Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Top Ten Books I Picked Up at ALA Midwinter

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a freebie. I decide to showcase top ten books I picked up at ALA Midwinter. The following books are in no particular order. Most of the following are front list titles and I included synopsis for all ten along with the publication date and publisher.

1. Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins - June 14, 2016 published by Macmillan 

I was surprised this was even available at ALA Midwinter and I am fortunate that I will be able to read it before the pub date.

Maybe it's the long, lazy days, or maybe it's the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Featuring stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.

2. The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury - February 23, 2016 published by Penguin

I am super excited about this Aladdin retelling. Aladdin is my favorite Disney movie and I can't wait to immerse myself into this wonderful and magical world.

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.

3. The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith - March 22, 2016 published by Simon & Schuster

I heard about this book at the Simon & Schuster's Book Buzz at ALAMW and I added it to my TBR. Pitched in the tradition of Speak, Simon & Schuster sold me! I needed to obtain this title and I was fortunate to pick up the display copy on the last day of ALAMW.

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.

4. Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan - April 5, 2016 published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Urban fantasy and a retelling of A Tale of Two Cities..YES, please!

Tell the Wind & Fire is about a young girl called Lucie who lives in a New York very different from the New York we know: the city is torn between two very different kinds of magic, and Lucie’s own family was torn apart years ago by that conflict. Lucie wears magic rings and carries a burden of guilt she can’t share with anyone.

The light in her life is her sweetheart boyfriend Ethan, but it turns out Ethan has a secret too: a soulless doppelganger created by dark magic, who has to conceal the face identical to Ethan’s with a hood fastened by a collar nobody but a Light magician with magical rings can take off… and who introduces himself to both of them by, for reasons nobody can understand, saving Ethan’s life…

5. Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch - April 12, 2016 published by Simon & Schuster

A romantic contemporary in Italy is definitely a novel up my alley. The synopsis sounds intriguing and the cover art is adorable! I have been obsessed with Italy ever since I visited Italy back in 2009 so it's a no brainer that I have this book on my TBR.

A summer in Italy turns into a road trip across Tuscany in this sweeping debut novel filled with romance, mystery, and adventure.

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then Lina is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept from Lina for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and ever herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

6. The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas - April 19, 2016 published by Random House

This psychological thriller caught my eye after I heard about it on twitter. Chilling!!!!

"Gripping from start to finish, The Darkest Corners took me into an underbelly I didn't know existed, with twists that left me shocked and racing forward to get to the end."-Victoria Aveyard, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Red Queen

For fans of Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places and Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars, The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.
There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.
Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.
Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.
But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.
Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

7. Wishing Day by Lauren Myracle - May 3, 2016 published by HarperCollins

This Middle Grade novel seems the perfect combination of whimsical and cuteness.

On the third night of the third month after a girl’s thirteenth birthday, every girl in the town of Willow Hill makes three wishes.

The first wish is an impossible wish.
The second is a wish she can make come true herself.
And the third is the deepest wish of her secret heart.

Natasha is the oldest child in a family steeped in magic, though she’s not sure she believes in it. She’s full to bursting with wishes, however. She misses her mother, who disappeared nearly eight long years ago. She has a crush on one of the cutest boys in her class, and she thinks maybe it would be nice if her very first kiss came from him. And amid the chaos of a house full of sisters, aunts, and a father lost in grief, she aches to simply be...noticed.

So Natasha goes to the willow tree at the top of the hill on her Wishing Day, and she makes three wishes. What unfolds is beyond anything she could have imagined.

8. Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee - May 24, 2016 published by Penguin

This novel has been on my TBR list since I heard the rights for it. Stacey's debut novel, Under a Painted Sky, is fantastic and I couldn't wait to read more by her.

From the author of the critically acclaimed Under a Painted Sky, an unforgettable story of determination set against a backdrop of devastating tragedy. Perfect for fans of Code Name Verity.

San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from the poverty in Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare’s School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare’s is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes.

On April 18, an historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Mercy can't sit by while they wait for the Army to bring help. Fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, yet Mercy still has the 'bossy' cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenaged girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?

Breakout author Stacey Lee masterfully crafts another remarkable novel set against a unique historical backdrop. Strong-willed Mercy Wong leads a cast of diverse characters in this extraordinary tale of survival.

9. Ruined by Amy Tintera - May 3, 2016 published by HarperCollins

I enjoyed reading Amy's dystopian, Reboot, and I cannot wait to read her take on fantasy. And how gorgeous is this cover? It's so simple yet sophisticated.

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

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

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

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

10. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore - September 15, 2015 by Macmillan

I heard great things about this magical realism novel. What drew me to this novel is the fact that it is very Romeo and Juliet like. I cannot wait to start reading this.

The Palomas and the Corbeaus have long been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for more than a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.

Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she’s been taught since birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.

Beautifully written, and richly imaginative, The Weight of Feathers is an utterly captivating young adult novel by a talented new voice.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Starflight by Melissa Landers

Title: Starflight
Author: Melissa Landers
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication date: February 2, 2016
Pages: 320
Source/format: e-ARC/Netgalley

Rating: ☆☆☆1/2

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...

My Thoughts

"He wanted her to be the Solara he'd come to know--his Solara." - ARC

Starflight is an intergalactic space travel journey like no other. The two main characters are total opposites from each other. Solara Brooks is a hardworking mechanic trying to find a way to the lawless outer realm but has a felony conviction. She is so desperate to aboard Spaceliner Zenith, she agrees to be Doran Spaulding's indentured servant for passage on the Zenith. Doran, heir to the galaxy's largest fuel corporation, was a varsity football star back when Solar and Doran were at the academy together. He ridicules her when they were in school and still does today. Unexpected circumstances occur and the duo end up on Banshee running away from the law. A vessel of misfits end up bonding over secrets and past lives while encountering space pirates!

The novel is written in dual POV. The writing is fabulous and mesmerizing. Melissa Landers does a fantastic job with character development with not only the main characters but also with the secondary characters. Landers is able to capture sci-fi perfectly in Starflight. Solara is witty, independent and knows what she wants. Doran, on the other hand, is a spoiled, rich jerk. Despite their differences, they learn to become civil toward each other. Landers has done an incredible job with the slow burning romance. However, I found it interesting when Doran isn't super mad when he bumped into someone unexpected at the end of the novel. He is upset at first but then he bonds with that person like nothing ever happened. I would think Doran would hold a grudge a bit longer since it took forever for him to warm up to Solara.

I highly recommend Starflight to readers who like adventure and sci-fi. I can't wait to read the companion novel to Starflight about Cassia and and Kane.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt

Title: The Distance from A to Z
Author: Natalie Blitt
Publisher: Epic Reads Impulse
Publication date: January 12, 2016
Pages: 352
Source/format: e-book/Purchased

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):

This full-length novel by debut author Natalie Blitt is a pitch-perfect blend of Stephanie Perkins and Miranda Kenneally that proves the age-old adage: opposites attract.

Seventeen-year old Abby has only one goal for her summer: to make sure she is fluent in French—well, that, and to get as far away from baseball and her Cubs-obsessed family as possible. A summer of culture and language, with no sports in sight.

That turns out to be impossible, though, because her French partner is the exact kind of boy she was hoping to avoid. Eight weeks. 120 hours of class. 80 hours of conversation practice with someone who seems to exclusively wear baseball caps and jerseys.

But Zeke in French is a different person than Zeke in English. And Abby can’t help but fall for him, hard. As Abby begins to suspect that Zeke is hiding something, she has to decide if bridging the gap between the distance between who she is and who he is, is worth the risk.

My Thoughts

Abby Berman, a high school senior from Chicago, is attending a summer program in New Hampshire. If she can prove that she is fluent in French, she can attend Paris School and will ultimately attend a French university. She is trying to escape her baseball obsessed family and is trying to immerse herself in everything French related. In fact Abby is obsessed with French. Everything about the language intrigues her. I love how Abby is determined and she has future goals for herself. Going to France is her prize if she works hard. I find it hilarious how Abby envisions France to be a mixture of Hogwarts, Narnia and The Secret Garden.

When Abby starts the summer program, she meets Zeke Martin who is from San Diego. At first she admires his red Chucks and then finds out he is a huge baseball fan. Abby is trying to get away from baseball and at first she doesn't like Zeke because he is a sports fanatic. She also assumes because Zeke is a jock, he is also a player. Although Abby finds Zeke annoying at first, she eventually falls for Zeke. It's adorable and sweet but I find Abby falling in love with Zeke in less than two months unrealistic. It's not love, it's lust. However, The Distance from A to Z gives me the warm and fuzzy feeling every time I pick up the book to read.

Abby used to be closed minded toward people who like sports and eventually becomes more accepting of those who do not share the same interests as her. At first she only likes French Zeke but not English Zeke. As time passes, she pines for both Zekes. It's nice to see how an opinion of someone can change over time. Of course first impressions are important but they do not describe a person well. You won't know who the person truly is until you spend some quality time together. Ten hours of French per week definitely counts as quality time. I was a little annoyed at first when Abby was so close minded about Zeke but I am glad she grows fond of him as time progresses.

The relationship that Abby has with her roommate, Alice, is real. I love reading about the roommate relationship in general. I find it refreshing that Abby helps Alice with her anxiety and how Alice makes sure Abby is okay when things are involved with Zeke.

The Distance from A to Z is a quick but cute read and is perfect for those who love Anna and the French Kiss and contemporary romance novels.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Top Ten Books I've Recently Added To My TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to choose their top ten books they've recently added to their TBR. The following books are in no particular order. Most of the following are front list titles and I included synopsis for all ten along with the publication date and publisher.

1. The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith - March 22, 2016 published by Simon & Schuster

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.

2. Never Missing, Never Found by Amanda Panitch - June 28, 2016 published by Random House

A juicy thriller about a girl who returned from the missing. . . . Hand to fans of We Were Liars, Bone Gap, and Vanishing Girls.

Some choices change everything. Scarlett chose to run. And the consequences will be deadly.

Stolen from her family as a young girl, Scarlett was lucky enough to eventually escape her captor. Now a teen, she's starting a summer job at an amusement park. There are cute boys, new friends, and the chance to finally have a normal life.

Her first day on the job, Scarlett is shocked to discover that a girl from the park has gone missing. Old memories come rushing back. And now as she meets her new coworkers, one of the girls seems strangely familiar. When Scarlett chose to run all those years ago, what did she set into motion? And when push comes to shove, how far will she go to uncover the truth . . . before it's too late?

3. Dreambender by Ronald Kidd - March 1, 2016 published by Albert Whitman & Company

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?

4. Black Bird go the Gallows by Meg Kassel - 2016 published by Egmont

A debut novel about a teenage girl who discovers the new boy next door is a harbinger of death, and who must find a way to survive in a town destined for destruction.

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full. Harbingers settle in places where tragedy is about to strike, then feed on the energy of the dying. Then, they leave. Off to the next doomed place. No one wants a family of harbingers of death as neighbors, but that’s exactly what seventeen-year-old Angie Dovage gets when Reece Fernandez moves in next door.

Angie knows the mysterious boy is more than he appears, but can’t imagine that his presence heralds a tragedy that will devastate her small community. But her fears run deeper than Reece’s inevitable departure, because where harbingers of death go, grotesque, ruined creatures called Beekeepers follow. And where Beekeepers go, fear and chaos and death follows.

Angie wants to protect everyone she cares about, but stopping the Beekeepers involves a choice that will claim her life or Reece’s soul. She will learn the price of both.

5. The Flame Never Dies by Rachel Vincent, August 16, 2016 published by Random House

For fans of Cassandra Clare and Richelle Mead comes the unputdownable sequel to The Stars Never Rise, a book Rachel Caine, author of the bestselling Morganville Vampires series, called “haunting, unsettling, and eerily beautiful.”

ONE SPARK WILL RISE. Nina Kane was born to be an exorcist. And since uncovering the horrifying truth—that the war against demons is far from over—seventeen-year-old Nina and her pregnant younger sister, Mellie, have been on the run, incinerating the remains of the demon horde as they go.

In the badlands, Nina, Mellie, and Finn, the fugitive and rogue exorcist who saved her life, find allies in a group of freedom fighters. They also face a new threat: Pandemonia, a city full of demons. But this fresh new hell is the least of Nina’s worries. The well of souls ran dry more than a century ago, drained by the demons secretly living among humans, and without a donor soul, Mellie’s child will die within hours of its birth.

Nina isn’t about to let that happen . . . even if it means she has to make the ultimate sacrifice.

6. The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent - June 9, 2015 published by Random House

Sixteen-year-old Nina Kane should be worrying about her immortal soul, but she's too busy trying to actually survive. Her town's population has been decimated by soul-consuming demons, and souls are in short supply. Watching over her younger sister, Mellie, and scraping together food and money are all that matters. The two of them are a family. They gave up on their deadbeat mom a long time ago.

When Nina discovers that Mellie is keeping a secret that threatens their very existence, she'll do anything to protect her. Because in New Temperance, sins are prosecuted as crimes by the brutal Church and its army of black-robed exorcists. And Mellie's sin has put her in serious trouble.

To keep them both alive, Nina will need to trust Finn, a fugitive with deep green eyes who has already saved her life once and who might just be an exorcist. But what kind of exorcist wears a hoodie?

Wanted by the Church and hunted by dark forces, Nina knows she can't survive on her own. She needs Finn and his group of rogue friends just as much as they need her.

7. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum - April 6, 2016 by Random House

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel whose characters will come to feel like friends. Tell Me Three Things will appeal to fans of Rainbow Rowell, Jennifer Niven, and E. Lockhart.

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?

8. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson - May 3, 2016 by Simon & Schuster

Andie had it all planned out.
When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.

Important internship? Check.

Amazing friends? Check.

Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks)

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.

Because here’s the thing - if everything's planned out, you can never find the unexpected. And where’s the fun in that?

9. Replica by Lauren Oliver - September 27, 2016 by HarperCollins

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.

10. Flawed by Cecelia Ahern - April 5, 2016 published by Macmillan 

The Scarlet Letter meets Divergent in this thoughtful and thrilling novel by bestselling author Cecelia Ahern.

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.

Are there any books listed above that you're excited for? What books did you recently add to your TBR?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Arrows by Melissa Gorzelanczyk

Title: Arrows
Author: Melissa Gorzelanczyk
Publisher: Delacorte
Publication date: January 26, 2016
Pages: 240
Source/format: ARC won from a giveaway - Liza from WhoRuBlog
Rating: ☆☆☆1/2

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

A modern cupid story set in present-day Wisconsin combining the fantastical elements of Greek mythology with the contemporary drama of MTV's Teen Mom.

People don’t understand love. If they did, they’d get why dance prodigy Karma Clark just can’t say goodbye to her boyfriend, Danny. No matter what he says or does or how he hurts her, she can’t stay angry with him . . . and can’t stop loving him. But there’s a reason why Karma is helpless to break things off: she’s been shot with a love arrow.
Aaryn, son of Cupid, was supposed to shoot both Karma and Danny but found out too late that the other arrow in his pack was useless. And with that, Karma’s life changed forever. One pregnancy confirmed. One ballet scholarship lost. And dream after dream tossed to the wind.

A clueless Karma doesn’t know that her toxic relationship is Aaryn’s fault . . . but he’s going to get a chance to make things right. He’s here to convince Danny to man up and be there for Karma. But what if this god from Mount Olympus finds himself falling in love with a beautiful dancer from Wisconsin who can never love him in return?

This fast-paced debut novel explores the internal & external conflicts of a girl who finds herself inexplicably drawn to a boy who seemingly doesn't reciprocate her feelings, touching on the issues of love, sex and responsibility, with a heroine struggling to control her destiny--perfect for fans of Katie McGarry's novels and MTV’s 16 and Pregnant.

My Thoughts

Aaryn, son of the God Eros, is practicing shooting love arrows to bring two potential soul mates together but things go wrong when he didn't have enough love arrows. Because Karma Clark only got shot with the love arrow and Danny Bader didn't, Karma ends up being the only one in love. Because Aaryn failed, he is afraid he will end up in Blackout which is where failed Gods go as humans and their memories are wiped.

Because Karma gets pregnant and loses her ballet scholarship, Aaryn wants to correct the problem he created. It's his fault that Karma is in this situation and he wants to make everything right again. Because his father found out what happened during his finals, Aaryn is sent to Earth as a human to reason with Danny to fall in love with Karma.

The novel is written in dual POV and Melissa Gorzelanczyk intertwines mythology with contemporary creating a unique story. Although I don't like reading too many stories about teen pregnancy, Karma is a good mother. I feel bad for Karma because she doesn't know why she gets into a situation where she becomes pregnant, loses her scholarship, makes excuses for Danny and having a baby daddy who is not there for the mother or child. She doesn't know why she is stuck in a toxic relationship.

Aaryn's POV is definitely my favorite to read. I enjoy his voice more compared to Karma's. Aaryn ends up falling for Karma when he shouldn't be. It's a slow build up to romance and he knows Karma deserves better than Danny.

Although Arrows is a cute quick read, I didn't connect with characters as much as a I hoped to. I would love to read deleted scenes about what happened between the year span when Aaryn shoots the love arrow to when Karma already has her baby. How was the relationship between Karma and Danny during that one year? Did Danny become distant because he is always that way or is it because Karma got pregnant? Danny's POV would have been interesting to read. Have there been other things going on that Aaryn and Karma don't know about?

Friday, January 15, 2016

ALA Midwinter 2016 Recap

The ALA Midwinter meeting, hosted by the American Library Association, was so much fun. Because ALA Midwinter ended up coming to Boston, I didn't hesitate to attend the event. I live so close to Boston that it's a no brainer that I attend ALA Midwinter. The Boston Convention and Exhibition Center is an excellent venue for the event.

I ended up going with Elizabeth from Book YAbber and Marci from Reading in the Tardis. ALA is more enjoyable than Book Expo America (BEA) since it was more relaxed and calm. It wasn't as chaotic as BEA which is definitely a good thing! One of my favorite things at ALA Midwinter was attending all the book buzz panels. I love learning about the upcoming books from each publisher and what they are excited about. Let's say I added a lot of books to my TBR list and I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing. So many books and so little time!

I ended up going to ALA Midwinter last Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I have to say Saturday was my busiest day and Sunday felt more chill. Monday was nuts in a span of like four hours. I ended up meeting Elizabeth and Marci on Saturday and Sunday. We bumped into Rachel who introduced Elizbeth, Marci and me to Michelle who is so so nice. I definitely had a great time with all four! I was also fortunate enough to have coffee with Nicole from The Book Bandit who was my OTSP Secret Sister from the previous round. We ran into each other several times on the exhibit floor. I also bumped into Lauren from Love is Not a Triangle, Ellie, Ana from Owl Always Be Reading, Jenefer from I (Heart) Novels and Notebooks, Katie from Bookish Illuminations, Kim from Book Munchies, Malissa from Reads All the Books, Molly from Cherry Blossoms & Maple Syrup, and Melissa from Live, Love Read.

Marci, Elizabeth, Rachel and I were waiting for the David Levithan signing. Image taken by Marci.
I love meeting up with people to talk everything bookish and ALA was definitely the place to do that. I met up with friends and also met some new people. It was exciting to meet people I talk to online in person. Also, the publishers are fantastic. I enjoyed chatting with them about the upcoming books they are excited about. Meeting and chatting with authors was also fun!

Image taken by Donna (Becky's editor)
I was super excited to see Becky Albertalli again and I am ecstatic she won the Morris Award which she totally deserves. Everyone, go read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda now!

I also met Laurie Halse Anderson who is one of my favorite authors of all time so I was so excited to meet her and to get a copy of Chains signed. I read her novel, Speak, for the first time back in 2001 or 2002 and fell in love with her writing. When I first found out that she was coming to Boston, I knew I had to meet her. I waited for over 50 minutes in line for the signing and it was 100% worth it!

Elizabeth, Marci and I were in the front of the line to meet David Levithan who was signing You Know Me Well. I am super excited to read more Levithan books. I haven't read one since back in high school when Boy Meets Boy and the Realm of Possibility were published.

Image taken by Marci. I finally met Laurie!

I met

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly

Title: Monstrous
Author: MarcyKate Connolly 
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date: February 10, 2015
Pages: 432
Source/format: Purchased  // Hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

The city of Bryre suffers under the magic of an evil wizard. Because of his curse, girls sicken and disappear without a trace, and Bryre’s inhabitants live in fear. No one is allowed outside after dark.

Yet night is the only time that Kymera can enter this dangerous city, for she must not be seen by humans. Her father says they would not understand her wings, the bolts in her neck, or her spiky tail—they would kill her. They would not understand that she was created for a purpose: to rescue the girls of Bryre.

Despite her caution, a boy named Ren sees Kym and begins to leave a perfect red rose for her every evening. As they become friends, Kym learns that Ren knows about the missing girls, the wizard, and the evil magic that haunts Bryre.

And what he knows will change Kym’s life.

Reminiscent of Frankenstein and the tales of the Brothers Grimm, this debut novel by MarcyKate Connolly stands out as a compelling, original story that has the feel of a classic.

My Thoughts

The city of Bryne is being tormented by an evil wizard. A curse is released and little girls are disappearing. No one is safe and many precautions are taken place. However, there is one person who can save these girls. Kymera walks the streets at night but needs to be careful not to be seen by humans. Because Kym is comprised of different animal parts such as a spiky tail, cat eyes, claws and wings like a patchwork Frankenstein girl, she needs to be cautious since others will not understand her. Because she was close to death, Kym is given a second chance to live and to help save the world. However, a human boy sees Kym at the dead of night. Kym becomes friends with Ren and finds out that Ren knows information about what is happening to the girls and about the evil wizard.

Monstrous is such a cute coming-of-age Middle Grade novel. The world building is enchanting and MarcyKate Connolly's writing transports the reader to a magical world where Kym is created for a sole mission. Her father tells that in her new life, she has a mission to save girls from a evil wizard who is hunting down the children. Kym is strong, curious and clever. She doesn't remember too much of her past life and is searching for her identity. She is longing for freedom but she knows she has a mission to pursue. Kym is loyal and is such a giving little girl despite her monstrous looks. The storytelling of the novel is whimsical yet quite dark. What I like about the novel is how Connolly weaves in the theme of self-acceptance. It is important for young readers to understand that it's okay to be different and that everyone is unique. And because someone is different, they can still make friends. Accepting oneself is important especially when living in a society that has certain standards of what makes a perfect person.

I highly recommend this novel for readers who love dark fantasy and retellings. If you enjoy reading Frankenstein and Brothers Grimm tales, definitely check out Monstrous. Also, make sure to check out Connolly's next book, Ravenous.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Top Ten 2015 Releases I Meant To Get To But Didn't

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to choose their top ten 2015 releases they meant to get to but didn't. The following books are in no particular order.

1. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan is definitely a book that I cannot wait to read. Not only is it set in Boston but I heard great things about this Norse Mythology middle grade read. Also, Riordan balances adventure and humor quite nicely.

2. Winter by Marissa Meyer is the fourth and last book in The Lunar Chronicles. It has been on my TBR for awhile and I had the chance to read 100 pages before I had to stop because I was getting ready for a month long feature called Pottermas. Elizabeth from Book YAbber and I spent about a month or so reading all the Harry Potter books for the December feature. I actually finally got the book from the library again so I will continue the book shortly.

3. Renegade by Kerry Wilkinson has been on my TBR list since I finished reading Reckoning. If you are looking for a dystopian, definitely check out the Silver Blackthorn series. The third installment is coming out in May.

4. Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales is definitely a book that I want to read since I fell in love with Sales' This Song Will Save Your Life.

5. The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski is the second book in The Winner's Trilogy and I have been meaning to read it last year. The Winner's Curse is so good so I don't know why I didn't read this installment yet. The Winner's Kiss is coming out in March.

6. For the Record by Charlotte Huang is definitely a book up my alley. Books that weave contemporary and music are pretty much books I know I will like.

7. Serpentine by Cindy Pon sounds fabulous and I still haven't read it yet. It's the first book in the Kingdom of Xia series. I am picky about some fantasy titles but this one definitely grabbed my attention because of the Chinese folklore.

8. The Heir by Keira Cass is the fourth book in The Selection series. I heard mixed reviews about this installment since The Heir is about Maxon and America's daughter, Eadlyn. I will eventually read The Heir because The Crown is coming out in May.

9. This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzie Lee is a Frankenstein retelling that I am hoping to read this year. I wish that I read this book around the fall because it's the perfect Halloween book.

10. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson is a graphic novel that I have heard great things about. Stevenson also illustrated the cover to Fangirl so I am dying to read Nimona. I love Stevenson's illustrations in general and would love to see how her words and illustrations collide.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Pages to Tea (5)

P A G E S  to  T E A

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

Rishi's Yunnann Lily Black comes from the Jin Xuan (Golden Lily) tea tree. According to Rishi, the tea is made using a slightly higher drying temperature to draw out those aromas to their fullest potential. This definitely sounds like Sydney. Although under stress, Sydney's potential peaks when she is determined. Yunnan Lily Black has tasting notes of exotic black tea with a lush aromatic bouquet of wild rose and lychee. And you bet that Sydney is growing more fond of Rose Hathaway and Jill Mastrano Dragomir.

The Jabberwocky is a complex tea. According to Whispering Pines Teas' website, the Jabberwocky tea is strong and smooth with a full mouth of wildflower nectar and honey drizzled on a fresh french baguette with a light hint of salt. The middle of the sip hints at creamy chocolate and plum dipped in luscious silky caramel. The finish hints at camphor and eucalyptus, leaving your mouth feeling fresh and wanting more! Jabberwock is often mistaken as Jabberwocky and is mentioned in the poem "Jabberwocky" in Through the Looking Glass. The Jabberwocky tea reminds me of Alice at the Mad Tea Party in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Because of all the flavors of honey, bread, chocolate, plum and caramel, this tea would great as a dessert tea.

Percy Jackson joins Clarisse La Rue, Tyson and Annabeth Chase on a quest to find the Golden Fleece to revive Thalia's Pine Tree. According to Verdant Tea's website, The Golden Fleece gets its name to honor the soft, rich texture experience of tasting this incredible small harvest tea. Only the large tender buds are harvested. The down from the buds infuses into every cup, yielding a uniquely thick mouthfeel.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Title: Firsts
Author: Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication date: January 5, 2016
Pages: 320
Source/format: e-ARC from Netgalley

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):

Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.

My Thoughts

"I want to be Faye. I want to be fearless like her, bold like her. I want to figure out a way to be apologetically myself, just like she has." - ARC

Mercedes Ayres is your typical high school girl but she harbors a secret. She provides a service that most people will not approve of. Everyone wants their first time to be special. And when I mean first time, I mean sex. Many guys seek Mercedes guidance to plan the perfect date for the first time. Mercedes mother, Kim, is hardly ever home and Mercedes even joined a prayer group so many people don't know what Mercedes does during her free time. Angela is Mercedes best friend but is super conservative and religious. Angela doesn't know any of Mercedes secrets.

Although Mercedes has "Wednesday friend," all sexual encounters is strictly to teach guys how to treat a women. This is a reason why she started this service. Mercedes wants to make sure that guys are educated about making sure to use protection and to make sure they treat their girlfriends with respect. She doesn't take payment from anyone but wants the guys to make sure their girlfriends are treated well. This is Mercedes' pay it forward service until someone unexpected is blackmailing Mercedes. Can I say that this unexpected person is a real scumbag? Mercedes thought she was doing something good and then he uses her and taints her reputation because Mercedes wouldn't give what he wants. And Angela not believing her? I was appalled.

Mercedes is dealing with some serious stuff in her life. With an absent father and a mother who is hardly home, Mercedes isn't flawless. In her past, during her first sexual encounter, Mercedes was taken advantaged of at a young age. She didn't tell anyone about it. She doesn't want other girls to be taken advantaged of. Now, sex is a way to educate but also to have some control in her life. Her "Wednesday friend," Zach, wants to be more than friends. He wants something more but Mercedes is afraid to commit. Then Faye comes along. Faye is from Nevada and is the new student at Milton High School. Faye also seems to be flirting with Zach. This is the first time Mercedes is jealous. However, Faye and Zach are the only friends that Mercedes has that are always by Mercedes side. I feel bad how Mercedes treats Zach. It's obvious she wants him but she pretends she doesn't want him only for him to find out that she has been with other guys. In Zach's shoes, he must feel horrible and hurt.

I am glad sex isn't sugarcoated in Firsts. Laurie Elizabeth Flynn discusses the topic realistically. It's raw and emotional. There are pros and cons. Sex is not perfect. However, I am super ecstatic that Flynn covers safe sex in Firsts. Telling teenagers not to have sex is unrealistic. Let's face it, we all know that teenagers have sex. Instead of saying sex is bad, it's better to inform teenagers how to protect themselves if they do continue to do the deed. I haven't read too many books that highlight sex as a positive thing and that people shouldn't be ashamed of it.

I also like how Flynn includes Mercedes also tutoring people in Chemistry and not just in how to please a lady. Mercedes is super smart. She gets accepted to MIT and she cannot wait to escape California to Massachusetts. After being blackmailed, the letter is the only solace for her.

Because society deems sex a certain way, females are called sluts if they have sex but if  males have sex, then it's fine. This double standard is ridiculous. I wonder if the people at Milton High realize that it isn't Mercedes that is doing the deed by herself. I don't see anyone saying anything about the guys doing anything. Why should it be okay for males to have sex but it's not okay for females to have sex?

I do have to admit that I was a bit hesitate to read this controversial book because of the topic. I questioned whether this book would be a good read. However, Flynn's writing definitely tackles a tough topic flawlessly. Firsts actually reminds me of films Mean Girls and Easy A. This novel is well written and I would recommend Firsts to those who enjoy reading realistic YA contemporary and are mature. However, those sensitive to rape, sex, bullying, and child pregnancy should proceed with caution. This novel contains subjects that may be hard for some to read.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Top Ten Resolutions I Have For 2016

Happy New Year's everyone. 2015 has come and gone and we are starting a brand new year with new bookish resolutions! 2016 is going to be great! After re-evaluating 2015, I decided there are a lot of things I want to change in my life. Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to choose their top ten resolutions they have for 2016. The following resolutions are in no particular order.

1. I want to blog when I feel like it.
2. I want to read more backlist books.
3. I want to connect with more people and make long lasting relationships.
4. I want to tone down on the ARC requesting and acquiring but read more ARCs I already acquired.
5. I want to start taking lunch breaks at work to eat and read. 
6. I want to blog what I want to blog about
7. I want to stop caring about what others are doing. No competition please.
8. I want to visit more blogs and comment on more posts.
9. I want to use the library more.
10. I want to re-read more books that I love.

GIF from MTV.com

What New Year's Resolutions do you have for 2016?

Monday, January 4, 2016

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Title: Passenger
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication date: January 5, 2016
Pages: 464
Source/format: e-ARC from Netgalley

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):

passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever

My Thoughts

Henrietta Spencer (aka Etta) lives in New York during the year of 2015 as a violinist prodigy and is suddenly transported back into time to a random place in 1776 on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Little did she know she was going to befriend Nicholas Carter. Nicholas is content about his life since he is free from the Ironwoods for many years until Etta shows up. Both Etta and Nicholas are launched into a web of lies, secrets and betrayal. It's a game that they must play. He finds out that the Ironwoods are not giving up on him. Both time travelers undertake this dangerous journey, crossing many continents and centuries to locate an artifact called an astrolabe in order to save Etta's mother. If Etta fails to locate the astrolabe and bring it back to the Ironwoods, she will lose everything.

Time traveling is something I don't see too much in YA and I am glad Alexandra Bracken wrote Passenger so wonderfully. I love how Bracken weaves music with a dangerous voyage across seas. The plot is carefully crafted. The novel is well written and the dual POVs capture the emotions and thoughts of both characters seamlessly. Readers are transported to New York, London, Angkor, Paris and Damascus during various time periods. Etta is strong-willed, cunning and independent young lady while Nicholas is vigilant and protective. The writing is compelling but I feel like the pacing of the book is slower toward the middle and the novel could have been shortened. The book is over 450 pages and certain parts could have been tightened. I do appreciate seeing diversity in the book and how Bracken doesn't sugarcoat how Nicholas is being treated throughout the past. And that cliffhanger! I don't want to spoil the novel too much but this is a must read!

If you're a fan of the Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare and or are interested in historical fiction, I would highly recommend Passenger.