Monday, December 7, 2015

2015 Holiday Gift Guide | Bookish Clothing

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Who doesn’t love a good hoodie or t-shirt featuring a quote or design from a favorite book?  Today’s holiday gift guide is all about that kind of clothing.  I’ve got a few favorite pieces of my own but these are some that I might pick out for friends!

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The Art of Young Adult is one of my favorite shops on Society6 and this new design is my favorite!  Inspired by the Lunar Chronicles series, it’s perfect for any fans of Marissa Meyer’s books.  It’s simple and cute, even if you’ve never read the series.  However, if you’re as big a fan of Iko as I am, you love it even more.

You can purchase this shirt on Society6 and you can get the same design on tons of merchandise.

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I’m sure with the Outlander TV show premiering this year, all of your friends have come out of the closet as Outlander fans.  I know I have (although I’d never read the books until the show started.)  This design is probably my favorite so far.  It’s simple but cute and comes in many different colors!

You can purchase this shirt on Society6 and you can get the same design on tons of merchandise.

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Any Percy Jackson fans in your life?  I know I have some in mine and they would love this hoodie!  I actually have a hoodie very similar to this one and I adore it.  It’s comfy and shows off my love for this series.

You can purchase this hoodie on Etsy in AlansGear’s shop!

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I don’t know about you or your friends but I would rock this top at the gym or on a nice summer day.  And yes, it does come in colors other than hot pink.  With the third movie coming out next year, I feel like I might finally need to add some sort of Divergent clothing to my closet and maybe get a matching top for a friend.

You can purchase this shirt over on Etsy in MyTeamMyFit’s shop!

I know there are so many other t-shirts and hoodies that I could have featured for this edition of the gift guide but these are the ones that I had in mind and I think they would make great gifts any year but this year in particular.

Would you rock these tops?  Which one is most likely to end up on your Christmas wishlist?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

2015 Holiday Gift Guide | Debuts

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I’m here to talk debut novels today.  Maybe you have a friend who loves The Lunar Chronicles but they just finished Winter and don’t know what to do with themselves now.  Maybe you have a friend who hasn’t been impressed with their favorite author’s newest release.  Or maybe you just have a friend who wants to see what is up and coming in the world of young adult authors.  Who cares what the excuse if it means you can gift them a book from a brand new author for their shelves?

Red Queen

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

You know how I mentioned above that the Lunar Chronicles has ended?  This would be the perfect book to gift to a friend after finishing that series.  I’m not saying they are alike, I’m just saying they are enjoyable in a similar way.  It also doesn’t hurt that the sequel to this one will be out early next year so if you do gift this to a friend they don’t have a super long torturous wait for the next book.

All the Bright Places

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

I’m cheating a little bit here since Jennifer Niven is not technically a debut author but this is her young adult debut so I think it counts.  Do you have a friend that loves to torture themselves by reading a book that they know is going to make them cry but they read it anyway? (I’m that friend.)  This book is for them.  It’s so gorgeously written and it will break you and put you together and break you all over again.  I mean, your friend.  It will break them.  And who doesn’t want to do that to a friend every now and then?

Simon vs

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda is the book for your friend that wants something with a bit of mystery but is mainly just extremely fun.  This is that book.  It will leave you with a smile on your face and it may even induce some cheering while you read.  Maybe even some fist pumps (only once, I swear!).  It’s also the perfect book for a friend who says they don’t have a ton of time to read because it’s super quick and they won’t be able to put it down once they start.

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Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

So you know how I said Red Queen was good for someone going through Lunar Chronicles withdrawal?  The Sin Eater’s Daughter is good for someone going through Shatter Me withdrawal.  Sure this one is more fantasy whereas Shatter Me is dystopian but the concepts are similar and the main characters share some similarities.  It also helps that Melinda Salisbury’s debut is just plain good.

I admit that I didn’t get to read nearly as many debuts as I wanted to this year (I plan on changing that for 2016) but I did read some pretty awesome ones that I couldn’t help recommending.

Are any of these on your Christmas wishlist?  Do you see yourself gifting any of these to friends?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

2015 Holiday Gift Guide | Subscription Boxes

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Who else has noticed the rise of the subscription boxes this year? I seriously cannot even begin to list all the subscription boxes available now but I do want to recommend a few that I have either received or followed for a while now.

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I figured I should start with the box that I actually get each month and that’s Fandom of the Month Club.  This is not your typical book box seeing as you don’t actually get a book and it’s not always a book fandom that’s featured.  I think that’s one of the things I love about this box.  Included in this box are 3-4 items of jewelry inspired by whatever fandom has been chosen for that month.  Also included is a custom bag that all the jewelry fits in.  I have to admit that I may be in this more for the bags than anything.

You can subscribe to Fandom of the Month Club for $13 a month plus shipping and they do ship internationally.  I think this would make an adorable gift but keep in mind that payment is automatically withdrawn each month until you cancel.

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Next on my list of recommendations would have to be Uppercase Box.  I received one of these a couple months ago and I was so impressed, not only with the book chosen but all of the extra items too.  If I had a job right now I would definitely be subscribed to this box.  The wonderful person behind Uppercase Box is actually a fellow book blogger so needless to say, she knows what she is doing.  Not only that, Uppercase has a couple different subscription options so depending on the book lover in your life, you can choose to gift them just the book box or maybe the box that includes all the fun items too.

You can subscribe to Uppercase Box for $17, $23, or $29 a month and they do have the option to gift a box.

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Oh Owlcrate, how I wish I could afford you.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the price of the box, it’s the fact that I have no money that I am lamenting right now.  Owlcrate is a lot like Uppercase Box seeing as you receive a hand selected book as well as some fun bookish items.  While I have never actually received one of Owlcrate’s boxes, I’ve followed enough people who have to see how awesome they are.  Just look at the picture above of their October box.  How perfect is that?

You can subscribe to Owlcrate for $29.99 a month and they have the option to gift a box.

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The Bookish Box is a bit like Fandom of the Month Club since you don’t actually receive a book.  Instead you receive one bookish t-shirt and 3-5 household items picked to go along with the shirt.  I have been following Appraising Pages for so long and so I have seen the epicness that is included in The Bookish Box.  I think any book lover can appreciate this box, especially if you don’t want to actually take the chance of getting them a book that they might already have.

You can subscribe to The Bookish Box for $29.99 a month and you can give it as a gift.

I’ve been really impressed with what I have seen from these bookish subscription boxes and I hope there is someone in your life who might gift one to you or who you might feel inclined to gift one to.

Do you already subscribe to any of these?  Which would you want most for Christmas?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick | Review

Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick | ReviewDangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick
Published by Simon & Schuster on November 10th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

A teen is forced to make a fresh start after witnessing a violent crime—but love and danger find her anyway in this novel from Becca Fitzpatrick, the New York Times bestselling author of the Hush, Hush saga.

Stella Gordon is not her real name. Thunder Basin, Nebraska, is not her real home. This is not her real life.

After witnessing a lethal crime, Stella Gordon is sent to the middle of nowhere for her own safety before she testifies against the man she saw kill her mother’s drug dealer.

But Stella was about to start her senior year with the boyfriend she loves. How can she be pulled away from the only life she knows and expected to start a new one in Nebraska? Stella chafes at her protection and is rude to everyone she meets. She’s not planning on staying long, so why be friendly? Then she meets Chet Falconer and it becomes harder to keep her guard up, even as her guilt about having to lie to him grows.

As Stella starts to feel safer, the real threat to her life increases—because her enemies are actually closer than she thinks…

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Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush series put her on my radar when I first started blogging but I have to say, Dangerous Lies is the book that kept me interested in her work.  Young adult suspense novels pretty much always get added to my TBR automatically but they don’t always impress me.  I’m happy to say that I was pretty happy with Dangerous Lies, at least enough to check out her other suspense novels.

I know nothing about witness protection and I have to admit that I haven’t actually read anything or really seen anything about it.  Needless to say, I was intrigued when I read the synopsis for Dangerous Lies.  Stella’s life is turned upside down when she is forced to go into witness protection after witnessing a murder by a huge crime lord.  She has to leave everything she knows behind and take up a whole new identity in some tiny town in the middle of nowhere.  Needless to say, she’s not exactly happy about it.  She’s leaving her friends, her boyfriend (who also has to go into witness protection), and her whole existence behind.  She couldn’t care less about her mom (who got her into the whole situation) but yes, she does have to leave her behind too.

Dangerous Lies starts strong and has a pretty solid finish as well but the middle just dragged for me.  Like I said, I’m not always impressed with suspense novels and while this one is technically classified as that, it wasn’t really all that suspenseful or at least it didn’t seem that way.  I admit, towards the end there was a bit of a twist thrown in that definitely caught me by surprise.  However, that was really the only thing that caught me by surprise.  With this type of story, you know that the bad guys are going to eventually catch up to Stella.  For me, it just seemed like the middle of the book was a waiting game until they found where Stella was hiding.  That doesn’t mean it was bad, it was just a little slow at times.

The characters are what made Dangerous Lies hold up even with the slow middle.  Stella was a little bit of a bitch at first but it was kind of understandable.  Her mom was a total druggie who never paid attention to her daughter and was more upset about Stella testifying against the crime lord than about the murder that happened.  She made me so mad!  Every interaction she had with Stella just made me hate her even more.  Then there was Carmina, the total opposite of Stella’s mom.  She took Stella in (for reasons that come up later in the book and totally broke my heart) and she really came to care for her.  Carmina was harsh at first but it was what Stella needed.  She needed someone to drag her out of her funk and find a life in Thunder Basin.  That life came to include Inny, Chet, Dusty, and a few others.  I wish Inny and Dusty were more developed but I liked what I saw of them.  As for Chet, he was maybe a little too perfect but after finding out a bit about his past, I can see why he would be so perfect.

I also want to mention Reed even though readers barely find out anything about him.  He is Stella’s boyfriend who is also forced to go into witness protection and I have no clue how I feel about him.  Also, while Stella and Chet start a relationship of some kind, I don’t really consider it cheating since Reed and Stella are never expected to see each other again.  While they didn’t exactly end their relationship, there really was no future for it.  And hey, if you’ve read Dangerous Lies, did Reed’s ending bother anybody else?  I won’t say what happens but it’s pretty open ended and it’s one thing that really bothered me.

As for the setting of Thunder Basin, Nebraska; it was perfect.  Becca Fitzpatrick really captured the small town feel.  Everybody knew everybody’s business and it was impossible to keep a secret.  Maybe not the best place for someone in witness protection but I guess they figured that even if Stella’s secret got out in the town, it wouldn’t spread anywhere else.  The only problem with everybody knowing everything was that things did get around.  Especially when one person was involved: Trigger.  Trigger was a pain in the ass from the start and everything about him bothered me.  That was one person with absolutely no redeeming qualities.  He definitely caused a ton of problems for Stella and I felt terrible for her.  He seemed to be the one person who was nastier than Stella (in the beginning) and that took talent.

Overall, Dangerous Lies was an enjoyable read that will definitely have me checking out Becca Fitzpatrick’s other suspense novels.  If you want a pretty quick read that might surprise you, check this one out.

What others are saying about Dangerous Lies:

The Eater of Books’ review: “I loved this book, and I highly recommend it, especially to those who enjoy thriller/mystery/suspense types.”

My Bookish Fairy Tale’s review: “It was a thrill and I am actually upset that I finished it as quickly as I did.”

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

2015 Holiday Gift Guide | Jewelry

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Let’s talk jewelry today.  Do you love it?  Hate it?  Couldn’t care less about it?  Well, what about your friends?  Do you have any friends in your life who just can’t leave the house without at least a little sparkle? If that’s the case, this gift guide might just help you find the perfect gift for them.

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These Six of Crows charms are absolutely perfect.  I’ve recently become obsessed with those Alex & Ani bracelets and these charms remind me a lot of those.  It also doesn’t hurt that you can buy that same style bracelet from Hebel Design as well so they really do look like the Alex & Ani bracelets but customized for book lovers.  The charms cost $3.50 and the bracelets come in a couple colors ranging from $6 to $8.  And if you don’t like that bangle style bracelet you can easily order a different style.

You can purchase the charms and bracelets, as well as lots of other fandom jewelry, on Hebel Designs site.

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Personally, I adore this Adam/Ronan charm bracelet from The Raven Cycle but maybe it’s not the perfect one for you or your friend.  That’s okay.  Jesssamine Designs does sell this exact bracelet but she also sells a custom option that allows you to pick your own charms.  That way you can pick your favorite things about The Raven Cycle and wear them on your charm bracelet forever!

You can purchase the Adam/Ronan bracelet or custom bracelet on Etsy in JessamineDesigns’ shop!

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Since the final Hunger Games movie just came out, I’m sure you have discovered that a ton of your friends are obsessed.  I know I have.  This Mockingjay necklace is gorgeous in it’s simplicity.  It’s perfect for someone who wears a ton of jewelry or someone who doesn’t really wear any.

You can purchase the Mockingjay necklace on Etsy in Echoes of Ivy’s shop!

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I know I’ve featured this bracelet in one of my Etsy Obsessions posts but I love it so much I decided to show it again.  This has always been one of my favorite quotes from this series and I just love it on this bracelet.  And you can’t really see it in this picture but there are charms hanging from the bracelet that tie it to the book even more.

You can purchase this bracelet on Etsy in Novel Reverie’s shop!

And there you have it for the jewelry edition of my holiday gift guide.  I hope you have some friends that love books as much as you do and will appreciate these awesome pieces.

Which one is your favorite?  Did you add any to your wishlist?

Monday, November 30, 2015

Fairest (Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer | Review

Fairest (Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer | ReviewFairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5) by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3.5
Published by Feiwel & Friends on January 27th 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 222
Format: Hardcover
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

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Oh gosh where do I even begin with this review?  I’m a huge fan of the whole Lunar Chronicles series and I will say that I’m also a fan of Fairest but it’s really hard for me to put it into words.  Whereas I adored the rest of the series for the amazing characters and fast paced storyline full of twists and turns, I loved Fairest for the depth it gave to such a terrifying villain.  I’m still quite horrified by what I just read and I don’t think that will go away for quite some time.

Levana is the evil queen of Luna.  From the time I first read Cinder, I knew I would never like her.  Unlike with other villains (think The Darkling), Levana really has nothing to endear her to readers.  She’s just plain nuts and she has been from the start.  Sure she went through some horrifying things in her childhood but I have a feeling she was messed up even before all those things went down.  I admit that I read Winter before reading Fairest so some things that maybe would have been revealed for the first time in Fairest were actually already revealed to me in Winter.  I didn’t mind that at all though because those things were shown with more detail in Fairest than in Winter.

I’m not sure why I thought Fairest was going to make me feel sympathy towards Levana but it definitely did not do that.  In fact, it actually made me dislike her even more which I wasn’t sure was possible.  Levana suffered at the hands of her sister, Channary, and from what little I saw of their parents, they didn’t seem to be much better.  She never knew love from anyone in her family and when it came to romantic love, she didn’t have a clue what it entailed.  She was more obsessed with Evret Hayle than in love with him and she was never able to see that.  She was so delusional.  Everything she did, she did for herself.  She wanted adoration from her subjects but she went about obtaining that adoration in all the wrong ways.

I think the only thing I got joy out of in Fairest were the interactions between Celene and Winter.  There is mention in Winter of them being friends as young children and I really liked seeing that friendship in Fairest.  Obviously Selene was very young when Levana attempted to kill her so she and Winter didn’t have a ton of time to become friends but since they were pretty much raised together, they became fast friends.  They were adorable together and it broke my heart knowing that they didn’t get to spend nearly enough time together or grow up together like they should have.

Also, Levana’s husband, Evret Hayle, is mentioned in the other books in the series and from those few mentions, I expected some great romance and a man that could see past her craziness to the woman underneath.  Early on in Fairest I realized that was totally not the case.  Levana had no qualms manipulating Kai because she didn’t know love and she wasn’t looking for it.  That’s made pretty obvious early on in Fairest.

Overall, Fairest is just plain crazy and I loved it.  Marissa Meyer has been a favorite author of mine for quite some time but she really impressed me with this addition to the Lunar Chronicles.  It takes talent to get inside the mind of a person like Levana and I feel like she didn’t take away from the rest of the series.  Levana is still the villain and that’s pretty clear in Fairest.  It’s just a more in depth look at the villain we’ve come to know and hate.

What others are saying about Fairest:

Butterflies of the Imagination’s review: “Seriously. It’s only further proof that Marissa Meyer has a way with words that can’t be beat.”

Nice Girls Read Books’ review: “Fairest added so much more depth to Luna, Levana, Winter and even Cinder (we get to see baby Selene!) and I can’t wait to read the final instalment in this series now!”

Sunday, November 29, 2015

2015 Holiday Gift Guide | Posters

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I don’t know about you guys but I adore posters.  I have too many posters and not enough walls, pretty much. That doesn’t stop me from adding more to my wishlist though.  I mean, I can always change them out if I feel like it, right?

Harry Potter posters

If you have a Harry Potter fan in your life (who doesn’t have at least one?) these posters would be perfect.  They range in size from 6×9 to 30×45 and you can purchase them as a set or just get one or two if they don’t have room for all of them.  And the prices are very reasonable so I don’t feel bad about including a set of these on my wishlist!

You can purchase these over on Etsy in Evivart’s shop!

game of thronesDo you have a friend who has moved past Harry Potter and is now obsessed with Game of Thrones? (Or maybe both.  I’m obsessed with both.)  Once again, these posters can be bought individually or as a set and come in many different sizes.  You can even get the set in black and white if you think the color option is too much.

You can purchase these posters over on Etsy in PosterInvasion’s shop!

lord of the rings

I don’t know about you guys but I feel like these Lord of the Rings posters would be perfect for some of my friends.  I think the color is perfect and while they only come in one size, 11×17 seems like a great size.

You can purchase these posters over on Etsy in MinimalistPrints’ shop!

star wars

I’m a little afraid to admit this but I have never seen Star Wars and I kinda want the Barnes and Noble collector editions books more than I want the movies.  However, I do think these posters are pretty awesome and I think the Star Wars fans in my life would appreciate them.  Once again, this set only comes in on size (11×17) but I’m sure you could make that work somehow.

You can purchase these over on Etsy in PrintMadness’ shop!

I hope you found a couple things to add to your wishlist or maybe order for a friend.  I know I’ve forwarded a few of these links to my parents to give them a couple hints.

Which of these sets would you like to see under your Christmas tree this year?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Vicious (Vicious #1) by V.E. Schwab | Review

Vicious (Vicious #1) by V.E. Schwab | ReviewVicious (Vicious, #1) by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Series: Vicious #1
Published by Tor on September 24th 2013
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 364
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability.

Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

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I’ve been a fan of Victoria Schwab’s since I read her debut, The Near Witch.  Her writing style just spoke to me and seriously impressed me.  I admit that I haven’t stayed up to date with all her new releases but I am trying to work on that and I figured Vicious would be the perfect place to start.  This is her first book writing as V.E. Schwab for adult readers and I loved it as much as I thought I would.

Victor and Eli’s stories fascinated me from the first page.  The prologue just grabbed me and did not let go.  I knew from the synopsis that Victor and Eli used to be friends but that’s about all I knew until I started reading.  From the prologue, you know that that is no longer the case.  Instead of the best friends that they used to be, now Eli and Victor are sworn enemies.  They have vowed to kill each other and they will do whatever it takes, including putting innocent others in the line of fire.

It’s hard to tell at first glance who is the typical “villain.”  Victor definitely has a darker side and he’s spent some time in prison that’s only made that dark side more prominent.  Eli, on the other hand, gets away with pretty much anything and, at first glance, appears to be a great guy.  In this case, appearances are definitely deceiving.  However, Victor and Eli do have something in common and it’s that one thing that tore apart their friendship.  Both Victor and Eli are ExtraOrdinaries (EOs) with special powers that came to them after some experimenting while they were in college (not that kind of college experimenting!).  Each person who is gifted with these abilities is given a unique power that some don’t even know they have.  Victor and Eli definitely know that they have these powers and both of them are searching for others like them, for very different reasons.

Victor may appear to be the bad guy but he has friends from his time in prison and one that he’s just met.  Sydney and Mitch don’t know everything about Victor but they know they are drawn to him and that they can trust him.  Sydney is a young girl who has a very special ability of her own and it’s that ability that makes Eli want to kill her very much.  Mitch was drawn to Victor from the moment he saw him in prison.  They didn’t start out as friends exactly but they do seem to be some sort of friends now.  Victor himself was a very confusing guy.  Like I said, he doesn’t exactly appear to be a good guy and his actions would sometimes appear to be not so great but he’s not like Eli.  Eli’s goal in life is to rid the world of the EOs (excluding himself) and he’s willing to do some pretty outrageous things to achieve that goal.  Eli was just nuts.  Clearly he wasn’t all right to begin with but the gift of his powers really screwed him up.  There was really nothing that endeared him to me and I really wanted to see Victor succeed in getting his revenge against Eli.

The story itself was a little slow but the writing made up for that.  Victoria Schwab just has a way with words that means she could write practically anything and make it come to life.  Vicious is a story that worked perfectly with the way she writes.  It’s dark and slightly creepy and just plain awesome.  And while some of the story might be a little slow, by the end, everything has built up and it’s impossible to stop reading!

Overall, Vicious is another stunner from V.E. Schwab.  If you’re looking to maybe check out something other than YA, this is a great place to start.  I think it can also definitely be enjoyed by YA readers even though it is a little bit more mature.  I just have to recommend it because, in my eyes, V.E. Schwab can do no wrong.

What others are saying about Vicious:

There Were Books Involved’s review: “Here’s what you need to know: READ VICIOUS.”

The Blank Page’s review: “Despite a couple of places where I had to suspend my disbelief farther than I would have liked, Vicious quickly grew into its place as one of the best books I’ve read this year.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Blog Tour: Love and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey | Review

Blog Tour: Love and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey | Review

Blog Tour: Love and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey | ReviewLove and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey
Published by The Studio on November 10th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

In this heartwarming debut by HelloGiggles blogger Kerry Winfrey, a young agoraphobe begins a journey of first love that leads her to the true meaning of home—just by taking one small step outside of her house.

My name is Mallory Sullivan.

My therapist says I have an anxiety disorder.

My brother says I’m an “optimistic recluse.”

Everybody else says I'm a freak.

And they kind of have a point, because I haven't left the house in 67 days and only attend class via the webcam on my laptop. The person I talk to the most other than my mom and brother is the completely obnoxious BeamMeUp, and all we do is argue on New Mexico’s premiere alien message board.

But after yesterday, I have something: a chance. If I can win the homecoming crown by convincing resident hot popular guy and Friday Night Lights spawn Brad Kirkpatrick to go as my date, then maybe #stayathome will never appear next to the name @Mallory_Sullivan ever again.

First, I have to leave my room.

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Kerry Winfrey’s debut novel tackles the mental illness of agoraphobia with fun, flair, and facts.  Love and Other Alien Experiences is a strong debut that took me by surprise.  I can’t say what I expected but I think it would have exceeded those expectations that I might have had.

I don’t know what it is lately but this is the third book I’ve read recently about a girl who couldn’t or wouldn’t leave her house.  Agoraphobia is not something I’m familiar with but it is something that fascinates me and that was a big part of my draw to Love and Other Alien Experiences.  Kerry Winfrey chose a more lighthearted way to showcase this illness and I really enjoyed that take on it.  Mallory knows that there is something wrong with her and she knows she should do something about it.  She finally sees that chance to do something about it when she is nominated for homecoming court.  She could win some serious prize money if she actually won and that would be the perfect chance for her to set out to find her father.

Mallory’s life consists of classes taken via webcam and interactions on message boards about aliens.  Hence the title.  She has these crazy interactions with someone online named BeamMeUp and that’s pretty much her only socialization.  Her mom and brother play a key role in her life but they can’t possibly provide all the social interaction that a person needs.  That’s where Mallory’s love interest comes in.  It’s a bit of a reveal so I won’t say anything about who it is but I will say that they work perfectly with Mallory.  Mallory’s illness is something she’s always been made to feel bad about and that’s not what he does to her.  Mallory herself is a great character with a wonderful personality.  She’s sarcastic and open about her illness.  I kinda loved her.

Overall, Love and Other Alien Experiences has me eager to see what Kerry Winfrey writes next.  If you’re looking for a quick, fun read that doesn’t gloss over the details of having a mental illness, this one is for you.

What others are saying about Love and Other Alien Experiences:

Sleepsontables’ review: “If you were a fan of Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone or Made You Up by Francesca Zappia I recommend Love and Other Alien Experiences.”

Welcome to Ladyville’s review: “Love and Other Alien Experiences is a cheeky little tale about a teenage agoraphobe, who by a surprise to everyone gets nominated for prom queen, and decides to win.”

Monday, November 16, 2015

Blog Tour: The Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens | Q&A

I am so excited to be part of the blog tour for Courtney C. Stevens’ sophomore novel, The Lies About Truth, hosted by The Irish Banana Review.  I just recently reviewed it and you should probably check out my review sometime.

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Sadie Kingston, is a girl living in the aftermath. A year after surviving a car accident that killed her friend Trent and left her body and face scarred, she can’t move forward. The only person who seems to understand her is Trent’s brother, Max.

As Sadie begins to fall for Max, she’s unsure if she is truly healed enough to be with him — even if Max is able to look at her scars and not shy away. But when the truth about the accident and subsequent events comes to light, Sadie has to decide if she can embrace the future or if she’ll always be trapped in the past.

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Q&A with Courtney C. Stevens

What inspired you to write The Lies About Truth?

It was the merging of two things: a memory from the past and a feeling from the present.

When I was in high school, I had a group of friends from a few counties over. When I met them, they had just been through an unspeakably hard time. In 1993, seven boys died in a car accident that happened between school and work. Their car struck another car and injured the driver. My friend was dating the driver. Her father drove the other car in the accident.

I never forgot the terrible position she was in: to grieve the boy she loved and to be grateful that her father lived. Two side-by-side emotions at war.

That incident was the spark for this book about a group of friends who have a car accident with each other. However, the character of Sadie Kingston and her internal struggle came from me. While I’ve never been through the windshield of a Yaris, I have felt like the scars in my life (the things I perceive to be shameful) are the things that everyone sees first.

What has been your experience going from a debut author to your second book? Did your writing style change in any way after getting published?

It took thirty years to write my first book and three months to type it out.

It took two years to write my second book, and two years to type it again and again until I got it right.

I’m not sure which was faster.

Sophomore books are different for most authors. There’s an expectation and a readership that didn’t exist while writing a debut. But on the whole, I believe in writing for myself first. A book has to belong in my heart and soul before it can ever belong to a reader. It took a grace period to remind myself of that fact when I wrote The Lies About Truth. I don’t think my writing style changed, but I hope I am constantly improving my craft.

One stretch for me in The Lies About Truth was to have more main characters on the stage at the same time. Faking Normal has one on one conversation, where The Lies About Truth often has four people in conversation, or four main characters. That was a learning curve.

What is the book you would write if you had free rein to write about absolutely anything and know it would be published?

I plan to write magical realism after I finish my current contract. I have a heart for strange things, and I hope I get to share it at some point.

About the Author

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Courtney C. Stevens grew up in Kentucky and lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She is an adjunct professor and a former youth minister. Her other skills include playing hide-and-seek, climbing trees, and being an Olympic torch bearer. She is also the author of Faking Normal, which Kirkus Reviews called “a story that resonates” and Publishers Weekly called a “rich debut,” as well as the e-novellaThe Blue-Haired Boy.

 

Make sure to check out the rest of the tour!

Week 1:

Week 2:

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