Monday, February 29, 2016

Dreambender by Ronald Kidd

Title: Dreambender
Author: Ronald Kidd 
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company  
Publication date: March 1, 2016
Pages: 256
Source/format: ARC from Publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Everyone in the City is assigned a job by the choosers--keeper, catcher, computer. Callie Crawford is a computer. She works with numbers: putting them together, taking them apart. Her work is important, but sometimes she wants more. Jeremy Finn is a dreambender. His job is to adjust people's dreams. He and others like him quietly remove thoughts of music and art to keep the people in the City from becoming too focused on themselves and their own feelings rather than on the world. They need to keep the world safe from another Warming. But Jeremy thinks music is beautiful, and when he pops into a dream of Callie singing, he becomes fascinated with her. He begins to wonder if there is more to life than being safe. Defying his community and the role they have established for him, he sets off to find her in the real world. Together, they will challenge their world's expectations. But how far will they go to achieve their own dreams?


M Y  T H O U G H T S

Callie Crawford is a thirteen-year-old girl who is a Computer. As a Computer, she works with numbers, putting them together and taking them apart. Everyone in the City has a place in society. The Warming is a time when people relied on machines. However, machines are taboo to talk about and same goes for war, violence, art and music. Callie has always wondered what is beyond the City. She is curious about what life is like without so many rules. What if people can choose their own jobs?

Jeremy Finn who is a Dreambender who meets Callie in a dream. His job is to adjust people's memories to rid of music and art. To prevent another Warming, people must not focus on themselves individually and must focus on the City collectively. Dreambenders are raised in the Meadow, away from the City. They also cannot visit the City in person but they can visit the City in dreams.

Ronald Kidd does an excellent job writing a dystopian novel for the Middle Grade level. Most dystopians I have read are usually Young Adult ones. Dreambender definitely reminded me of The Giver and it's a definitely a book that will keep you thinking! The plot is simple and explores what it means to be a kid. Children are often curious about the world and when they don't receive an answer to their question, they will seek the answer out.

Dreambender focuses on facts over feelings more than most Dystopians. Everyone must abide to statistics and laws. Feelings are personal and shouldn't be expressed in forms of art, music, dance, etc. It's interesting to see concepts of individualism and collectivism in this novel. These two different principles can be seen today in different societies of the world.

With individualism, the individual's life belongs to the person. With collectivism, the individual's life belongs to the group or society. Individualism supports a person making his or her own decisions as he or she sees fit. They have a sense of choice. Collectivism is when a person will sacrifice his or her values in order to do what is for the greater good of the people as a whole. A person serves the society.

In Dreambender, we can see how some of the societies are collectivists while some are more individualists. Some people in the collectivist societies end up rebelling against collectivist thoughts and are thinking more like individualists.

The sentence structure is very simple and sometimes I feel like the language conveyed in the novel could be more complex for the Middle Grade level. This is more for young readers bridging from chapter books to Middle Grade in terms of reading difficulty. I highly recommend picking up Dreambender if you're looking for a quick Middle Grade dystopian read.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Dove Exiled Blog Tour: Karen Bao Guest Post

I am so glad to have Karen Bao with us today to discuss about her journey from manuscript to publication. Bao has written Dove Arising and Dove Exiled, which are the first two novels in The Dove Chronicles trilogy. The Dove Chronicles is a dystopian trilogy that takes place 200 years from now. Thanks to Penguin and Karen for having me be a part of this blog tour.

Title: Dove Exiled
Author: Karen Bao
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Pages: 336
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks |
The Book DepositoryIndieBound

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

The thrilling follow-up to the groundbreaking debut Dove Arising.

Phaet Theta fled the Moon and has been hiding on Earth with her friend Wes and his family. But Phaet’s past catches up with her when the Lunar Bases attack the community and reveal that Phaet is a fugitive. She’s torn between staying on Earth with Wes—whom she’s just discovered her feelings for—and stowing away on a Moon-bound ship to rescue her siblings from the wrath of the government who killed their mother. But when Phaet makes the agonizing decision to return to the Moon, she finds the rebel movement there has turned her into their “Girl Sage,” a symbol of their struggle. She’s the biggest celebrity on the Moon: half the people worship her, and the other half want her dead.



To this day, writing Dove Arising and getting it published feels like a dream. Although I’d always loved books, I never dreamed of sending one out into the world. Here’s the story of my transition from violinist-scientist-wannabe to young adult author.

2012 was a ticking time bomb of a year. As a high school senior waiting to hear back from colleges, I chewed my fingernails down to the pink, constantly searching for an escape from the questions that constantly nagged me: Do you really think you can “make it” as a science major? Are you ready to leave home, anyway?

I combined my insecurities with a hefty dose of science nerdiness and a large pinch of my mother’s stories growing up in communist China. After many sleepless nights (and missed homework assignments), the mixture yielded a story about a 15-year-old introvert named Phaet living on the moon in the year 2347. When her mother is “quarantined” for illness, she must leave home and join the brutal Lunar Militia to save her younger siblings from destitution.

The first draft was crap. As a seventeen-year-old who’d never studied writing, I knew it was bad but had no idea how to fix it. However, I also knew that parts of it were good: for example, I could feel Phaet’s quiet, innocent brilliance, and believed I had captured her likeness on paper.

So I decided to try and get it published.

At this point, the publishing process was a complete mystery to me. Authors (with a capital “A”) wrote brilliant things, sent them into a vacuum…and out came shiny, beautiful bound books. Daunted, I reached out to the one person I knew in publishing: Simon Lipskar at Writers House. He’d conducted an orchestra I’d played in during middle school. My email essentially said, “Remember me, the violinist? I wrote a book. What do I do now?”

Because Simon represented Christopher Paolini, an author I’d admired since childhood, I expected that he’d give me a few editorial suggestions. Maybe talk about how to submit manuscripts to agents.

Instead, he offered representation, saying that my writing had a strong voice and was full of promise. That day was the first and only time I’ve cried of happiness.

Of course, there were caveats: the manuscript was in a dire state, and I’d have to devote months to revising it before we could submit it to publishers. But none of that mattered as much as the fact that I now had an agent.

All of this happened three days after I’d graduated from high school.

When Simon said I needed to revise, he meant it. With the help of a brilliant editor at Writers House, Genevieve, I cut out the last third of the book and reworked the first two-thirds until it was nearly unrecognizable. We exchanged fifteen-page edit letters and emails upon emails of brainstorming. Amid all my biology-major schoolwork, I worked on logical consistency, world-building, and getting to know my “side” characters. Every time I cut out a scene, I felt the page bleeding, even though I knew it had to happen.

The process took a year. By that time, the book was tighter, stronger, and seemed to flow effortlessly. And I was grateful for the struggle, because I felt like a real writer now. I could see problems before they arose, at least more often than before. Now, after finishing the last two books in the Dove Chronicles, I couldn’t be more thankful that Simon and Genevieve put me through Editorial Bootcamp.

I’m a better writer now – but that doesn’t mean that I’ll stop getting fifteen-page edit letters. My next project is a high fantasy series with two narrators that’s infused with the marine ecology I’ve studied in college. As I write bigger books, I expect to hit bigger problems – but at least I know I can solve them.


ABOUT KAREN BAO

Karen Bao is a writer, musician, and aspiring scientist. She has a brother three years younger than her and a violin sixty years older than her. Born in California and raised in New Jersey, she currently studies environmental biology at college in New York City. Karen began writing Dove Arising at the age of seventeen.

For more information about Karen Bao, check out her website.



Don't forget to check the rest of the Dove Exiled Blog Tour!

02/22/16: Live Love Read | Book Playlist
02/23/16: Steph In Wonderland | Guest Post
02/24/16: ButterMyBooks | Top 10 List
02/25/16: Caught Between The Pages | Interview
02/26/16: Nicole's Novel Reads | Guest Post
02/29/16: Pretty Sassy Cool | Dreamcasting Post
03/01/16: Addicted Readers | 25 Random Things About Me
03/02/16: Live To Read | Book Playlist
03/03/16: Fashion By The Book | Interview
03/04/16: Seeing Double In Neverland | Top 10 List

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

For the Record by Charlotte Huang

Title: For the Record
Author: Charlotte Huang
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication date: November 10, 2015
Pages: 307
Source/format: Library//Hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

If Almost Famous were a YA novel . . . a raw, honest debut celebrating music, friendship, romance, and life on the road.

Chelsea thought she knew what being a rock star was like . . . until she became one. After losing a TV talent show, she slid back into small-town anonymity. But one phone call changed everything

Now she’s the lead singer of the band Melbourne, performing in sold-out clubs every night and living on a bus with three gorgeous and talented guys. The bummer is that the band barely tolerates her. And when teen hearthrob Lucas Rivers take an interest in her, Chelsea is suddenly famous, bringing Melbourne to the next level—not that they’re happy about that. Her feelings for Beckett, Melbourne’s bassist, are making life even more complicated.

Chelsea only has the summer tour to make the band—and their fans—love her. If she doesn’t, she’ll be back in Michigan for senior year, dying a slow death. The paparazzi, the haters, the grueling schedule . . . Chelsea believed she could handle it. But what if she can’t?

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Because former singer Hollis Carter wanted a normal life, she left Melbourne. The band owes the record company one more album and Melbourne delivers by finding another lead singer. Chelsea Ford didn't make it on American Pop Star but she was able to score lead singer for the band, Melbourne. And boy is she on an interesting ride to fame and stardom.

Touring the nation and singing in sold-out venues, Chelsea is living a dream for the summer with her friend Mandy and her band mates, Pem, Malcolm and Beckett. However, living in a bus with a bunch of guys isn't the easiest and it's hard to live by certain rules Pem and management lay down. Romantic relationships between the band members are off limits which doesn't help Chelsea who is slightly smitten over Beckett.

Charlotte Huang shows music fans what it's like the be on the other side of the stage. It's interesting to see how a front woman fares with a bunch of guys touring around the nation performing show after show. I used to be a big concert goer back in high school and in college so For the Record is slightly nostalgic. It reminds me of when I was super excited to see a band and I was pumped up for the show. The energy, the rawness and grittiness. The unforgettable memories!

Huang gives each character a distinct personality. At first it took some time getting use to who is who but after getting all the names down, I am glad that there aren't carbon copies of each other. Everyone has their own story to tell. Seeing how musicians are constantly being told what to do either by the media or the record company is difficult. Entertainment can be cruel. It can be vicious! The sad thing is what's important to the media and the record company is the money and what is being produced at the end. After all, it's a money making business to them. They treat musicians in a way where the musician cannot express themselves fully.

To those sensitive to cheating, For the Record has instances of cheating. Although I do not condone in cheating, I know some of the behavior comes with the lifestyle. I enjoyed the extra Melbourne Business of the Music Tour info in the back of the book. It added something special to the novel and it gave a good timeline of all the events and a recap of characters.

I am a big sucker for novels showcasing any type of music and this novel did not disappoint. If you enjoyed reading Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist or This Song Will Save Your Life, definitely check out For the Record.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Dove Exiled by Karen Bao

Title: Dove Exiled
Author: Karen Bao
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication date: February 23, 2016
Pages: 336
Source/format: ARC from Penguin

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

The thrilling follow-up to the groundbreaking debut Dove Arising.

Phaet Theta fled the Moon and has been hiding on Earth with her friend Wes and his family. But Phaet’s past catches up with her when the Lunar Bases attack the community and reveal that Phaet is a fugitive. She’s torn between staying on Earth with Wes—whom she’s just discovered her feelings for—and stowing away on a Moon-bound ship to rescue her siblings from the wrath of the government who killed their mother. But when Phaet makes the agonizing decision to return to the Moon, she finds the rebel movement there has turned her into their “Girl Sage,” a symbol of their struggle. She’s the biggest celebrity on the Moon: half the people worship her, and the other half want her dead.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Phaet, reborn as Fay, is known as a former engine room slave from Pacifia instead of being known as the fugitive and Lunar's rebel daughter. Phaet takes refuge with Wes' family at Saint Oda on Earth. However, the Odans detest the Lunars and believe they are Godless demons. Odans remind me of Amity and Agnegation factions from Divergent. They do not like weaponry and fighting. They tolerate peace and helping each other. However, when Tourmalinians show a torture video of Phaet's brother back on the moon, Phaet feels guilty leaving her family with the totalitarian Lunar government.  Things take a turn when Phaet finds out the Lunars allied themselves with Pacifica and are going to take Saint Oda.

At first it was hard for me to get into Dove Exiled. Set four months after the events in Dove Arising, I had difficulty learning all the new characters and about the Odans. However, after time I became invested with the plot line. The pace is slow for the first third of the book but it definitely picks up for the remaining two thirds. It's interesting how Wes is willing to help out Phaet even though his parents don't agree with his actions.

Phaet is willing to help Wes despite the fact that she has to wait to save her family a little bit longer. The friendship between Phaet and Wes is strong. They will do anything for each other. Transitioning from Earth to the Moon is a little bit rocky but I am glad that I am able to see what is going on both planets. Reading about how Lunars and Earthens are affected by the Committee is crucial.

It is fascinating to see the Base IV again and the Militia Phaet and Wes trained with only to be targeted as enemies now. However, not everyone on the lunar base is hunting Phaet and Wes. The couple is in trouble as Phaet tries to save her family while Wes tries to save his. Phaet can only trust a few people on Base IV. Phaet and Wes show some romantic interest in each other but each have their own priorities and they agreed to carry out saving their families first. I admire that. They don't let lust cloud their vision of what's important.

"In the midst of war, with our families clinging to life, we've declared some sort of allegiance to each other." - ARC

Karen Bao definitely did a lot of research about terrains and ecosystems. She spent time weaving her interests in biology and chemistry into her novel. As a lover of biology, I appreciated how clever she incorporates the science facts within the novel. It adds some depth to the story.

Phaet, known as Girl Sage to the Dovetailers, represents hope like Katniss does as the Mockingjay. Dove Exiled is a solid sequel to Dove Arising. It will satisfy readers who enjoy The Hunger Games trilogy and the Divergent trilogy.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

Title: The Forbidden Wish
Author: Jessica Khoury
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication date: February 23, 2016
Pages: 352
Source/format: ARC from Penguin

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world...

When Aladdin discovers Zahra's jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn't seen in hundreds of years -- a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra's very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Zahra has been stuck in a magical lamp for quite sometime until Aladdin finds her among ruins. As a jinni, Zahra is a slave to lamp. Her shape-shifting magic helps her blend in with her surroundings as a girl, a sparrow or as a cat. Zahra is offered the opportunity of a life time by the King of the Jinn but of course at a price. She is to save a jinn for her freedom from the lamp. However, she must complete this task in a month's time. If Zahra fails, death will rain among her and the people in the city she currently resides in.

I am a huge fan of Aladdin and I when I first started reading The Forbidden Wish, I was mesmerized by the elaborate descriptions and the lavish writings of Jessica Khoury. This retelling of Aladdin from One Thousand and One Nights is not a mere imitation of Aladdin but a extension of the world of the Aladdin that most of us know today. Khoury transports the reader as a spectator in this magical journey in which Zahra has to choose love or freedom. Which decision will Zahra choose?

The secondary characters are all unique as well and are not just mere background filler. Each character has its own identity. The Watchmaidens are fierce! Ensi with her magical potions, Khavar with her snake, Nessi with her Jinn charming flute and of course the Amulen Princess Caspida with her spirit and wit.

I found it interesting how Zahra tells her story like she is talking to Roshana. It works. She tells her encounter with Aladdin and about her journey as if it's a folktale. Her storytelling is entrancing and I wanted to savor it.

The romance between Aladdin and Zahra is forbidden but sometimes it is hard to resist happiness. Thank goodness for the slow burning romance. At first the two aren't too fond of each other but they gain the appreciation of each other's company. For so long, Zahra has been confined to her lamp and for so long has Aladdin been an orphan running around the city as a thief. Aladdin's main goal in life is to avenge his parents death while Zahra is trying to figure out whether freedom or love will make her truly happy.

Definitely check out The Forbidden Wish for a captivating retelling of Aladdin through the eyes of a female jinni. It's hypnotic and the novel contains just the right amount of action, adventure and romance.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Looking Ahead: Cover Reveals #4

Although it's still winter, there has been many wonderful cover reveals this week for Fall 2016 titles. I am super excited to see such ravishing cover designs. I know we're not suppose to judge a book by it's cover but sometimes the cover helps draw in more readers. I also love to see covers that portray the books well in terms of plot, characterization and themes. I cannot wait to dive into these books based on their synopsis but I hope each title has a cover that correlate with the novel as a whole.
Entertainment Weekly revealed the cover to Lauren Oliver's Replica. I am definitely loving how there are two books in one. The covers are VIBRANT and the simple. Definitely check out the interview on the EW website. Also, Awesomness Films has acquired the movie rights to Replica earlier this month. You can check out more information on the Deadline site. Congrats to Ms. Oliver!

Title: Replica
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: October 4, 2016

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Replica, the first of the two books, tells the story of Lyra, known by the number 24, a replica – human model – who was born, raised, and observed in a clandestine research facility called the Haven Institute. When Lyra escapes from Haven and meets Gemma, a stranger on a quest of her own, earth-shattering secrets are revealed.


Epic Reads released many Fall 2016 cover reveals this week. On Monday, they revealed the cover to As I Descended by Robin Talley. This Shakespeare-inspired story of Macbeth is sure to please many this coming fall. Ready to see a book full of revenge and redemption? Also, how CREEPY is that cover?

Title: As I Descended
Author: Robin Talley
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: September 6, 2016

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


On the second day of Epic Reads cover reveal week, the cover to Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst was revealed! I cannot wait to read this debut fantasy novel and I am in love with the STUNNING cover design.

Title: Of Fire and Stars
Author: Audrey Coulthurst
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication date: November 22, 2016

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine (called Mare), sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, each discovers there’s more to the other than she thought. Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. Soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.
 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Top Ten Songs I Wish Were Books


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 music and books related theme. I decided to share my top ten songs I wish were books. The following songs are songs I would pick for a contemporary book playlist.

S O N G S   I   W I S H   W E R E   B O O K S 

1. Photograph by Ed Sheeran
2. Fight Song by Rachel Platten
3. All of Me by John Legend
4. Apologize by Timbaland and OneRepublic
5. King and Lionheart by Of Monsters and Men
6. Lovesong by The Cure
7. When It Rains by Paramore
8. From Where You Are by Lifehouse
9. Be Still My Heart by The Postal Service
10. Need You Now by Lady Antebellum 



What songs do you want to see turned into books? What will your playlist look like? 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Winter by Marissa Meyer

Title: Winter
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Publication date: November 10, 2015
Pages: 824
Source/format: Library//Hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆
Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

M Y  T H O U G H T S

I am sure by now that most people have read the last installment of The Lunar Chronicles and I have to say it's pure perfection! Winter is definitely my favorite out of all the books in the series. Marrisa Meyer carefully weaves four fairy tales together and craftily creates a wonderful sci-fi world with kick-ass female characters. Her storytelling is captivating and makes the reader want more!

The character development is fantastic and the plot is on point. The transitions in POVs shift quite well. Each character has a distinct voice and I was never confused whose POV I was reading. Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter are strong young ladies and each has her own strengths and weaknesses. But when all four combine their strengths, they are powerful. These young ladies are good role models for girls. It's okay if girls like science or want to learn to code. They can be pilots and can be outspoken. It's okay for girls to be beautiful, motherly and nurturing as well as dabbling into "boy" interests.

Meyer ends the series with a punch. I seriously was on the edge of my seat at certain parts of the book. I didn't think about someone saving Cinder or if someone will rescue Scarlet. The series is more about how will these female characters work with others to overcome obstacles. I questioned who will they work with in order to overthrow Levana. Never underestimate what Cinder, Scarlet, Cress or Winter can do.

This epic tale involves the smarts and wits of Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter. Although each female has a romantic counterpart, the males do not save distressed damsels. Meyer shows how a female can be strong with or without a man. These ravishing ladies can do anything that a man can do and much more. The Lunar Chronicles is an empowering series that I highly recommend for those who enjoy reading fantasy, sci-fi and want to read books with strong female characters. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Typography Talk: Cover Redesigns

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.


Sometimes a book will come out and there will be a cover redesign in the future, whether it be for the hardcover or for the paperback edition. Some cover redesigns are well done and some are, well, not so great. Unfortunately, the authors usually don't have a say when a cover is designed in general. The marketing and publicity departments have the reign to decide what the cover looks like and how they want to market and promote the book. Even the graphic designers don't have a say. They just carry out and design what the marketing and publicity departments tell them to include on the cover. After many proofs (drafts), a new official design is born!

However, not everyone is as thrilled about the redesign. Frankly, many hardcore fans of certain books might not approve of the redesign. But there are instances where the redesign is as good or better than the originals. It depends why a cover is getting redesigned in the first place. Does the cover need a face lift because the publisher is trying to cater to a new audience? Is the cover not as eye catching as other similar titles and sales are not up to par?

Some readers who collect books don't care if covers of a series match or not. However, some readers need to have ALL of the covers to match.  


R E D E S I G N E D   C O V E R S


Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin

The redesign is a nice face lift for series. Kristy's Great Idea was originally published in 1986. For the new generation of children who might be interested in the book, a contemporary take is more eye catching. The old cover shows four girls in 1980's clothing compared to the new cover that looks more fresh and modern. The new cover has a look and colors that definitely scream contemporary! However, the font treatment is better with the classic cover.

Image from Forbes.com

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

I love all the Harry Potter cover redesigns and each redesign brings out something special from the Potterworld. Mary GrandPr√© designed some stunning artwork for the US editions of the Harry Potter series. However, Kazu Kibuishi redesigned the covers in a refreshing way for the 15th anniversary. And I love how each spine of the seven Harry Potter books, when put together side by side, creates Hogwarts. It's an innovative way to get readers to buy all redesigned books in the series. The iconic lighting bolt typeface is the same in both designs which I love! Check out the cover comparisons here.


For the UK versions, Jonny Duddle reinvents the Harry Potter covers targeting a new audience. With his background in the computer game industry, you can tell how he brings some of the animation from video games into his illustrations, depicting the wonderful world of Harry Potter. The colors are rich and vibrant and the magic is clearly there.

Image from telegraph.co.uk
And the illustrated version of Harry Potter has some of the best Harry Potter visuals I have seen thanks to Jim Kay. Check out what Jim Kay has to say about creating the breathtaking images.

Image from boktycke.wordpress.com

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Although this version of Fahrenheit 451 is not officially published, Elizabeth Perez designed an innovative cover of Fahrenheit 451. This minimalist design is perfect. The match that creates the 1 to 451 is symbolic. With the matchbox spine and an actual match as part of the cover design, it conveys the the theme of the book about book burnings. How clever! This is one of my favorite book redesigns.

1987 version
Image from Flavorwire.wordpress.com
What do you prefer? Would you collect books with the same covers or could you care less about matching covers?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Looking Ahead: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child & Book News

Today has been a wonderful day in the bookish world. Not only do we find out that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is becoming the official 8th book but there is also more information about upcoming re-releases of Harry Potter books! Time to save up money for the Harry Potter book fund!

Siriusly, who would have thought Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will become a book and will be releasing this summer on July 31, 2016!!! This is HUGE NEWS for any Potterhead. Who's ready for the midnight release parties?


Check out the following links about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as well as some new editions of previous printed books.

Mugglenet chats about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Publishers Weekly discusses about the two versions of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as well as some future editions of previously released books. According to Publishers Weekly, The “special rehearsal edition” book arrives the day after the show formally opens in London’s West End on July 30, and will consist of the play’s script from the stage production’s early preview period. The “special rehearsal edition” will be available for a limited time, and will be replaced by a “definitive collector’s edition” at a date to be announced.


P R E - O R D E R   D E A L S

Lately there has been a good amount of cover reveals and pre-order campaigns spreading on social media. I highlighted some of the ones that are on my radar and I hope they are on yours as well.  

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury | Offer ends February 16, 2016
Submit your proof-of-order to receive a limited edition exclusive map of Zahra's world, signed bookplate and bookmarks! 

Glittering Court by Richelle Mead | While Supplies Last
Show your receipt to receive a welcome kit containing gemstone tattoos and a guide to The Glittering Court. You can also enter for a Glittering Court Grand Prize which includes a Skype call with Richelle Mead, a $500 American Express gift card, $100 Sephora gift card and Glittering Court necklaces.

When We Collided by Emery Lord | Offer ends April 4, 2016
Pre-order When We Collided and fill out the form to receive a set of frameable postcards featuring quotes from and sayings inspired by the book.


C O V E R   R E V E A L S

Mundie Moms revealed the cover art to Foxheart by Claire Legrand. According to goodreads.com, Foxheart is a stand-alone middle grade fantasy adventure about a 12-year-old orphan and thief named Quicksilver, who discovers she is a witch and, after joining forces with her cantankerous and magical older self, goes hurtling back in time with her dog, Fox.

Publication date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 336


According to TMI Source, The Tales of the Shadowhunter Academy will be released later on this fall. This is the print bind up of all the e-novellas published in 2015. According to Goodreads, the series follows the adventures of Simon Lewis, one of the stars of Cassandra Clare’s internationally bestselling series The Mortal Instruments, as he trains to become a Shadowhunter. Throughout the course of Simon’s education, characters from the Mortal Instruments and the The Infernal Devices will make appearances, as will characters from the upcoming The Dark Artifices series and Last Hours series.

Publication date: November 15, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 528



What upcoming books are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Top Books That Would Make Great Valentine's Day Reads


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a Valentine's Day freebie. I decide to showcase my top picks that would make great Vantine's Day reads. Warning for the contemporary overload! The following books are in no particular order.

S T A N D A L O N E S / C O M P A N I O N S


The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord is one of my favorite contemporary romances. I cried at the end of the novel because it is so perfect.


Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is the perfect contemporary that takes place at a boarding school in City of Light! Who wouldn't want to read a book about love in Paris? Swoon!!


Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins is the second book in the Anna and the French Kiss companion series and it's the perfect companion for Valentine's Day.


Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins is the third book in the Anna and the French Kiss companion series and you are in for a treat at the end of the novel. It's very swoon worthy!


Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare is a classic about two star-crossed lovers. Read it already? Then it's time for a re-read!


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is another book I bawled at the ending. It's heartbreaking but the love is real! This is another book that I cried after reading the whole entire book.


Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is one of my favorite books of all time and it showcases one of my favorite OTPs! You will fall in love with Cath and Levi!


Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell is about two misfits who bond over music on a bus ride. It's a good book about first love.


To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han is the perfect read about past crushes and sisterly love.


P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han is the sequel to To All the Boys I've Loved Before. I love this one even more than the first one in the duology. It's so cute and sweet, just like Lara Jean. Yes, this can be considered as a series but this novel can be read as a standalone although I highly recommend reading both in the duology.


Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli is such a cute book about two pen pals who go to the same school. Simon and Blue are adorable and I love reading their letters to each other.


S E R I E S 


Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead is definitely full of action, adventure and love! There are definitely plenty of couples to read about.

Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead is a spin off of the Vampire Academy series and showcases my other favorite OTP, Sydney and Adrian!

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare has the only love triangle that I like. Swoon!!! This is also my favorite YA series of all time.

The Sententia series by Cara Bertrand takes place at a boarding school. I love the relationship between Lainey and Carter. And can I say that it takes place in Massachusetts!

Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins also takes place at a boarding school and the love between Sophie and Archer is complex for sure!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Happy Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, is one of the most important holidays my family and I celebrate. The celebration traditionally lasts 15 days. The first day of the new year varies year to year since it follows the lunar calendar and is usually in January or February. This year is the Year of the Monkey and specifically, the Red Monkey or the Fire Monkey.

Image from freepik.com

In celebration of Chinese New Year, check out below for some of my favorite reads that involve Chinese characters and/or culture.

1. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan is a book I read back in high school. Four women meet to play Mah Jong and form The Joy Luck Club. You hear them tell their stories of their lives. Forty years later, one of the members has passed and her daughter along with the other members' daughters reconnect and join a new generation of The Joy Luck Club.

2. Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah is a coming-of-age story about a Chinese girl in the 1940's. Adeline family considers her bad luck after her mother dies giving birth to her. Her father remarries and life is difficult with the stepmother and stepsiblings.

3. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See is about two girls living in nineteenth-century China. Lily and Snow Flower have a strong life-long friendship as laotongs and communicate with the secret language of the fan.

4. Under A Painted Sky by Stacey Lee is about Samantha in which her dad has she passed in a tragic accident in 1849, Missouri.. With the help of Annamae, Samantha flees to the California on the Oregon Trial while encountering new friends and learning to survive.

5. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See is a novel about two sisters, Pearl and May, who are sold as wives by their father to pay for a gambling debt in 1937 China. The sisters find their way from China to Los Angeles, California to start their new lives.

6. The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston is about a Chinese American woman who tells Chinese myths, stories and events of her childhood that have shaped her identity.

7. Dove Arising by Karen Bao is a sci-fi novel about Phaet Theta, a resident of the moon, who enlists in the Militia in order to save her siblings from living in a degrading shelter after her mother has been arrested.

8. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin is a fantasy novel crossed with Chinese folklore. Minli lives in the Valley of Fruitless Mountain and one day embarks on a journey to find the Old Man of the Moon in order to find a way to change her family's fortune.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Simon Thorn and the Wolf's Den by Aimee Carter

Title: Simon Thorn and the Wolf's Den
Author: Aimee Carter
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication date: February 2, 2016
Pages: 320
Source/format: ARC from BEA 2015

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):  

A thrilling debut in the tradition of Rick Riordan and Brandon Mull about a boy who discovers a secret race of animal shape shifters.

Twelve-year-old Simon Thorn’s life has never been easy or normal, but things like being bullied at school and living in a cramped Manhattan apartment with his Uncle Darrell are nothing compared to his biggest secret: He can talk to animals.

But when his mom is suddenly kidnapped by a herd of rats, Simon finds out that he, his mom, and his uncle are all Animalgams—people born with the ability to change into an animal at will.

In search of his mom, Simon discovers the Animalgam Academy based at the Central Park Zoo. There he learns about the fractured five kingdoms that make up this secret world . . . and realizes he may be the only one who can save it.

This action-packed page-turner is perfect for fans of the Spirit Animals and The School of Good and Evil series.

M Y   T H O U G H T S

Simon Thorn and the Wolf's Den is definitely a must read for those who like the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and Animorphs. Although very similar to Percy Jackson, Simon Thorn and the Wolf's Den is its own identity. With people talking to animals and people being able to shape shift into animals, readers are in for a fun ride. Simon never knew about his family's secrets. His uncle has always warned him to stay away from animals and Central Park because of the secrets that the family is harboring. Isn't it strange that Simon's mom is a zoologist and Simon can talk to animals? It all makes sense when Simon is thrown into this Animalgam world. However, Simon has no idea what he is in for.

Simon needs to rescue his mother and to do so, he must embrace his family heritage. Aimee Carter does an excellent job with tapping into topics about finding yourself, friendship, family and etc. Although the world building is strong in the novel, I would like to see more character development. Also, Simon Thorn and the Wolf's Den is very predictable and I expected more twists and turns. Because the novel is the first in the series, I assume readers will see more character development and more twists in future installments of the Simon Thorn series.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Harry Potter Book Night: A Night of Spells


Today is the day to celebrate the second Harry Potter Book Night. Potterheads around the world are celebrating this special day with a lot of wizarding games, food and more! It's a spellbinding event not to miss. Even though your local library or bookstore is not hosting an event, you can always celebrate with family or with friends. Do a re-read of a Harry Potter book or start a Harry Potter movie marathon. You can play a Harry Potter game or throw a harry Potter themed party! Use the hashtag #HarryPotterBookNight to celebrate February 4th, the Harry Potter Book Night: A Night of Spells. Why you're at it, check out Pottermore for the relaunch of the sorting quiz!

Did you miss the Harry Potter celebration in Orlando, Florida at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Don't worry, check out the recaps on Mugglenet: Day 1 and Day 2. You can also check twitter with the hashtag #HPCelebration for more news. Also, four new wizarding schools have been announced and some sneak peaks or behind the scene videos of Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them and the Cursed Child have bee revealed.

Image from Pottermore.com
I am super excited about the American school called Ilvermorny. The other three schools include Mahoutokoro, Uagadou and Castelobruxo. A total of 11 wizarding schools are located around the world and so far we know seven of them. I am loving all the Harry Potter related news lately and it puts my heart at ease knowing that Harry Potter is a classic and will live on forever.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Starflight Launch Blitz & Giveaway

It's finally launch day for Starflight by Melissa Landers! You definitely don't want to miss out on this amazing intergalactic space adventure novel. Ms. Landers has a few words to say about her book. Also, don't forget to check out my glowing review about Starflight!


Title: Starflight
Author: Melissa Landers
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication date: February 2, 2016
Pages: 320

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com)
Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the  felony tattoos across her knuckles. She's so desperate to reach the realm that she's willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he's been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world--and each other--the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe...

Hey there, booklovers!

I’m author Melissa Landers, and I’m thrilled to announce the release of STARFLIGHT, the first in a brand new sci-fi series from Disney-Hyperion. I originally pitched this story to my editor as “Overboard” (one of my favorite romantic comedies) meets “Firefly” (an amazing show that was tragically cancelled after one season). STARFLIGHT follows the misadventures of Solara Brooks, a penniless felon who indentures herself to her high school nemesis, Doran Spaulding, in exchange for passage to a new world. But when Doran’s memory is temporarily erased, Solara convinces him their roles are reversed—that she’s the master and he’s the servant—and leads him onto a renegade spaceship, where intergalactic shenanigans ensue. STARFLIGHT is very different in tone from the Alienated trilogy, but the story is still filled with all the things I love: humor, heart, and adventure.

What do reviewers have to say?

“Get ready for blast-off! Action-packed and utterly addictive, nobody writes like Melissa Landers. A smart, satisfying romance set in a vividly detailed world, Starflight was just plain fun!” –New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman

“Teens will be bracing themselves during the swashbuckling action scenes. A great choice for fans of raw sci-fi action, reminiscent of the lawlessness presented in the television series Firefly.” –School Library Journal

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

If you like your sci-fi adventure served with a side of romance, I hope you’ll pick up a copy of STARFLIGHT today. It’s now available in stores and online.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository (free international shipping) | Indie Bound

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

Best of luck, and happy reading!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

Monday, February 1, 2016

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Title: Emmy & Oliver
Author: Robin Benway
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: June 23, 2015
Pages: 352
Source/format: Purchased // e-book

Rating: ☆☆☆ 

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story.



My Thoughts

Emmy and Oliver are neighbors and best friends until one day Oliver never returned home. Ten years later, Oliver returns home and is confused about his life. At first everyone tells Emmy that Oliver needs space but then all of a sudden, they want her to hang out with Oliver. Emmy takes him under her wing and helps him adjust to his new life.

Both Emmy and Oliver are trying to figure out each other since there has been a ten year gap within their friendship. It must be hard for Oliver to come back home to find that he has a step dad and two half-sisters. Also, when Oliver is in New York, he goes by Colin. When he returns to California, everyone calls him Oliver. No wonder he is confused. It doesn't help that news reporters are always trying to set up a televised interview and how he is trying to find out who he is in peace. I found it refreshing that Emmy takes Oliver surfing. Although Emmy keeps surfing a secret from her parents, she feels like surfing would help Oliver break through his shell. Oliver hasn't had much fun for a long time and he does admit that he enjoys surfing even though he has a hard time learning.

I love how Caro and Drew are always there for Emmy. Caro and Drew are the perfect best friends one can ask for. Robin Benway writes about parents realistically. The parents care about their children and the relationship between parent and child is authentic. It's nice to read about supportive people in a teen's life. Also, I love how Emmy and Oliver continue their relationship from where they left off. Even though it takes awhile for Oliver to adjust to the new changes, he seems the happiest when he is with Emmy. There is no instalove which is great. The slow burning romance is perfect!

Benway does an excellent job with the different struggles teens deal with. Emmy's parents don't approve her doing certain things like surfing and is very strict about the curfew. Drew is struggling with figuring out his self and having his family accepting who he is. Caro receives little attention from her parents since she is one out of six children. Oliver doesn't learn he was kidnapped until he returned back to California. He is learning to adjust to life before New York. His mother is remarried and he has two half sisters. The variety of different family dynamics definitely will appease to readers.

Emmy & Oliver is honest coming-of-age novel about friendship, love, family and trust. I definitely recommend this novel for those who enjoy reading YA contemporary.