Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide: Top Contemporary Books to Give


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to post about Holiday Gift Guide freebie. I decided to crete a list of some of my favorite contemporary reads to gift to others. The titles are in no particular order.

1. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum involves a friend with a secret identity who helps Jessie cope with her new life. The formatting of the book definitely mixes things up with text exchanges, IMs and e-mails.

2. The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord is perfect in every way. Paige is trying to move forward after her boyfriend passed away a year ago. From strong, healthy friendships to a slow burning romance, this book is for you if you genuinely want to read an honest book with feels!

3. Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch is full of adventure and love in Florence, Italy! Lina discovers her mother's journal and finds out more about her after she moves to Italy for the summer.  She definitely finds about more than she bargains for.

4. The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee doesn't come out until after Christmas, two days to be exact. But it shouldn't stop you from pre-ordering this heartfelt book. Those who are intrigued by fragrances, the language of flowers, family relationships and first loves will love this novel! It will tantalize your senses!

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is my favorite book of all time. I first read this book back in the early 2000's when I was a teen and I fell in love. The book is raw and doesn't sugar coat anything about what a teen goes through. You will feel infinite!

6. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han is an excellent book about sisterly relationships. The family dynamics are excellent and all the food Lara Jean makes and describes will have your mouth watering! Of course you will find all about Lara Jean's secret past crushes!

7. Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli is a coming-of-age novel about a high school boy named Simon who finally finds someone who actually understands him. The novel is an adorable read and you will love all of the food and pop culture references.

8. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is a must read for those who love romantic contemporary novels set at a boarding school. Anna moves to Paris, France for her senior year of high school. Little did she know that she will be charmed by √Čtienne.

9. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is another book I read back in the early 2000s and it's the first book I read by Anderson. Ever since then, I have fell in love with Anderson's writing. Anderson writes about realistic and difficult teen topics. In this novel, she talks about how Melinda was raped at a party. It's a very powerful book.

10. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is definitely a favorite of mine! I have so many versions of this book that I lost count. I love everything about this novel and it is very dear to me. Cath enters her first year of college and her head is still stuck in the world of fan fiction. Not only can I relate to Cath, her love for a Harry Potter like series (Simon Snow in Fangirl) but I love how she bonds over fan fiction with her sister.

11. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone touches upon mental health. Stone does a fantastic job including supportive adult figures in Sam's life. The Poet's Corner has helped Sam immensely and she was able to meet people who treat her as a true friend.

12. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales is an inspirational coming-of-age story about self-discovery. Elise is an outcast and she finds her calling through music and DJing.

What contemporary novels do you enjoy reading? What books are you gifting this year? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee

Title: The Secret of a Heart Note
Author: Stacey Lee
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication date: December 27, 2016
Pages: 384
Source/format: e-ARC from publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

An evocative novel about a teen aroma expert who uses her extrasensitive sense of smell to mix perfumes that help others fall in love while protecting her own heart at all costs

Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking—all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make.

At once hopeful, funny, and romantic, Stacey Lee’s The Secret of a Heart Note is a richly evocative coming-of-age story that gives a fresh perspective on falling in love and finding one’s place in the world.


Mimosa (Mim) wants to experience life as a teenager but because she is from a family of aromateurs, it is her duty to carry on the legacy. There are many rules Mim's mother sets aside in order to set a certain reputation. One can not go swimming or eat certain foods. If one falls in love, she will lose her sense of smell to whip up such elixirs. Welcome to the elixir magic of a love witch.

Stacey Lee lush descriptions are splendid. Her writing is a dream! She touches all five senses and The Secret of a Heart Note is very unique. The novel reminds me of all the notes in my candle fragrances and my indie perfumes. I love how Lee breaks down the different top notes, heart notes and base notes of an elixir and scentprints. The Secret of a Heart Note is memorizing and tantalizes all the senses. Lee educates readers about language of flowers and how to concoct the perfect essence.

Mim is relatable and is so compassionate. I was rooting for her throughout the whole novel. Her relationship with Court is adorable. Mim has an amazing best friend, Kali, who sticks by Mim's side no matter what. Mim is also willing to correct and learn from her mistakes. She is independent and a go-getter. However, her relationship with her mother is on the rocks. Lee is able to shine the spotlight on the mother-daughter relationship between Mim and Mim's mother. There is also a sisterly relationship between Mim's mother and Mim's aunt that is covered throughout the novel.

Although I love Lee's historical fiction novels, Under a Painted Sky and Outrun the Moon, The Secret of a Heart Note is so heartfelt and romantic. She pulls at your heartstrings with this novel. This emotional roller coaster is bursting! I even teared up at the end of the book because the ending is flawless! I couldn't ask for anything more.

If you're looking for a cute contemporary romance with a touch of magical realism and relationship building, definitely check out The Secret of a Heart Note. It's a hybrid of Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman and Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday Thanksgiving Freebie: What I am Thankful For

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to post about a Thanksgiving freebie. I decided to list what I am thankful for! I didn't want to narrow myself to only book related things but you will see how my list includes some bookish thanks!

1. J.K. Rowling is the queen! She has created one of my favorite series of all time and this series has impacted my life greatly. I jumped into the Wizarding World back in 2001 and never looked back. I would not be the person I am today without Harry Potter in my life. Harry Potter has opened new opportunities for me and has help me break out of my shell. And now she has opened the door to the era of the 1920s with Fantastic Beasts and can I say I am in love!

2. Harry Potter meet up groups and conventions is where I find home! The Potterheads I meet through meet up groups and conventions are some of the nicest and non-judgemental people you will meet in your life. We are all here for one thing and that's Harry Potter! We can set our differences and come together to celebrate everything Harry Potter! They are my second family.

3. YA Book Community is another group of people that I love to interact with via online and in person. For the most part, everyone is very helpful. I love meeting new friends through our love of books. Going to book signings and to book events is fantastic! Also, thank you to the publishers, literary agents and authors for your hard work in creating masterpieces!

4. My Boyfriend is my #1 supporter and is always there for me no matter what. We've just celebrated our 9 year anniversary together and I cannot wait to celebrate many more years! I love him so much!

5. Supportive coworkers and amazing students at TRiO and Upward Bound! My coworkers have been supporting each other for the last three months through tough times at the office. I am so thankful for their bravery and their encouragement. We worked hard through many tears and have overcome many obstacles together. My students at Upward Bound are like another family. Our relationship in Upward Bound is unique and different from most educator and student relationships.

6. Music brings out the emotions and helps soothe the soul. Although I love books, music is something that helped me a lot during me teenage years and even now to this day. It helps me get through things and music also evokes memories.

7. Food is the substance of life! I love cooking and baking. I love traveling to taste the culinary wonders of the world! The savory and sweet morsels of food lingering on the tongue is a treat! The aesthetics of food is picture perfect!

8. Art and Design is visually pleasing and is another facet to being creative. Like books and music, art is like a window into someone's soul. It's an expression of the imagination.

9. My immediate family has been very supportive with all the choices I have made in my life. They are always there for me.

10. My friends who have been there for me during all the happy and tough times in my life. I don't know what I would do without you!

11. You! Thank you for supporting my blog! It's readers like you that encourages me to share my life with you. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

What are you thankful for this year? Do you have big plans for Thanksgiving?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

My First Time Listening to Audio Books

On November 11, 2016, I listened to my first audio book. Of course I didn't hesitate to listen to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling and read by Jim Dale. Not only is Jim Dale an amazing narrator but experiencing Harry Potter through audio book is a different experience. Not only can I blog and check up on twitter but I can be immersed into the wizarding world of Harry Potter at the same time.

I have read the Harry Potter series countless of times via physical book and a few times on the Nook. I love to listen to the Harry Potter soundtracks and I love to watch the films. No matter what avenue I follow, I always get my Harry Potter fix in a magical way.

Audio books are great for the multi-tasker. Since we are nearing the holidays, I am finding it difficult to manage many tasks once I get home from work. From cooking, chores, blogging, making gifts to planning events, I hardly have any time to read as well. I have been having an extremely difficult time at work with many transitions and sometimes I don't want to do too many things after I get out of work. Here is when the audio book comes in. The audio book is a life saver when I am doing chores like folding laundry or doing dishes. Boring chores fly by faster when listening to an audio book. I walk to work but I know many of my friends like to listen to audio books on their commutes to and from work. It makes their commute go by faster.

However, there is still something delightful when reading a book. Nothing can replace the wonderful dust jacket art, the end papers or the sight and touch of a naked book.  Reading a book involves all the senses for a full reading experience. There is something about the smell of the ink and pages. I love touching the textures of the spine, covers and the paper. Reading about food makes my mouth water and I love the sound of the pages flipping.

Pottermas 2016 is around the corner and listening to the audio books for part of the Harry Potter re-read is more doable to finish in 4-6 weeks. I plan to alternate listening to the audio book and reading either the e-book or finished copy. I get the best of all the worlds this way!

What do you think of audio books? Do you listen to them a lot?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Top Ten All Time Favorite Movies

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to post about a movie freebie. I decided on top ten all time favorite movies. So it was very hard to narrow down my favorite movies to just ten. However, I think I was able to narrow down my top picks. The movies are in no particular order. Images from imdb.com.

1. Now and Then is one of my all time favorite movies about a friendship between four girls who often met up in a tree house. What I love about this movie is how different each of the girls are and how they grew up from a girls to women. Their friendship has never been stronger.

2. Stand by Me is a coming-of-age film loosely based on The Body by Stephen King. The four friends are searching for a missing body in Oregon. It has a very similar vibe compared to Now and Then about friendship and self-discovery.

3. Good Will Hunting is a movie I can watch over and over and I will never get tired of it. A young man works at a janitor at MIT and is the only one that is able to solve a difficult math problem that even college students struggle to answer.

4. Nightmare Before Christmas is the perfect movie for Halloween and Christmas but I have to admit that I love watching this film year round. It's the perfect amount of creepy and charm in this Disney classic. I am a bit biased because I am a huge Tim Burton fan!

5. Pan's Labyrinth is an intense film that covers some of the years after the Spanish Civil War. Reality and fantasy become blurred in this beautiful but brutal masterpiece. Don't let reading subtitles deter you from watching this film.

6. Edward Scissorhands is a interesting take on a picture perfect society with someone who is different. The utopian suburban town with it's pastel houses helps set apart Edward's gothic home in this dark fantasy film.

7. Aladdin is definitely a favorite and Jasmine is my favorite Disney princess. I grew up on Aladdin and watched it so many times. There are so many amazing characters and memorable songs.

8. Wreck-It Ralph is a new Disney favorite for me. It combines a multitude of video games into a fun adventure filled movie for kids and adults of all ages. Vanellope is full of spunk and spirit.

9. The Lion King is perfection with the circle of life and the coming-of-age story about Simba. I am pretty sure no one really needs an introduction to this classic.

10. Donnie Darko is a psychological sci-fi movie that has a pretty big cult following. It's truly twisted and it boggles the mind.If you are interested in tangent universes, check out this movie!

What are some of your all time favorite movies? Do we share any same all time favorites?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Spotlight: Arena by Holly Jennings

Title: Arena
Author: Holly Jennings
Publisher: Ace Books
Publication date: November 1, 2016 (first published April 5, 2016)
Pages: 400
Find it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indie Bound


“If anyone tells you that books about videogames can’t be considered good literature, hand them Holly Jennings’ ARENA”
—Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog

“Think Hunger Games meets Ready Player One. ARENA is serious nerdcore entertainment. Gamers, get ready to plug in!”
—Chloe Neill, New York Times Bestselling Author

Available now in a stunning, redesigned trade paperback edition: Holly Jennings’ ARENA. The first novel in a near-future series, ARENA is a thrilling coming-of-age story set in a world where virtual competitive gaming has become the biggest form of entertainment. Older teens and adult readers of YA dystopian and action-paced sci-fi novels with a romantic twist—like Veronica Roth’s Divergent and Pierce Brown’s Red Rising—are sure to love it!

ARENA stars Kali Ling, the first female captain in the Virtual Gaming League’s most elite tournament. Intense training for the competition takes over her days and wild parties end all of her nights. After the sudden death of one of her teammates, Kali realizes she’ll have to overcome the internal tensions and external pressures that threaten to destroy her team. And it won’t be easy with a hostile new teammate who’s far more distracting than he should be…


The RAGE tournaments—the Virtual Gaming League’s elite competition where the best gamers in the world compete in a fight to the digital death. Every kill is broadcast to millions. Every player leads a life of ultimate fame, responsible only for entertaining the masses.

And though their weapons and armor are digital, the pain is real.

Chosen to be the first female captain in RAGE tournament history, Kali Ling is at the top of the world—until one of her teammates overdoses. Now she’s stuck trying to work with a hostile new teammate who’s far more distracting than he should be.

Between internal tensions and external pressures, Kali is on the brink of breaking. To change her life, she’ll need to change the game. And the only way to revolutionize an industry as shadowy as the VGL is to fight from the inside…


“A nuanced and complex novel with a strong, imperfect heroine and a different approach to the “rebel in a dystopian society” trope...With some surprising twists, Jennings faces down dark issues unflinchingly, showing us how a rebellion can start peacefully and realistically with just one brave voice.” —RT Book Reviews, Top Pick!

“Depicting the action and excitement of virtual gaming that made Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One such a hit, Jennings’s debut delves into the real-world issues (drugs, sponsor demands) that athletes face. Add strong female characters to the mix and readers seeking more fast-paced sf about virtual reality will be pleased.”—Library Journal

“A solid coming-of-age story with a multi-racial female protagonist who is both a physical and mental athlete in a male dominated sport.”—Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

About Holly Jennings 

Holly Jennings is a lifelong gamer who has spent innumerable hours playing World of Warcraft and Call of Duty. ARENA is her first novel. She lives in Canada, where she is working on the sequel.

Find out more about Holly online at www.authorhollyjennings.com

Suit Up.
Plug In.
Press Start.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

United by Melissa Landers

Title: United
Author: Melissa Landers
Publisher: EverAfter
Publication date: August 2, 2016
Pages: 317
Source/format: Purchased // Hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

After thwarting a deadly coup and saving the alliance between their worlds, Cara and Aelyx have finally earned a break. Their tiny island colony is everything they dreamed it would be―days spent gathering shells on the beach and nights in each other’s arms.

But the vacation is short-lived.

The treaty between Earth and L’eihr has awakened an ancient force that threatens to destroy them all. The Aribol, mysterious guardians charged with maintaining interstellar peace, deem the alliance a threat to the galaxy. They order a separation of the races, decreeing humans and L’eihrs must return to their own planets within the month or face extinction. In fact, they already have agents in place on Earth, ready to begin.

With the clock ticking, Aelyx and Cara assemble a team of colonists and race back to Earth, where they unite with old friends to solve the mystery of who the Aribol are, what they want, and the real reason the alliance has provoked them. As tensions build to a full-scale war, Aelyx and Cara must fight harder than ever―not just for their future, but for the survival of both their worlds.

M Y  T H O U G H T S 

Cara and Aelyx are finally living together but Aribol is insistent that both humans and L'eihrs cannot coincide on the Colony. With an ultimatum, humans must return to Earth within a month or Aribol will exterminate both races. As proof, Aribol destroys a spaceport and the Voyager fleet with flaming balls of fire. Cara and Aelyx return to Earth to find about that Jaxen and Aisley are wreaking havoc along with another mystery character that will shock some readers.

Melissa Landers has written another beautiful novel and I am glad United made it to the publishing stage. Landers was only contracted for a duology. There was a time Landers mentioned that if Invaded, the second book of the Alienated series, didn't sell well, United wouldn't be published. Through the pursuits of loyal Landers' readers, the book was able to be published which is fantastic! Readers have a voice!

It's exciting that we get to read United with both Cara and Aelyx side by side. It's important to have them together as a team with others such as Syrine, Troy and etc. This teamwork will lead them to overcome Aribol. I loved seeing the growth in character development throughout the series. There are some surprises at the end of the novel and they work. I am ecstatic to see some happy endings for those who suffered throughout the series.

Readers who enjoy light sci-fi with a bit of romance, leadership, teamwork and inter-galaxy relationships will enjoy the Alienated series. Landers ended the trilogy with a bang!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Sailor Moon Book Tag

The Sailor Moon Book tag was created by Cee of The Novel Hermit, Cristina of Girl in the Pages, Kristin of Super Space Chick, Sierra of SDavReads and Alexa from Alexa Loves Books. Thank you Emma from Miss Print for tagging me!

Images are from sailormoon.wikia.com and tuxedounmasked.com. Book tag image from creators of tag.

Moon | A book that makes you hungry
To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han talks about so many delicious foods from sweet treats to Korean food. It's the perfect book to read while having a snack.

Mercury | A book that features science and technology
Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell showcases a young lady who is an accomplished inventor. I love reading books about women in the STEM field.

Venus | A book that makes you want to play video games
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card is a sci-fi novel where children think they are playing computer simulated war games at the Battle School. However, they are part of military group and they don't even know it.

Mars | A book inspired by mythology or folklore
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi is a fantastic novel about retellings of Indian folklore. Chokshi's words are lyrical and intricate. Her story is beautiful!

Jupiter | A book that gave you strong feelings
City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare is an epic finale to The Mortal Instruments series and it doesn't disappoint. At a whopping 725 pages, you will be craving more!

Saturn | A post apocalyptic book you love
Reboot by Amy Tintera is an interesting take on a zombie story where humans die and are rebooted. Reboots becomes stronger, faster and are to heal and are less emotional.

Pluto | A time travel book
Landline by Rainbow Rowell is a wonderful fusion of contemporary and magical realism. Georgie is able to save her marriage with a magic phone that allows her to talk to her husband Neal when he is younger.

Uranus | A book featuring elemental magic
The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead focuses on the Moroi who are vampires who wield elemental magic of Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit. Dhampirs, who are Moroi body guards, protect the Moroi from the evil soulless Strigoi.

Neptune | A book featuring music
This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales is a coming-of-age story about self-discovery. Elise has never fitted in and finds her calling through music.

Tuxedo Mask | A book with masquerades or hidden identities
Masquerade by Melissa de la Cruz is one of the first books that comes to mind. The Blue Blood series is about an elite group of vampires and the Four Hundred Ball is a coming-of-age event.

Chibi Moon | A favorite middle grade book
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is my life! I think most people know this by now. I seriously live and breathe in everything Harry Potter and of course it made this list!

Luna, Artemis & Diana | A book for animal lovers
The Redwall series is a fantastic series about animals and adventures. It's one of my favorite series when I was in elementary school. In fact I still need to finish the series since there are 22 books in total. I stopped reading the series at book #11.


1. Elizabeth from BookYabber
2. Marci from The Plot Bunny
3. Jenna from Bookiemoji
4. and you!