Sunday, August 24, 2014

Grad School, Earthquakes, & A Short Blogging Break

Hey everyone! 

I began grad school this week, so I'm finding myself a bit swamped as I try to adjust to my schedule  and work load (I have so much reading to do, it's crazy). My classes are so small compared to what I'm normally used to, and the reading assignments are a bit more time consuming. But, I'm excited for the semester! 

In other news, this morning some areas of California were rocked by a 6.1 earthquake. I woke around 3:20ish in the morning to the world shaking wildly, books flying off my bookshelf and book tower, and it was a pretty startling way to start today. It even knocked out the power in my area for about five hours. I honestly can't remember the last time I felt an earthquake shaking my house as strongly as this one did. Luckily, the only damage was hardly worth noticing - some fallen books, a bit of broken glass, and nothing more. My thoughts are with everyone who had a more intense experience this morning, and I hope they are all okay. 

Considering the busy week and this crazy morning, I think I'll take off a week from blogging. I might still hang around Twitter, but otherwise, I won't be back until next week. 

Hope everyone is doing well and staying safe! Have a great week. 


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Highlights / Lowlights: FURY by Elizabeth Miles

Title: Fury
Author: Elizabeth Miles
Release: August 2011
Series: The Fury #1
Genre: YA paranormal
Publisher: Simon Pulse
POV: 3rd person, dual
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Won from Paper Lantern Lit
Rating: Tea Party
In this chilling start to a trilogy rife with revenge, two teens learn the hard way: Sometimes sorry isn’t enough.

It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But not all is as it seems...

Between cozy traditions and parties with her friends, Emily loves the holidays. And this year’s even better—the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But Em knows if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend.

On the other side of town, Chase is having problems of his own. The stress of his home life is starting to take its toll, and his social life is unraveling. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel...something the perfect guy he pretends to be would never do. And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.

In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—are here to choose who will pay. Em and Chase have been chosen.

Highlights: Miles pushes the Gothic elements in Fury enough to put readers into an uneasy mood and to give the story a rich, descriptive vibe. Fury is a delight to read, in a twisted sort of way. The Gothic elements added the right touch of eeriness to the story, and caused Fury to become a difficult novel to set aside. It was especially fascinating to read a novel where both main characters - Em and Chase - are utterly unlikable characters who make terrible decisions and then try to deal with the consequences. This is an easy story to lose yourself in for a few hours, which was exactly what I needed.

Lowlights: There's too much focus on social drama, appearances, and not enough on the Furies themselves. I wish the Fury mythology had been included more (as well as more of the Furies in general), but perhaps Miles will delve deeper into that in the next novel.

Rating: Tea Party (very high 3 out of 5). I genuinely liked Fury, enough that I want a copy in the palace even if it doesn't earn a spot in the royal library. It's a likable story, with some issues, but it proved itself to be highly entertaining.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (151): ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

WOW is hosted by Breaking the Spine

January 6th, 2015 from Knopf

The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this compelling, exhilarating, and beautiful story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it's unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the "natural wonders" of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It's only with Violet that Finch can be himself-a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who's not such a freak after all. And it's only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet's world grows, Finch's begins to shrink.

Sounds like a different story, and a bit intense. Very curious about this book!

Monday, August 18, 2014


Title: Everybody Sees the Ants
Author: AS King (@AS_King)
Published: January 2011
Series: N/A
Genre: YA contemporary (?)
Pages: 280
POV: 1st person, male
Publisher: Litte, Brown BYR
Format: Paperback; Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Rating: The Royal Library, Top Shelf

Lucky Linderman didn't ask for his life. He didn't ask his grandfather not to come home from the Vietnam War. He didn't ask for a father who never got over it. He didn't ask for a mother who keeps pretending their dysfunctional family is fine. And he didn't ask to be the target of Nader McMillan's relentless bullying, which has finally gone too far.

But Lucky has a secret--one that helps him wade through the mundane torture of his life. In his dreams, Lucky escapes to the war-ridden jungles of Laos--the prison his grandfather couldn't escape--where Lucky can be a real man, an adventurer, and a hero. It's dangerous and wild, and it's a place where his life just might be worth living. But how long can Lucky keep hiding in his dreams before reality forces its way inside?

Michael L. Printz Honor recipient A.S. King's smart, funny and boldly original writing shines in this powerful novel about learning to cope with the shrapnel life throws at you--and taking a stand against it.

Lucky Linderman is anything but lucky and his life is a complicated mess: he's constantly bullied by Nader McMillan, his father wants him to ignore it, his mother wants his father to do something, everyone assumes Lucky wants to die after his suicide questionnaire for school, and Lucky keeps dreaming of saving his MIA grandfather in Laos –  and he's even bringing objects from these odd dreams back with him to the real world. So, in all, his life is odd and challenging, and lately, Lucky's life is only becoming even more complicated. 

This was my first A.S. King novel, and I'm glad I started with this story. There are some books you read, thoroughly enjoy, and find yourself thinking about them long after you finish. Everybody Sees the Ants is one of those books for me. A story both peculiar and familiar, Lucky is a boy many of us can probably relate to at one point or another in our lives. His story is odd, but it delves into areas we all struggle with: bullying, dysfunctional families, appearances, and the list goes on. This is the type of story you can either dive into with a splash or tentatively wade in, slowly soak up the words, and ultimately emerge feeling like you've really read something special. Honest, emotionally gripping, and unusual, Everybody Sees the Ants is a story that took me by surprise, but it was exactly what I needed to read. 

Highlights: This story is smart, and it causes you to question both yourself and the story itself. Is Lucky out of touch with reality, or are his dreams and the every-amusing ants real? From symbolism to themes, this book gives readers so much to consider but doesn't demand anything from readers except their attention. There is a lot to ponder in this novel, if you want to think more deeply, and I enjoyed that aspect very much. Despite the magical realism, this story and Lucky felt genuine and honest. Lucky's mom was a favorite of mine, and I loved how she tried so much to help Lucky. I feel like I can't ever fully explain the highlights of this story –  for me, it's all a highlight. 

Lowlights: Nothing. I loved this book. Lucky's father bothered me, but he's still a realistic, if incredibly frustrating, character. 

Audiobook: I listened to the first part of this novel as an audiobook (checked out from the library, and unfortunately, I did not finish it before my time was up), and loved every bit I managed to hear. Kirby Heyborne brought Lucky to life, and expertly tackled the story with the right tone, ranging from serious to sarcastic. I'll hopefully get the chance to hear the audiobook in its entirety some day in the future. 

Rating: The Royal Library, Top Shelf (5 out of 5). I love Everybody Sees the Ants, so this book is going on the top shelves in the royal library where everyone can see it. I'd highly recommend this book, because it is an incredible story. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (150): I AM HER REVENGE

WOW is hosted by Breaking the Spine

I AM HER REVENGE by Meredith Moore
April 7th, 2015 from Razorbill

She can be anyone you want her to be. Vivian was raised with one purpose in life: to exact revenge on behalf of her mother. Manipulative and cruel, Mother has deprived Vivian not only of a childhood, but of an original identity. With an endless arsenal of enticing personalities at her disposal, Vivian is a veritable weapon of deception.

And she can destroy anyone. When it’s time to strike, she enrolls in a boarding school on the English moors, where she will zero in on her target: sweet and innocent Ben, the son of the man who broke Mother’s heart twenty years ago.

Anyone…except for the woman who created her.With every secret she uncovers, Vivian comes one step closer to learning who she really is. But the more she learns about herself, the more dangerous this cat and mouse game becomes. Because Mother will stop at nothing to make sure the truth dies with her.

SO EXCITED! I've been reading Meredith Moore's blog for quite some time, so I'm incredibly curious about her debut. It sounds intriguing! 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Review: THE LOST by Sarah Beth Durst

Title: The Lost
Author: Sarah Beth Durst (@sarahbethdurst)
Published: May 2014
Series: The Lost #1
Genre: Fantasy
POV: 1st person
Pages: 352
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher & later purchased
Rating: The Royal Library, Top Shelf
It was only meant to be a brief detour. But then Lauren finds herself trapped in a town called Lost on the edge of a desert, filled with things abandoned, broken and thrown away. And when she tries to escape, impassable dust storms and something unexplainable lead her back to Lost again and again. The residents she meets there tell her she's going to have to figure out just what she's missing--and what she's running from--before she can leave. So now Lauren's on a new search for a purpose and a destiny. And maybe, just maybe, she'll be found...

Against the backdrop of this desolate and mystical town, Sarah Beth Durst writes an arresting, fantastical novel of one woman's impossible journey...and her quest to find her fate.

I've always had a strange fascination with things that are lost. We all lose things – our keys, pens, wallets, socks, earrings, and so on. But where do they go? In Durst's first adult novel, she explores a city full of lost items, places, and people. Unsurprisingly, The Lost turned out to be as intriguing a story as I hoped to find. Lauren spends her day driving to get away from problems at home, only to find herself pulling into an odd town called Lost. She quickly finds that leaving will be a challenge when the Missing Man – the only person who can help her find what she's lost – takes one glance at her and leaves. 

The town of Lost is a charming, quirky, and somewhat terrifying place. It is both familiar and bizarre, and inhabited by people from all walks of life. As a narrator, Lauren is a comforting, realistic presence who turns out to have more determination and resourcefulness than one might initially expect from her. With only a light touch of romance, Durst slowly builds the base for what will likely become an interesting relationship between Lauren and Peter. Even though this is an adult novel, older young adult literature fans will also find this story appealing. Peculiar, humorous, and evocative, The Lost is a standout story of the year. 

Highlights: Characterization is wonderful, from the tough yet adorable Claire to the odd yet surprisingly well-read Peter / Finder. Instead of wallowing, Lauren utilizes her strengths, works on her weaknesses, and tries to figure out a way home. The world of the Lost is fascinating, strange, and perfectly described in order to convey it's charm, oddness, and dangers. The romance is very light, sweet, and realistic. Even better, Durst infuses plenty of emotion in with all the entertainment. As a person who knows what it's like to watch someone you love struggle medically to live, Lauren's relationship with her mother really resonated with me. The ending is very bittersweet, and I can't wait to see what happens next. 

Lowlights: I want the sequel now?

Rating: The Royal Library, Top Shelf (5 out of 5). I love this book, so it is going on the top shelves in the royal library where everyone can see it. The Lost is exciting, imaginative, and simply a spectacular story filled with outstanding characters. I'd highly recommend this book, because it is an incredible story.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review: (DON'T YOU) FORGET ABOUT ME by Kate Karyus Quinn

Title: (Don't You) Forget About Me
Author: Kate Karyus Quinn (@KateKaryusQuinn)
Published: June 10th, 2014
Series: N/A
Genre: YA paranormal / mystery
POV: 1st person
Pages: 336
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: e-ARC
Source: Edelweiss
Rating: The Royal Library, Bottom Shelf

Welcome to Gardnerville.

A place where no one gets sick. And no one ever dies.


There’s a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Gardnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they’d kill them.

Four years ago, Skylar’s sister, Piper, was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Since then, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, struggling to forget her past and dull the pain of losing her sister. But the secrets and memories Piper left behind keep taunting Skylar—whispering that the only way to get her sister back is to stop Gardnerville’s murderous cycle once and for all.

Highlights: In Gardnerville, lives are long and healthy. Except, of course, for those who become caught up in the peculiarities and dangers of this unique city....Strange and mysterious, (Don't You) Forget About Me is entrancing. Life in Gardnerville is odd and magical, and I found all the oddities to be fascinating. Just like Skylar, I was thoroughly perplexed regarding exactly what was happening in her life, what her sister was up to, and what secrets this bizarre city holds. Kate Karyus Quinn did not disappoint, and although I did catch on to what was happening, the ending was still a surprise. Skylar's family was nicely written, and the secrets they each hold were fascinating. Each chapter is enticing and peculiar, making this a difficult story to set aside. I'd suggest starting this novel with as little information as possible, because it makes the story all the more intriguing. 

Lowlights: Certain mysteries were easy to solve (I read a lot of mysteries, so I tend to work these things out pretty quickly). There were some moments that were genuinely confusing, too, and I had to backtrack a few paragraphs / pages to understand what was happening.

Rating: The Royal Library, Bottom Shelf (very low 4 out of 5). (Don't You) Forget About Me is great and probably worth purchasing (especially if it's on sale). If I do purchase this story, it only earns a spot on the bottom shelves of the royal library. Despite a couple small issues, I enjoyed it enough to keep it around the palace and read it more than once. If you're in the mood for something unique, intense, and surprising, this book is for you!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (149): THE START OF ME AND YOU

WOW is hosted by Breaking the Spine

March 31st, 2015 from Bloomsbury

Following her pitch-perfect debut Open Road Summer, Emery Lord pens another gorgeous story of best friends, new love, & second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for a year, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamicsThe Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

After falling in love with Emery Lord's OPEN ROAD SUMMER, I'm pretty excited for her next novel! It sounds like it will be wonderful!

What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Interview | Giveaway: Kim "K.A." Harrington + Forget Me

Today I have an interview with K.A. Harrington (aka, Kim Harrington), who was kind enough to answer some questions about her upcoming novel, FORGET ME

1. QUICK! Describe FORGET ME in 7 words or less!

Two names, one face, and a deadly secret.

2. What was the experience like writing FORGET ME in comparison to your previous novels?

This was my first YA thriller with no paranormal or supernatural elements, so I had to keep the suspense high but also completely realistic. I wanted the reader to feel like this could happen to anyone…even them. It was a fun challenge and I loved it!

3. What steps do you take to build tension and mystery? 

I try to keep the pace fast and end each scene in a way that makes you say, “Oh, okay, just one more chapter,” until the book is done. Sometimes that’s with a plot twist, sometimes it’s a character development, but I’m always trying to reel you in further.

4. Do you have any teaser / favorite lines from FORGET ME that you could share?

This is when Morgan and her best friend Toni find the profile of Evan, the boy online who looks exactly like Morgan’s dead boyfriend, Flynn.

The face was Flynn’s face. Those steely gray eyes that were so hard to ignore. The slope of his jaw. The sly, one-sided grin.

But it couldn’t be him. I searched for something sane to grasp on to.

“He’s wearing a baseball hat,” I said quickly. “Flynn never wore hats.”

“He also never said his name was Evan Murphy and he lived in Littlefield. Being an undercover hat lover obviously wasn’t his biggest secret.”

(Morgan and Toni’s friendship is one of my favorite parts of the book!)

5. What essentials do you need in order to write? 

I need quiet. I’ve never been able to write in coffee shops and places like that. I prefer to be alone and surrounded by only the sound of my clicking keyboard. That’s not to say I can only write at home, though. I’ve written many books in a corner of the library!

6. Do you ever write any calling cards (signature characteristics, such as a style of writing, a reoccurring theme / name / symbol, etc) into your stories? 

Great question! No one has ever asked me this before. I have slipped something into all of my books except CLARITY. (I think the character got cut somewhere along the editing process.) But PERCEPTION, THE DEAD AND BURIED, SLEUTH OR DARE, and FORGET ME all contain this secret Easter egg. I’ve been wondering if anyone would pick up on it over the years, but I haven’t gotten one email about it. I’ll give some clues:

– It’s a name. But not one name. The name changes with every book, but the names have something in common.

– It has something to do with an interest of mine. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen me talk about it, especially in the winter.

– You would be more likely to figure it out if you’re from where I’m from.

I’ll leave it at that…

7. What are you working on right now, story-wise? 

A few things, but nothing I can share yet. Fingers crossed that there will be more from me. J

Thanks so much, Kim! I think I have an idea what the calling card might be, but I'll have to wait until I read FORGET ME to be sure....See below for more information on FORGET ME, which releases on August 7th! 

FORGET ME by K.A. Harrington
Putnam/Penguin, August 7, 2014
Two names. One face. A dangerous secret exposed.

Morgan never minded her boyfriend Flynn’s dark and private nature. She found it mysterious and alluring. But now he’s dead, and she can’t move on. She feels much like her dying town, River’s End, with its overgrown amusement park and abandoned houses: once happy…now rotting away.

Hoping for some closure, Morgan uploads her only photo of Flynn to the social media site FriendShare along with a note to say good-bye. But she’s shocked when the facial recognition software suggests she tag him as Evan Murphy. She’s never heard of Evan. A quick search reveals that he lives in a nearby town and looks exactly like Flynn. Same eyes, nose, jawline. Only this boy is very much alive. Digging through layers of secrets, Morgan questions everything she thought she knew about her town, her boyfriend, and even her parents’ involvement in this massive web of lies.

Forget Me is a heart-pounding novel that draws you in and keeps you guessing until the very end.


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Monday, August 4, 2014

Highlights / Lowlights: OPEN ROAD SUMMER

Title: Open Road Summer
Author: Emery Lord (@emerylord)
Published: April 2014
Genre: YA Contemporary
Pages: 352
POV: 1st person
Publisher: Walker
Format: Hardcover
Source: Anna & Bloomsbury
Rating: The Royal Library, Top Shelf
After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own.
Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. 

Highlight: Reagan and Dee. Reagan's a tell-it-like-it-is kind of girl with a messy past and an uncertain future. This summer, she's trying out a less destructive version of herself - one that doesn't touch alcohol and tries to stay out of trouble. I adored her from the start, with her sharp attitude and the way she views little moments of life that other people might otherwise easily ignore. Dee, meanwhile, is sugary sweet, regardless of whether she's just being a normal teenage girl or musician Lilah Montgomery. She's very Taylor Swift-like, bubbly, and easy to adore. But Dee's also brokenhearted, and her life is anything but easy.

Highlight: Matt Finch. Not only is Matt Finch an incredibly endearing guy, he's genuine and sweet. The best thing about Matt Finch isn't his love for Twizzlers or his heartfelt lyrics, but his acceptance of people for who they really are, flaws included. The only time he ever discourages Reagan is when it comes to unhealthy habits, but otherwise, he appreciates her for who she is.

Highlight: Music and other hobbies. Whether's it's Dee's career as songstress Lilah Montgomery or Reagan's passion for photography, Lord ensures her characters have interests and brings them to life. Lyrics from Matth and Dee's songs appear every now and then, and Lord provides detailed descriptions of Reagan's photographs.

Highlight: Friendship, family, and the people who really matter. The relationship between Reagan and Dee is what sells this story. Lord's characterization is top notch, to the point where Reagan and Dee seem like two real-life best friends. And even though they're on a road trip, family is still a priority, and not something that disappears in the pages.

Highlight: Road trips, coming of age, and new beginnings. Open Road Summer is at it's core a book about friendship and realizing what (and who) really matters in life. It's a hell of a road trip for these girls, full of entertaining moments that will leave you giggly madly. But for all the highs, there are lows, and Lord balances these realistically.

Highlight: Candy, silliness, and shenanigans. You can't go wrong with candy and silly moments. 

Lowlight: Not enough lyrics. Okay, I'm actually just being really greedy, because there are quite a lot of lyrics. It would have been cool to see more, though. Reagan's photos would have been awesome, too!

Rating: The Royal Library, Top ShelfOpen Road Summer is the perfect mix between serious and sweet, along with heartfelt and hilarious. The characters are distinctive, the romance is adorable, and the friendship portrayed between Reagan and Dee is what makes this story shine. If you're looking for a great story about friendship, Open Road Summer is the perfect book to check out.

* Banner image by YA Book Queen. Only the fun books inspire me to draw silly / bad cartoons.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Majestic Collection (3)

Discussions / Blog Posts

Sarah Dessen has been sharing Five Fun Facts about her books, and some of them are quite fascinating.

Beth Revis revealed the cover for her upcoming novel, THE BODY ELECTRIC (designed by the talented Icey Books)! 

Jenny of Supernatural Snark shared some fabulous covers she designed for ONE OF THE GUYS and PLAY ON!

Book-to-Film Adaptations

I'm so excited for this film! Hope it lives up to the novel.

Also, IF I STAY seems determined to make everyone cry with the trailers. I have no idea how I will manage to sit in a theater and not sob uncontrollably.

ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES, a novel due to release on January 6th, 2014, has cast Elle Fanning in the film adaptation. Seems like this will be a book (and film) to watch out for! 

Other Bookish News

I tweeted like a maniac to help unlock the Fall 2014 Fierce Reads tour stops (and sadly, none are near me). Check out Fierce Reads to see if the authors be visiting a city near you! 

Nova Ren Suma has been sharing teasers for THE WALLS AROUND US! Cover reveal is happening on Monday, but you can read teaser 1 below, along with 23, 4, and 5.

Lynn Matson will be publishing a sequel to NIL, entitled NIL UNLOCKED

YA Kindle eBook Deals