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.

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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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Arc Review + Blog Tour: Haunting the Deep by Adriana Mather

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Title: Haunting the Deep (How to Hang a Witch #2)

Author: Adriana Mather

Release Date: October 3rd, 2017

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Source: received via publisher in exchange for review

Genre: Fantasy/Horror



Review:
When I first saw arcs of Haunting the Deep floating around on social media I had no idea it was a sequel, but the title and cover had me intrigued. So I looked it up and found it was the follow-up to How to Hang a Witch, which I’d bought on my kindle the year it came out but hadn’t gotten around to reading yet.

The first thing I noticed was that the author shared a last name with the main character, Samantha Mather. This had me wondering if the book were some sort of autobiographical account of the author, or a relative from the author’s weird, paranormal past, so I turned to the author’s note at the back of the book. It turns out Adriana Mather has quite the family history; she’s descended from relatives who started the Salem witch trials, as well as some survivors of the Titanic. Upon coming across some old family relics -including a stack of letters from the Titanic-in her grandparent’s house, she became interested in her own lineage and did some research on her ancestors and the history of Salem before writing her modern day paranormal duology.

After reading and thoroughly enjoying How to Hang a Witch, I was eager to return to Adriana’s magical and haunting version of modern day Salem and see how she wove more of her family history into Samantha’s story. So naturally, I was super excited when the publisher agreed to send me a review copy and asked me to participate in the blog tour.  Thank you so much to Margret Wiggins at Knopf publishing for sending me a copy!

Haunting the Deep follows the events of How to Hang a Witch, in the aftermath of Samantha Mather’s narrow escape from a deadly curse. Sam thought she’d left her ghost-seeing days behind her, so she’s unpleasantly surprised when early nineteenth century ghosts suddenly begin appearing at innoportune times. Then she begins to dream of being aboard the Titanic, not just as an observer, but as a passenger, to whom the people and the ship all seem so impossibly familiar. To add to the eeriness of it all, articles of Titanic era clothing start appearing on Sam’s doorstep left by an unkown person, and the upcoming school dance just happens to be titanic themed as well.

There were many new developments I was happy to see in Haunting the Deep. First was her relationship with the Descendants; the group of girls at her school who are descended directly from the witch trial victims. In How to Hang a Witch, they started off enemies, due to their suspicion and mistrust of Sam because of her reationship to Cotton Mather, the man behind the 1600’s witch trials fiasco. In the aftermath of surviving the curse together however, they came to trust Sam, and In Haunting the Deep they’ve even grown to become friends. Susannah, Mary and Alice are determined to help Sam break this new curse and the way they look out for her is admirable. I absolutely love when female characters go from enemies to good friends who look out for and care for each other, so this was something I was really happy to see.

Her friendship with Jaxon is more solidified too, although it became frustrating how often their lack of communication led to fights and a slight loss of trust between them. I wanted them to quit arguing so much and rely on each other more. I mean, all they had to do was talk to each other and so much grief could have been avoided!
We also get to see Sam’s relationship with her dad for the first time since he got out of the hospital. Sam and her dad are each other’s only remaining family members after Sam’s grandmother died, so the two of them were very close and I found their connection very heartwarming. It was clear that they’d been through a lot together but still remained strong and maintained a tight relationship.

There was also the return of a character from How to Hang a Witch that I thought we’d seen the last of, who returned to help Sam and her friends get to the bottom of the Titanic mystery and uncover the secrets regarding the sudden appearance of the unfamilar ghosts. It was someone I was very happy to see more of, someone who I had really missed!

I love books with witchcraft and ghosts, so I was really pulled in by the magical and ghostly aspects of the story as Sam and the Descendants performed spells and rituals to communicate with the dead, trace origins of cursed objects and break numerous curses. I’d love to read more books with Salem as a setting. It’s such an interesting place to read about, with so much dark history and old houses and relics that make it feel almost frozen in time. Adriana perfectly captured that feeling and the Titanic flashbacks felt very authentic and atmospheric as well. If you’re looking for a book that’s a little creepy and mysterious but not too heavy, Haunting the Deep is perfect read! It’s pretty light hearted despite all the dead people and curses and witchery, I promise.

Rating: 4 Stars

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I also had the privilege of meeting Adriana Mather just the other day! She talked about some of her creepy encounters in Salem and talked a little more about how her family history inspired her books.

It’s officially Autumn: So here are some of my favorite September releases of this year!

Over the last month, I finally got a chance to read some of my most anticipated September releases. I also got to meet 3 out of these 4 authors within the last month, which was very exciting!

Instead of writing separate full length reviews, I thought it’d be fun to make lists of my favorite things about each of them. So here are the things I enjoyed most about the following fall reads:

 

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There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

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  • The PERFECT Halloween time read, as it takes place in autumn, in Nebraska, with lots of, ya know…corn. Corn mazes. It’s creepy as hell, gruesome and the perfect mix of horror, romance, humor and character development
  • It’s totally different from anything Perkins has written before. All of her previous books were fluffy, cute contemporary romances and while this one has romance too, it’s a horror story overall
  • Ollie is a pretty unconventional love interest. I mean, he has pink hair! He’s a bit of a social outcast, kinda seen as the school “weirdo” but is still totally adorable and swoony
  • Perkins makes you FEEL for each of the victims before they die by giving you a small portion of their POV and some insight into their life. You get to know them before they are killed off, which makes the story feel sadder and darker, yes, but also all the more real!
  • The main character has a mysterious secret in her past to be revealed. The intrigue!
  • I had literally no idea who the killer actually was. All my guesses were wrong. Never saw it coming. So I was on edge the whole time!
  • There are some pretty quirky side characters. I loved Makani and her friends and I loved Ollie. They were each very unique. Makani herself is a very bad-ass main character/girl of color

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An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

  • Another perfect autumn read, with beautiful descriptions that make you feel like you’re living in a cottage on the edge of the forest, with fall colored leaves falling down around you and the smell of pumpkin in the air
  • The main character Isobel is quirky, funny, eccentric. She’s a very talented painter who puts her heart into her work and is full of passion for what she does.
  • The romance is healthy and non-toxic. Consent and respect are both very important aspects of their relationship and it’s a beautiful thing to see.
  • There’s dark magic that works in unexpected ways, faeries, a hidden well that promises immortality but at a steep price; the inability to perform any form of art or craft
  • The love interest, the faerie prince Rook, isn’t the stereotypical dominant alpha male type who’s chock full of toxic masculinity. He’s sweet and gentle and respectful.

There are some creepy moments that accompany Rook and Isobel on their journey through the woods. Some of the fair folk are a bit..nuts..and many of them use a magic glamour to cover up their true appearances which are kinda…scary.


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Warcross by Marie Lu

  • Video games and virtual reality! I loved the feeling of becoming immersed in the digital age of a near-future
  • It’s set in Tokyo! A super high tech tokyo. Which is awesome cause not alot of YA books take place in Asian countries
  • The main character Emika is a bad-ass rainbow haired asian girl with extreme hacker skills and a super cool electric skateboard that she rides everywhere
  • There’s a swoony Japanese love interest; Hideo, whom you’ll immediately fall in love with. Well, maybe not immediately. He comes off as a bit prickly at first. But as he and Emika grow closely, his lovable qualities will become more prevalant
  • There are diverse side characters-disabled, queer and poc members of Emika’s Warcross team and I enjoyed getting to know them
  • I loved the teamwork aspect between Emika and her teammates and how they grew to trust and respect each other as they trained. The relationships between them grew stronger as they learned to rely on one another and it felt like they cared about one another as more than just teammates working to win a virtual reality game
  • There was an unexpected plot twist that reaaaaaally threw me. I seriously did not see it coming and never would have forseen it. I love being surprised like that!
  • The ending left me totally reeling and desperate for the sequel. Warcross is a duology so there’s only one more book to go!

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Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

  • Reading this book kind of reminded me of a game of clue. Ya know, like…whodunit? Was it so-and-so in the ballroom with the candle stick? Except, instead of murder it’s stolen artwork
  • Remember those choose-your-own-adventure books you used to read as a kid? Jane, Unlimited reminded me of those, with the many alternating universes. There’s like 5 different mysteries going on in just this one book!
  • The book is also a mix of like 5 genres in one-mystery, horror, romance, etc, and it’s split into 5 different stories that all branch out from the different choices Jane makes. Sound confusing? It really isn’t, I promise. It’s what made it so hard to put the book down!
  • The story takes place on an island mansion that has a lot of secrets hidden behind its’ doors. The descriptions of the mansion’s many rooms are described so vividly and with so much detail that i felt as if I were inside the mansion itself, wandering its many different rooms and getting lost solving its various puzzles
  • There! Is! Bisexual! Representation! That’s right, our main character Jane finds herself attracted to both guys and girls. Its subtle but it’s there.
  • There is quite the eccentric cast of characters…and they’re all totally unique from each other so there’s no way you’ll get them confused. Some of them are very weird or mysterious or even obnoxious but each is unforgettable in his or her own way.
  • There’s an adorable, wise old bloodhound who follows Jane all around the mansion as she unravels each mystery, and seems to know all about the strange activities occurring within its walls and amidst its occupants
  • Our main character Jane has a really strange and unique hobby-she makes and designs umbrellas! The umbrellas are a pretty central the to the story and something that Jane takes very seriously and is very passionate about. Even the books cover resembles an umbrella!

 

Me and Stephanie Perkins at her Barnes and Noble book signingimg_9043-1Me and Marie Lu at Mysterious Galaxyimg_9042-1Me with Aditi Khorana, Kristin Cashore and Kierstan White at Mysterious Galaxy 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: For This Life Only by Stacey Kade

 



Title: For This Life Only

Author: Stacey Kade

Release Date: August 30th 2016

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Source: kindle

Genre: contemporary



Review:
This book was both beautiful and devastating, an honest portrayal of a teenage boy struggling to cope with his twin brothers death, and his desperation for answers regarding life after death.

I’m glad Kade for decided to delve into this topic, for writing a character who questions whether people truly end up “in a better place” after they die. It was interesting to read from Jace’s pov as he struggled with the faith his parents were so desperate to hold onto in the light of tragedy. I felt like I could relate to him a lot, as I’ve never really been religious and don’t really know what to believe in terms of life after death.

This book made me SOB so so much. But it was worth it. It’s a book that makes you think and second guess your presumptions regarding the afterlife and Jace was a very strong, very real main character. The way he was written had me feeling very attached to him by the end, and I really came to understand each of his thoughts and actions and why he was the way he was.

Thera was a bit prickly and hard to like at first but she grew on me and I came to admire her honesty, her ferocity and the way she was there for Jace without really coddling or pitying him, although I personally would have liked to see more of a heart to heart between them, with Jace breaking down and spilling all his feelings of guilt and sorrow because well, I’m sappy like that. Overall one of my favorite reads of this year, and I can’t wait to read more by Stacey Kade!

4.5/5 stars 

May Wrap-Up

I’ve decided to start posting wrap ups at the end of each month where I briefly review each of that months reads. But um, don’t hold me to that? I’m lazy yet simultaneously incapable of writing mini reviews. They always turn into full length reviews and therefore I spend way more time on them than intended. And it’s exhausting. I’m just giving it a try for now. Buuuuuut the reason for my exhaustion could simply be the fact that I read a total of 17 books this month. And left all the reviews till the last minute. SEVENTEEN YOU GUYS. That’s the most I’ve read per month this entire year. So Phew. Here we go.

 

After the Fall by Kate Hart


Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Raychel is sleeping with two boys: her overachieving best friend Matt…and his slacker brother, Andrew. Raychel sneaks into Matt’s bed after nightmares, but nothing ever happens. He doesn’t even seem to realize she’s a girl, except when he decides she needs rescuing. But Raychel doesn’t want to be his girl anyway. She just needs his support as she deals with the classmate who assaulted her, the constant threat of her family’s eviction, and the dream of college slipping quickly out of reach. Matt tries to help, but he doesn’t really get it… and he’d never understand why she’s fallen into a secret relationship with his brother. The friendships are a precarious balance, and when tragedy strikes, everything falls apart. Raychel has to decide which pieces she can pick up – and which ones are worth putting back together.

 

My Thoughts:

This book was dark, gut-wrenching, tragic and very, very impactful. I found it interesting to read from pov’s of two characters, boy and girl, who weren’t each others love interests. Raychel and Matt have been best friends since they were kids, and one of them may or may not want something more, but they’re not necessarily a good match. Nothing in this book will go in the direction you expect it to.

This book is not a love story.  It has some romance, but it takes up very little of the book and is far from being all rainbows and unicorns. I was also surprised at how….problematic and frustrating Matt could be at times. Entitled, selfish and even a little misogynistic at times. I wouldn’t call him a horrible person, but he did come off as very morally grey at times. In the end though, I think he really learned from it all and went on to become a better person. This was one of the most harrowing and heartbreaking books I read this month, and I could not recommend it enough. But um…brace yourself…….and……..(spoiler-ish alert)……………………………………………………keep the title and cover of the book in mind. It’s called After the FALL for a reason ya know? *sobs into handkerchief*

5/5 stars

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This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp


Synopsis:

Everyone has a reason to fear the boy with the gun.

10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03. The auditorium doors won’t open.  10:05. Someone starts shooting. Told from four perspectives over the span of 54 harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

My Thoughts: 

So, this one has been on my kindle for a while now but I hadn’t really given any thought towards picking it up any time soon. But then I found out via twitter that Marieke Nijkamp is an autistic (like me) author! And this dramatically increased my interest, so I started reading and finished the book within a day. A day! That’s how impossible-to-put-down it was.

It tells the story of a school shooting, so of course it’s full of death and blood and terror and grief. The accounts of the 54 minute shooting are told from 4 alternating pov’s-all of whom have some sort of connection to the shooter.

My heart was pounding the entire time I read and I grew so attached to these characters whose lives I only got a small glimpse of. I don’t think I spent a single second reading this book without wasn’t sobbing or fuming or shaking in terror.

By the time it was over I was exhasted, devastated and in a perpetual state of shock and awe, not wanting to say goodbye to Tomás, Claire, Autumn and Slyvia. I even felt a multitude of mixed emotions for the shooter himself, bullied and knocked down by life to the point that he enacted a cold hearted plan for revenge, sending his former classmates to participate in his terrifying game of survival.
5/5 stars

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Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

Synopsis:

This romantic story of hope, chance, and change from the author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is one Jenny Han says is filled with all of her “favorite things,” Morgan Matson calls “something wonderful” and Stephanie Perkins says “is rich with the intensity of real love.”

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall. As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect. 


My Thoughts:

As you can imagine, after finishing those first two heart-obliterating reads, I wanted to read something a little lighter. So I picked up this gorgeous book about luck and love and staying true to yourself even when faced with major life changes.

We’ve all wondered what it would be like to win the million dollar lottery, right? Of course you have. Don’t lie. In Windfall, that’s exactly what happens to Ally’s friend Teddy after she buys him a lottery ticket as a joke for his 18th birthday. Teddy, whose been poor for years as he and his mom struggle to make ends meet in the aftermath of his fathers departure, is suddenly a millionaire. And both his and Ally’s lives are turned upside down.

Suddenly Teddy is buying everything he ever wanted and although he swore to Ally that he wouldn’t change, he’s already starting to become someone completely different. When Alice was just 9 years old, she won the worst possible lottery when her parents both died within a year of each other. Since then, she’s moved in with her aunt and uncle and her cousin Leo-whose become more of a brother to her-and it’s been her, Teddy and Leo against the world. Oh, and she’s in hopelessly unrequited love with her best friend.

But now, Teddy no longer has to worry about money and everything changes drastically. and although he offers Alice half is winnings, she isn’t so sure she’s willing to take on that kind of responsibility, especially as she watches Teddy struggle with his sudden fame and fortune and teeter on the verge of unrecognizable. I even found myself cringing at some of the things he said, did and bought. Teddy wasn’t perfect at all, he didn’t immediatly donate large ammount of money to charity, but Alice did eventually help him see all the ways he could make a difference, and once some of the excitement wore off, he began to open his eyes to all the good he could do-as well as all the things he couldn’t-with his large sum of money.

This was a cute, quick read, despite it being over 400 pages. I tore through it pretty quickly. I really loved the relationships between Alice and Teddy and Leo and appreciated Smith’s take on the well known theory that love can’t buy happiness, nor can it fix all your problems. In fact, it can even bring you even more problems; people who befriend you just for your money, strained relationships even with those you love most, unwanted attention and expectation and a whole lot of responsibility.
Although this book wasn’t entirely mind blowing or life changing, I thoroughly enjoyed it-the characters were multi dimensional, the story touching and thought provoking and light hearted, and the writing simple yet true. This is the first book I’ve read by Jennifer E Smith that’s written in first person as opposed to 3rd and I hope she continues to write more books in first person because I think she does it well. And I generally think that contemporaries are better off written in first person. Overall, this was definitely worth the read!

Rating: 4/5 stars

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Synopsis:

Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard’s sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king’s palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?

Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

 

My Thoughts: (possible vague spoilers ahead)

This book has been on my shelf for years, and although I was wary of picking it up because of the excessive hype surrounding it, I am so glad I did! It’s a compelling  examination of privilege and power in a world where a person’s worth is determined by the color of their blood-those with silver blood are high ranking and have powerful abilities, while those with red blood are powerless and living in poverty. But when Mare discovers she has abilities in spite of her red blood, everything she knows threatens to collapse.

Boy oh boy this book is FULL of unexpected betrayals and really really hard-to-like supporting characters. It’s full of nasty, over privileged silver bloods who think they’re better than everyone and don’t have an inch of sympathy for the red bloods living in poverty and basically enslaved by them. I was devastated (and still am) over one particular character whom I THOUGHT was trustworthy and different from all the other silver bloods but turned out to be the most malicious and dangerous of them all. IT TORE ME APART. I totally did not see that one coming. Seriously, I cried I was so shocked and upset. I’m dying to pick up the next book but I typically like to space my series out a bit so I don’t finish them too quickly. Plus, the fourth and final book doesn’t come out for another year. I HATE LONG WAITS.

I don’t even know what to think about the possible romantic love interests in this book. Everything about them is just so messy and unpredictable and I was torn between tolerating and hating them. God they’re so frustrating. I don’t even know if I like them but I’m still hoping for a particular outcome with one of the brothers, even if he, um…has questionable morals, to say the least. Can you see how worked up I’m getting? GAH.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=054481519X&asins=054481519X&linkId=3abbafceb8d74a8acf593c61b73a9510&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

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Synopsis:

Grace, tough and wise, has nearly given up on wishes, thanks to a childhood spent with her unpredictable, larger-than-life mother. But this summer, Grace meets Eva, a girl who believes in dreams, despite her own difficult circumstances. 

One fateful evening, Eva climbs through a window in Grace’s room, setting off a chain of stolen nights on the beach. When Eva tells Grace that she likes girls, Grace’s world opens up and she begins to believe in happiness again.

How to Make a Wish is an emotionally charged portrait of a mother and daughter’s relationship and a heartfelt story about two girls who find each other at the exact right time.

 

My Thoughts:

Ever since I read Ashley’s debut novel Suffer Love in January, I knew I wanted to read more of her books. So when I found out she was releasing a f/f contemporary with a bisexual main character, I was ecstatic! And, as I mentioned a few posts back, I was able to snag an ARC copy at YallWest in April! I loved everything about this book-Grace’s uberclose but platonic relationship with her best friend Luca, the family drama and Grace’s strained relationship with her mother, and of course, the budding romance between her and Eva.

Grace’s life has always been difficult because of her mother, who’s constantly finding and losing new boyfriends and moving them in and out of new homes with each guy she inevitably breaks up with. Eva on the other hand, is dealing with the recent death of her own mother. So in some ways, they’re more alike than they realize; Eva’s mother is gone, and Grace’s mother has never really been much of a mother at all. And as Eva begins spending more time with Grace’s mom, Grace starts to feel jealous and left out, as she watches her mother do all the things for Eva that she never did for her own daughter.

Grace’s mom was SO. FREAKING. FRUSTRATING. She ENFURIATED me. I had no sympathy for her, despite what she’d gone through with losing her husband when Grace was too little to remember. She behaved selfishly and recklessly and blamed everyone else around her for her own mistakes and lapses in judgment. I don’t know how Grace even had the patience to put up with her. Kudos to her for putting up with as much as she did.

The development of Grace and Eva’s relationship was slow and sweet and perfectly paced. They both provided each other with well needed distractions from each others lives and the mischief they got into was hilarious. Grace’s best friend Luca was adorable and he was so supportive of her, even when she made things difficult and snapped at him for calling out her mom’s problematic behavior. If there’s one thing YA is lacking, it’s more platonic guy/girl friendships. Theirs was very touching and inspiring and I hope to see more of it in books.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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Synopsis:

From New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Young comes a heartrending new novel about a girl struggling to deal with anger issues while taking care of her younger brother with special needs.

“Anger-management issues.”

That’s how they classified Savannah Sutton after she stuck a pencil in her ex-boyfriend’s hand because he mocked her little brother, Evan, for being disabled. That’s why they sent her to Brooks Academy—an alternative high school that’s used as a temporary detention center.

The days at Brooks are miserable, but at home, life is far more bleak. Savvy’s struggling to take care of her brother since her mom left years ago, and her alcoholic dad can’t be bothered. Life with Evan is a constant challenge, but he’s also the most important person in the world to Savvy.

Then there’s Cameron, a new student at Brooks with issues of his own; a guy from a perfect family that Savvy thought only existed on TV. Cameron seems determined to break through every one of the walls Savvy’s built around herself, except if she lets herself trust him, it could make everything she’s worked so hard for fall apart in an instant.

And with her aunt seeking custody of her brother and her ex-boyfriend seeking revenge, Savvy’s fighting to hold all the pieces together. But she’s not sure how much tighter she can be pulled before she breaks completely.

 

My Thoughts:

I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I would have liked, considering I’ve loved all other books I’ve read by Suzanne Young. I got through it easily enough. It wasn’t boring or slow, but I found myself unimpressed by the love interest, Cameron. And he takes up a lot of the story. He wasn’t all bad. He had good motives and cared for Savannah but his “I don’t care” attitude was a little tiring and he came off as a too nonchalant and somewhat cocky for my taste.
I did, however, enjoy the relationship between Savannah and her little brother, Evan, who was autistic. She took good care of him in the absence of their neglectful father, and it was clear she loved him with all her heart. Although she didn’t always have the most patience or the best methods for dealing with his meltdowns, she was obviously trying her hardest and wanted the very best for him.
I also liked her relationship with her friends and how protective she was of her brother. She always stood up for him, even ruining her relationship with (awful) her ex boyfriend in defense of him. So, all in all, this book was entertaining and touching in parts, but hard to fully appreciate what with the somewhat unlikable romantic interest.

 

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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Synopsis:

When Lily Michaels-Ryan ditches her ADHD meds and lands in detention with Abelard, who has Asperger’s, she’s intrigued—Abelard seems thirty seconds behind, while she feels thirty seconds ahead. It doesn’t hurt that he’s brilliant and beautiful. 
     When Abelard posts a quote from The Letters of Abelard and Heloise online, their mutual affinity for ancient love letters connects them. The two fall for each other. Hard. But is it enough to bridge their differences in person?  
     This hilarious, heartbreaking story of human connection between two neurodivergent teens creates characters that will stay with you long after you finish reading. 
My Thoughts:
I had never heard of The Letters of Abelard & Heloise-which this book is somewhat based on-nor The Love Letters of Abelard & Lily before I was handed a free ARC at the HMH Teen booth at YallWest last month.
It’s a December release, which is probably the reason it hadn’t caught my attention yet. I knew nothing about it when I was handed a copy, I was only excited to be getting more free books.
But when I read the synopsis on the back of the book, I was pleasantly surprised and delighted to find that is what a love story between two neurodivergent teens-a main character with ADHD and a love interest on the autism spectrum, diagnosed with Aspergers.
The ADHD portion is “own voices” as the writer herself has ADHD. And although she isn’t autistic, I thought her portrayal of autism and her autistic characterization was well done and a well written representation.
As for the story itself, I did enjoy it a lot. The main character Lily, struggles a lot, with time management, and memory, and focus. A lot of symptoms of ADHD are similar to those of autism, which is why I think her portrayal of both were very well done. Abelard is realistically portrayed without being too stereotypical, and without being shown in a too-negative light because of his autism. The only complaint I have is that his personality fell a little flat to me. It’s common for autistic people to come off as a little expressionless and lacking feelings or emotions, so I don’t fault Laura for that, but I still felt as though I didn’t really get to know enough about him. I would have liked to see past his walls a little more.

The relationship between Abelard and Lily was sweet and complicated and believable, although I personally think things moved a little too fast. Lily fell for him a little too quickly and their relationship progressed to love a bit suddenly, but I guess it’s normal for teens in high school experiencing their first relationship to feel that intensely. All in all, this was a light, romantic, and mostly satisfying read.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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The //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00YM6RDVC&asins=B00YM6RDVC&linkId=b0a99f816888608850640404206d3f12&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Love Me Never trilogy by Sara Wolf

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Synopsis:

Don’t love your enemy. Declare war on him.

Seventeen-year-old Isis Blake hasn’t fallen in love in three years, nine weeks, and five days, and after what happened last time, she intends to keep it that way. Since then she’s lost eighty-five pounds, gotten four streaks of purple in her hair, and moved to Buttcrack-of-Nowhere, Ohio, to help her mom escape a bad relationship.

All the girls in her new school want one thing—Jack Hunter, the Ice Prince of East Summit High. Hot as an Armani ad, smart enough to get into Yale, and colder than the Arctic, Jack Hunter’s never gone out with anyone. Sure, people have seen him downtown with beautiful women, but he’s never given high school girls the time of day. Until Isis punches him in the face.

Jack’s met his match. Suddenly everything is a game.

The goal: Make the other beg for mercy.
The game board: East Summit High.
The reward: Something neither of them expected.

 

My Thoughts:

This series was seriously addicting. I finished all 3 books within a week! As soon as I finished one, I immediately picked the next one up. The main character Isis is hilariously sarcastic and cynical, the love interest/arch nemesis is intense, brooding and intriguing, and the mystery of Jacks past unravels shockingly and unexpectedly.
The side characters are equally adorable; Wren is adorably dorky and Kayla is surprisingly sweet and loyal.
Isis is tough and witty and a master at hiding her true feelings, and so is Jack, which makes the banter between them frustrating because neither of them want to admit the attraction they feel or put aside their rivalry, but that just makes these books all the more fun! Isis is constantly spewing hilarious jabs and jokes and smart-ass comments so there’s never a dull moment. And she’s a strong person too, still dealing with the aftermath of her sexual assault and the bullying she endured for her weight. This trilogy was an emotional roller coaster from start to finish.

 

Series Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1442429992&asins=1442429992&linkId=c56530e188f141df9775cce895bd8a43&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Blood Red Road by Moira Young

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Synopsis:

Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That’s fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when four cloaked horsemen capture Lugh, Saba’s world is shattered, and she embarks on a quest to get him back. 
 
Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the outside world, Saba discovers she is a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba’s unrelenting search for Lugh stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization. 

 Blood Red Road has a searing pace, a poetic writing style, and an epic love story—making Moira Young is one of the most exciting new voices in teen fiction.

 

My Thoughts:

If you loved Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman as much as I did, then you’ll probably enjoy this one as well! It’s full of old western slang and a similar plot of an eighteen year old girl who sets off on a journey across the plains to seek revenge and rescue her twin brother from the men who took him. Saba’s determination and bravery make her a likable narrator, even if she can be a little hot-headed at times.

Saba is captured and beaten and forced to battle opponents by a ruthless mad-man, distracted by her tag-along little sister who just can’t seem to stay put and do as she’s told ,and finds herself falling for a boy who joins her in her pursuit of the hooded horsemen who took her brother. It’s fast paced from beginning to end, with monsters of both the human and non human variety and the snark and banter between the characters will keep you entertained in between the action sequences.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=0062418351&asins=0062418351&linkId=cc9d83129d0c91065daef2d74448c54a&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

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Synopsis:

From Julie Murphy, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’ and Side Effects May Vary, comes another fearless heroine, Ramona Blue, in a gorgeously evocative novel about family, friendship, and how sometimes love can be more fluid than you first think. Perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Morgan Matson.

Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.

Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.

 

My Thoughts:

This book was on my must-read list from the very second it caught my eye. A bisexual, blue haired main character? An exploration of the ways in which sexuality can be fluid? Tight family bonds and friendships? Count me in! And Ramona Blue did not disappoint. Ramona is a very inspiring character; she’s comfortable in her sexuality and refuses to hide the fact that she’s attracted to girls and always has been. Her relationship with her sister Hattie, the way she supported her during her pregnancy was admirable and her confidence in herself was uplifting. It’s a very rare thing to come across a book with an openly gay character who falls for someone of the opposite sex, as opposed to the other way around.

I loved the way Ramona and Freddie’s relationship moved slowly from friendship to love, and I loved that this was a biracial relationship, as Freddie is black. Freddie is a total sweetheart and a gentle soul and I admired the way he accepted Ramona and allowed her to educate him and didn’t question when she began to fall for him despite claiming to only like girls. He didn’t ask her to label herself or rush into things and it was impossible not to adore him completely.

Ramona’s bond with her family is strong and heart felt; they’ve been through so much together ever since hurricane Katrina left them with only a trailer for a home, and Ramona does her best to support her family both financially and emotionally. And Freddie helps her see that, even though she’s poor, even though she feels obligated to stay and help her sister raise her baby, she still owes it to herself to find what makes her happy and pursue a life outside her small hometown. This is an important book for lgbtq teens and adults alike and if it isn’t already on your tbr, you should add it now!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1500209015&asins=1500209015&linkId=132fed8049e3e29816f1442d7d96a477&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Puddle Jumping by Amber l. Johnson

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Synopsis:

When it comes to love there’s no such thing as conventional.

Everyone thinks Colton Neely is special.

Lilly Evans just thinks he’s fascinating.

Once friends when they were younger, their bond is cut short due to her accident prone nature and they go their separate ways. Years later, they meet again and Lilly learns that there is something special about the boy she once knew, but she has no idea what it all means. And she’s not sure if she’s ready to find out.

When he walks through the corridor of her school the first day of her senior year, she knows that it’s time to get to know the real Colton Neely. The more she learns, the deeper she falls.

Their friendship grows into love, even as Colton does not express it in words. But one decision threatens to break down the world that Lilly has tried so hard to integrate into and she must figure out if the relationship can survive if they are apart.

 

My Thoughts:

This was an okay read. I enjoyed it for the most part. The only reason I really read it was for the autistic rep-the love interest has aspergers syndrome. And the rep wasn’t exactly horrible per say, I actually thought it was fairly well done. The story itself was just a little too insta-love and moved a bit too quickly for my tastes. The romantic interest also came off as a little too juvenile to me, which I know is pretty common for people on the spectrum, but I guess it just felt a little too stereotypical to me.

Rating: 3/5 stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=0761388664&asins=0761388664&linkId=ff4cd6988829ed0e37f77dc5d7fd977a&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Shadowlark (Skylark #2) by Meagan Spooner

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Synopsis:

Ever since she escaped the city within the Wall, Lark Ainsley’s wanted one thing: to find her brother Basil. She’s always believed he would be the one to put an end to the constant fear and flight. And now, hidden underground in the chaotically magical city of Lethe, Lark feels closer to him than ever.

But Lethe is a city cowering in fear of its founder, the mysterious Prometheus, and of his private police force. To get the truth about Basil, Lark has no choice but to face Prometheus.

Facing her fears has become second nature to Lark. Facing the truth is another matter.

Lark never asked to be anyone’s savior. She certainly never wanted to be anyone’s weapon. She might not have a choice.

My Thoughts:

This was another incredible addition to the Skylark trilogy! Shadowlark was just as creepy and mysterious as book one, with more romantic tension, more unforseen obstacles, and the shocking truth regarding Lark’s brother was equal parts devastating and a major turning point in the story. There were parts so creepy that I was literally hiding under my bed covers and shaking. Seriously. And Oren just becomes more and more endearing the more we get to know him and see past his steely exterior. We get to see so much more of his love for Lark in this book, their relationship progresses significantly.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=0147511461&asins=0147511461&linkId=c3cae22f36fd27484f55c4043f588555&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Half Bad by Sally Green

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Synopsis:

In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and sixteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides.

Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his seventeenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?

In the tradition of Patrick Ness and Markus Zusak, Half Bad is a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive, a story that will grab hold of you and not let go until the very last page.

 

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this book for the most part. It was weird and different and intriguing, the writing style was unique and compelling, and I found myself already becoming attached to the characters. Which is why it sucks that I found out some not-so-great news about the series. Apparently the first two books consist mainly of queerbaiting-tempting the audience with the promise of a gay relationship, only to kill off the main love interest in book 3. Which is really not okay. The “kill your gays” trope has been worn thin and it’s really disappointing that such a promising series of m/m representation had to take such an over done, tragic turn. I most likely will not finish the series. I did enjoy this book well enough as a standalone to give it 4 stars, though.

 

Rating: 4/5 stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B01LL0346O&asins=B01LL0346O&linkId=e5719621da231a3faacb62824effd42b&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

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Synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of Monstrous Sea, a wildly popular webcomic, but when a new boy at school tempts her to live a life offline, everything she’s worked for begins to crumble.

Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds meets Nimona in this novel about art, fandom, and finding the courage to be yourself. Features illustrations by the author throughout. Perfect for readers of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, this is the second novel by the acclaimed author of Made You Up.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, smart, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of a popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. With millions of followers and fans throughout the world, Eliza’s persona is popular. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community.

Then Wallace Warland transfers to her school, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart. With pages from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

 

My Thoughts:

Man, I just love books about fandoms and fangirls and creative, artistic, main characters. I loved that the author featured passages and artwork from Eliza’s web comic Monstrous Sea in between chapters. It made it seem all the more real, gave some more insight into the extent of Eliza’s passion and artistic ability and why her story and characters meant so much to her. Wallace was the perfect geeky love interest for this type of story and I loved how soft and shy and adorable he was, as well as open and honest.

I found it really touching the way Eliza’s younger twin brothers stood up for her and were there for her when her secret was revealed to the world. Until then, she had genuinely believed her brothers hated her, but the support they offered and the pride they had in her work was truly heart warming and open Eliza’s eyes to the fact that her family cared more than she gave them credit for.

Her parents were frustrating, however, as they didn’t see her web comic as anything more than a hobby, one that took up “too much” of her time, and I think that was the main reason Eliza felt out of place in her own home and generally hated being forced into family outings. Eliza’s character development and the growth of her relationship with her family was remarkable and by the end of the book, I was feeling hopeful that things between them could begin to change for the better. Her relationship with Wallace was super cute, as was their shared passion for Eliza’s web comic, the way it brought them together and helped them both open up and come out of their shelves. I loved this book as well as Francesca’s first book, and I definitely consider her a favorite author of mine.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1250129664&asins=1250129664&linkId=e03852a54b791bc958dba731eed28f92&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Flashfall by Jenny Moyer

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Synopsis:

Orion is a Subpar, expected to mine the tunnels of Outpost Five, near the deadly flash curtain. For generations, her people have chased cirium—the only element that can shield humanity from the curtain’s radioactive particles. She and her caving partner Dram work the most treacherous tunnel, fighting past flash bats and tunnel gulls, in hopes of mining enough cirium to earn their way into the protected city.

But when newcomers arrive at Outpost Five, Orion uncovers disturbing revelations that make her question everything she thought she knew about life on both sides of the cirium shield. As conditions at the outpost grow increasingly dangerous, it’s up to Orion to forge a way past the flashfall, beyond all boundaries, beyond the world as she knows it.

 

My Thoughts:

Flashfall is right up there next to Meagan Spooner’s Skylark trilogy for favorite YA dystopian of the year. With a unique setting and stunning atmospheric plot, it was impossible to put down and I am anxiously anticipating the sequel. I liked the interesting exploration of a world that relies on the mining of cirium to protect them from a radioactive curtain.

One of my favorite romance tropes is the friends-to-lovers trope, so I absolutely adored the growth of Orion’s relationship with her mining partner, Dram. They relied on each other both physically and emotionally, watching each others backs as they searched the tunnels and scaled rock walls and providing one another emotional support in the aftermath of family members lost to the flash curtain.

Orion is the kind of character never to give up, no matter how dim the chances of survival, or how dire the prospects . That’s not to say she didn’t have her moments of self doubt or lack of faith when faced with life threatening situations, but she was always quick to pick herself back up and continue fighting. If you’re looking for a YA dystopian that’s a little bit out of the ordinary, then I recommend you pick this one up!

 

Rating: 5/5 stars

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And that’s that! Phew. I read a lot of books this month.

Review: Alex Approximately by Jenn Bennett



Title: Alex Approximately

Author: Jenn Bennett

Release Date: April 4th 2017

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Source: Barnes and Noble

Genre: Contemporary Romance



Synopsis: 
In this delightfully charming teen spin on You’ve Got Mail, the one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie buff Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent half of her junior year falling for a sensitive film geek she only knows online as “Alex.” Two coasts separate them until she moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist trap, the oddball Cavern Palace Museum. Or that she’s being tormented daily by Porter Roth, a smart-alecky yet irritatingly hot museum security guard. But when Porter and Bailey are locked in the museum overnight, Bailey is forced to choose whether she should cling to a dreamy fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex. Approximately.

Review: 

Alex Approximately is without a doubt one of my favorite contemporary reads so far this year. I adored the hate-to-love romance between Bailey and Porter and all the banter between them. I think the way their relationship progressed was very realistic and well written; things didn’t move too fast, the initial rivalry between them wasn’t overdone, and there was a fair amount of complications in their relationship.
I loved getting to know each of the characters and their back stories. I was a little shocked when I learned about Porters past, but I think it was a refreshing and unique twist, and same with Bailey. I almost thought Porter must have been joking at first, when he told Bailey his story. It just seemed pretty far fetched, although not implausible. I thought it was an interesting addition to Porters character. I also really appreciated the diversity, with Porter being racially mixed.
I thought it was so cute that they were both obsessed with classic movies and I found it really amusing how long it took both of them to connect the dots and for Bailey to realize Porter was Alex. I just loved stories like this, where the two characters have no clue that the person they’ve been chatting with online is the person they’re falling for in real life.
I loved the museum aspect too, I felt like that work environment really brought good atmosphere to the story and provided a good backdrop for the characters interactions and the many different obstacles they faced.
The ending was absolutely perfect…..as were the beginning and middle. The story flowed perfectly, there was not a single dull moment and when I finished the book I was left feeling completely satisfied and content. Which isn’t very common for me. Even with books I consider favorites. Overall, Alex was a very memorable romance, one I’d recommend to anyone looking for a quick, cute read devoid of any super heavy material!
Rating: 5/5 Stars

YallWest 2017 Recap

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So. As you may know if you follow me on Instagram or twitter (both @beccasbookrealm ), I attended my very first YallWest book festival up in Santa Monica the other weekend, April 29th-30th! I met some of my all time favorite authors-including Alexandra Bracken and Claudia Gray-and It was quite an experience. So I thought I’d share it with y’all, and break it down a bit:

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The Preparation & Planning

I was beyond desperate to make it to YallWest this year. I only found out about the book festival just last year (sad, I know) but was unable to go, which was tragic because my entire Instagram feed was full of people showing off their new ARCS (ARC=Advanced Reader Copy, aka an uncorrected paperback copy of a book that has not yet been released!) and book swag and signed books. So, I was determined to find a way to make it this time. Spoiler alert: I did!

I asked my slightly-less-nerdy-than-me friend Amanda to come with me, and she was all too happy to tag along, despite only knowing a few of the authors. (You’re a trooper, Amanda! Thanks for letting me drag you around for a whole day!) And as it turned out, she has an aunt who lives up in L.A, about 40 minutes or so from Santa Monica, so we were able to stay with her Friday and Saturday night. I am forever grateful to the book nerd Gods and Goddesses, and to Amanda’s gracious aunt.

I packed a lot of books to bring. A. LOT. And I knew I couldn’t carry them all on my back without breaking it. SO. I asked my dad to help me create a makeshift book cart using a book basket of mine and a little rolling cart from which I had unattached a cooler. And it actually worked pretty well! While standing in line, though, I talked to someone who had a much more professional looking rolling cart-they were everywhere, so many people had them!-and he told me that they sell them at target for 20-30 bucks. Oh well. Next year, I’ll be more prepared!

Not to say that I was necessarily under-prepared this year…I don’t think I forgot a single thing from sunscreen to portable chargers to food to chap stick.

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I poured over the schedule dozens of times, all the ARC drop lists I could find, and tried to get a feel for the layout of the highschool by looking over the map. Not that any of this really helped much. It was still chaotic and stressful and the event itself wasn’t very well organized-the majority of the people volunteering couldn’t even point us in the direction of any of the booths or events. So it was kind of a mess. But was it still 100% worth it? You betcha.

 

YallWest Preview Night (Friday April 29th, 4-8 p.m)

By the time Amanda was dropped off at my house, it was already about a half hour later than we’d decided to leave, thanks to horrendous Socal traffic. So naturally, I was already super stressed knowing we were probably going to be at least a half hour late.

Thanks to traffic, my lack of experience in driving around L.A, and our difficulty in finding a parking spot, we were more like an hour late. But you know what? It all worked out!

By the time we arrived, we hadn’t really missed anything; the lines had formed for the wristbands needed to meet the authors, and they had some giveaways going on at a small stage off to the side, but that was it. The volunteers on stage were calling out for people wearing merch inspired by certain books or movies-for instance, “ruby red slippers” from The Wizard of Oz, aka red shoes. Then they’d pick a person from the crowd or the wristband line and they’d go up and spin the wheel of author names for a chance to meet one of them. For those who landed on an author they had no desire to meet, they offered free books or YallWest clothing.

We had barely been in line 10 minutes when they called out for someone wearing “something Star Wars related.” Well, I was sure I had to be wearing something from Star Wars, so I looked down at my outfit and, sure enough, I was wearing my hand made Millenium Falcon necklace that I’d received in one of my past Owlcrate subscription boxes! So I jumped in the air and frantically waved my hand around until I grabbed their attention and got called up to the stage to spin the wheel.

After landing on an author I had no desire to meet, I had my pick of either a YallWest T-shirt or a hard cover copy of King’s Cage, book three in the Red Queen series! Having recently started Red Queen, I opted for King’s Cage, and I now have the first three books in the series! Score!

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By the time we made it to the front of the line, they had run out of wristbands for the two authors Amanda and I both wanted desperately to meet-Alexandra Bracken and James Dashner. We were devastated, of course, but we got wristbands to meet some other authors I was looking forward to meeting, and in the mean time, I bought those authors’ books!

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Kate Hart, Caleb Roehrig and S. J-Jones were all super sweet, and I’m glad I got to meet them! I just recently finished After the Fall and it was an impossible-to-put-down gem of a book that left me a sobbing, blubbering, miserable mess. But um, don’t let that deter you! It’s definitely one of the most impactful books I’ve read this year and one of my new favorites. If you’ve read and enjoyed The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis (another new favorite I read this year) then I think you’ll love this one.

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Then we got in line to meet Maurene Goo and get ARCS of her upcoming May 30th release “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” !

 

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After meeting the above authors, we decided to chance it and get in line to see Alexandra Bracken despite not having wristbands. We had to let a few people with wristbands cut in front of us, but by some miracle-or simply because Alex is an angel who stayed an hour over time so she could meet everyone-we still got to meet her, as well as James Dashner! So all in all, the day wound up being a huge success despite our arriving late.

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Can you just see the awe and admiration in my face? Thank god I didn’t completely embarrass myself. Alex is a total sweetheart, she’s gorgeous, she’s amazingly talented and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to meet her!

 

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Unfortunately, I didn’t have a book for James Dashner to sign, but Amanda let me borrow her copy of The Maze Runner so we could pose for a picture!

 

 

YallWest ( Saturday April 30th, 9 a.m to 7 p.m)

We arrived at the parking lot across the street from the high school at around 8:30, a half hour before the event was supposed to open, and already a huge line had formed along the sidewalk and around the block. (next year, I’m gonna get there at like 6 a.m. I swear to god).

We got in line and stood in the heat for more like an hour instead of a half hour, because they let us in at 9:30 rather than 9. So already, I was a little miffed since I’d had this whole schedule planned out. Then I found out that they’d apparently let people at the 11 a.m. entrance in before us? And because of this, I missed out on one of my top priority ARCS of the day-Adam Silveras ‘They Both Die at the End’. Not cool. Seriously, I hope they’re better organized next year. 90% of the volunteers couldn’t even manage to point us in the right direction or answer simple questions and it made the whole thing a lot more stressful than it should have been.

But alas, I have no room to complain any further, as I received plenty of free books and made many of my favorite authors! Much of the day consisted of standing in long lines, but they were all worth it! I got numerous bookmarks and pins and other swag and even a few posters! Here’s a brief recap of the books I got and authors I met:

 

 

Free books and Arcs I received:

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At the very first tent we went to-where I missed out on grabbing a copy of They Both Die at the End-I received an ARC of Sarah Mylnowski’s July release ‘I See London, I See France.’ Although it wasn’t my first pick, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the books synopsis. I haven’t read a book by Sarah since I was in middle school, but this one sounds promising! The main characters 19 years old, which immediately sparked my interest, since most YA books have characters within the 14-18 age range, so it was nice to find one with a character closer to my age. Plus, a book involving adventures and romance and traveling across Europe? Always right up my alley.

 

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Amanda and I standing in one of the many long lines of the day

At the I Read YA booth, we received ARCS of ‘Dark Breaks the Dawn’ by Sarah B Larson, as well as finished copy’s of Elizabeth Eulberg’s ‘Just Another Girl’ and Wendy Spinale’s ‘Everland.’ I’d already brought my own copy of Everland to get signed, so I passed on that one, but I did wind up buying the sequel, ‘Umberland’, at the book sale booth. At the time, the book hadn’t even been officially released, so I was pretty ecstatic!

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At the HMH Teen booth, Amanda and I each received multiple ARCS. I got one of my most anticipated-How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake-thanks to one of the wonderful women working the booth who made sure I got a copy! I will forever be grateful to her. ‘Your One and Only’ is an early 2018 sci-fi release, making it the latest release date ARC I received that day. And the Premise sounds very promising!

The most pleasant surprise though, was the ARC I received of a December release featuring an autistic love interest. I’m already half way through ‘The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily’ by Laura Creedle, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it! You don’t find a lot of disability representation in books, and you find even less with autistic representation. So I am beyond grateful to have received and advanced copy of this book.

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I got three more ARCS from favorite authors-one of which was signed! I got to very briefly meet Kasie when she signed my book, but there was a long line of people behind us so they had to keep it moving along. We got cookies along with our partial ARCS of ‘There’s Someone Inside Your House’, and we got to spin a wheel that determined whether we “lived” or “died.” Amanda and I both “died” via books and book related objects falling on top of us. BUT we still managed to “survive” anyways since the only cookies left were the ones that had “I survived” written in frosting. Hah!

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We received our last ARC of the day, ‘The Waking Land’ by Callie Bates, in between our 5 p.m panel and the 6 p.m finale. Every single one of these books intrigue me, and I can’t wait to them all!

Amanda and I at the 5 p.m panel “The Persisters”, where Alex Bracken, Victoria Aveyard and Danielle Paige talked about feminism, female role models, bad-ass female characters and sexism in media!

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I don’t have any pictures of the 6 p.m finale, but let me tell you that it’s definitely not something you want to miss out on! Several of the authors were called on stage to participate in different games such as “never have I ever” or “taboo” and a few of them read some not-so-great short stories of theirs they’d written back before they had any true writing talent and experience. It was hilarious! Amanda and I were cracking up the entire time.

 

Authors I met/Books I got signed:

 

 

Wendy Spinale (Everland & Umberland)

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Zoraida Cordova (Labyrinth Lost)

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Lauren Oliver (Before I Fall)

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Claudia Gray (Defy the Stars & Star Wars: Lost Stars)

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Tamara Ireland Stone (Every Last Word & Time Between Us)

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Adam Silvera (More Happy Than Not) and Adi Alsaid (Lets Get Lost)

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Tricia Levenseller (Daughter of the Pirate King)

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And that’s a wrap! I had a fabulous time and hope to make YallWest a yearly tradition!

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