Best Books I Read In: February (and you should too!)

Best Books list for February! I read a lot this month, but didn’t find as many gems.

thicker than water coverThis was a ’16 debut I was highly anticipating, and I’m pleased to say it floored me. The writing was beautiful and dealt with so many things like grief and guilt and denial. Plus complicated family and sibling relationships that leapt off the page. I’m always impressed with non-linear stories that pull it off, just like this book did. We jump back and forth between Cecelia becoming a dealer and her dealing days to the present where she’s in the midst of a trial for her brother’s death and in treatment. A wonderful, well-executed novel for sure!

Amazon || B&N || Goodreads

 

 

 

symptoms coverI did not expect to love this book as much as I did. I was a little iffy on the voice for the first few chapters because there were some awkward sentences and cliche phrases, but thankfully that didn’t become an issue. Riley’s voice was beautiful, rich, and humorous. I was also concerned this would become a preachy book on the woes of social media, but it wasn’t that, either. Instead this was a complexly drawn (is that a thing?) novel about identity, and I adored it. Riley is gender-fluid, an orientation I’m ashamed to admit I don’t know a lot about. Riley deals with bullying, anxiety, family drama, and a growing internet presence Riley’s not sure how to handle. And through it all this novel never feels dark or like an “issue” book, as they are sometimes called. It’s just a really well told story that touches on timely subjects.

Amazon || B&N || Goodreads

Have you read either of these books? What did you think? What are your favorite recent reads?

Happy Book Birthday, REBEL OF THE SANDS!

downton abbey happy dance feels freaking out

rebel of the sands cover

real life or fantasy

REBEL OF THE SANDS is a special book to me. I love it the way people love the Harry Potter books or Tolkein or Narnia. It was the first fantasy I read that said everything I needed it to, that was everything I needed it to be.

Amani, thank you for being rebellious and selfish and so unabashedly yourself. Thank you for being a feminist. Thank you for kicking major ass. Thank you for the sass. Thank you for feeling lost. Thank you for losing your way. Thank you for finding your way.

Jin, thank you for your perfect face (and chest). Thank you for being a feminist (swoon). Thank you for your loyalty. Thank you for your traitor eyes. Thank you for your devotion–which I guess could be loyalty, but don’t ruin this with logic. Thank you for your Jin-ness which I’m just realizing I don’t really know how to explain without divulging the entire plot.

Shira, thank you for being so unabashedly yourself, no matter how insufferable you can be.  *Shira-stan flag flies*

Shazad, thank you for your epic-nose breaking-badassness. Thank you for taking risks and fighting for what you believe in.

Ahmed, thank you for your ideals. Thank you for your belief in the people you love. Thank you for the rebellion.

Delila, Imin, Bahi, *smothers you all in hugs*

These characters are as precious to me as the Golden Trio or the Fellowship. This world is as beautiful as Hogwarts and Middle Earth, with myths and fairy tales weaved into the narrative and brimming with magic on every page.

The happiest of book birthdays to you, REBEL OF THE SANDS, and my friend, Alwyn Hamilton. You have crafted a magnificent story I have read over and over again with the same levels of enthusiasm each time, and I expect many readers will feel the same.


~ABOUT THE BOOK~

rebel of the sands coverTitle: REBEL OF THE SANDS
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Pub Date: March 8, 2016 from Viking Books for Young Readers/Penguin/Faber + Faber
Amazon: Buy it!
B&N: Buy it!
Waterstones: Buy it!
Book Depository: Buy it!
Goodreads: Add it to your shelves 
or borrow it from your local library 🙂

Find Alwyn on tour around the US with other Penguin authors!

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him…or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

 

The Tsar’s Guard: THE CROWN’S GAME Soundtrack + Giveaway

Hello and welcome to The Tsar’s Guard Parade!

The Tsar’s Guard are a legion of readers who are super excited for the release of The Crown’s Game. Read on for more info about this amazing book, take a listen to some beautiful instrumentals that remind me of the story, and enter the giveaway! Oh, and if you want to join The Tsar’s Guard, all the info is on Evelyn’s website (linked below!) and you should cause it’s awesome (secret emails!).

CrownsGame hc cAbout the Book:

Title: THE CROWN’S GAME
Author: Evelyn Skye
Release Date: May 17, 2016
Pages: 416
Publisher: Balzer+Bray
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear . . . the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

About Evelyn:
Evelyn Skye head shot high res

Evelyn Skye was once offered a job by the C.I.A., she not-so-secretly wishes she was on “So You Think You Can Dance,” and if you challenge her to a pizza-eating contest, she guarantees she will win. When she isn’t writing, Evelyn can be found chasing her daughter on the playground or sitting on the couch, immersed in a good book and eating way too many cookies. THE CROWN’S GAME is her first novel. Evelyn can be found online at http://www.evelynskye.com and on Twitter @EvelynSkyeYA.

Website | Twitter |Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr | Instagram


 

~The Crown’s Game Soundtrack~

russia tsar's guard russia.jpg

russia tsar's guard russia 2

*Picture this: Dueling magicians whose arena are the streets you take to school and to work, the bridge in the park you walk on a romantic evening stroll with your love, on a mysterious island that appears out of nowhere…

tsar's guard magician

*Picture this: A young girl leaves her village and journeys to the big city with only a token from her loving father. She is alone. She has a mission. She is powerful. And she will not lose.

lightning tsar's guardrussia magic wave tsar's guard

*Picture this: A boy sees a girl battle lightning. This boy soon realizes their fates are entwined in The Crown’s Game. The Crown’s Game can only have one victor.

tsar's guard russia 3.jpg

*Picture this: A young prince is trapped by duty and responsibility. His sister is more suited to the life planned for him. His mother is ill and his father hides dangerous secrets. He longs for a girl he saw best lightning, but destiny is a hard thing to escape.

tsar's guard ball.jpeg

*Picture this: At a masked ball, a prince can finally meet the lightning girl he’s been longing for. Two dueling magicians can finally share a dance.

russia tsar's guard magician 2russian tsar's guard 4

*Picture this: Two young magicians enter a game that can only have one victor. Two young magicians are intrigued by each other anyway.

russia fantasy tsar's guardjpg

*Picture this: A final showdown on a magical island that two magicians have made for each other. 

russia 5 tsar's guard

*Picture this: Two young magicians keep their promise to the Crown’s Game, and a young prince faces his destiny.

russia tsar's guard 6

fallen_crowntsar's guard


Enter the Giveaway! 

1 winner will receive an ARC of THE CROWN’S GAME. International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

^^^ clicky 🙂
Here’s an image I really loved but wasn’t sure where to use.russia winter tsar's guard


 

tsar's guard banner

Find the complete Tsar’s Guard Parade Schedule at Evelyn Skye’s website!

ARC Review: THE DARKEST CORNERS by Kara Thomas

Holy shit, guys. I don’t even think this is going to be a review, but more like a deluge of feels.

darkest corners cover.jpgTitle: THE DARKEST CORNERS
Author: Kara Thomas
Pub Date: April 19, 2016 from Penguin Random House–Delacorte
B&N: Pre-order it
Amazon: Pre-order it
Goodreads: ADD IT NOW
Launch event at Books of Wonder on April 19!!!!

For fans of Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places and Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars, The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.
Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.
Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

Thanks to Netgalley for granting me an e-arc.

Firstly, this book is some Courtney Summers level of feels. I was not prepared, nor was I expecting to fall in love with this book. I read the Prep School Confidential series, and thought it was just fine. It didn’t blow me away or anything, so I didn’t particularly have high hopes for this book. Then it got me. It just grabbed me right from the beginning.

This is a story of friendship, a broken friendship, where two girls are ripped apart by a single event and then brought back together because of that event. Tessa and Callie’s relationship is the heart of this book. The other heart is the relationship between Tessa, her sister, and mother. For a book all about violence towards women and the violence women do, this book had beautiful, fleshed out female relationships that never made the violence feel gratuitous or scintillating. This is a book about horrible things happening to women, and also about women living and breathing and making choices.

I could tell you I love Tessa and all the complexities that went into the choices she made as a kid and as a teenager. I could tell you I love how big this world was, full of all kinds of people that played major and minor roles in the mystery. I could tell you this is a story of how the world treats and values girls and women, but these would all just be massive understatements.

This would be one also: I absolutely love this book.

THE DARKEST CORNERS is a story about the people you thought you knew and all the ways you can never truly know someone. Gorgeous writing, tightly plotted, and rich characters make this a standout novel and one of my favorites.  

Cover Thoughts
secrets mouth full of colin
Does she not look like she has lots of SECRETS???

Favorite Quotes [from an ARC so check the final print version]
“The only reason they listened to our story as kids was because they needed it. No was ever really listening to us at all.”

“Nice girls are always the ones who get hurt. It’s like the universe gets some sort of perverse pleasure out of taking out the nice girls one by one, while the whole world watches and gets some perverse pleasure from mourning the loss of yet another nice girl.”

“Then the rest of the world forgot about Fayette, Pennsylvania, and all its dead girls.”

dead-from-the-feels1

Favorite Character
Tessa!!
this is insanity

ps I’ve literally just finished this book and am so far into my book hangover that I can’t do anything else but think about this book and want to yell at everyone about it.

Are you excited for THE DARKEST CORNERS?

ARC Review: INTO THE DIM by Janet B. Taylor

Check out what I thought about INTO THE DIM, which was pitched as a YA Outlander!

into the dim coverTitle: INTO THE DIM
Author: Janet B. Taylor
Pub Date: March 1, 2016 from HMH Books for Young Readers
Amazon: Pre-order!
B&N: Pre-order!
Goodreads: Add it to your shelves

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing. Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail, Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens.

Brittany recommended this book to me, so I was super stoked when Edelweiss granted me an e-arc.

Let’s do this review in list form!

The Bad

ugh hook ouat once

*Ummm… the slut shaming was so painful. Cut that shit out.

Examples:
“The redneck boys where I was from preferred girls like my cheerleader cousins. Size two. Blond. Busty. Brainless.”
First of all, stop perpetuating shameful and mean myths about cheerleaders. And blonds. And people who are slim or have big boobs. And also, do size 2 girls have big boobs? Wouldn’t that cause massive back strain?

“But then again, I’m not one of those slutty St. Sebastian girls.”
Umm… Hope, you just got to Scotland. You don’t even know anyone from St. Sebastian. And even if you did, rude and unnecessary.

There was also some ageism thrown in there (“How can someone so old move like that?” “Though you look pretty good for an old gal, I must say.”). It just really made for an unpleasant reading experience whenever it would appear.

*Historical inaccuracies. Rachel, a prominent Jewish character, tells Hope that her family came to England after her people were forced out of France. I was confused by this since in my Intro to Medieval History class we learned that Jews were not expelled from France until the 1300s. Furthermore, the first country to expel Jews was England (in the 1200s) (This book takes place in 1154). I did a little poking around online and found that Philip Augustus of France did expel Jews from his properties in 1182, but that’s still 30 years in the future.

*What makes this inaccuracy more uncomfortable is that Taylor’s England is super Anti-Semitic, which was just as painful to read as the slut shaming and ageism.

Examples:
“It sickens me that our king would allow a Jew to even enter his palace, much less tend to his queen.”
“…wondered what a Jewess had between her legs.”

“Until the Godless Jews are scourged from this land, decent Christian folk are not safe.”
“It’s a Jewess.” She snarled on the last word.
“How is it that you consort with our Hebrew brethren–” his lip curled at that–

It just feels super weird to embrace the anti-semitism, but not accurately reflect the Jewish experience in terms of expulsion. Unless I missed something in my digging and by the 1150s, Jews had been forced out of France. It is true that Henry II treated the Jews better than other monarchs, so in that regard Into the Dim is correct.

*The first third of the book is so slow! I thought there was a lot of stuff that could have been cut to move the plot along faster. Basically Hope gets to the manor and does a lot of wandering around, meets a boy, learns and trains for the trip back in time, there’s a super long flashback/diary entry that I skimmed…

*Speaking of backstory, the one with Hope/Bran takes a long time until she remembers/learns about it, and I found that so annoying. There were so many places she could have pushed him for more information, and she doesn’t. It felt like it was drawn out just for plot’s sake. Later she just hears a name and has an epic flashback which is oh so convenient (which goes along with another point below about not having to work for anything). Along with Hope being slow just for plot, in the midst of a dire escape while one of the main characters is dying, she just stops for a make out session, which screamed of ridiculousness to me. Yes, I was swooning, but um STAKES. You can make out when you get home and find penicillin.

*There was nothing really special about this book that made it stand out from any other YA fantasy. Special snowflake MC who is pretty but doesn’t know it, with 2 guys who are total opposites and mad about her. Sometimes I can overlook these things if they’re done well or with a twist, or something about the writing really grabs me, but not in this case.

*The MC and her friends didn’t have to work for anything. All the historical figures/adults in 1154 are already on someone’s side because they’ve had interaction with the rival time traveling families before. It really took all the anticipation away because the ‘bad guy’ was obviously in league with the bad time travelers and vice versa. I didn’t feel any stakes since everything was pretty much handed to them.

The Good

asfdgh emma

*Bran!! Swoony, funny, adorable Bran.
*Pretty epic backstory between Bran and Hope. I really liked it.
*Doug and Phoebe were SO cute!
*So were Rachel and William!
*Gosh just all the romance in this book!
*Hope being a boss and burning iron bars.
*Calling Collum on his hypocrisy. Great to see self-aware characters!

INTO THE DIM has all the romance of Outlander, but the slut shaming and lack of stakes hurt my overall enjoyment of the novel. 

Cover Thoughts
the royals eleanor bored annoyed eh

Favorite Quote (all quotes from an ARC! Not final.)
“William was cute in a medieval boy-next-door way…”

cutie alert agent carter

Favorite Character
Bran…

oh my god josh hutcherson

Waiting on Wednesday: THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN by Roshani Chokski

I’m so excited about this YA Fantasy!

Waiting on Wednesday Theme: OMG I WANT THIS BOOK NOW

treat yo self parks

the star touched queen coverTitle: The Star-Touched Queen
Author: Roshani Chokski
Pub Date: May 3, 2016 from St. Martin’s Press
Amazon: I’VE ALREADY DONE IT NOW YOU PREORDER TOO
B&N: OR HERE
Goodreads: Your shelves NEED this book

Cursed with a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, sixteen-year-old Maya has only earned the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her world is upheaved when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. But when her wedding takes a fatal turn, Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Yet neither roles are what she expected. As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds friendship and warmth.

But Akaran has its own secrets – thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Beneath Akaran’s magic, Maya begins to suspect her life is in danger. When she ignores Amar’s plea for patience, her discoveries put more than new love at risk – it threatens the balance of all realms, human and Otherworldly.

Now, Maya must confront a secret that spans reincarnated lives and fight her way through the dangerous underbelly of the Otherworld if she wants to protect the people she loves.

The Star-Touched Queen is a lush, beautifully written and vividly imagined fantasy inspired by Indian mythology.

Truth time: I’ve been looking forward to this book since Roshani announced she signed with her agent on Querytracker with a YA Indian Inspired fantasy. I followed her on Twitter right after that and was SO stoked when the deal announcement came. THIS BOOK. I haven’t read it so this is just hypothetical flailing about how amazing I expect it to be.

brb singing about my feelings

I love fantasy, I’m Indian, I’m all for girls finding their voice and power, I love romance, I love secrets, and lush world building, and pretty words, and I kinda love the ‘forced relationship to love’ trope. So I’m convinced this book is made for me.

PLUS THAT COVER. Mega swoon. That has to be one of the most perfect covers ever.

Are you excited for THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN? The only acceptable answer is ‘gcujksvdfghb YES.’

ARC Review: MAP OF FATES (Conspiracy of Us #2) by Maggie Hall

Check out what I thought of the second book in the high stakes CONSPIRACY OF US series!

map of fates coverTitle: Map of Fates
Author: Maggie Hall
Pub Date: March 8, 2016 from Putnam Juvenile
Amazon: Pre-order!!
B&N: Pre-order!!
Goodreads: Add it to your shelves

Two weeks.

That’s how long it took for Avery West’s ordinary life to change forever. In two weeks, she discovered she was heiress to a powerful secret society known as the Circle, learned her mother was taken hostage by the Circle’s enemies, and fell for a boy she’s not allowed to love, just as she found out another was her unwelcome destiny.

Now Avery crosses oceans in private jets to hunt for clues that will uncover the truth about the Circle, setting her mom and herself free before it’s too late. By her side are both the boys: Jack—steady, loyal, and determined to help her even at the expense of his own duty—and Stellan, whose connection to Avery grows stronger by the day, making her question what she believes at every turn.

But at the end of a desperate hunt from the islands of Greece to the red carpet at Cannes comes a discovery that not only changes everything, but could bring the whole world to its knees. And now Avery is forced to face the truth: In the world of the Circle, no one is what they seem.

Thanks to Dahlia Adler for her epic #MapofMates ARC giveaway!

I LOVED MAP OF FATES SO MUCH! I had high expectations for it since I loved book one so much, and it did not disappoint. It was one of my most anticipated sequels, as you know, since I did a Waiting on Wednesday post for it. I’m happy to report the plot did not unfurl the way I expected it to, and that was totally fine.

Here’s some backstory for you about me. When I read The Conspiracy of Us, I was intrigued by that beautiful cover, and the comp title to Ally Carter, who basically made my middle and high school reading life. I was obsessed with Gallagher Girls and Heist Society. Those books were some of my favorites. The last Gallagher Girls book came out my freshman year of college and it was so surreal for me to have started this series pre-high school and be reading the last book as a freshman in college. Anyway! I started Conspiracy of Us, got hooked on page one, but then Avery made some questionable decisions and the plot kind of descended into cliche territory. I kept with it, hoping the magic of page 1 would return, and once Prada happened–around the 80pg mark–I was totally back on board and in it to the end.

With Map of Fates, I was in it from page 1. This book grabbed me and did not stop. Avery had such great growth and dimension to her. I loved seeing new sides to her and seeing how all the madness was affecting her.

map of fates

In Conspiracy I shipped both sides of the love triangle, leaning a little more to Jack, but still open to Stellan. The second installment brought more shipping, and I think I’ve landed firmly in Stellan-land. Oh my gosh. Stellan. He just shines in this book. So there’s one specific scene that just had me dying and someone else might be dying in it too, but I shipped it so hard even though it maybe the most unsexy scene ever. Oh, wait, but then there’s another one with a head injury… and another with alcohol and bar stools. Ah! I just love it ALL.

On the Jack front, his character develops too, but it never feels like we’re learning these things about him to make us ship Avery/Stellan. It feels organic to his character, like we’re peeling back his layers. I just love really good character development.

Luc!! Elodie!! My babies! I love them. When we see Luc for the first time in this book is one of my absolute favorite moments of any book ever. I was laughing so hard I needed to snap a picture of the scene.

Clearly I love the main characters of this series dearly, but I also love the writing. It’s so readable and evocative. All the different countries are well drawn and even the other families of the Circle come to life in their own ways. Map of Fates delves deeper into the twelve bloodlines and I never got bored reading those scenes, like I was waiting until Avery joined up with her friends. I loved meeting all the characters and their worlds.

What about stakes, you ask?? Oh, well let me tell you. The stakes get bigger. Order vs Circle is not so clearly defined anymore and the consequences are far reaching. I mean, they always have been since the Circle basically controls the world, but they feel very grounded in this book.

There was one plot point that happens towards the end that felt a tad sudden. It didn’t have the emotional impact on me it should have because I found it rushed. But it’s a minor issue to me and I suspect it will have an effect on Avery in book 3, so maybe there will be more chance for development there.

The Conspiracy of Us and Map of Fates are super fun novels that define escapism. They’re such a joy to read, packed with excitement, adventure, and scorching romance. I’m so excited for book 3, but sad it’ll be the end of such a wonderful trilogy. I can’t recommend this series more highly! This is something I’ll definitely reread. And they’d make such great movies! Where are you, Hollywood?????

ps These books look great next to cats.

map of fates cat

Cover Thoughts
Think pink!!

Favorite Quote
Look, I want to share with you all the things that made me laugh and/or swoon, but you just need to experience it yourselves. Sorry not sorry.
peter-pan-sorry-not-sorry

Favorite Character
ALL OF THEM. I WILL CUDDLE THEM ALL.
my-babies belle ouat

Best Books I Read in: January (and You Should Too)!

Sorry I left you guys waiting for this month’s list a couple extra days longer. I got distracted with snow and school and watching The Royals.

So in January I read a whooping 16 books! That must be an all-time best. I wanted to read as much as I could before the semester started–though I still read a fair amount the last two weeks of January, balanced with school work. Let’s get started!

love actually dancing

Short version here!
-WOLF BY WOLF by Ryan Graudin [asfghjkl masterpiece]
-MAP OF FATES by Maggie Hall [swoon]
-KILL THE BOY BAND by Goldy Moldavsky [this book is effed up]
-EVERY LAST WORD by Tamara Ireland Stone [cute! poetry! yay!]
-THE ANATOMY OF CURIOSITY by Maggie Stiefvater, Brenna Yovanoff, and Tessa Gratton [yessssss]

Longer/cooler version here!

wolf by wolf

OH MY GOD THIS BOOK. I love it SO much. I read it in a day because I just could not stop. I don’t think I’ve ever really read an alternate history book, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was also wary of the subject matter since we’ve had a crop of Nazi Romance Book scandals in the last several months + last semester I took a class on Genocide, so the material was close to my heart. But this. book. was. incredible. Yael is such an amazing MC–she’s been through so much shit, but she still has so much heart, and it’s beautiful. The plot is nonstop and the writing broke me. Like, I had so many feels, it was disgusting [evidence below].

Amazon || B&N || Goodreads

map of fates cover.

The Conspiracy of Us was one of my favorite books of last year. I loved the characters and was totally hooked. I was so excited to win an ARC so I could read it and sate my fangirlsh needs! But who was I kidding, this book just made me need book 3! Again, spot on characters, humor, and sass. And swoony guys that actually made me CHANGE SHIPS. This has NEVER happened to me before. But as much as I love Jack Stellan, I’m here for Avery and her character growth and unraveling all the mysteries of this twisty tale. Okay, and Stellan. Full review coming soon!

Amazon || B&N || Goodreads

.
anatomy of curiousity cover.

I’ve never really read short story collections before, but I’ve been in a writing slump recently, so I wanted to check this out since it’s a book for writers and readers. And oh man, I’m so glad I did! These stories and the writing tips/insights/notes  were incredible. The stories themselves were super interesting. I was hooked on two of them and found the other interesting but it just didn’t grab me, though the author notes were still invaluable. If you’re a fan of one or more of these authors or enjoy fantasy and richly woven stories, def check this out!

Amazon || B&N || Goodreads

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kill the boyband cover.

I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH! I don’t even know how to talk about it and I want to review it, but you see how not knowing how to talk about this book could pose a problem. Just… just… I don’t even know. This magical book is somehow real. It has messy characters, insane situations, satire, a twisty plot, and GIRLS AND THEIR POWER AND FEELS. I’ll try to be coherent about this book some other time.

Amazon || B&N || Goodreads

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.every last word cover

The poetry in this book is beautiful! I thought it was also interesting to see a different manifestation of OCD that had more to do with invasive thoughts than the more well known neurotic tendencies. Even though this book deals with a heavy subject, it was a fluffy easy read with fun characters and a cute ship.

Amazon || B&N || Goodreads

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What are the best books you’ve read recently? Have you read any of these?

 

Waiting on Wednesday: SCARLETT EPSTEIN HATES IT HERE by Anna Breslaw

I’m so excited to talk about this booK!

Waiting on Wednesday Theme: Nerdy Book of My Heart

vanessa excitement

Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here coverTitle: Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here
Author: Anna Breslaw
Pub Date: April 19, 2016 from Razorbill/Penguin Random House
Amazon: Pre-order it here!
B&N: or here!
Goodreads: Add it to your shelves!

Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her pot-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.

When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. Scarlett never considers what might happen if they were to find out what she truly thinks about them…until a dramatic series of events exposes a very different reality than Scarlett’s stories, forever transforming her approach to relationships—both online and off.

I feel like I might have talked about my love for all things fangirly in my Waiting On post for Gena/Finn. Regardless, if you could not tell by now, I love fandom. I started writing through fanfiction, so stories about fanfic are always close to my heart.

I’m really intrigued to see how the fanfiction world will mesh with her ‘real’ life. The pitch just kind of hits everything need I need it to–except ‘annoyingly attractive’ best friend because why do we hardly have YA friendships where the MC does not feel overshadowed by her prettier friend? Hopefully that’s just the pitch being misleading and the actual book won’t disappoint me.

Are you excited for SCARLETT EPSTEIN HATES IT HERE?

Author Interview + Giveaway: Nicole Castroman of BLACKHEARTS

Today I’m so stoked to bring to you an interview with the fabulous Nicole castroman. She’s the author of your new favorite Blackbeard origin story BLACKHEARts.

ABOUT THE BOOK

blackhearts

Amazon || B&N || Book Depository || Goodreads

 

You may recall this feelsy review swooning for my new favorite novel, BLACKHEARTS. I was so enamored with it that I was jotting down questions immediately after finishing (I was inspired!) before I realized that interviews are an actual thing that exist and that I could find Nicole’s website and get in touch with her. And thus, this happened!

 

 

Read on for Nicole’s thoughts on Blackbeard, writing, and what Anne and Teach’s favorite TV show would be!


 

THE INTERVIEW

  • What did you know about Blackbeard before writing your novel and what was the most interesting thing you learned during/after your research?

The only thing I knew about Blackbeard before writing my story was that he was a notorious pirate. I think one of the most interesting things I learned after doing my research was that he wasn’t as harsh and brutal as many people believe. Was he a good guy? No. But there were much more sadistic and crueler pirates out there. It was said that Blackbeard was quite engaging and almost agreeable to those who did as he asked. He preferred not to use force to get what he wanted. Instead he created his demonic appearance in the hope that people would automatically capitulate or give in to his wishes.

  • What was the first pirate story you heard, movie you saw, or fact you learned that made you go, “YES PIRATES!”?

When I heard that Blackbeard had held the entire city of Charleston, SC hostage, I was hooked. He didn’t ask for money. His only demand was for medication. He could have had anything, but that was all he asked for. Because of this, I wanted to know more about Blackbeard and where he came from.

sokka spend my vacation at the library atla

  • What was the hardest part of the writing process? How was writing two distinct POVs? Were there things you wanted to have your characters do or words you wanted to use but couldn’t, due to the time period?

The hardest part of the writing process for me was to try to stay historically accurate, at least as far as the voice is concerned. If I read a historical novel, I want it to sound historical. Nothing would have bothered me more than to write a modern voice set in 1697 England. Language has evolved over the centuries. Diction, pronunciation, articulation, and delivery can all change. The way my kids speak now is different from how my parents spoke when they were young. I wanted my story to sound authentic, without making it sound too old fashioned. It needed to flow, but still appeal to a modern teen. My 16yo daughter was a big help in this regard.

  • I especially love the moment Anne realizes the double standards between women of lower and upper classes, and how she—as a lower class woman—may have more freedom than someone like Miss Patience. Freedom is a major theme of the story. Do you think Anne, Teach, and Patience would be different people if they had the freedom they wanted?

Oh, good question. If Patience was a maid, it would be interesting to see if she’d act any differently. Somehow, I still get the feeling she’d feel superior to others. She’d most likely boss the other maids about.

winning try it regina ouat

I think if both Anne and Teach had the freedom they wanted, they’d be able to accomplish amazing things. It’s all about the choices they would make, and what they’d do with their freedom.

  • I loved the duality to Miss Patience. Do you see Anne and Miss Patience as character foils? Did you always set out to frame them that way, or did it develop as you were writing and revising?

I definitely set Anne and Miss Patience as character foils. Anne is supposedly inferior, at least according to Patience, but Anne’s character and strength are far greater. I actually tried to make Miss Patience more appealing, but I couldn’t find one redeeming quality about her. She’s bigoted and cruel and it’s just like Mary and Sara say. She might be pretty on the outside, but she’s ugly on the inside and it shows.

austenland done

  • Teach and his father have a very tense and complicated relationship, and I loved getting to see that through both Teach’s perspective and Anne’s. But the whole novel had interesting and complicated character dynamics like Anne/Teach, Anne/Mr. Drummond, Patience/her mother. Did you have a favorite to write? Or one that was the hardest?

I loved writing all of their character dynamics. Nobody is perfect and I wanted each character to have some flaws. I enjoy a story that challenges the reader and makes them question whether they like a character or not.

  • Blackhearts read like a Victorian novel to me. Who are your favorite couples from classic literature? What are your favorite classic lit novels?

One of my favorite couples is definitely Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. I love Pride and Prejudice.

darcy and lizzie pride and prejudice

I’m also a fan of Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara. I might have teared up a bit when my family and I went to the Margaret Mitchell house in downtown Atlanta. That’s where Margaret Mitchell wrote part of the book.

gone with the wind i love you well that's your misfortune

Another novel that some people might not know about is THESE IS MY WORDS by Nancy E. Turner. Sarah Agnes Prine and Captain Jack Elliot belong together as much as the previous two couples I mentioned. I have a soft spot for epic love stories. 🙂

  • Do you think women’s clothes should have more pockets?

I definitely think women’s clothes should have more pockets. 🙂

  • If Anne, Teach, and supporting crew of Blackhearts were in our world, what do you think their favorite TV shows would be?

I think they’d be big fans of Poldark. Anne might like Shark Tank. It’s a show about people going after their dreams. Teach might enjoy Shark Week.

poldark

  • Can you tease your next project?

I hope to be able to give you an answer to this question in the near future.

ill-just-wait-here-titanic-jack


ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

I’m hosting a preorder giveaway for a copy of BLACKHEARTS. All you have to do is follow me on Twitter and retweet THIS tweet (also embedded below) and you’ll be entered to win. Contest ends on Sunday 2/7 and is open international as long as Book Depository ships to you. May the odds be ever in your favor 😉


MEET THE AUTHOR

nicole castroman

Nicole was lucky enough to come with her very own best friend…she has a twin sister who can read her mind and finish her sentences for her.

At the age of 13, she went to Europe for the first time and it changed her life. She loves learning about different people, languages and cultures and speaks fluent German. She knows enough Spanish to get herself into trouble and can still read the Cyrillic alphabet from when she studied Russian.

She received her B.A. from Brigham Young University and has lived in Germany, Austria and two different places called Georgia. One is the country located on the Black Sea. The other is the state of Georgia where she now lives with her handsome husband and two beautiful children who continue to amaze her.
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