Thursday, March 31, 2016

Frontlist or Backlist: Do You Have a Preference?

With all the ARCs circling around, many bloggers want to read and review ARCs before the books are published. Frontlist titles are being promoted but what about the backlist titles? Although pre-order sales are important and so are the first week sales, we should also remember titles from the past.

I love promoting frontlist titles but I equally love promoting backlist titles. Sometimes I will read backlist titles because I want a break from all the current buzz books. Harry Potter is one series that I will re-read over and over again. Also, there are a lot of backlist titles that are on my TBR list I haven't had time to read. Sometimes I like to take a break from all of the ARC frenzy and reading books that are recently published. Sometimes I want to enjoy a book that is already published.

With an ARC, many people stress out about trying to read the ARC before the publication date. Of course you get to read the title before everyone else has a chance to get their hands on it, but will you be able to read it before the publication date? If a book is recently published, there are bound to be spoilers all over social media. Why rush to read a book? Reading is suppose to be relaxing. Savor each moment.

There is no pressure to read backlist titles. With a backlist title, you can sit back and enjoy the book without stressing out. Also, with a backlist title, the book will be fully edited compared to the ARC. With an ARC, everything isn't final. Often, the ARC is edited for typos and the plot and the characters often change. A finished copy is the final version.

Don't forget that ARCs aren't everything. All books will eventually be published. Learn to balance reading both frontlist and backlist titles. Reading should be a fun pastime. It shouldn't be stressful and it's not a chore. Enjoy the books you read. Cherish them and the time you spend reading.


So what do you enjoy reading? Do you prefer to read frontlist titles, backlist titles or both?

Monday, March 28, 2016

Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

Title: Tell the Wind and Fire
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publication date: April 5, 2016
Pages: 368
Source/format: ARC from publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

In a city divided between opulent luxury in the Light and fierce privations in the Dark, a determined young woman survives by guarding her secrets.

Lucie Manette was born in the Dark half of the city, but careful manipulations won her a home in the Light, celebrity status, and a rich, loving boyfriend. Now she just wants to keep her head down, but her boyfriend has a dark secret of his own—one involving an apparent stranger who is destitute and despised. Lucie alone knows the young men’s deadly connection, and even as the knowledge leads her to make a grave mistake, she can trust no one with the truth.

Blood and secrets alike spill out when revolution erupts. With both halves of the city burning, and mercy nowhere to be found, can Lucie save either boy—or herself?

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Sarah Rees Brennan writes a story that is loosely based on A Tale of Two Cities in modern day New York City instead of the 1700's before and after the French Revolution. There are two cities, Light and Dark. Without Dark there cannot be Light but in this world, Dark is looked down upon. The Light depend on the Dark for their survival, especially for those who are Light magicians and use too much magic. The Dark are patrolled by Light guards but away from the Lights. Lucie Manette is known as Gold Thread in the Dark after she saved her father's life. Her boyfriend Ethan Stryker hides a dark secret that know one knows until now. This secret can destroy everything the Stryker family has.

When I first heard about this novel, I was super excited to read it since it a retelling of A Tale of Two Cities but with paranormal forces and magic. However, I was slightly disappointed with the execution of the book. The word building is not as strong as it could be and I wish there was more information about how the magic system works with Light and Dark magicians. I want to know the breakdown of each city. I do not mind the long monologues Lucie has in the book. It is crucial to understand some backstory of the characters. Also, the first person narrative was fine since it was easy to follow the plot.

However, I noticed that Lucie starts defending another guy named Carwyn despite Ethan being her boyfriend. She spends more time defending this stranger and makes so many mistakes that has huge consequences. Lucie may have good intentions but she didn't have common sense half the time. She doesn't think before she acts. It was frustrating to read about Lucie's mistakes over and over again. Ethan had a flat personality and I wish he had more pep in his step. Carwyn is overly sarcastic and is easily predictable in his actions.

This retelling reminds me of the Hunger Games series. Just like with Katniss, Lucie hope to the people. Although she does not want to partake in the rebellion, she is the hope that the people needs. Because Lucie is a Light magician born in the Dark city and she stood up for her father, she is seen differently in the eyes of the Light magicians compared to the Dark magicians. She is used as a pawn in both Light and Dark cities. I feel for her. She is put in this awkward situation where she doesn't know what to do. The political struggle is real and is a constant reminder that not only one side can be corrupt. Don't forget that without darkness, there will be no light.

Despite a few concerns I had with Tell the Wind and Fire, I find the book well written and intriguing. I read the book in about three sittings over a few days. If you are looking for a fast paranormal dystopian read, check out Tell the Wind and Fire.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Marauders: A Bookish Adventures Feature


I am so glad to introduce a new blog feature that Elizabeth from Book Yabber, Marci from The Plot Bunny and I have been planning for some time. The Marauders is a feature where Elizabeth, Marci and I will showcase our bookish adventures around New England. Whether it is a bookstore or a library, we wanted to discover new places to share with the bookish community. We each took an Animagus form. Can you guess who is who and what animal is each person's Animagus?


On Saturday, March 12th, Elizabeth, Marci and I made a trip to Medfield to visit the largest children's book store in New England. Park Street Books and Toys is a cute store with several rooms full of wonderful toys and books. I pretty much freaked out when I saw the sign with Hogwarts, Narnia and Camp Half-Blood on it. It's the perfect sign for a lawn!


The first floor houses toys and new books. You can find picture books, children's school work books, Middle Grade and Young Adult books. There's even a cute pottery room attached to the store where little ones can paint ceramic sculptures and can get they fired up! It's such a great idea for a birthday party or a weekend activity.

On the second floor, one can find at least five rooms and a couple hallways full of used books! The prices are outstanding! Paperbacks go for under $3.00 and hardcovers under $9.00. If you're lucky, you can score some major finds in the $1.00 bookcase in one of the hallways. Some of the rooms have seating for readers to flip through a book before they buy.

After Park Street Books and Toys, the girls and I ventured to Fancy That in Walpole. Fancy that is a tea room, gift shop and vintage rental location all in one. Elizabeth, Marci and I had a reservation for afternoon tea in the yellow room.

All I can say is that Brad and Sarah know what they are doing! The room is beautifully decorated with an array of wonderful things like tea cups and saucers, a vintage couch, a pink tree with Marie Antoinette ornaments and a wonderful chandelier. The tea cup and saucer settings were perfect. And how cute is the Easter egg tablecloth? I also adored the teapot cozies to keep the teapot warm and the food was delicious.

We lucked out and had lemon poppy seed bread, tart cherry heart shaped scones, cucumber sandwiches, chicken sandwiches and apple cheddar on raisin bread with honey pecan cream cheese sandwiches. For the desserts we had parfaits of raspberry mousse with lemon curd and vanilla cake, pistachio french macarons and key lime coconut cupcakes.

The girls and I are definitely planning to visit Fancy That in the near future. It's a place that you must visit if you love tea! Brad and Sarah made sure our first experience was unforgettable. They even served us pink hot chocolate and always made sure that we were enjoying our stay at Fancy That. Let's just say that this will not be our last visit.


Fancy That's gift shop is too cute with all the vintage tea cups, amazing Harney & Sons teas and plenty of other goodies. Find a time in your life to sit back and relax. Keep calm and drink some tea.



If you want to follow The Marauders on social media, please check out the hashtag, #TheMarauders3, for pictures about our bookish adventures. We solemnly swear we are up to no good. Mischief Managed.


The Marauders | Photo Credit: Elizabeth

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

Title: The Winner's Crime
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Publication date: March 3, 2015
Pages: 402
Source/format: Purchased // Hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Following your heart can be a crime

A royal wedding means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin's freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself?

Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. she's working as a spy in the court. If caught, she'll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can't help searching for a way to change her ruthless world...and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret.

This dazzling follow-up to The Winner's Curse reveals the high price of dangerous lies and untrustworthy alliances. The truth will come out, and when it does, Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Kestral is a strategist, resourceful and diplomatic. She is the ideal woman to marry the Emperor's son because she will be a fine ruler. The Emperor believes Kestral will lead the Valorians well. However, the Emperor knows Kestral said yes to the marriage to keep the peace between the Valorians and the Herrani people. The Emperor is cunning and makes Kestral play a game. The dessert, the conversations and everything to comes forth is just a game. How will Kestral fare? Will she play the game well?

From the first paragraph of The Winner's Crime, I was hooked! I love The Winner's Curse so I had high expectations for the sequel. Marie Rutkoski is a master of world building and writes beautifully. Her prose is lush and exquisite. Clever and well calculated decisions are made in this installment. Rutkoski intertwines intricate world building with power dynamics making this series stand out! This is a historical fantasy at its finest with the mix of the old world, the scheming mind games and the epic cliff hanger!

Who can you trust? With the deception and betrayal with the Valorians and the Herrani, everyone is wary to trust others. However, some people are put to the test to see where their loyalties lie. The unrequited love between Kestrel and Arin is there! They lie to each other, trying to protect each other but in return, there is a lot of tension. Sacrifices are made for the greater good but what defines the greater good?

The Winner's Crime is a stunning follow up to The Winner's Curse. The Winner's Kiss, the final in the trilogy, will be published Tuesday, March 29, 2016. Make sure to pre-order the book or pick it up at your local book store on the day of the release! You won't regret it!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Title: Allegiant
Author: Veronica Roth

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books 
Publication date: October 22, 2013
Pages: 526
Source/format:Purchased // Hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered - fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she's known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris's new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningliess. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend to complexities of human nature - and of herself - while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, ALLEGIANT, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the DIVERGENT series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in DIVERGENT and INSURGENT.
 

M Y  T H O U G H T S 

I am planning to see the Allegiant film adaptation on March 26th and wanted to refresh my memory of what happened in the book. The last time I read the book was when the book was first released. Of course there are mixed reviews about Allegiant. I am one of the few that actually thought the ending was necessary. It's not the best ending in the world but it was a bold and important decision that Veronica Roth had to make.

Although I enjoyed re-reading Allegiant, I found the bickering between Tris and Tobias to be excessive. It could be because of the genetic results that causes this friction but it was a little bit tiresome to read. The casualties in this book are shocking and the discoveries that Tris and Tobias make in this novel are definitely overwhelming since so much goes on.

There were times when I was confused whose POV I was reading but I actually enjoyed the pacing of this novel. Although this installment is slower in pace and there aren't that many action scenes, Roth sucked me into the book and I read a huge portion of it in one day during my re-read. This is the novel that makes you think more about what is going on in the society. How do all three books link up? What does history teach us? Roth delves into what it means to be Divergent. It's important to understand what divergence means and how it affects society.

Also, readers get to know a little more about Tobias's background which helps the reader understand why Tobias thinks the way he does. Of course if your have a chance to read Four, readers get a better sense of his view about things. In Allegiant, his POV could have been improved.

Overall, I enjoyed reading the last book in the Divergent series. I am interested to see how much of Allegiant will be in the film adaptation of the same name in part one and in part two, also known as Ascendant. I hope there aren't too many changes in the film. I was highly disappointed with the Insurgent film adaption and I am a little nervous to see Allegiant.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

Title: Flawed
Author: Cecelia Ahern
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Publication date: April 5, 2016
Pages: 368
Source/format: ARC from publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆1/2

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Celestine North lives a perfect life. She's a model daughter and sister, she's well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she's dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule. And now faces life-changing repercussions.

She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society where obedience is paramount and rebellion is punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her-everything.

M Y  T H O U G H T S
 
Celestine North is the perfect and ideal citizen until one day she stands up for someone. She is only voicing her opinion about what she thinks is right but society deems this ethical motion to be unethical and morally wrong. In this society, if you break a rule you may be sentenced to a life as a Flawed. If a citizen makes a moral or ethical mistake, the citizen goes to trial and is deemed guilty or not guilty for their "crime."

If they are found guilty, they are branded with the symbol of the Flawed on Naming Day. There are five areas where one can be branded depending on what the error of their judgement is. If one makes a bad decision, one is branded on the temple. If one lies, one is branded on the tongue. If one steals from society, one is branded on the right palm. If is disloyal to the Guild, one is branded on the chest over the heart. And if one steps out of line with society, one is branded on the right sole of the foot. Not only do the Flawed get branded, but they must wear an armband with the letter F on the sleeve at all times.

Flawed reminds me of the Hunger Games series, The Scarlet Letter, Noughts and Crosses and segregation movements around the world. Cecelia Ahern writes an engaging novel that transforms one young lady into a young lady who sparks a rebellion movement. She has become the poster girl for the Guild and the poster girl of the Flawed. However, she does not want to side with anyone. Celestine does not want to be famous.

Ahern's writing is to the point. She doesn't include a lot of extra description about the world because it's clear from the actions of the people about what kind of world Celestine lives in. Through the actions and words of the characters in novel, it makes the reader think. Can this happen in real life? Yes, it can because some of this has happened before. During the Holocaust, Nazi Germans believed in a racial policy. Those who were sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp were tattooed a serial number. Some didn't even make it that far and were sent to the gas chambers. In the United States during the times of slavery, African Americans were not even deemed citizens. They were treated very poorly and even when they were able to gain their freedom, people still didn't treat them as equals. African Americans and Caucasians had separate bathrooms, water fountains, seats on the bus, etc. Ahern shows how society is still segregated and how discrimination still exists.

Those who are Flawed are treated as second class citizens. There cannot be more than two Flawed people sitting near each other, they have certain seats on the bus, they have curfews and they have people who monitor them all the time. This segregation of the Flawed is horrible to read about. There are many instances where people will purposely call the the Flawed names and some Flawed people will get beat up for no reason. I found it interesting that if someone aids a Flawed, that person will be brought on trial and can be guilty of being Flawed. How ridiculous is that? Apparently the human race doesn't exist. There is no compassion for others at all. In this absurd society, Flawed people don't matter. They can be dying and if someone helps the, the person that helps gets punished.

Flawed is an emotionally gripping and thought provoking story. I read this novel in one sitting and I was immersed into Flawed from the first sentence of the novel. If you are looking for a compelling dystopian read, definitely check out Flawed.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Kindred Spirits
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: Macmillans Kids UK
Publication date: February 25, 2016
Pages: 96
Source/format: Purchased // Paperback

Rating: ☆☆☆1/2

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

'Everybody likes everything these days. The whole world is a nerd.'
'Are you mad because other people like Star Wars? Are you mad because people like me like Star Wars?'
'Maybe.'

If you broke Elena's heart, Star Wars would spill out. So when she decides to queue outside her local cinema to see the new movie, she's expecting a celebration with crowds of people who love Han, Luke and Leia just as much as she does. What she's not expecting is to be last in a line of only three people; to have to pee into a collectible Star Wars soda cup behind a dumpster or to meet that unlikely someone who just might truly understand the way she feels. Kindred Spirits is an engaging short story by Rainbow Rowell, author of the bestselling Eleanor & Park, Fangirl and Carry On, and is part of a handful of selected short reads specially produced for World Book Day.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

This short story by Rainbow Rowell is magical! Rowell is an auto-buy author for me and of course I had to pre-order this beauty! Elena is third in line waiting in anticipation for the upcoming Star Wars movie, Episode VII: The Force Awakens. She ends up befriending Troy and Gabe. The weather is mild but mild in terms of December. With a pom pom hat, a sleeping bag and some Star Wars books, Elena is determined to stick it out for the four days camping outside the movie theater. 

I related with Elena. Although I am not a big Star Wars fan, I can understand the excitement waiting in anticipation for the next movie or book of a well loved fandom. For me, that fandom is Harry Potter. Although I did not camp out for four days to see a Star Wars movie, I definitely camped out hours prior to midnight releases. 

There is something special one experiences in a fandom waiting line. The people you meet are all in line for the same fandom you absolute love! Rowell writes characters that are real. They aren't perfect but that's why I like them. Gabe may be that geeky guy that sits in the back of Spanish class but so what? Despite each other's differences, people can appreciate the same love for a fandom. It's like a second family. A fandom unites people together. I don't feel out of place when I am hanging around Potterheads. The same is true for fans of other fandoms.

When Elena jokes around how she gets mistaken as a 12-year-old, I can totally relate to that. I am petite standing at 5'2" and I am constantly mistaken to be younger than I really am all the time. Elena with short arms, a tiny bladder, a love for Starbucks and Yodas on her cheeks definitely sounds like a version of me.

Although I love the short story, I found the ending to be unrealistic. I won't spoil it here but a true fan doesn't do what happened at the end of the story.

Kindred Spirits is hilarious yet adorable and quick contemporary read. If you are a huge fan of Stars Wars, fandoms and/or Rainbow Rowell, definitely get your hands on a copy.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Title: Tell Me Three Things
Author: Julie Buxbaum
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication date: April 5, 2016
Pages: 336
Source/format: ARC from publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

What if the person you need the most is someone you’ve never met? 

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?
 

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Jessie Holmes is starting her junior year of high school after moving to Los Angeles from Chicago. Her mom has passed and her dad eloped with a woman who has a son also in the same grade as Jessie. Seven days after starting Wood Valley High School, someone with the name Somebody Nobody e-mails Jessie. From that day on, Somebody Nobody has become a good friend. However, who is this mystery person? Who is SN?

Julie Buxbaum writes an honest story. Jessie doesn't fit in with the rich kids at the elite private school she attends. No one is there for Jessie except her new friends Adrianna (Dri) and Agnes. Even SN tries to help her navigate the Wood Valley High School. But who is SN? Caleb, Liam, Ethan or some other guy that knows her?

Buxbaum showcases healthy female relationships. Jessie's best friend from Chicago, Scarlett, still keeps in touch and they have a strong friendship despite the distance between them. Dri and Agnes are always there for Jessie. Buxbaum tackles a variety of tough topics such as transferring schools, making new friends, bullying, safe sex, parents remarrying and even touches upon socioeconomic upbringings.

The adults in the novel are in their own world and do not even consider that Jessie is going through a tough time. All they claim is that they are trying to understand. However, as the novel progresses, Jessie and her dad finally have a conversation at the end of novel which I thought was important for both of them to express their feelings of the transition. Mrs. Pollack, Jessie's English teacher, also has a conversation about fitting in which I think is crucial.

I love the formatting of Tell Me Three Things. Buxbaum includes Jessie writing in first person. Readers also get to read the text exchanges between Jessie and Scarlett as well as the e-mails and IMs she sends and receives from Somebody Nobody. The way Buxbaum weaves in a subtle mystery within a contemporary is brilliant. It works so well in the novel.

If you are looking for a cute, heartfelt contemporary in the vein of The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord, definitely pick up Tell Me Three Things. This novel is definitely one of my favorite reads of the year so far.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Top Books On My Spring TBR


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to share their top ten books on their spring TBR list. The following books are in no particular order. I also chose to highlight only eight books this week.


1. Ruined by Amy Tintera is the first book in Tintera's upcoming fantasy series. I enjoyed reading her dystopian novel, Reboot, and I am looking forward to reading her take on fantasy. Emelina Flores has lost everything including her parents and sister during war. Her home has been ravaged and she wants revenge!


2. Circle of Jinn by Lori Goldstein is the second book in the Becoming Jinn series and I cannot wait to read more about Azra and about her destiny. I am expecting more adventure in this installment.


3. Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee is Lee's second book. After I read Under a Painted Sky, I knew I had to get my hands on Lee's next book. This novel takes place in 1906 San Francisco and Mercy Wong cunningly poses as an heiress to secure her enrollment at St. Clare’s School for Girls, a boarding school for wealthy white girls.


4. Renegade by Kerry Wilkinson is the second book in the Silver Blackthorn series. I want to read this book before Resurgence is published. If you're looking for a dystopian read, definitely check out Reckoning which is the first book the series.


5. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo is about a girl named Amanda and she harbors a secret that others don't know about. In fact she used to be Andrew. I am excited to read this story and to see how Russo writes about someone being trans-gendered. I heard great things about this powerful book.


6. Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell is a short story written for World Book Day. Once I heard about it, I had to tell my friend Elizabeth from Book Yabber about it. Rowell is an auto-buy author and pre-ordering this book was a MUST! I actually received this book on Monday and accidentally received 50 copies!


7. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare has been on my TBR list ever since I learned about this new series that was announced years ago. I finally have a copy in my hands and I am definitely going to read this slowly so I can savor every page of this beauty!


8. Allegiant by Veronica Roth is a book I want to re-read again before I see the film adaptation of Allegiant, which is part one of the novel. I know many people have mixed feelings about this installment in the Divergent series but I actually enjoy it. I am looking forward to comparing and contrasting the novel with the film.


What books are on your spring TBR list? Are there any books that you are dying to read ASAP?

Monday, March 14, 2016

When We Collided by Emery Lord

Title: When We Collided
Author: Emery Lord
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication date: April 5, 2016
Pages: 352
Source/format: ARC from publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.

Vivi and Jonah couldn't be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi's zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there's something important Vivi hasn't told him.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Vivi fell in love with Verona Cove when she moved there for the summer. She wasn't looking for love but love found her anyway. Verona Cove is a small beach town in California and with about 3,000 residents. Because Jonah promised little Leah she can paint pottery if she did all of her chores, the two end up at Fired Up. It so happens that Vivi works there over the summer. And this is where the story starts!

When We Collided is honest and poetic. Emery Lord has a gift for capturing moments in a snapshot. Her descriptions are beautifully written and the imagery is strong. Life isn't perfect and Vivi and Jonah are able to complete each other despite their flaws. The slow build up from stranger to friend is remarkable. Vivi is vivid and so full of life. She is adventurous, humorous and free-spirited. Jonah is responsible and reserved. After all, he is one of the caretakers for his younger siblings. Vivi falls in love with the Daniels family but is smitten with Jonah.

I enjoyed reading the dual POV novel. Lord writes the POVs wonderfully. I love how she transitions the dialogue so we see both Vivi's and Jonah's POVs. The way Lord tackles family dynamics is fantastic. Jonah comes from a family of five siblings. But his father passed six months ago and his Mom hasn't been the same after the death. The older children have to step up in terms of responsibilities in order to support the family whether it be working or babysitting the younger siblings. Vivi is an only child and lives with her artist mother. Jonah's POV is my favorite. Lord writes his voice perfectly.

There is so much emotion and grit in this novel. The ending made me cry; it's a bittersweet ending. Lord has touched upon bipolar disorder in a way where everyone can understand. When We Collided is not a mental illness novel. It's a coming-of-age novel about finding who you are and how you can still persist even though you have some struggles and difficulties in your life. When life is tough, you keep moving forward.

When We Collided is a MUST read! It's heartfelt and it's almost impossible not to fall in love with Vivi, Jonah and Jonah's family. The characters are real with flaws and all. If you're looking for a YA contemporary dealing with loss, friendship, love, acceptance, finding yourself and mental illness, When We Collided is the book to pick up! Vivi was here!

Collide by Howie Day pairs well with When We Collided.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Half Lost by Sally Green

Title: Half Lost
Author: Sally Green
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication date: March 29, 2016
Pages: 352
Source/format: ARC from the publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

A stunning, magical world. An international sensation.

Nathan Byrn is running again. The Alliance of Free Witches has been all but destroyed. Scattered and demoralized, constantly pursued by the Council’s Hunters, only a bold new strategy can save the rebels from total defeat. They need the missing half of Gabriel’s amulet—an ancient artifact with the power to render its bearer invincible in battle.

But the amulet’s guardian—the reclusive and awesomely powerful witch Ledger - has her own agenda. To win her trust, Nathan must travel to America and persuade her to give him the amulet. Combined with the Gifts he has inherited from Marcus, the amulet might just be enough to turn the tide for the Alliance and end the bloody civil war between Black and White witches once and for all…

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Half Lost takes place right after the events of Half Wild. After a betrayal and a major death, Nathan wants revenge! The Alliance has mixed views about Nathan and hope that his will for revenge is not clouding his vision of the true enemy. In order to defeat the Council, he must convince a powerful witch named Ledger to hand over the other half of the amulet.

Sally Green has done it again! With each book in the series, I am more invested with Nathan. There is more adventure and action in this installment. Justice will be served! So much stuff goes on in Half Lost! Green knows how to keep her readers guessing what is going to happen to the characters in the novel. Who should we trust? Who will live? Who will die? My brain is going to explode!

I also noticed that the format of the book along with the POV is strictly first person which is great! The previous books had first and second person POVs as well as strange formatting which a lot of readers complained about. However, I see it as a crucial and creative way to show growth of Nathan's character. The first two books are coming of age novels where Nathan is confused and is trying to figure out where he belongs and who he is. In Half Lost, Nathan knows what he wants. His voice in first person makes a statement! He doesn't need other people to know what he has been through.

"I want to be a Half Code. I want to be Black and White, the best of both. And now I want to see Gabriel, to tell him I'm not lost, that I do know who I am." - ARC

However, I wasn't fond of Nathan kissing and making love all the time within the book. With the nature of what is going on, I don't think he will be making love with someone that many times. Kissing makes sense once in awhile but I find it unrealistic that the kissing and making love happens so much within Half Lost.

I didn't see that ending coming!! I feel for Nathan. He has gone through so much and yet again he loses someone close to him. I hope the very best for Nathan to find happiness.

If you had a chance to read Half Bad and Half Wild, you MUST read Half Lost! If you haven't read Half Bad yet, go pick it up and start this fantastic series.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith

Title: The Way I Used to Be
Author: Amber Smith
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date: March 22, 2016
Pages: 384
Source/format: ARC from Publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

In the tradition of Speak, this extraordinary debut novel shares the unforgettable story of a young woman as she struggles to find strength in the aftermath of an assault.

Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.
 

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Eden McCrorey has been hiding a secret from everyone she knows. Her brother's friend, Kevin, raped her during her freshman year but she doesn't think anyone will believe her because Kevin is treated as part of the family. Eden feels alone. She can't tell her family or her friends what happened. She is unpopular at school and she ends up forming the Lunch-Break Book Club to avoid the cafeteria at lunchtime.

Amber Smith's debut novel is powerful! Rape is a subject that can be touchy to talk about in general. Smith writes about an important and heavy topic in a way the reader will understand what Eden is going through. When I heard how The Way I Used to Be is similar to Speak, I had to pick this novel up. She does not sugarcoat anything from sex to drugs to alcohol. She tells it how it is.

Smith writes about Eden's journey over a span of four years of high school. The emotions and pain doesn't go away. It lingers with her forever. As each year progresses, she seems more irritable. She transforms from goody two shoe to a young lady who lives a life that down spirals; Her life is dangerous and destructive. She fills this void of being violated with things she can control such as having sex with random guys, doing drugs and drinking alcohol.

Eden became annoying after awhile and would always not listen to others. She would tell people to shut up when everyone is trying to check up on her. I had mix feelings about how she treated people. I mean I understand that no one knows what she went through but she became overly bitchy as the book progresses. Eden shuts out everyone that cares for her from a love interest to her best friend. There are a few times I seriously wanted to slap her.

Rape happens even though people don't know about. The reason why people don't know about, is because rape victims often don't tell anyone about what happens. They feel conflicted, confined and confused. When you think you are safe, you are not. Home is deemed the safest place but in reality a lot of instances of sexual assault and domestic violence occur with people you know.

If you're looking for a book in the vein of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, definitely check out The Way I Used to Be. This is a good read for April's Sexual Assault Awareness month.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Harper Teen Summer 2016 Tour: Red Velvet Crush by Christina Meredith


Thank you Hannah from Irish Banana Reviews and Stephanie Hoover from HarperCollins for letting me participate in Harper Teen Summer 2016 Tour! I am lucky to showcase Red Velvet Crush by Christina Meredith. I figured since this novel includes music as one of the themes, why not include a playlist for the tour stop!

Title: Red Velvet Crush
Author: Christina Meredith
Publisher: Greenwillows Books
Publication Date: June 14, 2016
Pages: 304
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks |
The Book DepositoryIndieBound
Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Rock music, a broken family, challenging sisters, and the crush of first love—Red Velvet Crush has everything you need in a summer read. For fans of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Eleanor & Park, and This Song Will Save Your Life.

Teddy Lee’s mother ran off when she was in second grade. And ever since, Teddy Lee, the often-overshadowed middle kid, has tried to keep her family together. But her older brother Winston usually keeps himself busy with smoking, drinking, and girls, and who knows what else. Her younger sister Billie is occupied with her shoplifting habit and boys . . . and who knows what else. So when Teddy Lee finally takes the songs she’s always written and forms a band, maybe it’ll bring everyone closer together, maybe it’ll be her time to shine. Unless Billie steals the spotlight—and the boy—just like she always does. Christina Meredith explores the complicated relationship of sisters—both the unconditional love and the unavoidable resentments—in a novel full of music, urgency, the first blushes of love, and the undeniable excitement of hitting the road.


RED VELVET CRUSH PLAYLIST

1. Transatlanticism by Death Cab for Cutie
2. Nightcall by London Grammar
3. Sleepwalking by Lissie
4. You Drive Me Wild by The Runaways
5. Crown of Love by Arcade Fire
6. All the Rage Back Home by Interpol
7. Heroes by David Bowie
8. Monster by Red Velvet Crush
9. Absolution by The Pretty Reckless
10. Under Pressure by David Bowie and Queen
11. Good Times Bad Times by Zed Zeppelin
12. Smoke On The Water by Deep Purple


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christina Meredith is:

Former fourth-grade spelling bee champ
Wisconsin girl at heart
Never met a striped t-shirt she didn't like
Always writing a happily ever after
Hoping for a future more Fifth Element than Bladerunner
Constantly fighting her love of all things pink
A sucker for snake plissken
Right or wrong, as long as it's true
Her life has a soundtrack
Sometimes she likes books more than people
The music is never loud enough and the car is never fast enough
Werewolves, Bigfoot, Leprechauns, Unicorns — She wants them all to be real

For more information about Christina Meredith, check out her website.

GIVEAWAYS

#1 – A Harper Teen Summer 2016 Catalog  prize pack of 45 books* (US Only)

*Titles not included: The Crown by Kiera Cass, Escape from Asylum by Madeline Roux, Sing by Vivi Greene, The Countdown by Kimberly Derting and United As One by Pittacus Lore.

In addition to the one massive prize winner, we will also have 4 winners who will be able to select 3 titles they want from the Summer 2016 Catalog. Participating blogs and bloggers are not responsible for unsent, damaged, and/or stolen prizes offered by the publisher.



#2 – 5 Finished Copies from the Harper Teen Winter 2016 Catalog (US Only)

5 books include Front Lines by Michael Grant, Revenge & the Wild by Michelle Modesto, The Lifeboat Clique by Kathy Parks, Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin and The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig.

How to enter:

Collect the daily word from each blog stop during the Harper Summer 2016 Tour (a total of 50). Once you’ve collected them all, email the complete saying to: HarperTeenTour@gmail.com.

Daily word: or 

Prize Rules:

1.) Winner must have a valid US mailing address to receive the prize

2.) Winner must be over 13

3.) Only one (1) entry per person for Prize #2 – duplicates will be deleted.

4.) Only a completed phrase will be accepted as an entry – do not email each word/phrase daily. Wait until you have the complete saying and then email in.

5.) All email submissions must be received by 11:59 PM EST 3/31/2016.

6.) Winners will be selected 4/1/2016 and will have 48 hours to claim their prize before another is selected.

7.) Participating blogs and bloggers are not responsible for unsent, damaged, and/or stolen prizes offered by the publisher.


#3 – Leap Year Giveaway - 4 of the most anticipated ARCs from Summer 2016 (US Only)

Books include My Lady Jane, Ivory & Bone, The Crown's Game and This Savage Song

How to enter:

This giveaway will only run on February 29, 2016. The rafflecopter form will work for 24 hours and a winner will be chosen on March 1, 2016. Participating blogs and bloggers are not responsible for unsent, damaged, and/or stolen prizes offered by the publisher.



FACEBOOK CHAT

Make sure to check out the Harper Teen Summer 2016 Tour March author chat page. This is a great way to interact with authors and bloggers. The chat will occur on Wednesday, March 16th at 6:00 PM and the following authors will make an appearance: Julie Eshbaugh, Lindsey Klingele, Michelle Andreani, Mindi Scott and Paula Stokes.

DON'T FORGET TO CHECK THE REST OF THE HARPER TEEN SUMMER 2016 TOUR


Friday, March 4, 2016

Half Wild by Sally Green

Title: Half Wild
Author: Sally Green
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication date: March 24, 2015
Pages: 412
Source/format: Library//Hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

"You will have a powerful Gift, but it’s how you use it that will show you to be good or bad."

In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, seventeen-year-old Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world's most powerful and violent witch. Nathan is hunted from all sides: nowhere is safe and no one can be trusted. Now, Nathan has come into his own unique magical Gift, and he's on the run--but the Hunters are close behind, and they will stop at nothing until they have captured Nathan and destroyed his father.



M Y  T H O U G H T S

Half Wild takes place right where Half Bad left off. Everyone Nathan cares for is out of reach. Nathan received his Gift in Half Bad but he is trying to learn to control it. As a Half Code, he is half White Witch and half Black Witch which to the Council, he is seen as an abomination. The Council sends Hunters to capture Nathan but Nathan is on the run in order to survive.

The Council has a shift in leadership and Nathan befriends some witches who form the Alliance and want to fight against the Council in order to establish traditional values once again. Readers are introduced to some new fabulous characters. Victoria van Dal is an intriguing character and definitely one of my new favorites. Also, the friendship between Nathan and Gabriel is perfect.

Sally Green uses both first and second person narratives in Half Wild just like she did in Half Bad. Some people may see this as off putting but I didn't mind it too much. However, it bothered me when I saw all lowercase letters when Nathan uses his gift. It was hard to read and I wasn't too fond of the format.

Half Wild has a few twists and turns I didn't see coming. I actually enjoyed this installment more than the previous because of the character development. Half Wild is a coming of age story about Nathan figuring out where he belongs. He doesn't know who to trust since he doesn't know where everyone's loyalties lie. Nathan is still trying to learn how to control his gift which will become crucial to his survival and the success of the Alliance's plans. And that ending! So many things happen!

Half Wild is definitely a novel fantasy paranormal lovers will want to pick up. My review for Half Lost, which is the last book in the trilogy, will be up next week.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Dim Sum Book Tag

Original image from Pittso.com
Thank you to Emma from Miss Print for tagging me to do this wonderful Dim Sum Book Tag. Thank you to  Joey from Thoughts and Afterthoughts and Jenna from Reading With Jenna for creating this tag. I love books and I love dim sum so I am super excited to participate in this tag.

Dim sum and yum cha (drinking tea) goes hand in hand. Cantonese small dishes are served while drinking tea and enjoying conversation with good company. Most of the time, these small dishes circulate around the room on carts but in some places, you can have your food made to order. Dim sum is one of my favorite things to do on a weekend morning.

RULES:

Here are some rules to devour this tag:
  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site
  2. Devour dim sum and answer the tag questions
  3. Tag five others to join your round table for some dim sum fun
  4. Food coma

Tea: A book that started off hot but turned cold quickly

The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak starts out great but as time went on I found a lot of actions in the book to be unrealistic. I was rolling my eyes a lot when I read this book.


Chiu Chow Dumpling: A book that features elements of land and sea

Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper is a novel set on Prince Island which is known for whaling as well as the Roe witches. I love the fact that Prince Island is off of the coast of Massachusetts.


Rice Noodle Roll: A favourite multi-layered character of yours. (eg. traits? skills? morally ambiguous?)

Adelina from The Young Elites by Marie Lu is a very intriguing character and I enjoy reading her being an anti-hero. She is definitely my favorite character in the series.


Shrimp Dumpling: A book with a transparent blurb that gives the story away.

A Whole New World by Liz Braswell is supposedly a retelling of Aladdin but the synopsis pretty much tells you about the whole book. Also, a good chunk of the book is exactly like the Disney movie.


Steamed BBQ Pork Buns: A book that is fluffy on the outside but packs a punch of flavor 
(eg. message? depth? controversy?)

Simon and the Homo Sapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli is a cute read but covers important issues such as coming out, bullying, etc.


Chicken Feet: A book with divided opinions

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is definitely an over-hyped book. I know many people rave about this book but I found it mediocre. Sure it was interesting but it combined elements of three other books I've read before. I wanted something unique! I wanted it to stand out! Unfortunately, it isn't up to par.


Lotus-wrapped sticky rice: A book you've received/given that was nicely packaged

All my OTSP Secret Sister books. Seriously each package I received was perfect! I have to agree with Emma that Nicole from The Book Bandit is the wrapping queen!

Egg Custard Tart: A book that uses simple ingredients and clich├ęs but executes it perfectly

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is one of my favorite books of all time. I love it for it's simplicity and it's complexity at the same time.


Mango Pudding with Evaporated Milk: Any book recommendation + beverage/snack 
that's a winning combination

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han + Snickerdoodles. You have to have some kind of baked good that Lara Jean makes while reading this book.


Fried Sesame Balls: A book cover with embossed text/design you just love to run your fingers over

My copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling that I purchased last year. It's a orange cloth bounded book with foil line art by Jonny Duddle with a beautiful purple slipcase.
Dim Sum Steam Cart: The type of carrying bag you use to bring books around 

There is no question about what bag I like to tote my books around. I love tote bags and this Harry Potter quote bag is one of my favorites. I contributed to the Harry Potter Alliance Indiegogo 10th Anniversary Fundraiser Campaign and ended up getting this awesome tote bag.


I tag the following people:

Elizabeth @ Book YAbber
Marci @ The Plot Bunny
Melissa @ Live Love Read
Kim @ Book Munchies
Christine @ Padfoot's Library
Molly @ Cherry Blossoms & Maple Syrup

and anyone who wants to partake in this fun book tag