Monday, November 30, 2015

November Monthly Wrap Up!

Hello little snowflakes!!  I hope everyone who celebrated had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I for one am completely still stuffed and plan to never look at turkey again...well until next year ;)  
This month was another amazing one for us filled with super fun blog tours and quite a few awesome books!  Here's how our month broke down...

For the month of November, I didn't tackle as many books as I thought I would. I added 9 completed reads to my bookshelf, but I did get a head start on my holiday reading! Here's my round-up!
Highest rated book -
Soundless by Richelle Mead. Amazing novel!
Lowest rated book -
Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul. Not what I expected. :(
Special feature (most anticipated book, movie or trailer you're excited about) -
December marks the month I re-watch all of the Harry Potter movies, AND I'll be visiting the theme park in the beginning of the month. So, I'm really excited to dive into my annual tradition of Potter-fest!
What's on your tbr for next month-
For the month of December I plan to read more holiday novels and possibly get started on the second installment of Outlander. I can't wait for the next TV season to start!

Highest rated book-
Falling Kingdoms & Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes...AMAZING series!!!!
Lowest rated book- 
Calling Maggie May by Anonymous 
Special feature- 
This month I am just excited to spend time with my family and bake, bake, bake!!  
What's on my TBR for next month-
After the Woods by Kim Savage, Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes & Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace!
Highest rated book-
Though November wasn't the best reading month for me because of essays, thesis plans etc., I managed to read a couple of pretty amazing books. During November, I gave five star reviews to HIM by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy (HOT HOCKEY GUYS ALERT!) and AFTER THE WOODS by Kim Savage.
Lowest rated book-
The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan. It still got three stars though, so not bad at all!
Special feature-
Christmas is quickly coming, which means my favorite time of the year is upon us - THE HALLMARK COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS original movie marathon. I know I am supposed to be this serious film student, but there is just something about these films that I absolutely love. From the films released so far, ONCE UPON A HOLIDAY has been my favorite - it has a runaway princess, cute romance and an extremely handsome leading man.
And now that I have mentioned Hallmark, it is only fitting to mention a new TV show obsession I have, which is Hallmark Channel's original show WHEN CALLS THE HEART. I have been studying North American history this semester, and I love how the setting of this show kind of fits into what I've learned. The budding romance between the leads is to DIE FOR! And the male lead, Daniel Lissing, looks so good in a Mountie uniform.
What's on my TBR for next month-
I don't really know yet about my TBR for the month. All I know is that I at least want to read something Christmas related. So if you know any good Christmas books, leave me a recommendation! I also have THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE by Heidi Heilig still waiting on my Kindle and I am hoping to get into that one at some point in December.

Highest rated book-
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell - 5 Stars- So so so good!!
Lowest rated book-
MiNRS by Kevin Sylvester- 3.5 stars- Entertaining and fun!
Special feature-
Star Wars 7 baby!!!
What's on my TBR for next month-
Oblivion by Jennifer L. Armentrout and Untamed by A.G Howard- Gimme Gimme!!

Looks like next month will be filled with Christmas reviews LOL!  I hope everyone had a wonderful month as well and I can't wait to see how our December ends up!


Review: Tell the Story to it's End by Simon

Tell the Story to Its EndTell the Story to its End by Simon P. Clark
Publisher: St.Martins Griffin
Release Date: October 20th, 2015
Purchase: Amazon
In this beautiful, haunting debut, a boy is whisked away to the country in the wake of a scandal, and finds a captivating creature in the attic whose attention comes at a sinister price.

"Tell the story to its end," says Eren with a grin.
His yellow eyes are glowing like embers in the night.
"When I reach the end," I say, "what happens? You'll have the whole story."
"Hmm," he says, looking at me and licking his lips with a dry, grey tongue. "What happens then? Why don't we find out?"

People are keeping secrets from Oli. His mum has brought him to stay with his aunt and uncle in the countryside, but nobody will tell him why his dad where his father is. Why isn't he with them? Has something happened? Oli has a hundred questions, and only an old, empty house in the middle of an ancient forest for answers. But then he finds a secret of his own: there is a creature that lives in the attic…

Eren is not human.
Eren is hungry for stories.
Eren has been waiting for him.

Sharing his stories with Eren, Oli starts to make sense of what’s happening downstairs with his family. But what if it’s a trap? Soon, Oli must make a choice: learn the truth—or abandon himself to Eren’s world, forever.

Reminiscent of SKELLIG by David Almond and A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness, EREN is richly atmospheric, moving, unsettleing, and told in gorgeous prose. A modern classic in the making.
My thoughts:
This was certainly a strange little book.  The summary sounded really interesting and I thought hmm this could be super creepy.  If I look at it one way it is creepy, but if I look the other way I just don't get it.

Oli and his mom have moved to the countryside for the summer and are hoping Oli's dad will join them sooner rather than later.  What Oli finds out though is that the reason behind the move isn't a good one and he seeks solace in the attic with a monster who just wants to hear Oli's stories.  Or so he thinks.

So the thought of a story eating monster intrigued me.  I knew this monster would only grow stronger with every story he was told and become creepier and creepier. I was right to a point, but I found out that creepier came with a side of strange.

I think what threw me off was that this book talked in riddles and in circles.  At some points it even sounded like a deranged Cat in the Hat from a Dr. Seuss book.  I kept tripping up on the strange lingo and punctuation.  I didn't know going in that this was written from an English author and normally I don't have any trouble settling in to the Englishesque storylines, but man this one really threw me for a loop. I've never seen so many exclamations points and "yes"'s thrown around.  I think the story probably would have still been a strange one but adding in the strangeness of the writers flow just increased the oddness.

The story itself was yes strange, but I felt bad for Oli.  He was kept in the dark about his father and then when the cat jumped out of the bag (a reference you will totally get if you read the book) he fell apart.  He didn't understand why things were kept from him and I have to agree.  The adults were not very adult and didn't see what was happening to Oli.  I ended up being frustrated and when the end happened I wanted more from the adults point of view.  I wanted to know what they thought and what they were doing.

One extra chapter would have been great because the story is left so open and well I just didn't get it.  I got the scary part of it, but I didn't get the overall point.  Well I guess that's not true I got what happened I guess it's more accurate to say I didn't get all the why's of each character.  If someone could please let me know all the why's I would be forever grateful.

2 snowflakes

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Review: A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano

A Curious Tale of the In-Between (Pram, #1)A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release Date: September 1st, 2015
Purchase: Amazon
Pram Bellamy is special--she can talk to ghosts. She doesn't have too many friends amongst the living, but that's all right. She has her books, she has her aunts, and she has her best friend, the ghostly Felix.

Then Pram meets Clarence, a boy from school who has also lost a parent and is looking for answers. Together they arrive at the door of the mysterious Lady Savant, who promises to help. But this spiritualist knows the true nature of Pram's power, and what she has planned is more terrifying than any ghost.
My thoughts:
The best word I can think of to describe this book is eerie.  It wasn't scary and it wasn't creepy it was just really really eerie.

Lauren DeStefano has written a unique story about a girl who can see ghosts, but I half of me wondered throughout the whole book whether or not Pram was actually seeing ghosts.  At times it felt like maybe Pram was just talking to an imaginary friend, but as the story progressed I did see where the ghosts did indeed become a factor and the story took an interesting twist.  I am curious though because I think I would have liked Felix to have been an imaginary friend.  I think the story would have been a bit stranger which I think is what the author was going for with this one.

I will say that the major plot line was really interesting and I loved use of the asylum.  I've started looking for asylum books and it was a pleasant surprise to find one in this book.  I would have liked to have known more backstory about Lady Savant because she was an interesting character for sure.  I just discovered this will be a series so maybe more of her story will come out throughout the next book.

Pram was strange and when you read about her backstory you will understand why.  She was a very likable character and very brave.  I've found in middle grade books the young characters tend to be way braver than most teenage/adult characters.  I am not sure why this is exactly, but it makes for a strong character for sure.

I loved the innocence between Clarance and Pram.  Lately I have been hunting down books that have zero to no romance because I can't read another instalove story, but this romancish relationship is what I think I've been looking for.  It's completely innocent and sweet and what first crushes are made of.  The author did an amazing job with this relationship and my only wish is that YA takes note.

Other than the initial request to change the story a bit I wouldn't change anything about this.  I loved DeStefano's writing. She has some of the best quotes and honestly made me think throughout the book about death and loved ones.  She has crafted a unique tale that I know I will be thinking about for days to come.

I've come to really enjoy middle grade books and I think this is another strong one to add to my shelves!

4 snowflakes 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Review: How To Say I Love You Out Loud by Karole Cozzo

How To Say I Love You Out Loud by Karole Cozzo
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: August 4th, 2015
When Jordyn Michaelson’s autistic brother joins her at her elite school, she’s determined not to let anyone know they're related. Even if that means closing herself off to all her closest friends, including charming football stud Alex Colby. But despite her best intentions, she just can't shake the memory of kissing Alex last summer, and the desire to do it again. Can Jordyn find the courage to tell Alex how she really feels—and the truth about her family—before he slips away forever?

My Thoughts:

How To Say I Love You Out Loud, another Swoon Reads release with an absolutely beautiful cover, took me quite by surprise. I guess the "swoon" word made me expect a fluffy, light and cute contemporary read. This one definitely made me swoon, it was occasionally fluffy and cute, but what really blew me away was the way Cozzo delved into the main characters family life and her brother's illness with so much detail, emotion and seriousness.

Jordyn is a definitely a main character for my taste. In many ways, she is quite a complicated character and I do have to admit that several times her actions made me question my feelings towards her. For her whole life, she has struggled with her brother's autism. She has felt that if people know about Phillip, she is always be seen as just "Phillip's sister" and not as her own person. This has made her quite resentful and occasionally slightly bitter towards her parents and Phillip's illness. She is a teenager, living in a world where appearances are important. So yes, she thinks and says things that are hurtful and seem petty, but at the same time, think of yourself as a teenager... didn't it matter to you quite a bit what people thought about you? I know were a not the same, but I think Jordyn deserves my understanding.  Keep your eyes and heart open for her - don't give up on her. 

After miserable middle school years, Jordyn has been able to keep her home life and her school life separate from each other. Everything changes when the school Phillip has been going to is closed down and Phillip is enrolled to the same high school with Jordyn. Soon, he is known as the "cray-cray" kid, and the worst thing Jordyn can imagine is everyone knowing that Phillip is her brother. It hurt my heart to read about the way the other kids talk about Phillip, mostly because you get the feeling that they do it either because they don't know what Phillip is going through or worse, just so they would fit in. The way Jordyn acts and declines to open her mouth definitely does not help, but as more and more happen and time goes by, the thoughts and understanding of Jordyn evolve and she becomes more aware of what is happening. Jordyn's character development is very well executed and definitely worth a mention.

Though romance isn't the biggest focus of this novel, the chemistry between Jordyn and Alex is palpable. Ever since the summer before, they have been friends, and though Jordyn feels like she would like to be more than just friends, she has never been able to open her heart to Alex. When the new school year starts and Jordyn learns that Alex has a girlfriend, she thinks everything between them is over. But the more they spend time together, the more the chemistry increases. And oh my, Alex definitely is worth swooning. He is honestly just a REALLY good guy who cares about those around her. What's between Alex and Jordyn is not instalove - rather, it is the best kind of "we are going to drag this out for a long time" kind of love you find from the best kind of romantic comedies.

The fact that the author has worked with kids that have different kinds of disabilities really shows from this book, especially when it comes to the way Cozzo writes about the struggle Jordyn's mother goes through. Though I do not have kids of my own and I probably never want to have, I always find it touching to read about mother's who despite everything that is going on are willing to fight for their children. My mother is like that, and I love her for it. Jordyn's mother is like that too, and she definitely deserves my love and respect.

How To Say I Love You Out Loud was a short, quick read that, as I said, took me quite by surprise. Don't be like be a let the "swoon" word fool you. If you are looking for more than just cute romance, look no further.

4 Snowflakes

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on.

Here's my selection for this week…

Expected publication: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Random House
When Harry Met Sally for YA romance readers. This opposites-attract love story is perfect for fans of Huntley Fitzpatrick, Stephanie Perkins, and Jenny Han.

June wants high school to end and real life to begin. Oliver is soaking up senior year’s glory days. They could have coasted through high school, knowing about—but not really knowing—each other.

Except that their moms have arranged for Oliver to drive June to school. Every. Single. Day.

Suddenly these two opposites are fighting about music, life . . . pretty much everything. But love is unpredictable. When promises—and hearts—get broken, Oliver and June must figure out what really matters. And then fight for it.
Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein sounds like the perfect blend of two of my favorite things… YA contemporary books and music.  I can't wait to see how June and Oliver handle their arrangement during their senior year of high school, and I'm even more eager to see if there are any song recs in the book!

Sooo, what book are you waiting on???

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
This weeks topic is..
Top ten authors I'm thankful for

Julie Kagawa- For her Iron Fey books. For it's mischief and adventure. For it's imagination and stunning world. And also for Ash;)
Jennifer L. Armentrout- She's the author that has overflowed my bookshelf with 34 physical copies. I'm gonna need more space/O.O

Meg Cabot for showing me that it is okay to be dorky and awkward like Mia AND for making me realize that good guys like Michael are THE BEST.
Sarah Dessen for introducing me to the wonders of YA contemporary years ago!

Stephanie Meyer for giving me YA.  Without her I don't know if I would have found my way back to this incredible genre.
Tessa Gratton for introducing me to the dark side.  I've never been the same since.

There are so many amazing authors out there, that it’s really hard to pick, so I’m going to go with my tried and true…
I’m thankful for Marie Lu, author of the Legend and Young Elites series, because she always reminds me why I love Young Adult despite my constant genre hopping to adult novels.

I’m also thankful for Amy Engel because she’s proven that debut authors can bring something new and exciting to the YA genre that can sometimes feel stale and repetitive.

There are so many authors I'm thankful for for so many different reasons. Like Crystal, Stephanie Meyer was the first author to make me love reading YA. So, without her I don't think I'd be here blogging about these other amazing writers.
Trisha Wolfe for introducing me to steampunk and taking me under her wings in the writing arena. Lisa T. Bergren for whisking me back in time (Always a RiverTribe girl)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Support Your Independent Bookstore - Featuring The Book Loft in Solvang, CA

Copyright: <a href=''>graletta / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
Earlier this month, I featured one of my favorite local independent bookstores as a way of showing my support during the holiday season. For details on that post, you can go HERE.  
With the shopping frenzy for the holidays right around the corner, I wanted to send a friendly reminder to shop at our local bookstores to keep them in business. Online book shopping is always convenient, but without our support the brick and mortar stores won't be around for much longer, which is absolutely tragic.
Aside from my regular visits to my local bookstores, I always make it a point to visit independent bookstores during my vacations and weekend outings. One bookstore I've had the pleasure of visiting for a second time this summer is
The Book Loft in Solvang, California.  
This bookstore is located in a  beautiful little Dutch town, which is around 30 minutes north of Santa Barbara, CA.  Both times I had the pleasure of visiting, it was hard to get me to leave! Look at how quaint this town and shop are and you'll see what I mean.
As you can see, The Book Loft is absolutely adorable and easy to get lost in. They have a wonderful selection of best sellers, chapter books and general fiction.  If you're anything like me, when I go on vacation I like to have a physical copy of a book handy for the ride, pool, and when I'm just relaxing. Stopping at The Book Loft, I was able to pick up a couple of paperback copies to have in my bag.

What I loved most about this quaint Dutch bookstore were the beautiful shelves and signs that make the place feel absolutely authentic.  Couple that with the wonderful Young Adult selection they have, and I was in heaven!

The Book Loft is definitely a store I want to see remain in business. It has the feel and authenticity of a small Dutch town store that makes the experience of shopping there feel exciting and refreshing!  My hope is that The Book Loft remains in business for many, many years because I plan to revisit Solvang, CA when I get a chance again!

Be sure to visit The Book Loft in Solvang, CA

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Publisher- St. Martin's Griffin
Released- Oct 6th 2015
Purchase- Amazon / B & N / Chapters

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.
That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.
Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.
Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.
My Thoughts:
To be honest, I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy this book. I adored Fangirl but I was so obsessed with Levi and Cath that I overlooked the Baz and Simon pieces. But I was curious about this world so I picked it up and dame, I'm so glad I did! Carry On, turned out to be one of the most entertaining books I've read all year. It's magical, adventurous and so freaken adorably romantic.

I really loved what Rainbow Rowell did with this book. Sure, I guess it reminds me of HP but at the same time it's completely her own. I love Rowell's writing and I specially love all the little cozy details she gave this world. From the wondrous school building's and grounds, the subjects themselves and even the food they eat, it's those little things that gave this book so much soul. I even loved the quirky-yet-common spells they used, like"Scooby-Dooby-Doo, where are you!" and "These aren't the droids you're looking for", are just a couple of my favorites. The flow and pace of the story is perfectly pitched. This book combines the back-story, history and memories of multiple characters but it's done in a way that was always interesting instead of overwhelming. It was effortless to lose myself in this enchanting and charming world.

But really, it was all of these wonderfully put together characters that own this book for me. Simon, Baz, Penny and even Agatha have such personalities that come alive when ever they interact with one another. They have the greatest voices that drip with humour and sarcasm and the endless banter and sexual tension was deliciously applied. 
Simon is the hero of our story. He's the Chosen One, the most powerful Mage who is destined to stop the war and the insidious Humdrum from sucking the Magickal world dry. Never mind that Snow botches most of his spells or he can't use his wand very well or has Penny at his side to help him rather then actual luck or talent. But Simon Snow can kick some serious ass. 
Penny is the kind of sidekick that everyone needs. Smart, insanely loyal and doesn't try to outshine or take over. She's Simon's best friend and I adored her endless support and sharp wit. 
Agatha was the only one I didn't seem to crazy about despite how everyone in this book refers to her as perfection. She's lovely, sure, but she also seems so lost and self absorbed and made for conflict more then anything else. 
And last, but never least, my favorite character was Baz! My gawd, what an amazing character! What is it about brooding vampires that I love so much anyway!? Baz is complicated in the best way possible. It's almost like he's mad at the entire world but he can't seem to part with it or the people who drive him to his madness. He can be driven to be this cruel and calculating person but underneath all his angry and hatred is this warm and vulnerable side that makes him more diverse and real then the other characters.
The romance in this book, the tension in this book, the angst and drama, the love and hate? My. Gawd. This was some of the sexiest, sweet as hell and crazy adorable that I've ever read. Seriously, I could live in those moments forever!

Bottom line, Carry On, was an amazing and entertaining experience. This was imaginative, creative and just solid fun and good times. I had everything I could possibly want in an escape. Daring adventure, action and intrigue, outstanding writing and unforgettable characters that were charming, enchanting, affectionately loveable and absolutely easy to invest in and connect with from minute one. I know this is a standalone, but I'm actually so sad to see this end. Rowell is an amazing contemporary author, but she can do fantasy like no ones business. I'm gonna need more! If your a fan of Fangirl or just want a new spin on fantasy fun, then this book goes out to you! Instant favorite!

Find the author:
Goodreads / Website                                 5 Snowflakes!

Review: Calling Maggie May by Anonymous

Calling Maggie MayCalling Maggie May by Anonymous 
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: June23rd, 2015
A dark and edgy first-person cautionary tale about how one girl’s seemingly minor choices quickly spiraled into a life as a sex worker in the tradition of Go Ask Alice and Lucy in the Sky.

She had a normal life, until one small decision changed everything. Suddenly, there were new possibilities and new experiences.

But not all of those experiences were good.

Read her shocking story in the diary she left behind.
My thoughts:
Um what did I just read????  This book was a complete mess, but that editors note has totally left me speechless!

First why is this book titled Calling Maggie May?  Was that the main characters real name??  This is really bugging the poo out of me!  We never learn the main characters real name so I have no idea if that's her name or not so I am left just wondering why in the world this book has this title.  I could see it being Justine since that's her call girl name, but Maggie May????

This isn't the only thing that didn't work for me.  The whole book fell really flat.  I liked the idea of using a journal type entry for a book like this, but my goodness the main characters voice was so incredibly whiny!   Yes I get that she was pressured at home and turned to the wrong kind of friend for help, but she was insecure and okay I'm going to say it stupid.  Yes she was stupid, she saw her crush trying to force himself on her friend but she still wanted to be with him.  Her first actual interaction with this guy was when she had to stop him from hurting her friend so it's not like that had some horrible torrid love affair.  Nope she saw first hand what a jerk he was without any emotional connection tied in and still wanted him to like her.  That wasn't all either.  She lost her virginity to the first guy she had a true date with and thought that war normal.  She even knew he wasn't going to be around the next day...again not so smart.  I just don't get it.  The way she thought about prostitution honestly scared me for teenagers who read this.  It's like she accepted it.  She didn't like it most of the time, but she just thought it was no big deal. WTH?!  That's why I am calling her stupid.  She wasn't naive she knew what she was getting herself into and her choices just weren't smart.  She even said at one point she wished she had a terrible story to share with the other "workers" because hers wasn't tragic like theirs. Who says that??!!  In a way I felt like she glorified what she was doing and that's just not okay with me.

I also didn't find the story realistic in the slightest.  Everybody she came in contact with was niceish.  Even the guys that were yelling at her didn't touch her or abuse her.  Even the woman who ran the brothel was nice in a way.  I mean she said you could leave when you wanted and no she didn't put the girls first, but she wasn't abusive like in other books I've read.  Everyone just seemed too nice for this type of book and it felt wrong and a little disrespectful to other stories. 

What really bothered me though was when the main characters pretty much said being on a street corner was better than working at a fast food place.  She even compared them and said they were similar!  Umm no I don't think so.  When I read that my brain totally lost it and I thought this girl needs to go to therapy.

Okay so this editors note what can I even say about it. I'm not sure if this story is based on a real story or not, I am leaning toward not but I really don't know to be honest.  I thought for sure it was all made up, but the editors note made me question that.  If it is real then I am completely flabbergasted at that ending.  I mean WTH?!  I am going to look into this more because if that was the actual ending I need more info.  For everything to be on the nicer side of dark that note just didn't make any sense to me.

I know I was harsh in this review and if this is a true story I am truly sorry for calling her stupid.  I just can't believe this is real.  If you are looking for a dark story dealing with these issues I say look elsewhere.  This story doesn't even come close to the dark world I've read about and honestly might give some the wrong impression.  This was definitely not a great book for me.

0 snowflakes

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Harper Winter 2016 Tour: A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann

This tour hosted by The Irish Banana Tour has to be the biggest we have ever been a part of and it has been rocking the blogosphere!  For our stop we are spotlighting A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann and sharing two amazing giveaways.
  This book sounds right up my creepy alley and I can't wait to dive into it!  

A Drop of Night
Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: March 15th, 2016
Purchase: Amazon / TBD
Five gifted teenagers are selected out of hundreds of other candidates to fly to France and help with the excavation of a vast, underground palace buried a hundred feet below the suburbs of Paris. Built in the 1780's to hide an aristocratic family and a mad duke during the French Revolution, the palace was sealed after the aristocrats fled there. No one has set foot in it for over two centuries.

Now, in the present day, the teenagers enter with cutting-edge technology, state-of-the-art security, scientists and chaperones. And then a brutal accident occurs. No way out. Caught in the dark.

They will have to fight to survive. But are they really alone in the depths?

About the Author:
Stefan Bachmann
Stefan Bachmann was born in Colorado but spent of most of his youth abroad and now lives in Switzerland, where he's a student of music at the Z├╝rich University of Arts.
His debut, gothic-steampunk-faery-fantasy THE PECULIAR was published in 2012 by Greenwillow/HarperCollins. It was a New York Times Editor's Choice and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2012, and was translated into eight languages. Its companion THE WHATNOT was released September 24th, 2013.
THE CABINET OF CURIOSITIES: 36 TALES BRIEF AND SINISTER, a collection of scary stories he wrote together with authors Emma Trevayne, Claire Legrand and Katherine Catmull, was released May 27th, 2014, from Greenwillow/HarperCollins.
His next book, YA thriller A DROP OF NIGHT, about a group of American teens fighting to survive after they become trapped in an underground Versailles, will be out March 15th, 2016, also from Greenwillow/HarperCollins.
Find Stefan:

As promised here are the giveaway details!

#1 – A Harper Teen Winter 2016 Catalog prizepack of 40+ books*.
*All YA titles in the winter2016 catalog with the exception of The Siren by Kiera Cass, Yellow Brick War byDanielle Paige and Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard.*
#2 – 5 Finished Copies from the Harper Teen Fall 2015 Catalog
5 books are: The Lies About Truth, Walk on Earth A Stranger, Dreamland, Dumplin’, and Da Vinci’s Tiger
Entry rules for prize #2:
Collect the daily words and phrases from each blog stop during the Harper Winter 2016 Tour (a total of 45). Once you’ve collected them all, email the saying to:
Our word is Reads
1.) Winner must have a valid US mailing address to receive the prize
2.) Winner must be over 13
3.) Only one (1) entry per person for Prize #2 – duplicates will be deleted.
4.) Only a completed phrase will be accepted as an entry – do not email each word/phrase daily.  Wait until you have the complete saying and then email in.
5.) All email submissions must be received by 11:59 PM EST 11/30/2015.
6.) Winner will be selected 12/1/2015 and will have 48 hours to claim their prize before another is selected.
7.) Participating blogs and bloggers are not responsible for unsent, damaged, and/or stolen prizes sent by the publisher.
Be sure to follow the rest of the tour to collect all your words!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Review: Drowning Is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley

Drowning is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley
Expected publication: September 8th 2015
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Olivia has spent her whole life struggling to escape her dead mother’s shadow. But when her father can’t even look at her because Olivia reminds him of her mother, and her grandmother mistakenly calls her “Lillian,”  shaking a reputation she didn’t ask for is next to impossible. Olivia is used to leaning on her best friend, Jamie; her handsome but hot-tempered boyfriend, Max; and their wild-child friend, Maggie, for the reality check that her small Louisiana town can’t provide. But when a terrible fight between Jamie and his father turns deadly, all Olivia can think to do is grab her friends and run.

In a flash, Olivia, Jamie, Max, and Maggie become fugitives on the back roads of Louisiana. They’re headed to New Orleans, where they hope to find a solution to an unfixable problem. But with their faces displayed on all the news stations, their journey becomes a harrowing game of hide-and-seek from the police—and so-called allies, who just might be the real enemy.

Shalanda Stanley’s breathtaking debut novel explores the deep ties between legacy, loyalty, and love, even as it asks the question: How far would you go to save a friend?

My Thoughts

I must start this review by saying that I was extremely excited about reading Drowning is Inevitable and that my expectations were EXTREMELY high. Now that I have read it, I can say that though it did not quite fill my expectations, it was a solid debut that will I will remember for a while, maybe not for the story itself, but for the way it was written.

Olivia's mother Lillian killed herself just days after Olivia was born. Living in a little town has meant that Olivia has always grown in the shadow of her mother's decision. Her is like a ticking clock and people are dying to see whether her life will be as short as her mothers. Throughout her first almost 18 years old life, her father has been mostly absent, still too hurt to spend time with a physical memory of what he lost when Lillian died. Her grandmother is present, but thinks that Olivia is Lillian. Thus, Olivia's friends Jamie and Maggie and her on/off boyfriend Max have become her real family and support group. ¨

Jamie has his own problems, mainly his alcoholic and violent father. One night, Jamie finally acts against his father and the events turn deadly. In a blink of an eye. Jamie, Olivia, Maggie and Max before fugitives and they flee to New Orleans in search of a solution for their unexpected situation. There they are faced with the artistic scene, Maggie's druggie mother and difficult decisions regarding their futures.

The premise of the novel is extremely interesting and the way the story is introduced to the reader instantly caught my attention. The fact that Olivia, defined by others through the actions of her mother, gets her own voice was something I was really interested to read about, and throughout the novel, Olivia's voice, especially her inner thoughts, was one of the most interesting aspects of Stanley's debut. Once the characters reach New Orleans, I started to feel like occasionally the author had attempted to put too much in. The events turn very action packed at points, and for me, that kind of ruined the atmosphere of the book, at least for a while.

Though the pacing of the story could have been better, Drowning is Inevitable definitely deserves praise for the way it has been written. Stanley's prose is beautifully constructed, at parts lyrical, and parts melancholy. Getting a look inside Olivia's mind allows the reader to feel emotions ranging from joy to complete sadness and confusion. At points, both the subject and especially Olivia's thoughts are extremely morbid, which might not be for everyone, but which definitely fits into the overall tone of the novel.

The way Stanley writes friendships is done interestingly. The relationship between Olivia and Jamie is very codependent, which, at the moment of them being in danger, turns Olivia's future pretty grim.
What Olivia shares with Max is very different, partly due to the element of romance between the two.

Though the novel, in general, is very dark for most of its duration, there are glimpses of hope here and there. Despite the fact that the story itself was bit of a disappointment, mostly due to some poor pacing decisions, the way Stanley expresses herself and tells the story of these characters through writing is definitely worth a read.

3.5 snowflakes

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: How It Ends by Catherine Lo

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on.

Here's my selection for this week…

Expected publication: June 7, 2016
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
How it begins…

"You're in my English class, right?"
I almost checked behind me to make sure she wasn't talking to someone else.

How it unravels…

“You can be my best friend without being my only friend."
Her words were knives raked along my skin. I could hear the goodbye in every syllable.

How it Ends.

Why should I keep her secrets when she didn't keep mine? All it would take was one little click and a carefully worded message.

How it Ends is an honest, heart-wrenching tale of a friendship from first meeting to breakup. Told through alternating points of view, it is about two best friends’ tumultuous sophomore year of bullying, boys and backstabbing and what can happen when friends choose assumptions and fear over each other.
Despite the description not giving away too much about the novel, I can tell this YA Contemporary is going to keep it real… I love this genre because there are times you can dive into a contemporary to simply escape, fall in love, or what I assume in this case will be to remind yourself how tough life can be in high school. I'm really looking forward to How It Ends by Catherine Lo. The topical subject coupled with the great early ratings have me believing it might end up at the top of my bookshelf. 

Sooo…. what book are you waiting on?

Blog Tour: Star Wars: Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

Today on WinterHaven Books I am joining in the blog tour for Claudia Gray's new novel Lost Stars hosted by Irish Banana Tours!  For my part of the tour I am casting who I think would rock the Star Wars universe!

Luke Skywalker would be played by Taran Matharu.  To me he Taran fits perfectly.  He's got that young look about him and I bet he would definitely look pretty cute in his Jedi robes!
Taran Matharu

Princess Leia was a tough one because there are so many beautiful and talented authors out there!  I ended up choosing Morgan Rhodes because in her fantasy series she is fearless so I think she could totally play Leia who is herself pretty fearless.
Morgan Rhodes

Han Solo I mean do I even have to give an intro for this one??
Pierce Brown
Pierce Brown

Obi-Wan Kenobi was another easy one for me.  I am going with John Green because he's been around the YAsphere for a long time and has tons of knowledge which is just what this character has.
John Green

Yoda was a fun one for me. I ended up going with Jay Kristoff because I think he would totally rock the Yoda. Plus his characters know how to kick ass with a sword just like Yoda.
Jay Kristoff

Darth Vader!  I always love my villains and this author writes the perfect villain so I think they could definitely pull off old Darth.  Plus his books always give me chills because his books are so creepy and a good Darth Vader needs to be able to give his minions chills!
Neal Shusterman

Well that's it what do you think?!  I had so much fun with this and I would love to know who you think should play these popular characters!

Lost Stars (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens)Star Wars meets Romeo and Juliet in this epic YA novel that follows two best friends who find themselves on opposite sides of the war between the Empire and the Rebellion.

This thrilling YA novel gives readers a macro view of some of the most important events in the Star Wars universe: from the purge of the Jedi in Episode III, to the beginnings of the rebellion in Star Wars Rebels, and through the fall of the Empire in Episodes IV-IV. Readers will experience these major moments through the eyes of two best friends who grow up in these troubling times, and find themselves on opposite sides of the war.

As with other Journey to Episode VII titles, hints about the upcoming film will be included in the narrative, as well a original, post-Episode VI content that sets up the new film.

DUAL NARRATIVE: Chapters alternate perspectives between our two protagonists – one a Rebel pilot, the other an Imperial officer. By exploring these two different worlds, readers will experience many of the major moments in the original Star Wars trilogy – from the destruction of the Death Star to the battle of Hoth – through these two characters' eyes.

Claudia Gray is not my real name. I didn't choose a pseudonym because my real name is unpleasant (it isn't), because I'd always dreamed of calling myself this (I haven't) or even because I'm hiding from the remnants of that international diamond-smuggling cartel I smashed in 2003 (Interpol has taken care of them). In short, I took a pseudonym for no real reason whatsoever. Sometimes this is actually the best reason to do things.

I live in New Orleans. So far, in life, I've been a disc jockey, a lawyer, a journalist and an extremely bad waitress, just to name a few. I especially like to spend time traveling, hiking, reading and listening to music. More than anything else, I enjoy writing.

Tour Schedule:
11/15: No BS Book Reviews - Cover Lovin'
11/16: YA Bibliophile - Amazing Gifts for Star Wars Fans
11/17: Winterhaven Books - Author Casting of Star Wars Movie
11/18: Mundie Moms - Top 10 Reasons Why Fans Should Read LOST STARS
11/19: Gone Pecan - Star Wars Inspired Makeup
11/20: Please Feed the Bookworm - Star Wars Mood Board
11/21: Stuck In Books - Q&A

A Disney Star Wars prize pack! (US Only)