard, there is someone always there to brighten up her day. If you are looking for a heartfelt read, definitely pick up This Ordinary Life.