Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Top Ten Beach Reads


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 beach reads. The following books are in no particular order. 

1. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares is one the books I read when I was a teen. The concept of one pair of jeans that fit four different teenage girls baffled me but I love how the jeans were "magic" and full of life! Join a summer with Lena, Carmen, Tibby and Bridget.

2. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is the perfect summer read involving a boarding school in France! What is there not love about it?

3. Something Real by Heather Demetrios is a good novel that showcases a teenage girl and her family on a reality TV show. Want drama? Definitely take a plunge into this book.

4. Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal is a historical fiction novel that takes place in the South in 1960s. Readers are introduce to a wonderful cast of characters that starts with little Izzy to live with her grandmother. This is one of my all time favorite books.

5. All the Feels by Danika Stone is a book I just finished reading this past weekend. If you are a huge fangirl, geek or nerd and love fandoms and conventions, this book is for you! Stone knows how it is to be a completely obsessed with a fandom!

6. Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch introduces readers to a wonderful summer in Florence, Italy. Not only does it invoke memories for me but the romance in the book is perfection!

7. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling can be a read at any time of the year but my favorite times to read Harry Potter is either in the summer or during the holidays. In the summer, I can marathon the series quicker because of the lazy summer days. But I LOVE reading the series around the holidays because there is something magical about reading Harry Potter during the festivities and when it is snowing outside.

8. When We Collided by Emery Lord is a summer read about Vivi and Jonah and how they spend their summer together at Verona Cove. Lord does any excellent job weaving two completely different lives together to create an emotional journey.

9. Teen Angst?: Naaah...A Quasi-autobiography by Ned Vizzini is a memoir about Vizzini's life when he was a teenager. His approach is realistic and the novel is easily relatable. I read this as a teen for my summer reading choice read.

10.  Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli is the such a cute read about a guy named Simon who is finding out who he is. After chatting online named "Blue" for awhile, he ends up meeting him in person.

What are some of your favorite beach reads? Do you prefer reading a physical book or on your e-reader at the beach?

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Marauders #3: Harvard Square

The Marauders is a feature where Book Yabber, Marci from The Plot Bunny 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, May 21th, I ended up venturing to Harvard Square in Cambridge to meet up with Elizabeth, Marci and Rachel to celebrate Rachel's belated birthday. We ended up meeting around 11:30 for brunch at PARK Restaurant and Bar which, by the way, has some of the best food and drinks around the area. The Lavender Moon cocktail drinks are to die for. Marci first introduced Elizabeth and me to them last year and I am addicted!

Next stop is to The Curious George Store which is a wonderful store with toys and books. They have a good amount of Harry Potter items there as well as Out of Print t-shirts. The ladies and I ventured to the Harvard Book Store and looked at Classics, MG and YA novels. I love how downstairs there is a used book section with remainders. Harvard Book Store is one of my favorite indie bookstores to visit. Their selection is pretty good and they host some of the best author events. Their frequent buyer program is pretty awesome too. For every $100 you spend, you earn 20% off a single purchase up to $200.

One bookstore to the next, the ladies and I decided to visit The COOP at Harvard. As we were crossing the street, we ended up getting separated. Elizabeth and Rachel already crossed the street while Marci and I were waiting for the light to change. It was pretty funny since Marci was taking pictures of Elizabeth and Rachel while we waited for the crosswalk light. How funny is it that both Elizabeth and Rachel have brown hair, a similar haircut and glasses?

At The COOP, we ended up looking at the MG and YA books downstairs. Rachel of course was posing with her favorite Sarah Dessen books. Rachel also has a wicked cool shirt that she wanted to pair up with some books. She ended up choosing The Fault in Our Stars and The Divergent series.

A birthday celebration isn't complete unless there is a sweet treat. Sweet Cupcakes is across the street and the ladies and I each purchased a cupcake to enjoy. I ended up getting a lemon raspberry one. Delicious! After chatting and catching up, we departed ways. Of course we are looking forward to the next meetup. Thank you, Rachel, for being the honorary guest Marauder!

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.

Image taken by Elizabeth

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

Title: The Glittering Court
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication date: May 3, 2016
Pages: 400
Source/format: Library//Hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…

M Y  T H O U G H T S
Adelaide Bailey trades in her countess lifestyle in Osfrid for one disguised as maid to enter the Glittering Court, which is a finishing school to help common women fine tune their etiquette skills to be married off to wealthy suitors in the new world of Adoria.

Adelaide is a headstrong, opinionated young lady who is willing to make a better life for herself even if she needs to make sacrifices. Although I admire her ambition, I was sad that she wasn't able to trust anyone with the truth about who she is. Why did Adelaide run from an arranged marriage just to be contracted to be purchased by a man to be his wife? It seems a little backwards.

Adelaide also made new friends but then refuses to share who she is. I was surprised how she broke Tamsin's trust but then claims that Tamsin is one of her best friends. Adelaide pretty much ignored Tamsin until a disaster strikes. However, the friendship is mended. Despite that one incident, the friendships in The Glittering Court is strong. Adelaide, Tamsin and Mira are very close and will protect each other.

Richelle Mead created an interesting historical fantasy that fuses colonization with political issues and a gold rush. The Glittering Court starts off very similar to The Selection with girls in pretty dresses learning to socialize and carry themselves within the elite. But the whole matchmaking to sell the girls was sort of off-putting. The fact that people are profiting off women is demeaning. Also, I found the world building a bit lacking. I wish Mead fleshed out the world a bit more in detail.

The Glittering Court definitely reminds me of our past. The colonization, the discrimination between ethnicity and the religious persecution is our past and present. Hopefully it will not be our future.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Red Velvet Crush by Christina Meredith

Title: Red Velvet Crush
Author: Christina Meredith
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication date: June 14, 2016
Pages: 304
Source/format: ARC from publisher from Irish Banana's Harper Teen Summer 2016 Tour

Rating: ☆☆

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.

M Y  T H O U G H T S 

Teddy Lee Carter is the middle child. Her older brother Winston and younger sister Billie are always getting in trouble. Ever since her mother left her family, it's always been her siblings and her dad. Winston started working at a radio station and has a great idea to form a band. After auditions, Ty, Jay and Ginger Baker join Teddy Lee and Billie to create Red Velvet Crush. After practicing in the garage, Winston's boss is able to secure gigs at small bars and clubs. However, Billie is getting more attention than Teddy Lee. Billie is in the spotlight and Teddy Lee is upset that Billie always gets what she wants. Sadly, because of the tension between Teddy Lee and Billie, things don't end up well with the band.

Although Red Velvet Crush seems like a typical story about a girl in a band, it is not. There is a lot of focus on the family dynamics. A single dad is raising three children after his wife leaves him and the family for good. Barely scraping by, he is able to provide food and shelter by working more than one job.

Winston and Billie are always getting in trouble and Teddy Lee is definitely feeling the middle child syndrome. She wants to be in the spotlight once in awhile but even when she is so close to pursuing her passion, her sister messes up. Billie is selfish and she is definitely annoying. It was hard to read about how Billie takes advantage of Teddy Lee. Billie knows that her sister will give in to whatever she wants and it's frustrating to read about. I seriously wanted to give her a slap or two.

The romance in the book is straight on instalove. It is all lust and no love. Teddy Lee and Ty had no connection in their relationship beyond the physical. Yes, he cared about Teddy Lee wanting to sing her own songs and all but I didn't see any development in the relationship pass the crushing and lusting. They didn't see a connection building into something more.

The plot was all over the place and it was hard to figure out what the main focus of the book is. According to the synopsis, Christina Meredith explores the complicated relationship of sisters and much more than that. I find the writing weak on the sisterly part. All I read is Billie always getting what she wants and Teddy Lee wanting to shine once in awhile. Teddy Lee gets so annoyed to the point where she gives in ALL the time. Even when Teddy Lee gets to front the band, she pretty much gives up. Billie pushes her buttons.

I wish Meredith delved more into the music scene by weaving the sisterly relationship with ins and outs of being in a band. I wanted that feeling I got when I read For the Record. There is lack of character development in the novel. I wanted to see growth between the characters and I didn't see much growth at all. Billie stayed like Billie and did what she wanted to. The guys in the band did their own thing. Winston continued to be Winston. And Teddy Lee didn't live up to my expectation. I wanted her to claim her own ground. I wanted her to say, "I deserve this moment to shine." I wanted her to finally be able to be in limelight. Instead, I got a girl who gives in to what her sister wants. She gives up. I want to see a strong female character who won't let her siblings push her around.

Red Velvet Crush is contemporary novel suited for those who don't mind reading about doing something spontaneous and trying to find out what you want to make of yourself.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Overhyped Books

So lately there have been so many books that are overhyped. Most of them are usually fantasy novels. I know lately fantasy has been a huge genre but what about the other genres? There are some great books that fall under sci-fi or horror. I feel like some genres are neglected. It's nice to see publishers, bloggers and readers buzzing about certain books but sometimes I wonder whether I am picking up a certain title because everyone is raving about it or because I genuinely want to read it.

Often, I find a lot of my 5 star reads to be books that most people haven't heard of before or ones that people don't pay attention to often.

Do overhyped books live up to their hype?

Some books live up to the hype but then there are some that don't. I hate the feeling of having high expectations for a book. I think because a book is promoted so much and everyone gives it 5 stars, I feel guilty if I don't like the book. Sometimes I don't connect with the characters or I don't enjoy the writing style. And that's okay. I don't like to be the black sheep when it comes to not liking a hyped up book but I am not going to pretend I like something I don't like. Sure there are some overhyped books that I adore like the Divergent series. However, when I first read Divergent, I was genuinely interested in reading it because I enjoy reading dystopian fiction and I read it when it first came out.

I never bought into the Twilight hype and thank goodness. I once tried to read the first book and stopped pretty soon after because it was definitely not a book for me. I still wonder to this day why so many people rave about it.

Are overhyped books the best written books? 

Usually overhyped books are not the best written novels. Many of them are actually mediocre.  Lately I have been borrowing hyped up titles from friends or from the library before purchasing a copy. I cannot afford to buy all these books and then find out that the books are disappointing or not living up to the hype. If the hyped up book is by a favorite author, that's a different story.

What overhyped book is my favorite?

For me the Harry Potter series has meaning in my life. I connected with the characters and I pretty much live and breathe Harry Potter ever day. I have been actively following the fandom for over 14 years. The Harry Potter series has a continuously growing fandom and the books are becoming classics. For some, it may be an over-yped series but for me the series has shaped who I am today.

What books do you think are overhyped? Are there any overhyped books that you enjoy reading?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Jenny Han's Upcoming Release

So during BookExpo America and Book Con, Simon & Schuster along with Jenny Han announced a third book in the To All the Boys I've Loved Before duology. Can I say OMG! YAY, the Song girls are returning!

I loved how Jenny surprised her readers with the book title on a cake! Always and Forever, Lara Jean will be released spring of next year! To celebrate the news, Jenny took photos with fans at the Simon & Schuster booth on Saturday, May 14th at Book Con. Sprinkled donuts were handed out as part of the celebration.

Although I wasn't fortunate enough to attend BEA this year, I am excited to hear the amazing news about another Jenny Han book. I am a huge fan of the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series and I am super pumped for Spring 2017. Are you excited for the Always and Forever, Lara Jean?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Ten Books I Picked Up on a Whim


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to share ten books they picked up on a whim. The following books are in no particular order. 

1. To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han is one book that I picked up on a whim before I started blogging. The synopsis sounded intriguing and I am so glad I discovered the novel when I did. I connected so much with Lara Jean.

2. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is a book I found at the library back in early 2014 and I enjoyed it. After this title, I decided to read more of Rowell's works and fell in love with Fangirl. Without Eleanor and Park, I wouldn't have read Fangirl.

3. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo was not on my radar until I saw it being featured at ALA Midwinter. I was fortunate enough to pick up an ARC at ALAMW and I am glad I did. If I Was Your Girl is such a powerful and important book for everyone to read.

4. The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a book I randomly purchased at Rutkoski's book launch event back in 2014. I never read anything by Rutkoski at the time but I was intrigued by the synopsis and wanted to attend the book event. I am so glad I attended the event. I love Rukoski's writing and I cannot wait to read more novels by her. The Winner's Trilogy is a must read!

5. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum is a title I didn't know about until I traded a book for this title with someone on Twitter. Not only has this book made my favorites list but I went into the book pretty much blind.

6. The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord is a title that I also got through a trade. I didn't know much about Emery Lord at the time but this title blew me away. The Start of Me and You made me cry  and I love Max Watson! The ending is perfect and this too made my favorites list.

7. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski is a book that I stumbled upon in high school in the early 2000s. Although it's a strange and weird book, I liked it. I believe I saw it at a bookstore and decided to purchase it the same day. The formatting of the book might be strange but all I can say is that this book is creepy. Listen to the singer Poe while reading House of Leaves. It will give you the chills.

8. Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal is a novel I picked up on a whim at the library. If you're a fan of historical fiction about the South, definitely check out this  coming-of-age novel about the civil rights and family in New Orleans. This is one of my favorite adult books and reminds me of the The Help.

9. Olivia by Ian Falconer is a book I saw at Target for three cents. Not only was the book mispriced but I ended finding a love for pigs and everything Olivia. I even carried an Olivia tin lunchbox every day to school my senior year of high school. No one ever made fun of me for carrying it. Instead, they complimented how awesome the Olivia lunchbox was.
10. Feed by

What are some books that you've picked up on a whim? Have you read any of the books I've listed?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

Title: Outrun the Moon
Author: Stacey Lee
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication date: May 24, 2016
Pages: 400
Source/format: ARC from publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆1/2

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

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?

M Y  T H O U G H T S

After reading Under a Painted Sky, I knew I had to read Stacey Lee's next novel. Outrun the Moon is about a free spirited 15-year-old girl named Wong Mei-Si, also know as Mercy, who wants to get a better education for herself. Because of the laws in America at the time, Chinese children can only attend school until the 8th grade. Mercy wants to be further educated and is able to enroll into St. Clare’s School for Girls.

I definitely connected with Mercy from the beginning. She is resourceful and knows what she wants. She is also caring and is the brainchild of Mercy's Kitchen after the Great San Francisco Earthquake strikes. Mercy would definitely be a Slytherpuff. Although a rare gem, Mercy has qualities of both houses. She is cunning and ambitious yet loyal. She takes risks but doesn't run into danger without thinking about the consequences. Mercy values intelligence but not for cultivating for its own sake; she uses her intelligence to get ahead.

Based on Under a Painted Sky and Outrun the Moon, Lee is a mastermind in creating fantastic female friendships. In Under a Painted Sky, we have Andy and Sammy. In Outrun the Moon, Mercy befriends many girls despite having a rough start trying to make friends at the all white girls school. She became quick friends with Francesca and eventually became good friends with her nemesis, Elodie. The friendships between the girls are strong. Despite their many differences, they bond together after the earthquake to provide for others. It's important in time of distress to see people come together no matter what their religion, race or ethnicity is.

Lee writes historical fiction beautifully. I feel like I am right in Chinatown in 1906. Her descriptions are colorful; they are full of life. The Chinese culture in the novel is authentic which I appreciate greatly. It's nice seeing a bit of my culture and heritage painted across the many pages of Outrun the Moon. Lee also touches upon the Chinese Exclusion Act and and how Chinese people are treated during the early 1900s.

What I enjoyed reading is about how Mercy is a non-conformist. She doesn't listen to the rules about what she should do as a girl or a Chinese girl. She fights for what she wants and doesn't want to just settle down. Mercy wants to be independent and wants to travel the world. I love how she advocates for herself. She is a good role model for teens.

I highly suggest Outrun the Moon for readers who enjoy historical fiction, boarding schools and Chinese culture. Three of my favorite things are rolled into one exceptional novel. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Ten Top Food Blogs I Love


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to share ten websites they love that aren't about books. I decided to showcase ten top food blogs I love. The following blogs are in no particular order. 

I have been following many food blogs even before I was interested in reading or creating a book blog. Food is one of my passions, especially baking. I am a huge fan of Pinterest and pinning recipes from blogs is one of my favorite things to do.

1. Brown Eyed Baker is one of the very first food blogs I stumbled upon. My friend, Kelli, suggested this blog to me way back when Michelle started to open a blog back around 2008-2009. I was still in college and started to cook and bake more. Michelle's recipes are easy to make and they are delicious.

2. Sally's Baking Addiction is one of my favorite baking blogs to check out for dessert recipes. Sally's blog design is one of my favorites. I love the colors and the navigation is simple. Her recipes are easy to follow and the pictures always makes makes my mouth water. This is definitely a blog to check out if you have a sweet tooth.

3. Love and Lemons is a blog I've recently started following but I absolutely love the layout of this blog and the recipes are fresh and healthy. Jeanine and Jack also recently came out with a cook book called The Love and Lemons Cookbook: An Apple-to-Zucchini Celebration of Impromptu Cooking.

4. Two Peas and Their Pod is run by Mari and Josh. They love creating simple and fresh recipes for their family and for entertaining. What I love is how they add a bit of travel, home life and meal planning in addition to their recipes.

5. David Lebovitz is one of my favorite cook book authors as well as one of my favorite food bloggers. Lebovitz currently lives in France and has a wonderful take on recipes. He incorporates ingredients from around in the world.

6. Dorie Greenspan is another one of my favorite cook book authors. Greenspan spends her time in Connecticut, New York and Paris. Her recipes are simple to make and I've always had great results. I also had the pleasure to meet her at Harvard Book Store during her Baking Chez Moi Book Tour. My favorite baking cook book of all time is her Baking: From My Home to Yours.

7. The Kitchn is a blog with recipes and tips for inspiring cooks. The blog breaks down into categories such as recipes, travel, drinks, shopping and apartment therapy. I mainly visit this blog for the cooking tips since they definitely have helped me become a better cook and baker. Many of the recipes will include step by step photos for readers to follow.

8. My Baking Addiction has some of the most refreshing desserts. Jamie not only showcases recipes but she also highlights fundamental and essential baking tips. I find these tips to be very helpful and they definitely help me improve the outcome of the food I make.

9. Bakers Royale is a blog that has some of the best food photography that I've ever seen. Despite it's name, Naomi also includes cocktail recipes and savory recipes. Life is sweet but we can't just eat dessert all day long.

10. Sweet Peas and Saffron is managed by Denise. Her recipes are creative and they are quite healthy without lacking flavor. She is a big advocate of making healthy meals from scratch for the busy lifestyle. She even has features where she highlights meals that can be made in 30-45 minutes.

What food blogs do you follow? Do you prefer cooking of baking? Leave your comments below.

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

Title: The Hidden Oracle
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication date: May 3, 2016
Pages: 384
Source/format: Library // Hardcover

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

How do you punish an immortal?

By making him human.

After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus's favour.

But Apollo has many enemies - gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go . . . an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.

M Y  T H O U G H T S
Apollo is cast down on Earth as a mere mortal as punishment by Zeus after the events of The Blood of Olympus. Without his powers of a God, Apollo has to fend for himself. Known as Lester Papadopoulos in the mortal world, Apollo befriends a girl named Meg McCaffrey who takes him to a demigod who leads them to Camp Half-Blood.

Rick Riordan takes us back to world of Percy Jackson by reuniting us with familiar faces. Not only is the writing witty and addicting, but Riordan's take on diversity in all aspects is amazing. He expands on the diversity that is seen in his previous books. Every reader can find at least one character to relate to if not more.

In the novel, Apollo stays true to himself even as a mortal. He is arrogant and self-obsessed. He no longer excelled in music, archery, poetry and healing. Apollo has to rely on his other strengths to succeed. 

I enjoyed revisiting Camp Half-Blood in this spin off series. However, I feel like the world could have ended with what happened in the The Blood of Olympus. Time will tell though. I have high expectations for the the next book, The Dark Prophecy.  

The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle is a fun middle grade read for fans of Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and The Heroes of Olympus series.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Lonely Ones by Kelsey Sutton

Thank you to Nichole from YA Reads Blog Tours for the opportunity to share The Lonely Ones by Kelsey Sutton with my readers. This novel wasn't on my TBR list until very recently and I am glad that I was able to read such a wonderful book.

Title: The Lonely Ones
Author: Kelsey Sutton
Publisher: Philomel Books
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Pages: 240
Source/format: e-ARC from publisher on Netgalley
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book DepositoryIndieBound | Penguin Random House

Rating: ☆☆☆1/2

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

When your only friend is your own endless imagination, how do you escape your mind and connect to the world around you?

With parents too busy to pay her attention, an older brother and sister who would rather spend their time with friends, and peers who oscillate between picking on her and simply ignoring her, it's no wonder that Fain spends most of her time in a world of her own making. During the day, Fain takes solace in crafting her own fantastical adventures in writing, but in the darkness of night, these adventures come to life as Fain lives and breathes alongside a legion of imaginary creatures. Whether floating through space or under the sea, climbing mountains or traipsing through forests, Fain becomes queen beyond - and in spite of - the walls of her bedroom.

In time, Fain begins to see possibilities and friendships emerge in her day-to-day reality. . . yet when she is let down by the one relationship she thought she could trust, Fain must decide: remain queen of the imaginary creatures, or risk the pain that comes with opening herself up to the fragile connections that exist only in the real world?

Told in breathless and visual verse, THE LONELY ONES takes readers through the intricate inner workings of a girl who struggles to navigate isolation and finds friendship where she least expects it.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

The Lonely Ones is a story written in verse about Fain Fredericks. In the middle of the night, Fain hears the calls from creatures with claws, scales and feathers. She climbs outside and the creatures proclaim her to be a beautiful and a queen. The next day she returns to reality. Because Fain is ignored by her family, she finds solace in an imaginary world where she is worshiped.

Kelsey Sutton has written a story that many children can relate to. Children might feel left out and ignored by their parents and siblings. Many children play make believe and have imaginary friends to keep them occupied. Fain is a middle child. Dana and Tyler are have their own lives and her parents are preoccupied with her younger brother, Peter, and with other things.

Sutton writes in poetic verse which makes the story flow quite nicely. She captures the emotions of Fain perfectly. When reading The Lonely Ones, I feel like I am reading Fain's journal. Each poem is titled and I see The Lonely Ones as a compilation of journal entries. Each line break is made intentionally. It encourages the reader to read Fain's thoughts in a certain way. Fain escapes reality through writing, her dolls, adventures, quarries and art.

The Lonely Ones is a quick and charming read. Readers can connect with Fain through the times of loneliness. Her friend moves away. The recession hits and Fain had to move. Her parents argue, her older siblings have better things to do and her little brother is often crying. Her classmates laugh at her. She has trouble fitting in and making friends.

At night, with her monster friends, she is able to travel the world, swim with the mermaids, hide from dragons, find buried treasure and fly. When the sun rises, she must return to reality. Read about Fain's journey to a world where she can be herself. Through words she can create magic!


"My sister doesn't understand
 that without the darkness
 we couldn't see the stars"

"So by the time
 the magic comes
 I've created some
 of my own."

"My friends are right:
there is beauty
in desolation."

"My writing,
my need to create worlds with words,
started with a moment."


Kelsey Sutton is the author of teen novels SOME QUIET PLACE and GARDENIA. She is also the author of two novels for middle grade readers, THE LONELY ONES and BENJAMIN. She lives in Minnesota, where she received a dual bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from Bemidji State University. She is currently working on a master’s degree from Hamline University. Her work has received an Independent Publisher Book Award, an IndieFab Award, and was selected as a Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of 2013. When not writing, Kelsey can be found watching too much Netflix, ordering a mocha at the nearest coffee shop, or browsing a bookstore. You can like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @KelseyJSutton. Check Kelsey on Goodreads and check her website.


2 signed copies of The Lonely Ones by Kelsey Sutton, open to US and Canada. Book provided by publisher.


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Friday, May 6, 2016

Why Should You Purchase a Finished Copy?

With so many ARCs floating around, why do we need to buy finished copies? Let's face it, ARCs are not free to make. They actually cost more to produce than a finished copy. ARCs are usually paperback and aren't as sturdy as a finished copy. They are only meant to last for promotional purposes. They are fairly fragile because they aren't put together that well.


Please do not see ARCs as free books. They are not free. Usually when an ARC is distributed, it is implied that the reader will review the book or at least spread the word about said book. If you have a blog, post your review. If not, post it on Goodreads. Even better, go cross-post your opinion about the book on retail sites such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

If you love a book so much, please consider in pre-ordering or purchasing a finished copy. Not only will these sales help support the author but you will have a completely revised and final copy. Trust me, the final copy is gorgeous and it's made to last!

Also, sometimes sales will determine whether the next book in a series will be published. If you want to read that upcoming book in a series you love, please buy a finished copy of the book that is already published. Sometimes publishers need to met a certain quota in order to give the okay to publish certain titles.


For some purchasing finished copies add value to their collection. There are some authors that you will buy a book from no matter what they write. Adding a new title to your collection by your favorite author is one of the best feelings in the world. So what if you have 5+ copies of the same title in your collection. If you love the book so much, it's okay to own multiple versions of a book. Some books come out with limited or special editions. Some people like to own foreign copies of a title. Not only are you adding to your collection but you are also supporting your favorite author.


There are some books that you might only read once but if there's a book that you plan to read multiple times, you might as well purchase yourself a finished copy. This way you can re-read the book whenever you want and how often you want without worrying about waiting for it to be available at the library. Sometimes the re-read titles might go hand-in-hand with favorite titles.

How often and why do you purchase finished copies? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Title: Open Road Summer
Author: Emery Lord
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Publication date: April 15, 2014
Pages: 352
Source/format: Hardcover//From Trade

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own.

Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence.

This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.

A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

M Y  T H O U G H T S
Country singer Deliliah Montgomery, who goes by Dee by her friends, is touring all summer long. Her best friend Reagan O'Neill is fortunate enough to convince her father that traveling the country on tour will add to her photojournalism portfolio for college applications. Matt Finch, former member of the teen sensation Finch Four, is invited to open for Dee in order to diffuse a situation. Little did Reagan know is that she will fall in love.

Emery Lord knows how to capture hearts of her readers. The friendship between Dee and Reagan is strong. The swoony relationship between Reagan and Matt is on par. I absolutely love the banter between the two. I found it creative to title each chapter after a tour city. Lord invites her readers to partake in the tour.

Despite Reagan's mother walking out on her and her father when she was eight, Reagan tries to move on with her life. After relocating from Chicago to Nashville, Reagan spiraled downwards starting with mouthing off and skipping classes in middle school. She partook in underage drinking in high school and used to flirt with all the seniors. Reagan isn't flawless but she wants to better herself.

However, I wasn't that fond of Reagan. She said some mean things to Dee and Matt. But her actions speaks louder than words. She tried to put up these facade that nothing bothers her but it does. Reagan puts up a wall to protect herself. She often pushed people away and she claims she is not insecure which is false. In fact, Reagan is insecure about herself. She acts very immature sometimes throughout the book. Also, there is cheating in this book which I don't condone.

Open Road Summer is the perfect name for Lord's first book. Its about firsts and that's why it's so special for Lord and for Dee and Reagan. Open Road Summer peels back the layers and the nitty gritty of what it means to be in the spotlight. One doesn't have a say or a life that they want. The record company and the publicists call all the shots. The media twists words and Photoshop photos to their liking. After all, it's for the business.

Open Road Summer is a solid summer read and for those who enjoyed reading For the Record and This Song Will Save Your Life.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Ruined by Amy Tintera

Title: Ruined
Author: Amy Tintera
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: May 3, 2016
Pages: 368
Source/format: ARC from publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

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.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Emelina Flores's parents, the king and queen of Ruina, are murdered and her sister is kidnapped by a neighboring kingdom, Lera. She infiltrates the Lera for revenge but soon find out that she is falling in love with Prince Casimir. Will she be able to carry her duty to free Olivia and to slaughter Lera's royal family?

This is Amy Tintera's first fantasy novel and I am glad it is not her last. The characters Tintera created are riveting. Although Emelina lacks magical powers of Ruina and Ruined marks, she fills the void with being exceptional in combat with a sword. She is intelligent and is strategic. Those that lack magic are looked down upon as useless but Emelina proves everyone wrong. Magic isn't the only thing that can be deadly.

Although the romance is subpar, I see growth in the sequel. The alternating third person POVs between Emelina and Casimir worked well. I hope Tintera explains more about the four kingdoms in the sequel. Three pages into the novel and there is already a death. Emelina has no problem killing people. Males and females step on equal ground. People die in the book. Everyone has a chance to live if they can survive.

Ruined packs a punch of action, adventure, revenge and deceit. Pick up this YA fantasy novel when you have a chance. The novel as a whole is intriguing and will keep readers on their toes.