Monthly Wrap-Up: January

I read a total of 12 books this month! In order to keep track of where I am with my reading goals, I’ll add how many books of each category I read in my monthly wrap-ups; diverse books, sequels, middle grade and adult, etc. Although I’ll list any diversity each book has, I’ll only actually count a book as diverse if the main character themselves is of a diverse identity that’s overtly stated in the text. If the love interest is a person of color, bisexual, etc, I’ll make note of that but won’t count it as a diverse book.

Diverse books read: 2 (Renegades and Not Your Sidekick)

Books read by diverse authors: 2 (Not Your Sidekick and Ever the Hunted)

Own Voices books read: 1 (Not Your Sidekick)

Sequels read: 2 (Glass Sword and The Winner’s Crime)

Audio books listened to: 1 (Ever the Hunted)

Middle grade read: 0

New adult/adult: 0

Longest book read: Renegades (576 pages)

Shortest book read: Not Your Sidekick (294 pages)

Favorite read of the month: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett and To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Least favorite read of the month: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

 

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The Sound by Sarah Alderson

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Sarah Alderson’s Out of Control was one of my favorite reads of 2016, so I had high expectations for this one. Although I did enjoy it, it didn’t blow me away like Out of Control did. Somehow the writing just felt more….juvenile, I guess. It felt like it was a different author almost. The whole serial killer aspect wasn’t nearly as suspenseful as I’d hoped. The romantic and sexual tension between Ren and Jesse was off the charts though and definitely my favorite part of the book. Overall, The Sound was a fun an entertaining read, and I finished it very quickly. It wasn’t super memorable but I enjoyed reading it.

(full review)

Format read: kindle ebook

Release date: May 2014

Genre: YA mystery/thriller

Diversity: main character has asthma (disability rep)

Genre: YA mystery

Rating: 4 Stars

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To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo (ARC)

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To Kill  Kingdom was everything I hoped it would be and more. I love reading about brutal, violent and morally ambiguous characters who undergo a huge personal development as they experience things through a different perspective and learn to change their ways. I loved that the book switched between Lira and Elian’s perspectives, as they came from opposite worlds and had such different viewpoints. There was plenty of action and suspense, near-deaths and a slow burn romance. Lira’s fierceness and determination was greatly admirable and I loved her despite some of her questionable decisions. The ending was everything I hoped for and left me completely satisfied. MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR THIS ONE, OUT MARCH 6TH.

(full review)

Format read: ARC

Release date: March 6th 2018

Genre: YA fantasy/folklore

Diversity: Elian is presumably a poc, as he’s described as having brown skin

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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Renegades by Marissa Meyer

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I went into this one expecting a lot. I loved Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series and I had hopes that this one would live up to the hype. Unfortunately, I was disappointed in some aspects but not all. I enjoyed the different characters and how they came from opposite worlds. I always enjoy reading from two vastly different perspectives. Adrian and Nova were very passionate characters who were both very stubborn and intent on achieving their goals, but I felt like I didn’t connect to them as much as I would have liked. The story-line didn’t appear to go anywhere, the plot was slow and the character development felt weak, if not non existent. Overall, I thought the premise was interesting and I think the characters have potential. I may read the next book just to see if things improve.

(full review)

Format read: ARC

Release date: November 2017

Genre: YA sci-fi/dystopian

Diversity: Nova is Filipina, Adrian is black and has two dads

Rating: 3/5 Stars

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Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett (ARC)

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Jenn Bennett has proven time and time again that she can write a truly remarkable and unforgettable story of romance and self discovery, and Starry Eyes is yet another excellent example that did not disappoint. I love second chance romances and Bennett perfectly captured the ups and downs of mending a broken relationship. Zorie and Lennon’s story was heartwarming and heartbreaking and hilarious. As they navigate the dangerous and wonders of the wilderness, they find themselves navigating a fragile new romance as well. Lennon is an expert in all things related to nature and camping and hiking and it made him so adorably geeky and lovable, as did his eccentric goth-like style and fringed haircut. Plus Zorie is an astronomy geek, yes!! She gets hives too, so A+ for representation of a main character with a skin condition. Overall, Starry Eyes is a powerful tale of forgiveness and second chances and it met every one of my expectations.

(full review)

Format read: ARC

Release Date: April 3rd 2018

Genre: YA contemporary romance

Diversity: Lennon is Egyptian American, his birth father is Egyptian American and Muslim and he lives with his two moms.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

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This book had so much potential, but unfortunately it let me down in a lot of ways. I loved that the main character Audrey Rose was a fierce forensic scientist with a lot of passion for her work, and that she didn’t let men talk down to her for participating in a “mans” profession. I was never bored while reading and there was a whole lot of suspense and creepiness that kept my interest piqued. But overall I was disappointed with the reveal of the killer. It seemed very sudden and unrealistic to me. I also felt like the romance fell flat despite having so much potential. I really liked Thomas a lot but the excitement of their romance seemed to evaporate about halfway through the book. I know there’s a sequel and a third book coming out this year but I’m not sure I’m up to reading them.

(full review)

Format read: kindle ebook

Release date: September 2016

Genre: YA historical/mystery

Diversity: Audrey Rose’s mother is part Indian

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

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Seraphina is definitely one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. The writing feels very mature and complex, it almost felt more like an adult book than a YA one. There were a lot of big words I’d never heard before and a lot of fantasy terms I didn’t know the meaning of, so I had to pay very close attention to context. This made things a little hard to follow at times, and parts of the book felt very slow because of it. Overall though, I loved the story and the characters enough to overlook that. The plot revolves mostly around Seraphina’s inner grapple with self acceptance, her visions, and her interactions with both humans and dragons alike as she tries to determine who she can trust. Some may say this makes for a slow plot because of the lack of action but I personally felt the story to be very engaging. I was not disappointed with the ending and I can’t wait to read the sequel Shadow Scale.

(full review)

Format read: kindle ebook

Release date: July 2012

Genre: YA fantasy

Diversity: none

Rating: 4.5/5

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The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

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THIS IS BOOK 2 IN A SERIES & CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE WINNER’S CURSE.

What. A. Ride. The second book in a trilogy is typically the slowest, and although I’ll admit that it took me awhile to get into The Winner’s Crime, I can fortunately say that it did not disappoint. The complicated relationship between Kestrel and Arin is forbidden romance at its finest, even if one or both of the characters are totally in denial about their love for one another for most of the book. I wanted to shake the characters in frustration at times. Kestrel sacrifices everything for the greater good and puts herself at great risk in order to help Arin’s people, but Arin has no idea about the real motives behind Kestrel’s new status as bride-to-be of the crown prince. The stakes are higher than ever and the tension between Kestrel and Arin at its peak as they both do what they have to in order to survive and stand up to authority. The ending was a complete shock and I will be picking up the last book in the trilogy ASAP!

(full review)

Format read: paperback

Release date: March 2016

Genre: YA fantasy

Diversity: Arin is a poc

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

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THIS IS THE 2ND BOOK IN A SERIES & WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR RED QUEEN.

I was nervous to start this one because I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews on it and the following book in the series. Although it got off to a bit of a slow start, I can still say that this was one hell of a sequel! I’m still in shock over Maven’s reveal of his true character at the end of Red Queen. I genuinely loved him as a character and was devastated and shocked by his betrayal.  As for the rest of the characters, they sure love to piss me off. Especially Cal. The boy really needs to get his head out of his…er…nether regions. Mare, however, really steps up in book two. She’s twice as bad-ass and full of much anger and determination, all of which lends her the bravery she needs to lead a rebellion…even if she spends half the book mourning “the Maven she thought she knew.” Me too, Mare. Me too. I can’t say I blame her. But she still does a great job of bringing the newbloods together and leading them into battle.

(full review)

Format read: hardcover

Release date: February 2016

Genre:  YA fantasy/dystopian

Diversity: none? I’m not entirely certain of Mare’s ethnicity. She’s sometimes described as having darkish skin but she has blue eyes so I’m not 100% sure whether she’s a woc.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne (ARC)

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Although I’ve never really been one for classics and have never read Jane Eyre myself (although I know the general gist of it) I typically tend to enjoy classical re-tellings, so I was excited to read this sci-fi version of Jane Eyre in space! I found Brightly Burning very difficult to put down, and I absolutely love that in a book. Although it’s not completely action packed, the slow-burn chemistry between Stella and Hugo kept my interest, and the creepy mystery taking place on Stella’s new ship of employment The Rochester made me want to keep reading into the night. I didn’t immediately guess the reason behind The Rochester’s peculiar occurrences, so I loved the suspense and perplexity of not knowing! My only complaints are that the excitement of the romance seemed to fizzle out after they finally kissed, maybe because of everything that happened after. I also felt like the ending was a bit rushed and came together too quickly, but maybe that’s just cause I read the book so fast! Overall, I think Alexa Donne is a great story teller and I thoroughly enjoyed her futuristic take on Jane Eyre!

(full review)

Format read: ARC

Release date: May 1st, 2018

Genre: YA sci-fi/classical retelling

Diversity: none

Rating: 4/5 stars

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Not Your Sidekick by C.B Lee

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What’s better than a superhero book made up of queer and poc teens? Not much. I’d heard a lot of great things about this one before finally picking it up; for one, it has own voices representation for both bisexuality and Asian-American heritage! It was a very fun and quick read. Although it was a little slow at times and the writing a bit simple, I loved every single one of the characters, so that made it worthwhile. Jess is a very likable and relatable narrator. She’s the only one in her family so far who doesn’t appear to have any powers or special skills, so she’s trying to come to terms with that fact and decide what she wants to do with her life if it doesn’t involve following in her parents footsteps. The relationship between Jess and her romantic interest Abby, is adorable. And hilarious, because Jess can be super oblivious at times. Overall, Not Your Sidekick was a super sweet and lighthearted read about a diverse group of characters fighting for justice against unlikely suspects.

(full review)

Format read: kindle ebook

Release date: September 2016

Genre: YA sci-fi/fantasy

Diversity: an asian bisexual heroin, f/f romance, black ftm transgender best friend and a woc best friend, written by an asian and bisexual author

Rating: 4/5 stars

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Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

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I listened to the audio book of Ever the Hunted and I am so glad I did. The narrator has a British accent, which is always more fun, and she lends so much passion and vibrancy to Britta’s voice. Although Britta’s story is ultimately one of revenge it’s also one of friendship, self discovery, survival, forgiveness and adventure.  It’s a journey through woods and across lands as Britta learns of all the secrets her father kept from her, a shocking truth about her mothers past, struggles with her feelings for her childhood best friend and tries to find answers that’ll bring her closure regarding her fathers death. It felt perfectly paced to me and not too over-dramatic or unrealistic. The romance in Ever the Hunted is of the friends-to-lovers kind, one of my favorite kinds of love story tropes. I’m mad at myself for taking so long to read this one but at the same time I’m glad I did because now book 2 is out and I won’t have to wait a year to read it!

(full review)

Format read: audio book

Release date: December 2016

Genre: YA fantasy/supernatural

Diversity: none, but the author is asian

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

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It didn’t take me more than a chapter for me to become fully engrossed in Walk on Earth a Stranger. I love Westerns, which is what immediately drove me to pick this one up. I’m also a fan of the girl-disguises-herself-as-a-boy trope, so that drew me in as well. It reminded me a lot of one of my favorite books Vengeance Road with the inclusion of that trope and the Western setting. I was a bit surprised that the majority of the book centered around Leah and her travel companion’s journey across America to California. I thought Leah’s ability to sense the presence of gold would come into play a little more. I presumed it would lend a little more of a fantasy element to the story.  I love stories of survival and harrowing expeditions though, so I didn’t consider that to be a huge disappointment. The romance between Leah and her childhood friend Jefferson is very subtle and very slow burn and doesn’t fully develop, but this is book one in a trilogy so I’m excited to see their budding romance blossom even more in the second and third books.

(full review)

Format read: kindle ebook

Release date: September 2015

Genre: YA western/historical fantasy

Diversity: the main characters best friend/love interest is half cherokee native american

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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So there’s that! Overall, it was a pretty good reading month. How many books did you guys read in January? Did we read any of the same ones?

Waiting on Wednesday: My Most Anticipated 2018 YA Releases! (First Half)

 

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re all eagerly anticipating!

 

 

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Debuts

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So. Many. Debuts. I mean, just look at them all. I tried to narrow this list down but there are just way too many amazing sounding first books coming out this year-all sorts of unique sounding stories in all different genres. There are plenty of books with diverse characters to look forward to as well-State of Grace, Children of Blood and Bone, Love and Other Carnivorous Plants, American Panda, etc etc! I particularly can’t wait to read State of Grace, as it’s a contemporary about an autistic girl navigating high school social life, and is written by an autistic author. #ownvoices for the win♥♥

 

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Sci-Fi and Fantasy’s

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Would you look at those gorgeous covers? Every single one of them is mind blowingly beautiful, and the stories themselves sound just as intriguing. I hope they don’t disappoint.

 

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Sequels

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So many sequels I will KILL for are coming out this year, and several series are wrapping up (Talon saga, Frostblood series, Everlife series, Red Queen series etc) as well! This means I’ll no longer have to endure the agony of waiting an entire year to see what happens next. Phew. I absolutely hate waiting.

 

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Contemporaries

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I feel that YA contemporaries are severely underrated and underappreciated. I’ve just never understood why some people downright refuse to read them! Some of my favorite books of all time take place in contemporary settings, with adorable romances, relatable family and friend relationships, and diverse characters battling everything from mental illness to bullies to social norms. All of these right here captured by interest immediately upon reading the descriptions so you can bet I’ve got all their release dates marked down on my calendar.

 

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By Authors I Love

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You know that feeling you get when you first see the cover of a new upcoming book by a favorite author of yours? Yea, that’s one of the greatest feelings ever, especially when the synopsis sounds just as intriguing as the cover makes it out to be. So many authors I adore are releasing new YA’s this year and I can’t wait to get my hands on each and every one of them!

 

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So there’s a look at my most anticipated (so far). It’ll be interesting to look back at the end of the year and see which books disappointed, which ones lived up to my expectations and even which ones didn’t even make the list but still managed to snag a spot on my list of favorites! Which 2018 releases are yall most looking forward to?

 

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Reign of the Fallen Blog Tour: Q&A with Sarah Glenn Marsh!

If you’ve seen my last 4 or so blog posts, then you know how in love and obsessed I am with Sarah Glenn Marsh’s Reign of the Fallen. It takes place in a world where royalty is brought back from the dead again again so that they can continue to rule the kingdom in semi zombie form.

The main character Odessa is a bisexual woman of color and her story is one of self discovery, grief, recovery, friendship, adventure, betrayal and so much more! I’m so grateful to be participating in this blog tour and to have had to opportunity to write out 20 questions for Sarah Glenn Marsh to answer! Reign of the Fallen is out on the 23rd of this month, so mark your calendars and pre-order asap! I promise you won’t regret it.

 

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Q: Who is your favorite Reign of the Fallen character? Who was your favorite character to write? Least favorite?

SGM: My favorite character has to be Odessa. She’s flawed, like we all are- I mean, I know some people who think they’re perfect, so maybe not everyone would agree, but- I love that she makes mistakes and learns and stumbles and changes her mind as she faces down terrible circumstances.

My favorite character to write? Oh gosh, that’s tough to say; I feel like my answer to that could easily change from day to day, but right now? Lysander! Love that grizzly bear.

My least favorite to write were the villains, but I won’t name names to avoid spoilers. To get just a tad more specific: a certain henchman was my least fave. I didn’t want to even think about being in that guy’s head. Too slimy.

 

Q: Which Hogwarts house would you assign each of your characters too? Zodiac signs?

SGM:
Odessa: Gryffindor (although, like Harry, the Sorting Hat would debate putting her in Slytherin!)
  Evander: Hufflepuff
  Valoria: Ravenclaw
  Simeon: Hufflepuff
  Danial: Gryffindor
  Jax: Gryffindor
  Meredy: Ravenclaw
  Kasmira: Slytherin
  Hadrien: Ravenclaw
As for Zodiac signs…hmmm…I’m going to put it to anyone who’s read the book to chime in with their interpretations, because I like hearing others’ thoughts! 😀
Here are my personal interpretations of which zodiac sign I (Becca, not Sarah) think best describes each Reign of the Fallen character:

Odessa-Libra

Evander-Cancer

Jax-Aries

Simeon-Taurus

Hadrien-Aries

Meredy-Scorpio

Valoria-Pisces

Danial-Cancer

Kasmira-Leo

 

 

I also did polls on twitter to get other people’s opinions (I gave them an option of four zodiac signs per character) so here are the results from those!

Odessa

Odessa (1)

Odessa (9)Odessa (10)

Odessa (4)Odessa (11)

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Q: Which character would you say is most like you? Who do you wish you were more like?

SGM: I’m most like Evander- looking for adventure, a big dreamer, a romantic, always trying to please others even when that means putting aside what I want.

I wish I were more like Odessa- more unapologetic, and a total badass (I’m so not! I have no pain tolerance and would definitely run the other way if I saw a monster with no eyes!)

Q: Which would you rather be in the land of Reign of the Fallen: a necromancer, a weather mage or a beast master? 

SGM: Well, following the rules of the magic system, I’d be a beast master because of my green eyes! And lucky me, that’s exactly what I’d want to be, with an awesome bird of prey for my animal companion.

However, if I had to pick something else, I’d like to be a weather worker. Being able to summon lightning seems pretty sweet, even knowing the risks involved!

Q: If you lived in Odessas world, would you jump at the chance to bring someone you love back from the dead? Would it be worth the risk of them possibly becoming a shade and always having to cover their face with a shroud? Would you want to be brought back from the dead yourself? 

SGM: Ooh, good question. I would neither bring anyone back nor want to be brought back myself—I’m a rule-follower and super risk-averse, so the trade-off doesn’t sound very good to me! Of course, in the midst of grief, I might change my mind and try to bring someone back…but then Odessa would probably appear to knock some sense into me!

 

Q: Who do you ship Odessa with? (Am I allowed to ask that? Hah) 

 

SGM: I don’t even know how to answer this without spoilers, but I’ll try: *Insert bear emoji here*

How’s that? 😉 I will say though, for other shippers: I’m all about that! Write me the fanfic and I’ll read the heck out of it!

 

Q: Did you always know that Odessa was going to be a bisexual character

SGM: Yes! When I started building the world for Reign, I believe I’d recently finished watching The Legend of Korra, a wonderful show—and I had been so moved by learning that Korra was bi, and seeing the sweet, supportive relationship she developed with her eventual girlfriend, Asami. It was powerful, seeing someone who shares my identity as a heroine and main character in a show I loved so much (I even keep up with the graphic novels that followed!), and I knew that going into Reign, I wanted to write a YA heroine who also shared my identity. As an aside, though: I wrote Reign for *me.* I didn’t know if the world was ready for a bi heroine in a YA fantasy, but to my surprise, sharing this story with others turned out to be an amazing, empowering experience.

Q: Who is the first bisexual character you remember seeing or reading in media?

SGM: I think it might’ve been some of the characters in the Kushiel’s Legacy Series by Jacqueline Carey, which I read when I was a bit too young for some of the content (like torture, yikes!) in those books. Whoops! 13- or 14-year-old Sarah was not ready for that. I will say, though, that those books treat bisexuality as accepted, so they had some good things going for them!

 

Q: Did you gain your inspiration from any particular tv shows or books? Which authors would you call your biggest inspirations? 

SGM: As mentioned a little earlier, Legend of Korra was definitely an inspiration when writing Reign! Overall though, I tried to avoid being inspired by any books or shows, particularly because I wanted to be sure my version of necromancy was unique. I did my world building while only reading like, adult nonfiction books (and the occasional ghost story, because I just can’t stay away from those!).

As for authors who are my biggest inspirations: Patricia McKillip, hands down. Her writing is the strongest and most beautiful I’ve ever read, and I wish I had a style as elegant and mysterious as hers. If you’re not familiar with her work, here are some titles I love: Ombria in Shadow, Winter Rose, and The Forgotten Beasts of Eld.

Q: Are you a pantser or a plotter?

SGM: Reformed pantser, now plotter! I pantsed a lot of Reign, only knowing the major plot points, but now that I write books under contract, I find I have to share the plot with certain people ahead of time (like my editor)—so basically, I had to become a plotter! Luckily, I found a method for plotting that works well for me, so I think the change has been a good one!

Q: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

SGM: I don’t, unless someone deliberately tags me in one. Reviews are for readers, not for me as the author, because I can’t go back and change a book that’s already written and printed! I’m lucky that I’ve only ever been tagged in friendly reviews, and hope that continues to be the case; I’d be crushed to be tagged in a negative review because that would be mean-spirited on the reviewer’s part, knowing I was going to see something I didn’t want to, and I’d never wish that kind of negativity on anyone!

 

Q: Do you have a playlist for Reign of the Fallen?

SGM: I sure do! Here’s a sampling of the track list—in some cases, I’ve noted which songs match up with certain characters:

Battlefield by SvrcinaTheme song

Is There Somewhere by Halsey – Odessa and Evander

Heathens by Twenty One Pilots

When it Comes To Us by Frances

Running with the Wolves by Aurora – Meredy

I Will Not Bow by Breaking BenjaminOdessa

Forfeit by ChevelleJax

Bow Down by ChvrchesValoria

Young God by Halsey

Lover. Fighter. By SvrcinaDanial

 

Q: How do you choose the names of your characters?

SGM: That depends on the type of story I’m writing; if it’s historical, or set in a certain place, I like to look at census data and pull real first names from there, then mix them up with various last names. However, for Reign, I’ll be honest and admit that I simply did google searches for ‘unusual names’ and picked ones that sounded *almost* like names we’re used to hearing, but not quite. Here’s an example of what I mean: “Meredy,” one of Odessa’s friends in the story, sounds a lot like “Meredith” or “Melody,” but is unique all the same.

 

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? What would you tell your younger self about writing? 

SGM: Here’s my best advice for aspiring authors, broken into three parts:

Get others to critique your work, but more importantly, offer to critique for others! Critique as much and often as you can. There’s nothing like finding the strengths and weaknesses in a variety of different authors’ work to teach you about how to edit your own stories.

Read voraciously in the genre/category in which you want to publish. When you’re doing that, and you have a strong response to something- love it, or not so much- try to identify what it is you’re enjoying, or what’s not working for you about the story you’re reading. You’ll pick up things you might like to try in your own writing this way (for instance, maybe you’ll be inspired to try a new POV!), and will also identify things you may want to avoid (the things that don’t work for you as a reader).

Seek community. In the online writing community, I’ve found like-minded people, learned more than I ever would have imagined possible, and made life-changing connections with wonderful authors and bloggers who I’m so happy to call friends. You have everything to gain by interacting with other book lovers online!

As for what I’d tell my younger self about writing, I’d say this:

Treat your dreams seriously, as if they’re possible, and you’ll be a big step closer to actually making them happen. I wish I had done this when I dreamed of being an author someday, because I would have started working on telling book-length stories much sooner!

Q: Favorite YA book you read last year?

SGM: It’s so hard to choose just one, but I have to give that honor to Nic Stone’s DEAR MARTIN for being the most impactful, heart-wrenching, thought-provoking read of 2017. If you haven’t checked it out yet, or gotten to hear Nic speak at a book event, I’d suggest doing both of those things ASAP!

 

Q: If you were a character in Reign of the Fallen, what would your fantasy name be?

SGM: Oh, this is fun to think about! Well, since my only naming schematic was “unusual,” and I’d want something that sounds close to my real name…probably Saskia or Sadira!

Q: Have you ever thought about having a book trailer? Do you ever play out ideas for one in your head? Do you have any celebrities in mind that you’d pick to play your characters? 

SGM: I would love a book trailer for Reign! The story has always felt cinematic to me, and I could see everything playing out in my mind on a screen as I wrote.

As for a dream cast to play the characters, here are some ideas:

Odessa: Hannah John-Kamen

Valoria: Evanna Lynch

Meredy: Saoirse Ronan

Kasmira: Lyndie Greenwood

Simeon: Cole Sprouse

Danial: Hale Appleman

Jax: Ricky Whittle

Hadrien: Tom Felton

Evander: Liam Hemsworth

Q: What types of scenes are hardest to write?

SGM: Why, death scenes, of course! Not that there’s any of *that* in the sequel to Reign

Q: Do you write a certain amount of words or pages per day? Per week? 

SGM: I don’t force myself to write every day- only when I’m feeling it, otherwise I’ll work on brainstorming, or edits, or other aspects of author life- but when I’m drafting something and need to get words down, an average day for me would look like 2-3K. If I push myself and stay disciplined, 10K written and edited would be a good week for me. 15K has happened before, too!

 

Q: Can you tell us anything at all about book 2? Or about any other books/series youre currently writing? Whats next? 

SGM: Let’s see. Odessa gets an adorable new companion in book two. As in, not a person, but a creature—I’ll leave you all to guess what kind in the comments below! You’ll also get to see Kasmira really use her weather working power, which was fun to write. You’ll get to see some of the wider world outside Karthia, and learn how other cultures treat necromancers and the Dead; you’ll also see plenty of familiar faces mixed in with some new favorites. Oh, and the black fever sucks. You might’ve gotten a hint of that in the first book, though…

As to what’s next: I’m dabbling on two different fantasy projects which include family bonds, queer people being awesome, ownvoices rep for bisexuality and anxiety, and…well, I’d better hush about them for now, but hopefully I’ll be bringing you some more fun reads in the future!

 

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And that’s that! Thank you so much to Sarah Glenn Marsh for taking the time to answer my questions, and to Penguin Random House for asking me to participate in the blog tour for this wonderful book!

What are you guys most excited for in book two? Who do you ship Odessa with? Favorite character? What kind of creature do you think Odessa’s new companion is going to be? Which zodiac sign would you assign to each character? Let me know! (But use spoiler warnings if necessary please!)

 

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My 2018 Bookish Resolutions!

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It’s that time of year again where we come up with a whole bunch of goals we know we won’t follow through with. Hah! Just kidding. Kind of. I actually think I have a shot at sticking to my resolutions this year. I have faith and so should you!

 

1.) Read a total of 100-125 books. 

I surpassed my Goodreads challenge of 100 books this year, so I’m sure I could read 125 with no trouble! No more slacking off. If I’m reading a book and not enjoying it, I’ll put it down instead of forcing myself to sludge through it, and I’ll pick up something else. I don’t want to feel like I have to finish every book I pick up. Otherwise, reading becomes unenjoyable! I’ll be happy if I finish anywhere between 100-125 books.

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2.) Read at least 15 books I already own.

I have wayyyyy too many unread books on my shelves so I’ve made it one of my goals to read at least 10 of them that I’ve owned for at least a year or more. That way I can get rid of any ones I don’t like and make more room on my shelves. And I won’t have to feel guilty every time I look at my bookshelf full of unread books.

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3.) Read 5 or more middle grade books. 

I’ve been wanting to dive back into middle grade for awhile now, and since some favorite YA authors of mine have recently published middle grade books, I think their books would be a great place to start! I really wanna read The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken, Click’d by Tamara Ireland Stone, Ice Wolves by Amie Kaufman (out in February 2018) and Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi.

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4.) Get back into reading comics. 

I recently got into comic books and graphic novels but I was so focused on books in 2017 that I didn’t pick up even one. There are several series I wanna continue and others I want to read for the first time. Some of my favorites are Lumber Janes, Fables, Saga and Batgirl!

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5.) Attend Yallwest 2018. 

I attended Yallwest with my friend Amanda for the first time in 2017 and we both loved it! We’re already making plans to attend again this year.

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6.) Read at least a sequel a month. Finish those series! 

There are soooo many series I’m in the middle of and need to finish. I’d especially like to pick up sequels for series I started a year or two ago, before it gets to the point where I have to re-read the first book before continuing!

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7.) Go to the library more often. 

I very rarely visited the library or checked out books this year. And I miss it!

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8.) Publish at least 3 blog posts a month.

No more going for several months without posting. I’m going to be active on my blog now that I have a new and fully functioning computer! Blogging is so much more enjoyable now that I have a computer that doesn’t operate like it’s from the dinosaur ages.

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9.) Listen to more audio books. 

2017 was the year I decided to give audio books a try and I enjoyed every one I listened to, so I’m eager to listen to more! I just started listening to Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill last night and the narrator has a British accent, so I’m really enjoying it so far. British accents just make everything more fun, amiright?

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10.) Read in places other than my bedroom. 

I do most of my reading in my bedroom, which is nice and cozy, but I’d like to get outside more! At least when the weather’s nice. It’d be great to spend time reading at the park or the beach or the library or other outside reading areas. I’m sure I’d be able to find a comfortable, secluded spot somewhere.

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11.) Read more New Adult and Adult/General Fiction. 

I think I read a total of two new adult books in 2017, and zero adult. I’ve been having some serious withdrawal from the lack of new adult romance. There’s some general fiction I’ve been meaning to pick up as well. I’m itching to pick up The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon -the sequel to The Bone Season– A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab , The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen and The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. I’m also looking forward to Barbed Wire Heart -out in March- by Tess Sharpe, who wrote one of my all time favorite YA novels Far From You.

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12.) Do monthly wrap-ups on my blog or write and publish at least 3 reviews a month. 

I’d love to start actually writing reviews for a lot of the books I read! It’d be nice to do monthly wrap-ups where I write a mini review for each book I read in a month, like I know a lot of bloggers do. I don’t know if I’d be able to keep that up though, so I’ll least make it a goal to write a couple reviews a month. I’ll post them either on Goodreads, Amazon, Netgalley or directly on my blog.

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13.) Read more diverse books by diverse authors. 

A little over half the books i read in 2017 were diverse, but in 2018 I want to read even more than that and up my percentage to more like 80%!

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14.) Read a classic or 2!  

I’ve never been one for classics, despite having read plenty of twists and re-tellings of them. So I’d like to read a few of the ones I’ve hear so much about like Jane Eyre, Little Women, Frankenstein,  or Pride and Prejudice and so on…

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15.) Participate in more monthly instagram book challenges and diversity bingos!

I didn’t participate in any instagram challenges last year and I think I only did one bingo. Well, challenges and bingos are fun so I’d love to become more involved in them!

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16.) Gain at least 5k followers on my bookstagram. 

I’ve been stuck at around 4.6K followers for what feels like..3 years now? It’s kinda like I lose as many followers as I gain, so my follower count never really goes anywhere. I’m starting the new year fresh with new photos and a new theme. Things seem to be looking up already so maybe 5k by the end of the year isn’t too much to hope for!

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17.) Read a collection or two of poetry and read more fictional books written in verse! 

Over the last couple years I’ve come to love fiction books written in verse, so I’m sure I’d enjoy reading a poetry collection or two. I’d especially love to read Milk and Honey by Rupi and The Princess Saves Herself in This One. As for YA fiction, I hope to read more Ellen Hopkins and Lisa Schroeder.

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18.) Request less arcs on Netgalley and have at least an 80% feedback ratio. Try to review all the unreleased arcs I get from publishers.

I know I’m not the only one who can get a little carried away with requesting Netgalley arcs. There’s just so many upcoming releases that sound interesting! But I’ve made it a goal this year to only request 2-3 E-arcs a month, so that I actually have the time to read and review each of them. I’d like to get my feedback ratio on Netgalley to at least 80%. As for physical arcs, I’d like to review each and every one a publisher sends my way. Before the release date!

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19.) Read a Stephen King book!

Yea, I know. I’m despicable. The only King book I’ve read is his autobiography, which I found really interesting. So I’m looking forward to completing this goal! I’d love to read It, but the book is so intimidatingly large that I think I’ll start smaller. Any suggestions on where to begin?

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20.) Read some non-fiction or autobiographies. 

I’ve never really been one for non-fiction. I just tend to find them…boring? Sorry. But there are some celebrity autobiographies that have been released within the last couple years that I’d be willing to give a try. So I think I’ll start there.

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So there you have it! Do you guys have any similar reading/blogging goals? Do you guys read poetry, classics or non fiction? How many books do you wanna read this year?

 

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2017 Wrap-Up!

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Can you believe how quickly 2017 went by? It seems like just yesterday that all the books I owned fit on one shelf and didn’t take up space on my bedroom floor. Not that I’m complaining, really, because it’s more books in my collection!

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Books Read in 2017

 

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I read a total of 102 books this year and therefore exceeded my Goodreads goal of 100 books by 2 books! Go me! And I thoroughly enjoyed a good number of them, so I can definitely say that 2017 was a very good year for reading.

 

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Pie charts

Now here’s a look at what I read in 2017, with some snazzy pie-charts for reference. Thank you to Cait at Paper Fury for providing the website I used to make these and for giving me the idea for pie charts in the first place!

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Unsurprisingly, contemporary and Sci-fi/fantasy/dystopian were my most read genre this year. I found so many new favorites within those categories!

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I generally tend to like or love most books I read. I rarely give a book anything under 3.5 stars. I guess I’m just good at picking out books I know I’ll enjoy. I’ll read pretty much any genre within YA- but I know what kind of stories I’m looking for and how to pick out ones that are likely to meet my expectations.

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This was my first year trying out audiobooks, which is why the percentage is so small. I had never really considered audio books before but I’m so glad I did! I hope to listen to a lot more in 2018. I just love being able to lay down, close my eyes and listen to somebody else narrate the story.

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So when it comes to diversity, it looks like I read about…half diverse and half non diverse, leaning a little more towards the diverse side. In 2018 I’m hoping to up that diversity percentage even more!

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Favorite Reads of 2017

Now lets take a look at which of those 102 books were my favorites!

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Favorite 2017 Releases

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So many wonderful new releases in 2017! I read my first Marie Lu book and loved it, read my first Julie Murphy book and loved it, thoroughly enjoyed Stephanie Perkins drastic change in genre, and discovered many new debut books to add to my favorites list. So if you haven’t read any of these ones, get on it! Hopefully they’ll blow you away like they did me.

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Favorite ARC’s of 2018

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2018 will be a fantastic year for debuts, sequels and new books from previously known authors alike. Check out my previous blog post here to see why these 10 are my favorite ones so far!

 

devilsI also recently finished Devils Unto Dust by Emma Berquist -which comes out in April- and I absolutely loved it! Too bad I didn’t finish it in time to have reviewed it in my latest “top ten” post featuring my favorite 2018 releases. 4.5/5 stars!

 

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Favorite lgbtq reads

Every year there are more and more lgbtq releases in YA, and it’s a beautiful thing! I love that we get to see so many queer characters in all different genres, not just contemporary. I absolutely loved these 8 books right here and I recommend them to anyone and everyone looking for gay or bisexual characters in all manner of settings.

 

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Favorite books by previously known authors

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I read my first Julie Cross book in 2016 and fell in love. Now she’s one of my favorite contemporary romance authors! Gena Showalter has been a favorite since I read her Alice in Zombieland series. Rebel Spring and Future Threat were sequels that also didn’t disappoint. I’d previously read books by Stacey Kade, Karole Cozzo and Sara Wolf (under a different name) but these books in particular really blew me away.

 

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Favorite new-to-me authors

Isn’t it a great feeling when you read a book by an author you’ve never read before and suddenly you have a new favorite? Now I have all their future books to look forward to!

 

 

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So that’s it for 2017! Do we have any favorite 2017 reads in common? How many books did ya’ll read? Any disappointments? Any wonderful new author discoveries?

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Top Ten Early 2018 Releases I’ve Read so Far

2018 is going to be an excellent year for YA debuts, sequels and new books from favorite authors. How do I know this? Because I’ve already read several 2018 releases! Here are my favorite January and February releases (so far).

 

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Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely     Release Date: January 2nd, 2018

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What I loved about it:

  • I love YA westerns and I love them even more when they’re blended with other genres! Gunslinger Girl is kind of a western/dystopian mix, with a western setting in the era of a second civil war.
  • An eccentric cast of characters! My favorite in particular was the love interest, Max, with his spiky hair and eyeliner and huge heart.
  • A bad-ass heroine who’s tough both physically and emotionally. Not only can she shoot a gun with near perfect aim,  she’s also resilient, whip-smart, resourceful and can hold her own.
  • There’s a circus! Kind of. Any kind of circus in a non-contemporary setting is something I’m always excited to see. This one in particular consisted of some very deadly and dangerous acts.

 

 

Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda      Release Date: February 20th, 2018

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What I loved about it:

  • Courtney Alameda’s first book Shutter was a favorite read of 2016 so I was beyond excited to get my hands on an arc of her second book. Well, it didn’t disappoint, not by a long shot!
  • It has two of my favorite things ever in books: outer space and horror!
  • It features a fierce Latina main character with a talent for hacking, and a deep knowledge of ancient artifacts from long forgotten and destroyed planet earth. She’s super loyal to her family and friends and her fierce love for them is shown through her actions, her thoughts, her selflessness and the way she puts her own life in danger for the sake of theirs.
  • It’s told from the POV’s of two teens from opposite worlds. Laura, who’s lived a privileged life, has grown up in space working with her parents to preserve ancient human artifacts and protect the future of the human race. Tuck on the other hand, lived on earth for most of his childhood before boarding his mother’s spaceship to leave behind a planet succumbing to human pollution, and he and his crew have slept in stasis for about 400 years. So they’re quite literally from different worlds, despite them both being human.
  • It’s a story about people fighting for their lives while stranded in space after two ships crash into each other. There are various types of monsters living in the deepest and darkest parts of the ship and a whole lot of creepiness and suspense ensues. I looooooove creepiness!

 

 

Everless by Sara Holland     Release Date: January 2nd, 2018

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What I loved about it:

  • Everless has such a unique concept; it’s set in a world in which time is used as currency. Year’s of peoples lives can be taken through extracting their blood, and the blood is then turned to iron stored in coins. All debts and payments are made using the blood-iron.
  • There’s a very unexpected turn regarding the romance aspect; it seemed obvious who the main character, Jules, would fall for but then I sensed the beginning of a very subtle romance between her and someone else unexpected….and the way things ended left me very eager for book two! The romance is very, VERY subtle though, and the story relies more on plot and world building, which I think worked out very well in this case.
  • Amazing world building and character development! There were so many twists and turns and revelations, so many difficult choices to be made, mysteries to unravel, evils to fight…Jules has to determine who she can and cannot trust.
  • Did I mention plot twists? I NEVER saw these ones coming. I was honestly shocked. I love being shocked.

 

 

Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller    Release Date: February 27th, 2018

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What I loved about it:

  • Alosa is just as fierce and ruthless as before but we get to see a different side to her as well. This side lets her to view the life she’s always known from a different perspective and allows her to stand up to someone she’s revered her entire life. We see a softer side to her as well, as her relationship with Riden develops.
  • All of Alosa’s relationships are put to the test. Her crew member’s loyalty and trust in her is tested. Stakes are raised and lives are lost. Her growing romance with Riden forces her to stop and evaluate herself and decide who she wants to be.
  • We get to see more of Alosa’s siren powers put to use! I felt like seeing this new part of her and how she used it really helped me to feel more connected to her and understand her actions and feelings.
  • There are cannibals! And other terrifying beings. That’s all I’m gonna say. Don’t wanna give too much away!

 

 

Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh    Release Date: January 23rd, 2018

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What I loved about it:

  • Zombies! It has zombies! But they’re different from the typical zombies. When people die, they can be brought back from the dead but it comes with a price; they must remain shrouded at all times, with all their skin covered. If someone catches a glimpse of their skin……BAM. They turn into a flesh-eating monster that won’t stop killing until it’s killed with fire. I loved this interesting and unique twist on zombies.
  • A bisexual heroine! There are multiple potential love interests for the main character Odessa, including both boys and girls.
  • Lots of characters of color, & lgbt characters. The world of Reign of the Fallen is one in which love is love and all sexualities are accepted and normalized. Straight isn’t the default and not all the characters are white!
  • Tragedy! I cried a lot while reading this book and although I kinda hate when a book breaks my heart, I also kinda love it too. It’s a love-hate relationship. Books are supposed to make you FEEL things and that’s exactly what Reign of the Fallen did.
  • Strong platonic friendships. Odessa has many faithful friends who’ve always been there for her and continue to look out for her throughout the many trials and dangers they endure together. She also makes a few new friends along the way. I found both her old and new friendships to be very heartwarming and motivational even as I was crying my eyes out. Jax and Simeon are both sweethearts, and I really came to like Valoria and Meredy as well.

 

 

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black    Release Date: January 2nd 2018

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What I loved about it:

  • Faerie land! I love magical, dangerous, woodland settings filled with fantastical creatures and ruthless faerie princes.
  • Twins! I’m always down for reading a book with twins so I was immediately hooked upon being introduced to Jude and her identical twin sister Taryn. They’re both vastly different in the ways they deal with living as mortals in such a terrifying, merciless world full of immortal fey.
  • Some subtle lgbt representation: Jude and Taryn’s older sister Vivienne is bisexual, and although she’s only a side character, I still appreciated the presence of a non-heterosexual character. Although she didn’t play a huge role, I really liked Vivi’s character a lot; her snark, her wit, her defiance against Maddoc, and most of all her loyalty to her sisters and the way she looked after them.
  • Jude! Jude! Jude! What a sly, wicked clever heroine. I rooted for her whenever she stood up to her bullies and was very impressed with her quick thinking, her survival skills and the ways she adapted to any sudden and unpredictable new situation. She’s definitely somebody I’d want on my side in faerie land.

 

The Queens Rising by Rebecca Ross    Release Date: February 6th, 2018

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What I loved about it:

  • Revolution! The heroine, Brienna, and her companions are preparing to rebel against a ruthless king and replace him with the princess whose rightful seat on the throne he stole. I love stories about people banding together to overcome an unfair dictatorship and restore peace and justice to a land that’s been ruled with violence for too long.
  • The romance is subtle and slow-burn but sweet. The main character and the love interest are close friends before anything romantic happens between them and nothing about their romance was rushed or overdone.
  • There were many strong friendships-from the relationship between Brienna and her passion sisters, to her relationship with her new family and the princess and everyone else she worked with to take over the tyrannical king. There was a strong sense of companionship at the heart of the story and many new relationships were formed throughout Brienna’s journey.
  • Action! Adventure! Intense fight scenes! I can’t even put into words how intense it all was. There’s so much suspense and excitement as Brienna and her comrades plan and prepare to take down the king without getting caught or killed in the process.

 

 

Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke    Release Date: January 9th, 2018

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What I loved about it:

  • It was a great portrayal of mental illness and self recovery!
  • It’s written in a unique format, featuring journal entries detailing Jane Sinner’s journey into adult life, independence, recovery, and life on a reality tv show
  • Weird characters. Some of the people Jane was competing against on the reality show were just downright strange and that made the whole experience all the more entertaining to read about from Jane’s perspective as she wrote in her journal
  • A veryyyyyy suble romance. It makes up a very small part of the book, as Jane and her romantic interest are just friends for the majority of her time on the reality show. They were also competing against each other to win the show, so that was a bit of a hinder on their relationship. So this book was not heavy in romance at all and there wasn’t much room for swooning but that really fit Jane’s story perfectly. It was cute, but didn’t overshadow Jane’s personal journey.
  • Jane is kind of a prickly character at first. She’s hard to understand and she can come off as kind of selfish and non-empathetic and blunt at times. But that made me like her more because she was unusual and wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. And as the book goes on you get to see that she actually feels a lot more than she appears to and cares a lot more than she shows.

 

 

Winner Take All by Laurie Devore    Release Date: January 30th 2018

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What I loved about it:

  • I loved reading from the POV of a female character who’s ambitious and driven and determined to get her way. It made her hard to like at times but I admire a heroin who won’t back down from a fight and doesn’t give up easily. Nell’s unhealthy desire to remain on top made her an imperfect character, but I couldn’t help but root for even as I found myself wanting to shake some sense into her.
  • The romance! Laurie Devore really knows how to write a romance that is equal parts adorable and intensely passionate. I loved her first book How to Break a Boy, and her second novel didn’t disappoint either.
  • Jackson! What a sweetie. Sometimes. He had some serious issues, but so did Nell. But overall, although it took Nell awhile to see it, he had a whole lot of respect and patience for her and it was apparent that he still liked her in-spite of her tendency to be over-dramatic and overly competitive. Jackson could be an asshole at times, just like Nell could be extremely difficult by constantly needing to be on top. My god there was a whole lot of drama and two of them together was a mess at times but I appreciated their imperfect relationship and how the ups and downs shaped their characters and the dynamic between each other.
  • The family aspects. I felt like Devore did a really good job portraying Nell’s issues with her family and the pressure she felt from her mom’s expectations and her parents arguments. It gave me a lot more insight into her character and the reasons behind her competitive, ambitious nature.

 

Meet Cute by multiple YA authors     Release Date: January 2nd, 2018

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What I loved about it:

  • So many authors I love! I adore cutesy stories and I was so happy to see so many great writers included in this short story compilation.
  • I loved the overall concept for the short stories-romances or friendships beginning with two people meeting in unexpected places or brought together through unexpected circumstances. Each story was unique and entirely different from the last.
  • Plenty of diversity! There are love stories between two boys or two girls, plenty characters of color, a transgender character, and more! I loved the variety and that there were more than just heterosexual, white romances.
  • An abundance of genres! There are contemporary meet-cute stories, and science fiction or fantasy ones as well. So I was never bored reading through these touching tales. I loved the majority of them. Such feel good romances!

 

 

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So there’s that! I wish I could’ve had time to read and review all the January-February releases, but 10 is better than none! Have you guys read any of these yet? Which ones are you most anticipating?

Last Minute Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Book Lovers

Happy Holidays! Are you still scrambling to find some last minute stocking stuffers? Is someone you love a book worm? Well there’s still 8 days left till Christmas so here are some nifty and affordable bookish gifts that are sure to meet your favorite book-lover’s expectations!

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1.) My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Stephanie Perkins & multiple YA authors (paperback)

Winter is great for curling up next to the fireplace and reading romantic holiday short stories. With diverse romances by so many wonderful authors -including Stephanie Perkins, David Levithan, Kierstan White, Holly Black, Rainbow Rowell and more-My True Love Gave to Me will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside this holiday season.
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2.) Page markers/stickers

Page markers are a great way to mark your favorite parts and favorite quotes without having to dog-ear pages or write annotations in the margins. And they’re super cute too! Just look at these adorable animal ones.

 

3. Harry Potter pop funko keychains

What book worm doesn’t love Harry Potter? I have  Newt Scamander keychain that I love, so get your book loving friend/family member/significant other their favorite HP character as a pop funko keychain!

                                     

 

 

4.) Library card socks

Encourage the book lover in your life to show off their reader pride with these cute and comfy library card socks. I especially like the yellow ones, but there are multiple colors to choose from.

 

5.) Magnetic book marks

Magnetic bookmarks are super handy and practical, not to mention adorable. These cupcake ones are especially cute!

 

 

6.) Fairy lights

Fairy lights are perfect for bookstagrammers who are looking to add a little extra pizzaz to their book photos. I have some of my own and I love adding them to photos, especially when I don’t have enough natural lighting to take a high quality photo.

 

 

7.) Clip on book light

I also have one of these myself, and it’s perfect for traveling, or if you’re sharing a room with someone but don’t wanna disturb their sleep by turning on a lamp or overhead light. It requires batteries instead of needing to be recharged, which I find very practical.

 

8.) Graphic book tote

How else is a book worm supposed to carry all the books she checks out from the library or buys at Barnes and Noble and used bookstores? I use mine all the time and it makes it so much easier to lug around heavy books. Plus, I love the quote on this one; “You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy books, and that’s kind of the same thing.” I’ve never heard a truer statement.

 

 

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So there you have it. Good luck with your last minute Christmas shopping and happy holidays to you all! I hope you have a wonderful last couple weeks of 2017.

November Wrap-Up

November was a fabulous month for reading. I read 14 books! And I thoroughly enjoyed most of them. So many new books I can add to my favorites list!

 

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This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada
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As you’ll know if you read my review of This Mortal Coil from a couple days ago, I was absolutely mind-blown by this book! I mean, a world in which DNA can be altered and  the main character is an expert gene hacker? Such a genius, unheard of concept! Plus there’s a subtle yet powerful romance, a race to obtain a cure for a deadly plague, and a whole lot of action and unexpected betrayals. Definitely one of the best sci-fi’s I’ve ever read and one of my top ten favorite reads of this year. Read my review here.

 

 

 

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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The Killer in Me by Margot Harrison
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Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to see through the eyes of a killer? Ever since she can remember, Nina Barrows has been able to do just that. This story is told in dual POV’s by Nina and her friend Warren. We’re given a glimpse through the eyes of the Thief in the Night (as the killer calls himself) as Nina slips into his thoughts and sees through his eyes every night. As Nina and Warren travel through the desert together-Warren to visit a potential college and Nina to meet her birth mother-they each deal with their own internal conflicts. When Nina finally comes face to face with the killer she’s been connected to her entire life, she must decide whether her visions have any truth to them or are just a product of long lost memories that became warped and altered in her mind. This book was impossible to put down and there were a few shocking twists that completely blew my mind. I loved being inside both Nina and Warrens minds as they grew closer and worked to unravel the truth behind Nina’s haunting visions, and I was sad when their story came to a close. I’m definitely looking forward to Margot’s next book.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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How to Break a Boy by Laurie Devore

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I love love looooove reading about female characters who aren’t necessarily likable or noble or moral in the beginning but undergo a redemption arc and a mega transformation. As Olivia Clayton plots to get revenge on her ex-best friend turned frenemy, she finds herself falling for the guy she’s using as part of her plan, and discovers that it may be harder to leave behind her mean-girl ways than she thought.

Although it was very difficult to like Olivia at times, I was still rooting for her to get the guy and leave her back-stabbing, manipulative, mean-girl ex-best friend in the dust. There’s an abundance of drama and secrets, betrayal and internal conflict as Olivia learns to change her ways and discover what she truly wants and who she wants to be. I loved the banter and romance between her and Whit, the emotional and behavioral insight into Olivia’s character and her journey to redemption and self-forgiveness. Laurie Devore has a new book called Winner Take All releasing in January and I’m lucky enough to have snagged an arc! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for her second novel.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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Run the Risk by Allison Van Diepen

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I love second chance romances and I love bad-boy love interests who actually aren’t really bad guys at all.  So I was eager to read this love story about a girl who’s in love with the guy who chose the gang life over her but is trying to right his wrongs and prove to her that he’s changed. Overall I enjoyed the story and the characters. I thought Mateo was perfectly swoony and I liked getting to see how Grace’s relationship with her brother Alex changed for the better as she looked after him and tried her hardest to keep him out of trouble. I was a little disappointed in the lack of detailed romance scenes though. For some reason I assumed they’d be a little steamier and less fade-to-black. So that part kinda fell flat, although I liked the relationship between Grace and Mateo overall-it was made up of mutual respect, love, trust and passion, even if they had a lot of hurdles to overcome first. I’ll probably read more of Allison Van Diepen’s books and enjoy them more now that I know what to expect from them.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

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I enjoyed This Shattered World as much as I did its predecessor These Broken Stars. Jubilee and Flynn are quite literally star-crossed lovers; they’re enemies on opposite sides of a rebellion. When the two cross paths, Flynn takes Jubilee prisoner in the hopes that he can negotiate her safe return in exchange for answers regarding a secret building hidden in the outskirts of the swamplands. But soon they find themselves working together to uncover the mystery behind the aforementioned hidden building-one that may be run by an organization that could be the very reason their world is at war.

It’s told in their alternating POV’s as they fight to survive and learn to trust one another and uncover the truth. I loved every action-packed second and the complicated enemies-to-lovers relationship between them. I loved getting to see more of Tarver and Lilac, the heroines of These Broken Stars, and how they interacted with Jubilee and Flynn as well. Now, on to book three!

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

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Henrietta ‘Nettie’ Howel has the power to burst into flames in a patriarchal Victorian London where men with magic are called sorcerers and women with magic are deemed witches and sentenced to execution. So when she’s forced to use her powers to save her friend, she’s shocked when she’s instead invited to train as a sorceress. They think she may be the prophesied one, the first female sorcerer in hundreds of years. As she trains to fight demons and harness her powers, she finds herself torn between handsome men, faces betrayal and self-doubt as she questions whether she really is who they think she is; a force destined to defeat the demons that have been terrorizing London for centuries.

A Shadow Bright and Burning was a wild ride from beginning to end. I’ve never had so many mixed feelings for so many characters before-from Rook to Magnus to Blackwood to Master Agrippa-they have so many different sides to them that are revealed in such astonishing ways and I was on edge the entire time, wondering who to trust and whom Henrietta would remain friends with or become enemies with. I was impressed with Nettie’s refusal to let her identity as the only female sorcerer cause her to feel inferior to her male counterparts. She worked hard to prove herself to those who treated her like dirt and I greatly admired her compassion for her friends and for the people of London she was trying to protect. I’m all for Rook and Nettie as a couple but I adored Magnus too, even though he really tested my patience at times with his arrogance. He completely made up for it though. I’m super excited to jump into book two, which came out in September.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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The Accidental Bad Girl by Maxine Kaplan

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The Accidental Bad Girl is a May 2018 release, so I was lucky to get my hands on an arc this early. I have mixed feelings about it though. While I enjoyed Kendall’s character, and the supporting characters Gilly and Sloane, I felt like it was a bit unrealistic as a story for a highschool girl. The way she handled everything so expertly-being bribed by a drug dealer, being kidnapped by undercover cops, etc-seemed a little unbelievable.

I did really like the feminist aspects thrown in though-the way Sloane’s story was handled and how Kendall dealt with being ostracized and slut-shamed. And I was really disappointed with how Kendall’s relationship with one of the characters played out. It was an entertaining read that talked about some very important topics but overall It felt a bit too over the top to me and there were some parts I wish had turned out differently.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

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Dig Too Deep by Amy Allgeyer

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I’m a bit of a tree hugger and a wannabe environmental activist so Dig Too Deep was a very motivational and refreshing read. It follows Liberty, who finds herself having to move in with her grandmother after her activist mother is arrested following a violent political protest. Liberty has always hated her mother’s activist nature. It causes her to feel neglected since her mother seems to care more about carrying out protests and fighting authority than she does looking after her own daughter. And now, with her mom in prison, Liberty is angrier towards her more than ever.

But upon arriving in her Grandmother’s small mountainside town of Ebottsville, Kentucky, Liberty finds that she may be more like her mother than she’d like to admit. The town’s water appears to be extremely dangerous and unhealthy. It’s neon orange, for one. And her grandmother is coughing up blood. Liberty suspects the mining company, owned by Ebottsville’s most richest and powerful man, Mr. Peabody. Officials claim the water is safe, but Liberty isn’t convinced, so she sets out to gather evidence and take the mining company down.

I loved Liberty’s persistence and determination, her passion to protect her grandma and stand up to authority. She was really brave to continue fighting for what she believed in, even after receiving threats from Peabody and his followers. I particularly loved this one scene where she stood up to an asshole of a guy who tried to get in her way and boss her around. Liberty’s story was inspiring and believable and I loved the relationship she had with her grandmother and with her new friend Dobber as well. I’d love to read more from Amy Allgeyer!

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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Love Life and the List by Kasie West

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I’ve been reading Kasie West’s books for years. I can always count on her to deliver a light hearted but unforgettable romance about self discovery, family and personal growth. I loved Abby’s passion as an artist and admired her determination to improve her paintings and prove to herself and others that she had what it took to be a professional.

Friends-to-lovers romances are one of my favorite romance tropes so I loved seeing Abby and Cooper’s relationship develop very slowly from one of friendship to one of romance, even if it took awhile for Cooper to come anywhere close to admitting his feelings. Love, Life and the List is about a summer filled with new experiences, and about learning to put yourself out there. It’s about self growth, shown by how Abby forces herself to try new things and really put herself out there so that she can truly put her heart into her work. I loved every minute of it. Kasie never fails to write the most adorable, fun, contemporaries.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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Ripple by Heather Smith Meloche

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Ripple is told in the alternating POV’s of Jack and Tessa. Jack is struggling to look after his mom as her schizophrenia grows increasingly worse, whilst also struggling to stay out of trouble despite his penchant for pranks and challenging authority. Tessa is dealing with the pressure her Grandmother is putting on her to take over the family business, her drunken step dad’s constant yelling and insults, and the internal guilt and self-loathing she feels every time she sleeps with another guy behind her boyfriends back. But she can’t seem to stop and doesn’t know how else to cope. She wants to be an artist but can’t find the strength to stand up to her Grandmother. The two of them are brought together through circumstance and are drawn to each other over their equally complicated lives.

I thought the writing was gorgeous and the characterization of each of them very well done. I finished this one in about a day and although I enjoyed it for the most part, it did feel like everything came together a little too quickly in the end. I almost wish their story could’ve been split into two books, even though I usually prefer contemporaries as stand-alones. I just felt like I didn’t get to see enough of Jack and Tessa as a couple after they overcame their problems and their internal struggles. There was so much romantic and sexual tension between them but we didn’t really get to see it fully play out. Overall I enjoyed the story-line but I didn’t feel all that satisfied with the ending, and I’m not sure how I felt about the representation of Schizophrenia either. It seemed a bit over-dramatic to me.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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Star Struck by Jenny McLachlan

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Unfortunately, I DNF Star Struck. It just wasn’t for me. I guess I found the main character to be too shallow and the storyline didn’t capture my interest. That’s just my personal opinion though! I’m sure some people may find it to be a cute, light-hearted read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Firstlife by Gena Showalter 

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I’ve been a fan of Showalter since her Alice in Zombieland series. Somehow she knows how to mix just the right amount of humor and drama and action and tragedy-it’s never too overwhelmingly dark. Tenley or “Ten” is a snarky, resilient, independent and hilarious main character who is determine to make her own decisions regarding her afterlife and won’t let anyone force her to bend to their will; even when her own parents send her away to an asylum where she’s tortured and manipulated in an attempt to drive her to pick the realm that her parents have sided with. It was fascinating to read about a world in which the afterlife (life after death) is considered more important than a persons “firstlife.”

Troika and Myriad, the two afterlife realms, are vastly different and it’s obvious why Tenley has such a hard time choosing which one to sign with. The realms are at war with each other and each of them see Tenley as a vital addition to the betterment of their world. I loved Killian and Archer and Sloane and can’t wait to read book two and see how the ongoing war between the realms plays out. There’s no love triangle so don’t worry. Killian is the main love interest while Archer becomes more like a brother to Tenley. Gena never fails to deliver in the romance department and I’m looking forward to further development of Tenley and Killian’s relationship.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

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I love dark fantasies and I love books about zombies. Reign of the Fallen comes out in January 2018-so mark your calendars! I feel like there aren’t nearly enough zombie stories in YA! Or maybe that’s just me? The ‘zombies’ in this story are unique though. The main character in this story, Odessa, is a necromancer, someone in charge of raising dead royalty again and again so they can continue to rule and look after the kingdom. The dead must always wear shrouds that cover their entire face and bodies. If a living person catches a glimpse of their skin, it turns them into a ‘Shade’  which is a flesh eating monster that can only be killed with fire.

Let me warn you-this book made me SOB. There’s a particular scene that literally left me crying the entire rest of the time I was finishing the book. Ouch. I loved every second of this book though. The characters are extremely diverse-many of them are characters of color, and Odessa herself is brown skinned and bisexual. There are so many potential love interests, both male and female, and I can’t wait to see what happens in terms of the romance in book two.

This book was darker than I expected, although I don’t what exactly I was expecting. It’s a book about zombies, Becca, hello! Duh! It has an amazing plethora of characters, nail biting suspense and horror, adventure, grief and tragedy. There’s incredible world building as Odessa deals with loss and struggles with the idea that the ability to bring back people from the dead may bring back more harm than good. My heart still hurts over that one scene though. Ouch. You’re not forgiven yet Sarah! I’ll be participating in the blog tour for Reign of the Fallen next month and interviewing Sarah Glenn Marsh, so keep an eye out for that!

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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The Reader by Traci Chee

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The Reader is a diverse fantasy that take place in a world where books have been banned and reading is unheard of. Sefia is on the run after her last surviving family member is captured and taken away. Along the way she rescues and makes friends with a boy who has been imprisoned and forced to fight his whole life. Together, they set out to rescue Sefia’s Aunt Nin, using an old book that used to belong to her father as their only guide, and one that may be the reason her parents were killed.

The story switches between multiple POV’s and at times it was a little hard to keep up with everything and keep the many different characters straight. There are pirates and assassins and unlikely allies, but my favorite relationship was Sefia’s bond with Archer, a boy who doesn’t talk but who still seems to understand her better than anyone else. The writing is beautiful and elegant, the world building slow but mesmerizing. There are people with different types of powers too-like the ability to see into another person’s past or a glimpse of their possible future. Everything about the story-telling and the plot is unique and enchanting and it was hard to put down. Although it was difficult to follow at times, I’m definitely looking forward to reading the sequel.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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I also had the pleasure of meeting Jessica Cluess and Traci Chee -as well as Cindy Pon- at a book signing a few weeks ago! Jessica is one of the funniest authors I’ve ever met and both her and Traci were super sweet.

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So that’s that! Did you guys read any good books this month? Which was your favorite?

 

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Review: This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

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Title: This Mortal Coil

Author: Emily Suvada

Release Date: November 7th, 2017

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Source: #booksfortrade

Genre: Dystopian/Action/Science Fiction

 

 

 

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Review:  First off, before I jump into my review, I just want to say that I’m glad that I went into this story only having read a very brief, vague summary of it. It made everything more surprising and exciting and suspenseful. I only read the official book synopsis after having finished it and I realized some of the revelations I’d found to be shocking and unexpected had actually been mentioned in the summary. BAH! How dare they.

That’s the reason I didn’t include the Goodreads Synopsis beforehand like I usually do when it comes to reviews. Maybe for some books I prefer to have a little more insight before diving in but in this case I’m glad I went in partially blind. I had NO idea what was coming and that made my reading experience a thousand times more splendid.

I started This Mortal Coil basically only knowing that it was a dystopian sci-fi based off DNA sequencing, featuring a boy and girl working together to save humanity. That’s about it. I didn’t know any of the key points of the plot that are given away in the synopsis and I’m so glad I didn’t. Everything was a surprise that way and I had no idea which characters I was meant to trust or grow attached to which made it all the more exciting. But maybe that’s just me! Just in case though, I try to be as vague as possible in my reviews as well.

This Mortal Coil is by far the most captivating and mind-blowingly complex book I’ve read so far this year. The story’s setting is unlike anything I’ve seen in YA, one in which people can implant technology into their bodies that allows them to re-write their DNA and alter their appearances and bodies.

Catarina Agatta is an expert gene hacker who’s spent the last 2 years trying to survive on her own in a world torn apart by a deadly plague; a plague that causes people to explode within weeks of contracting the virus, infecting anyone within a couple mile radius. But Cat’s father has created a vaccine and provides Cat with instructions on how to retrieve and release it. So it looks it’s up now up to Cat to obtain it and release it into the world. So she sets out to save humanity alongside a boy named Cole, a soldier working for Cartaxus, the very organization that kidnapped her father and his apprentice/Cat’s close friend Dax two years prior and forced the pair to work for them.

With a background in astrophysics and genetic engineering, Author Emily Suvada has significant expertise in the field that helps make the scientific aspects and the speculative take on DNA sequencing feel all the more authentic. The elaborate descriptions, mature and intelligent writing, and the complexity of the plot and world in which the book takes place will capture you and pull you in until, before you know it, you’re so invested in Cat and her companions story that it’s all you can think about.

Catarina is a whip-smart heroine who’s equal parts compassionate, courageous,  apprehensive and ruthless. She’s determined to rid the world of the virus that has drove humanity to near-extinction, but she has no idea who she can trust in a world where even DNA can lie. She has a lot to learn about the outside world she’s been hidden from for so long, and about the father she thought she knew so well, and about her own identity as well.

There was a certain character who I didn’t expect to have such an important role in the story, but I’m glad he did.  He went from someone I didn’t fully trust, understand or even like to someone I rooted for and swooned over and couldn’t get enough of…much like Catarina’s feelings towards him. Their relationship developed from that of two people who’d been thrown together against their will and had no choice but to work together, to one based on mutual honesty, respect and admiration.

There were characters I assumed would have larger parts than they did, and those who I thought were trustworthy but turned out not to be. There were plot twists and betrayals and non-stop action and it was a roller-coaster of emotions from beginning to shocking end. It’s a science fiction that actually focuses a great amount of plot on the science aspects. It’s a slow-burn romance between two unexpected characters. It’s an action-packed dystopian adventure chock full of horror and suspense, with complicated yet lovable characters.

And guess what? It’s gonna have a sequel! Which I did not realize until I finished reading the last page and immediately rushed to twitter to ask the author if there would be a follow up…to which she replied that yes, there will be, and she’s working on it right now! We have to wait a whole year unfortunately, but it’ll without a doubt be worth it!

I almost want to pick up the book again and re-read it immediately, despite having just finished it earlier this month. I almost NEVER feel this way. Emily Suvada is truly a magician and she has me under her spell. I am in awe of her and her story-telling. And I promise you will be too. So what are you waiting for? Go pick up a copy from your local library or bookstore or buy it on your kindle right this very second! Or put it on your Christmas list! No time to waste! The extensive use of exclamation marks should show you just how hyped I am about this book!

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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Buy it here: Amazon

 

Also can we talk about how beautiful both the U.S and UK covers are?!

 

 

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Scorpio Season Vibes: The best Scorpio-esque books to read this month

 

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It’s November and you know what that means right? It’s officially Scorpio season! As a Scorpio myself and someone who finds astrology fun and interesting regardless of whether or not it has any scientific foundation, I thought it’d be fun to throw together a list of my favorite books that give off a very Scorpio-like vibe. I divided books into groups based on which Scorpio trait/vibe/stereotype I think they best represent.

 

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The Mysterious & Secretive

Scorpios are well known for the air of secrecy and mystery that apparently surrounds them. I can confirm, we do love our secrets and we’ve got the poker face down-pat. Scorpios are the definition of a closed book. These books feature spies and murder-mysteries, a mystifying carnival and a search for a long dead Welsh king. The curiosity and the mystical nature of these stories makes them the perfect addition to a Scorpio-inspired book list.

 

 

The Dark & Compelling

I’ve never been described as “dark” or “compelling” myself but I can see how these descriptors fit into the overall definition of Scorpios. I am drawn to very dark books and movies so maybe that’s where I fit into that stereotype. For this category, the “dark and compelling” refers more to the stories themselves than the characters. There are zombies and creepy woodland creatures, a stranded spaceship crawling with monsters that used to be human, and protagonists with terrifying supernatural abilities. If you love creepy, dreary and unpredictable, then these Scorpio-esque reads are right up your alley.

 

 

The Cunning & Ambitious

Although Scorpios are known for their loyalty, we also have a bit of a reputation for being very devious and determined when it comes to getting what we want. When it comes to these narrators, they exhibit these Scorpio-like traits to the fullest extent. Whether they’re seeking fortune and glory, power or freedom, these characters will stop at nothing to achieve their goals, through whatever means necessary.

The Vengeful & Fierce

As someone who is way too good at holding grudges, I love a good revenge story. From hunting down a gang of murderous cowboys to getting even with back-stabbing best friends or trying to obtain power over their oppressors, these vengeful gals have Scorpio written all over them. But their stories are about so much more than revenge-there’s romance, action, girl power, magic and fantastic world-building, all with a very Scorpio-like feeling encompassing it.

 

 

The Courageous & Profound

Bravery and intensity are two more traits that are often used to describe those born under the Scorpio star sign. Each of these protagonists aren’t afraid to break rules or stand up to authority or face their fears in order to achieve justice, independence or power. They don’t let the intensity of the hardships they endure along the way diminish their courage or stop them from accomplishing their objectives.

 

The  Resilient  & Independent

While I do consider myself to be very resilient and independent, the main characters in these books have me beat. I highly doubt I’d ever have the guts to hike the Appalachian trail by myself, for one. I most definitely would not survive more than 5 minutes on the run from bad guys in New York City all on my own either. So I guess they’re more Scorpio than I am. Darnit. I need to step up my game! Then there’s Sky-the main character in I’ll Meet You There-who’s struggling to get by with very little money in a small town and with an incompetent mom, and make it into her dream college so she can finally start a new life. Each of these stories and their narrators are inspiring and Scorpio-esque in their own way, and they just had to make it onto my list.

 

The Clever & Complex

For my last category, I chose books pertaining to Scorpio’s deep sense of intuition and the many layers that make up a Scorpios mind and soul. These attributes can be applied to the stories, characters or both. There’s scientific geniuses, crime solvers, computer hackers and criminal profilers, or just narrators who simply possess quick problem solving skills and have more sides to them than meets the eye. Scorpios are said to be almost psychic at times, and I’d like to think that I can be as well. It makes me seem cooler.

 

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So that’s that! I hope ya’ll had a fantastic November and I hope I’ve inspired you to pick up some of these wonderful Scorpio-ish novels. I may make another fun astrology-based blog post in the future, featuring book suggestions for each of the signs, so keep an eye out for that!

 

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