Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Summer Reading Recommendations: 11 Books About Mermaids, Sirens, and Selkies

I have a friend, his name is Evin, and he really, really likes mermaids and sirens and the ilk.  Which got me thinking- I'll create a recommendation list of books that feature these creatures.  And since it's (finally!) summer and these books all make me think of summer, it's doubly perfect.

Love is a risk worth taking.
Years ago, Kahlen was rescued from drowning by the Ocean. To repay her debt, she has served as a Siren ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their deaths. Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can’t resist spending her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again. 
Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude…until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. And though she can’t talk to him, they soon forge a connection neither of them can deny…and Kahlen doesn’t want to.
Falling in love with a human breaks all the Ocean’s rules, and if the Ocean discovers Kahlen’s feelings, she’ll be forced to leave Akinli for good. But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart.
Up first is The Siren by Kiera Cass.  I bought this book right when it came out because I adore the Selection series.  I haven't read this yet, but I've heard really good things.  This one features sirens (as the title might make it seem).

Galen is the prince of the Syrena, sent to land to find a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen—literally, ouch!—both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma's gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom...
Told from both Emma and Galen's points of view, here is a fish-out-of-water story that sparkles with intrigue, humor, and waves of romance.
I never got around to reading this one, even though I picked it up from the library once.  I haven't seen that many reviews for it, either.  The covers are really nice and I adore the titles.  It's a whole trilogy, so if you're interested in seeing the rest of the books click here

Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.
Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.
This has been on my TBR list forever!  I actually really want to read anything by this author because all of her things sound really interesting.  Judging from the cover alone, this is a darker mermaid book and I'm all for that!

Fall under the spell of Wake—the first book in an achingly beautiful new series by celebrated author Amanda Hocking—and lose yourself to the Watersong.
Gorgeous. Fearless. Dangerous. They're the kind of girls you envy; the kind of girls you want to hate. Strangers in town for the summer, Penn, Lexi and Thea have caught everyone's attention—but it’s Gemma who’s attracted theirs. She’s the one they’ve chosen to be part of their group.
Gemma seems to have it all—she’s carefree, pretty, and falling in love with Alex, the boy next door. He’s always been just a friend, but this summer they’ve taken their relationship to the next level, and now there’s no going back. Then one night, Gemma’s ordinary life changes forever. She’s taking a late night swim under the stars when she finds Penn, Lexi and Thea partying on the cove. They invite her to join them, and the next morning she wakes up on the beach feeling groggy and sick, knowing something is different.
Suddenly Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever. But her new powers come with a terrifying price. And as she uncovers the truth, she’s is forced to choose between staying with those she loves—or entering a new world brimming with dark hungers and unimaginable secrets.
I have had this series (along with a few other series' my Amanda Hocking) sitting on my shelf for ages.  It's a gorgeous hardcover book and it's something that sounds really interesting to me.  Why I haven't picked them up, I don't know.

Serafina, daughter of Isabella, Queen of Miromara, has been raised with the expectation - and burden - that she will someday become ruler of the oldest civilization of the merfolk. On the eve of the Dokimí ceremony, which will determine if she is worthy of the crown, Sera is haunted by a strange dream that foretells the return of an ancient evil. But her nightmare is forgotten the next day as she diligently practices her songspell; eagerly anticipates a reunion with her best friend, Neela; and anxiously worries about Mahdi, the crown prince of Matali, and whether his feelings toward her and their future betrothal have changed. Most of all, she worries about not living up to her mother's hopes.
The Dokimí proceeds, a dazzling display of majesty and might, until a shocking turn of events interrupts it: an assassin's arrow wounds Isabella. The realm falls into chaos, and Serafina's darkest premonitions are confirmed. Now she and Neela must embark on a quest to find the assassin's master and prevent a war between the mer nations. Their search will lead them to other mermaid heriones scattered across the six seas. Together they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood as they uncover a conspiracy that threatens their world's very existence.
I don't know too much about this series but I do know I love the covers and that the fourth (and final?) book has just come out.

For as long as she can remember, twelve-year-old Emily Windsnap has lived on a boat. And, oddly enough, for just as long, her mother has seemed anxious to keep her away from the water. But when Mom finally agrees to let her take swimming lessons, Emily makes a startling discovery - about her own identity, the mysterious father she's never met, and the thrilling possibilities and perils shimmering deep below the water's surface. With a sure sense of suspense and richly imaginative details, first-time author Liz Kessler lures us into a glorious undersea world where mermaids study shipwrecks at school and Neptune rules with an iron trident - an enchanting fantasy about family secrets, loyal friendship, and the convention-defying power of love.
I remember when this series was insanely popular in early middle school!  I never picked them up (even though I wanted to) but I had a friend who adored them. I know they're mostly about mermaids, but if I remember what she told me, book four delves into sirens and they're all pretty quick and fun reads.

Beckon the sea,I'll come to thee....
Shed seven tears,
perchance seven years....
At the age of ten, Gwen Cooke had a strange encounter with a boy with dark, slightly tilted eyes. He came to her on the beach, whispered strange words in her ear, and then disappeared. Shortly thereafter, her family moved away from their seaside home and Gwen never saw the boy again.
Now seventeen, Gwen is returning to her childhood home. Her nana asked her to come. But Gwen knows it's time to go back for another reason: She yearns for the sea. Perhaps the sea itself is calling to her. Perhaps the memory of the boy and his haunting words are drawing her back to the place they met. Perhaps it's time for her to face her destiny.
This is another that I've wanted to read since I was little but never picked up.  It's about Selkies I think.  Which is freaking awesome!  I read Terri Farley's Phantom Stallion series when I was a wee thing, but I think this is aimed at an older audience.

Vacationing in Winter Harbor, Maine, is a tradition for Vanessa and Justine Sands, and that means spending time with the Carmichael boys. This summer, Vanessa is determined to channel some of her older sister’s boldness, get over her fear of the ocean, and maybe turn her friendship with Simon Carmichael into something much more.  
But when Justine goes cliff-diving after a big family argument, and her body washes ashore the next day, Vanessa is sure that it was more than an accident. She is more certain of this, when she discovers that her sister was keeping some big secrets and Caleb Carmichael’s gone missing. Suddenly, the entire oceanfront town is abuzz when a series of grim, water-related accidents occur, with the male victims washed ashore grinning from ear to ear.  
Vanessa and Simon team up to figure out if these creepy deaths have anything to do with Justine and Caleb, but what Vanessa discovers might mean the end of her summer romance, and life as she knows it.  
A chilling, gripping paranormal romance, Siren will make you think twice before your next trip to the beach.
I don't know much about this series either, but I'm fairly certain it's about Sirens (I wonder what gave it away?).  This is another darker take on the idea, if I read the reviews correctly.

Seventeen-year-old Lily, half-mermaid and half-human, has been living on land and attending high school, where she develops a crush on a boy but is afraid to tell him of her true destiny as the ruler of the undersea kingdom of Thalassinia.
My same friend who loved The Tail of Emily Windsnap loved this series, though I never got around to reading it.  She did tell me about it in depth, because she had absolutely fallen in love with the world that was built in this trilogy.  From what I remember her telling me, it's a fantastic ride and just a bunch of fun, all together.

 Daughters of the Sea tells the story of 3 mermaid sisters who are separated at birth by a storm and go on to lead three very different lives. Book 1 is about Hannah, who spent her early days in an orphanage and is now a scullery maid in the house of rich, powerful family. She is irresistibly drawn to the sea and through a series of accidents and encounters discovers her true identity. Hannah realizes that she must keep the truth a secret but she also knows that soon she will have to make the choice - to be a creature of the land or the sea.
This is another one I wanted to read whenI was younger but never picked up.  I think it's for an older audience, but I've read some of Kathryn Lasky's books for younger kids.  I adore the cover of this one, too!

Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans and absorb their positive energy. Usually, they select their victims at random, but this time around, the underwater clan chooses its target for a reason: revenge. They want to kill Jason Hancock, the man they blame for their mother's death.
It's going to take a concerted effort to lure the aquaphobic Hancock onto the water. Calder's job is to gain Hancock's trust by getting close to his family. Relying on his irresistible good looks and charm, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock's daughter Lily. Easy enough, but Calder screws everything up by falling in love--just as Lily starts to suspect there's more to the monster-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined, and just as the mermaids threaten to take matters into their own hands, forcing Calder to choose between them and the girl he loves.
One thing's for sure: whatever Calder decides, the outcome won't be pretty.
 This was a last minute addition to this list thanks to @henriemma on tumblr for the recommendation.

Have you read any of these books?  Do you have any more to recommend?  Let me know in the comments!

Monday, May 30, 2016

5 Star Reread Review: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)

Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: 5 Stars

I read this book however many years ago, not long after it had come out.  The first time through, I really, really enjoyed it, and I read the second one as soon as it came out.  But something happened around book three and I didn't pick it up until recently.  Well, I decided to reread the first two and read the last two as quickly as I could, and I am so glad I made this decision!  It was so much better than I remember it being!

The Raven Boys is about four boys and a girl.  The girl- Blue- is the daughter of a psychic and lives in a home full of psychics, but is not psychic herself.  She was told that she would kill her true love with a kiss.  The four boys are the titular Raven Boys- Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah.  They're on a quest to discover a sleeping king who was moved from Wales to Virginia- Glendower.  When Blue's path crosses with that of her Raven Boys, their quest really and truly begins and they discover that magic is indeed real.

The best part of the book is the writing.  It's mind-blowing amazing!  Have you ever read a classic book?  Something they teach in school where the writing melts off the page and dances through your soul?  That's how these books are written.  If one day I'm ever able to write half as well as Miss Stiefvater I'll be a damned good writer.  I mean, I can't convince you how well this is written with my own words!  If you want to just sit back and enjoy her craft, pick this up because someday, I believe this will be taught in classes around the country.

The other best part of this book is the characters.  I mean, I don't think I could tell you who my favorite is because they're all my favorite!  I love them all for different reasons and they're all unique and separate characters.  I don't think I've ever read another version of these characters in all the books I've read, either.  I'm not a super visual reader (details are hard for me to picture) but I can just about picture these characters, even when I'm not reading.  And it's so wonderful.  Rarely do characters leak into my dreams as awesome as these ones do!

Now that the series is over it's a perfect opportunity for you to pick this book up and binge them all (I mean, that's what I'm doing)!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Coffee Book Tag

The other day I saw Caroline @ Just Another Bookish Blog do this tag and I thought it looked like a bunch of fun!  I wasn't formally tagged, but that's okay :)

Personally, I'm not a big fan of coffee (or tea) but I do adore coffee shops and pastries and just the smell of coffee.  And, of course, I'm a big fan of books.

1. Black: A series that was tough to get into but has hardcore fans
I love, love, love these books!  You can't tear me away from the page when I'm in the midst of one.  And I'm pretty sure there's a rather hardcore fanbase here, seeing as there are several RPG games and a new card game coming out.  But the first two books?  Absolutely awful!  I mean, maybe that's a little bit of an overstatement, but had book three not been as good as it was, I would have given it up right then and there.

2. Pepperment Mocha: A book that gets more popular during the holiday season
I mean, this series is always popular, but around the holidays I feel like that popularity doubles.  The movies play on TV all the time and the books are just better when reading in front of a fire place as the snow falls around your house, don't you think?

3. Hot Chocolate: Your favorite children's book
My dad would read this series to me before I went to bed each night and I still have warm feelings for this one.  I still have all the books and even have a copy of the Field Guide (with which I would spend time in the forest looking for fairies).  And the movie isn't half bad, either, if you want my honest opinion.

4. Double Shot of Espresso: A book that kept you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end
I normally can't read in the car because I get to distracted by what's out the window, but when I was reading this book I remember just flying through it while my parents were talking in the front seats.  It was so good and I was breathless the entire time- this is easily one the best sequels I have ever read.

5. Starbucks: A book you see everywhere
It's not really any surprise, but every time I find myself on Tumblr or Instagram this book immediately pops up.  It was a fantastic read, so no complaining from me!  Another really popular one right now is The Raven King and the rest of The Raven Cycle.

6. The Hipster Coffee Shop: Give a book by an indie author a shoutout
It's been a while since I talked about this one, but it was one of my favorite reads last year and an absolute surprise.  I'm fairly certain it's still free on the kindle store, too, sot if you're even the smallest bit curious I recommend picking it up!

7. Oops! I accidentally got decaf! A book you were expecting more from
I recently reviewed this one and was not a big fan of it, which is such a shame considering I adored Red Queen.  I hoping book three saves the series for me, but I'll have to wait and see.

8. The Perfect Blend: A series that was a little bitter, a little sweet, but ultimately satisfying

I'm going to go with two different series, here, because I couldn't pick just one.  The Red Rising trilogy finished up this year and it was such a good series!  It was an experience to read and I don't think it will ever be replicated.

Similarly with Mistborn (the original trilogy; I haven't started the next series yet) it was something I don't think will ever be repeated and I'm forever grateful I picked this series up.  I recommend both of these series with all my heart.

9. Green Tea: A book that is quietly beautiful
This is another one I don't talk about too often, which is such a shame because it's an amazing book.  It's a good summer read and is equal parts sad, happy, and completely honest in the way it tells its story.  I strongly recommend reading this if you haven't already.

10. Chai Tea: A book or series that makes you dream of far off places
This is a middle grade fantasy novel that takes place in Japan and is steeped with the mythology of that country.  Another I would really recommend picking up, especially since I haven't seen this one tossed around that often and thought it was absolutely fantastic.  When I was reading this I was wishing I could go visit Japan.

11. Earl Gray: Favorite classic
I don't read that many classics, but I remember absolutely adoring this one.  I think because I loved the humor and parody of America within the pages.  I honestly need to read more Mark Twain, because this the only thing of his that I've actually read.

So, I'm not really tagging anyone in particular for this one, so if it looks interesting please do it and let me know in the comments so I can check it out!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Wrap Up (The One Where I Planned a Surprise Party)

Summer is right around the corner for me and I cannot wait!  The only reason I'm staying at school is because I have a final on the 31st, but it's not really one I can study for, so it's been a lie extended weekend for me to pack and read.  And packing is surprisingly easy!  

As for the surprise party I threw, it was for a friend's birthday (even though his birthday isn't for another few weeks).  Another one of my friend's and I have been planning this party for about five weeks, and yesterday, when it was finally going to happen, I was bursting with so much energy I couldn't even sit down for more than half an hour!  We also managed to surprise the rest of our friends, who we had convinced that the party was actually tonight and didn't tell them about the grandest surprise- the 30 inch pizza!  Would you like to see such a mega-pizza?



We took the remaining slices back home and put them in the fridge for our friend who didn't come.  The whole thing was so much fun, though I don't think I'll be able to eat pizza again for a while.  The first thing the waitress said when she brought us our food was "Good luck" which we seriously needed.

Finished This Week
Nothing, but I'm not too mad because my classes were all finishing up and there was a lot of work I needed to finish for my classes.  Plus, next week I'll have so much more time to read!

Currently Reading
I'm still reading a bunch of books, but I thought I'd only list here the ones I plan to finish this week.
The Crown's Game - I'm over halfway done and I might even finish tonight
Even If the Sky Falls - I'm a few chapters in and this should be a quick read
Klaw - this is an ARC of a graphic novel I forget I had from Netgalley and so I'm rushing through it; never before has a fight between a Chicken and a Tiger been more exciting!

Last Week
Wednesday-- The Bloglovin' Tag

Next Week
Sunday-- Coffee Book Tag
Monday-- The Raven Boys Review
Tuesday-- Book Recommendations
Wednesday-- Summer Book Goals

Also, did you see that Cassandra Clare is co-writing a series about Magnus Bane aimed at an adult audience?  This is the last thing I expected, but something I'm actually pretty excited for!  Now another book I have to wait for *sigh* but that's okay.

What did you read this week?

Friday, May 27, 2016

2017 Debuts To Be Excited For: Mary Taranta Interview

My goal this year has been to spotlight 2017 Debut authors, and earlier this week I posted an interview with Gwen Cole, and now I have another interview for you all!  It's with the fantastic Mary Taranta, whose book, Shimmer and Burn (previously titled Until Our Blood Runs Clean) is a dark fantasy about a world where magic is dangerously addictive; the book is set to release next summer (is the wait really that long??!).  Thank you so much, Mary, for doing this interview!

Sam: In your own words how would you describe your novel?
Mary: Elevator pitch! After her sister is enslaved by the king, Faris Locke is coerced by an ambitious princess into smuggling stolen magic out of their hidden kingdom in order to bribe an alliance with a neighboring prince.

Sam: What does it mean that your book is dark fantasy?
Mary: I don't shy away from bloodshed or body counts, and characters often make difficult (and unpleasant) choices. No happy endings guaranteed!

Sam: According to your website you have a BA in history; how does this affect what you write about? Did you take classes in college (or outside of college) to help with your writing craft?
Mary: History is a huge source of inspiration in terms of worldbuilding and character motivation, but I tend to only use little details, or a general time period/event to set my books against. Some of my ideas borrow more heavily from specifics than others, but overall, I definitely write fantasy novels, not historical. 
I took one creative writing class in college, but it was taught by a former state Poet Laureate who heavily skewed the class towards poetry, which wasn't my area of interest. Other than that, I just wrote a lot of practice words before I felt I had something worthy of querying.

Sam: You're a mostly self-taught artist and do sketches of your characters- what comes first for you, the character sketch or their role in the book?
Mary: It's half and half! I might have an idea for a plot or a specific dynamic between two characters, and as I start drawing them, details fill in. SHIMMER AND BURN began as a concept which turned into a sketch which led to the pitch that my agent approved.  A rather important character in the novel didn't exist until I was doodling faces and he showed up and introduced himself. Now the novel can't work without him!
The sketch in question; click to be taken to her original post
Sam: Your book comes out in Summer 2017; is the wait killing you? What other projects are keeping you busy while you wait?
Actually... no! I'm on deadline for edits on Book 1, and the first draft of Book 2 is due soon, so having a year to go makes it a little less stressful for me - there's still plenty of time to make changes! ;) That being said, I'm dying to see my cover. The cover will feel more real than a word document I email back and forth to my editor, if that makes sense. 
Since both books are keeping me busy and I work full-time during the day, I don't have any side projects going at the moment, although ideas are simmering in my head.

Sam: What is the greatest piece of writing advice you have for aspiring authors?
Mary: Patience! When you're actively involved in the writing community, you get real time updates of other people's successes, and it makes you hungry - which is good! - but don't let it make you impatient. There's no time limit on success, nor is there only a finite amount to go around. Rushing to catch up will not get you there any faster, and it will probably even set you back - a lesson I learned the hard way.

Sam: Time for two truths and a lie! The rules of the game: give three facts about yourself, two that are true and one that is a lie. Readers will guess which is which in the comments and I'll reveal the answer in a later post!
Mary: 1. I have nine siblings.
2. SHIMMER AND BURN was my seventh novel.
3. I live in Florida, but I don't know how to swim.

Thank you so much for the interview it was a bunch of fun and you were a lovely guest!  

If you haven't already, go check out her website and follow her on social media (Twitter, Tumblr); you won't be sorry!

Born the youngest save one in a family of ten, I grew up notoriously quiet but secretly wild, playacting my favorite stories and writing some of my own in the woods behind my family's farmhouse. Originally from a small (very small) town in Ohio, I moved to the larger (much larger) Orlando suburbs kicking and screaming at the age of fifteen. It turned out all right in the end and I'm still here, now with an adorable husband, two useless cats, and an unhealthy reliance on air conditioning. While I'm not old enough to be President, I am too old to sit on the floor without cracking joints when I stand. As a Midwestern Southerner, I've attained Level 9 Politeness and prefer my iced tea sweet.

Still notoriously quiet, though. Not nearly so wild.
*picture and description taken from Mary Taranta website

Thursday, May 26, 2016

5 Star Spoiler Review & Discussion: A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)

Author: Sarah J Maas
Edition: Hardcover 
Related Reviews: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Rating: 5 Stars

I did a non-spoiler review of this book, which you can check out HERE if you're interested.  The rest of this review will be hidden underneath the break because, understandably, it's full of SPOILERS for both this book and the previous one.  If you have not read A Court of Mist and Fury STOP READING.  If you have, please continue.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Bloglovin' Tag

I've been spending a lot of time on Bloglovin' and I've wondered why there isn't a tag specific to the platform.  This tag isn't really book blog specific, so feel free to tag all sorts of interesting blogs!  It's a way to encourage people to follow others on Bloglovin' and to discover new blogs.

The Rules:
1. Answer the questions
2. Follow whoever tagged you on Bloglovin'
3. Tag five (or more) others

The Questions
1. What's on your feed?  Link to the first two posts you see at the top of your feed right now.
2. Time to go exploring!  Link to the top three posts under the explore tab.
3. Looking for more blogs to follow? Follow the first four blogs under the "Find Blogs" tab and link to them below.
4. Share the love! Tag the last five people who appear in your notifications.

The Answers:
1. What's on your feed?  Link to the first two posts you see at the top of your feed right now.

2. Time to go exploring!  Link to the top three posts under the explore tab.
Confetti Ice Cream Fudge Pie with M&M’S.

3. Looking for more blogs to follow? Follow the first four blogs under the "Find Blogs" tab and link to them below.

4. Share the love! Tag the last five people who appear in your notifications.
I tag:
Less Reality More Books
Austin Decker
Ely Jayne

So, I hope this was an interesting tag! Even if you weren't tagged, if you feel like doing it, please do; I'd love to see this tag spread because I had a lot of fun making it :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

5 Star Review: A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)

Author: Sarah J Maas
Edition: Hardcover 
Related Reviews: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Rating: 5 Stars

This book was everything!  I don't even think I can formulate how much I adore this one- it's just amazing!  There may be SPOILERS FOR BOOK ONE below, but there won't be any spoilers for this book (though I will be posting a spoiler discussion later this week, for those who are curious).

A Court of Mist and Fury picks up not long after A Court of Thorns and Roses and follows Feyre as she is adjusting to life with Tamlin in the Spring Court... and she's not adjusting well.  She is, more or less, suffering from PTSD thanks to what Amarantha did Under the Mountain, and then, moments before she's married to Tamlin, Rhysand appears again and sweeps her away according to their deal.  But things with Rhysand may not be as they seem... and with a war brewing across the sea that will affect them all, she has to choose sides.

This book is a whopper coming in at over 600 pages.  It took me ages to read, but I really, really enjoyed it.  In fact, I think I can safely say that this has been my favorite book all year (though it seriously contested Lady Midnight in that regard).  As always, Sarah J Maas' writing is amazing!  My one problem with her last book (Queen of Shadows) was the poor pace of character development, something she easily fixes in this book.  While there was a little bit of a problem wrapping my head around Tamlin and Lucian's developments, the rest of the characters (even the new ones) grew on me and slowly changed over the course of the novel.

I can easily say the Night Court is my favorite court (though I cannot tell you why, as spoilers).  The world building in this one was very, very cool.  Besides the Night Court, the Summer Court was explored a bit (and while I wish all the Courts were visited, I can pace myself) and so was, more importantly, the magic of the courts and the history of the world.  Both play an important part in the story (and will continue to play an important part in the story) and I look forward to learning more about each.

What got me the most in this book was the sheer amount and level of emotions.  The relationships between characters change dramatically (and I think for the better, so some will be very angry when they read it) and the central relationship is just too important for words.  It's got its highs and its got its lows, but it's the best thing I've read in a long time and it actually means a lot to me, personally.

Also, a bit of a disclaimer, this is New Adult (and really shouldn't be shelved with the rest of Young Adult) which means the sex scenes can get more graphic than they do for the regular run of the mill YA.  And boy, do they get graphic (in a good way, really).  If you're not a fan of these sorts of scenes... maybe skip past them?  There are a lot, and if you need to know what pages to skip, DM me on Twitter and I can let you know.  If you're all for these scenes, well, you're really going to enjoy yourself (*smiles wickedly*).

Monday, May 23, 2016

2017 Debuts to Be Excited For: Gwen Cole Interview

I've been hoping to spotlight several authors that will be debuting next year, and I'm super thankful to Gwen Cole, who so kindly agreed to do an interview!  Gwen's debut novel, Cold Summer, is about a boy suffering PTSD after he's hurtled back and forth through time.  It's set to be released in May of next year (according to Goodreads) and I already have a countdown running.  Thanks again, Gwen, for doing this interview!

Sam: In your own words, how would you describe your novel?
Gwen: COLD SUMMER is about a time-traveling boy who splits his time between the present and WWII, trying to control his ability before he dies on the battlefield.

Sam: What inspired you to write this book, and about PTSD in general?
Gwen: This book actually started out as a summer book—no WWII or time-traveling. But after about five chapters and me becoming very bored with it, I decided to stop re-think it. At the time I was binging on Band of Brothers and one day my summer book became something much different. And I couldn’t write a war book without PTSD. So many people forget the side effects of war, even after the soldiers come home and try to have normal lives. One is never without the other.

Sam: Where do you get inspirations for your characters?
Gwen: Sometimes they form themselves and sometimes I’m watching a TV show and this random side character comes in and something about them grabs me. A quirk they have or how they hold themselves—then a character is born through that. But honestly, it usually takes me a whole rough draft to really figure each of my characters out, sometimes more depending on how difficult they are.

Sam: On your website you said you can play many instruments- which are your favorite (either to play or in general) and does music inspire your writing?
Gwen: I’ve been playing music almost my whole life. I started piano young and picked up bass guitar when I was 12, and then a little later on I taught myself guitar. Bass guitar will probably always be my favorite. I’ve been playing it so long I barely have to think about it anymore. But music and writing don’t go together for me. Sometimes I’ll play a Hans Zimmer song for a certain scene if I need it, but I tend to write and edit in silence or have the TV on in the background.

Sam: How did you find your publisher?  Have you always known you wanted to be an author?
Gwen: Unlike most authors who start writing at a young age, I didn’t start writing until I was about 20. I did it for fun back then and didn’t pursue a writing career until a few years ago. But the first thing I did was find myself an agent. I knew that was the first step for me and I couldn’t have gotten where I am now without her. Their knowledge about the publishing world is invaluable.

Sam: What's the one greatest piece of writing advice you have for aspiring authors?
Gwen: Be yourself! It does no good to compare yourself to others because you’re not them. You are unique and your words are unique, so hold onto that and let yourself grow.

Sam: Time for two truths and a lie!  The rules of the game: give three facts about yourself, two that are true and one that is a lie.  Readers will guess which is which in the comments and I'll reveal the answer in a later post!
Gwen: 1. I broke my arm falling off a horse when I was a kid.
2. I still have one of those old flip phones.
3. I never went to high school.

Thanks so much for the interview, you've been an absolutely lovely guest!  Go check out her website and follow her on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) because she is awesome!

Gwen Cole writes Young Adult books and her debut novel, COLD SUMMER, will be released in the spring of 2017 with Sky Pony Press, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing.
She grew up in upstate New York, moved to Virginia where she did not graduate college, and worked a various number of jobs including pharmacy technician, meat clerk, ranch hand, and a receiving specialist at Target. She may or may not have written a number of books while working at certain jobs.
At the age of eighteen, Gwen played bass in a hardcore band and later married the lead guitarist. She can also play piano, guitar, and wishes she could play the cello. Her favorite place to vacation is Wyoming, where she gets to wear a cowboy hat and pretend she actually is one.
Gwen now lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, daughter, and very large dog, where she longs to live in the country again.
*picture and bio taken from Gwen Cole website

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Wrap Up (The One Where I Finally Think I Understand Twitter)

And by finally understand twitter I mean that it's not crazy overwhelming anymore and has become just another part of my day.  Which is actually a pretty big relief!  I've been using Twitter for over a year (about as long as I've been blogging) and while it was always nice, it wasn't really a place to connect with people until recently.  I can't say what triggered the shift, but it's pretty great!

Other than that, my week has been pretty boring.  I managed to get a lot of reading done (which was unbelievably nice) and I only have 11 days of school left (and summer can't come soon enough).  I'm planning to apply for a job at my local Barnes and Noble, so fingers crossed.  If that doesn't work out, theres a pizza place that's always hiring.

Finished This Week
The Raven Boys- it was a reread and so much better than I remembered

Currently Reading
The Crown's Game- it was one of my most anticipated, but it's a little disappointing so far; I'm really enjoying taking part of Brittany's Book Rambles Twitter Chat/Discussion Group Thingy, though! (go team Nikolai!)
The Dream Thieves- another reread but I had to pick it up immediately after finishing Raven Boys
Even if the Sky Falls- still not sure how I feel about this one; it's not bad but it's also not what I expected
Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge- I've been reading it slowly (not on purpose) but don't dislike it
Game of Thrones- my reread continues (and I'm reminded of how much Ned Stark frustrates me!)

Last Week

Next Week
Monday-- Gwen Cole Interview (!!!)
Tuesday-- ACOMAF Review (Spoiler Free)
Wednesday-- Original Tag
Thursday-- ACOMAG Review (Spoiler Filled)
Friday-- Mary Taranta Interview (!!!)
Saturday-- Wrap Up

That's it for me this week!  Next week is pretty filled with stuff, but stuff I am so, so, so excited for!  I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend; let me know what you're currently reading in the comments!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Writing Corner: When The Story Fixes Itself

You may remember the last Writing Corner post I did where I talked about one of my current WIPs.  Today I'm actually going to talk about another one that I've been working on.  Quick summary:

It's an original fairy tale based that came from the thought process "What is Pokemon existed in real life?" and the story of a dying girl.  It follows Jocelyn and Wylan, who are both plagued by curses cast on them (or their families) by a witch.  They must fulfill the quest of the Kings Ransom in order to finally break their curses.

I call it an original fairy tale because it plays on fairy tale tropes and is set in a world where these things are possible and taken to be fact.  It's a shorter novel, perhaps even a novella, and I'm trying to make it as tight as possible.  As I was writing the first chapter, I stumbled across a little gem of an idea that I didn't even know I was missing.  It was only a line of dialogue, but I realized as I was writing, that it fixed the major problem in the plot.  Not only does it give the King motive to have this quest in the first place, but it makes the ending practically perfect.

I love when this happens naturally as I write.  I'm somewhere between a planner and a pantser, normally sketching out the big ideas and then expanding on them as I go and stumbling into new things.  It's not so rare that characters will change on the page (for the better) but I don't always have this spontaneity with the plot.  When it does happen, it's never been as drastic as this.  But I'm rather pleased with how this changes and betters the story!

For all you writers reading this; has this ever happened to you?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Empire of Storms

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those don't.
As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.
Aelin's journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?
Why I'm Excited
Does this really need to be explained?  It's the fifth book in the Throne of Glass series!  And my god, that cover is amazing!  I can't wait to meet back up with the whole gang and just return to this world.  While I was somewhat disappointed by Queen of Shadows, it wasn't enough disappointment to turn me off this one.  Also, Dorian is just my favorite and now he's King so that will be exciting!

Empire of Storms is released on September 6th, 2016

Monday, May 16, 2016

5 Star Book Review: Siege and Storm

Author: Leigh Bardugo
Edition: Paperback
Related Reviews: Shadow and Bone
Rating: 5 Stars

There will be SPOILERS for the first book in the series in this post.


Siege and Storm takes place a short time after Shadow and Bone ended, with Alina and Mal seeking solace and protection across the sea.  When the Darkling comes and disrupts that peace in order to gain more power for Alina in the form of a sea dragon she and Mal barely escape with the help of a very interesting privateer who is more than he seems.


Can that be the entire review?  Okay, maybe not, but just FYI, Nikolai is my newest favorite fictional character and is a precious baby I will protect.

I actually really like all the characters in this book.  For you Mal haters out there, I don't hate him, but he's very "meh" to me (I know how the series ends relationship-wise but will refrain my thoughts until the final book).  Other than that I adore everyone.  Alina is one of those rare narrators who is absolutely absorbing in every sense of the word and the world around me falls away when I'm looking through her eyes.  I credit this magic to Leigh Bardugo's own magic, which still seeps off the page as I was reading.

Like with Shadow and Bone, the world of Ravka is fantastic.  I wish I lived there, honestly!  And the myth building in this one was fantastic.  I loved how she explored the legends of the world and how realistic they all felt.  Sometimes I forget, too, how bloody her writing can be and how dangerous this world is, but the climax of this book was mind blowing and amazing!

After finishing this one I immediately wanted to start Ruin and Rising, but alas, I must wait a bit so as not to cause a massive book hangover.  Soon, though, because these books are addictive and probably some of my all time favorites.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Wrap Up (The One Where I Went to a Sarah J Maas Book Signing)

I spent so many hours traveling this weekend!  I took a three hour train ride (that was delayed by two and a half hours so it ended up being somewhere near six hours of being in a train station or on a train) where I met up with my family to celebrate my dad's birthday.  I also managed to sneak in a Sarah J Maas signing.... Which was awesome!  I didn't take pictures, I'm sorry, but I was exhausted by the time I got home (which is an hour away from where the train took me).  I did get an page from the Throne of Glass coloring book and I cannot wait to color it!  Then, today, my dad drove me back to school (which is a three and a half hour ride but we ended up going out of our way an hour to visit a really nice city in the area and it was nice to spend more time with him) and now I'm trying to catch up on both homework and blogging.

Finished this Week
A Court of Mist and Fury -- This is one of the best books I have EVER read!

Currently Reading
Are you ready for another list?  Because it's a lot:
The Raven Boys (it's technically a reread but I kept meaning to get to it and someone spoiled the ending of the Raven King to me so now I feel I need to marathon the series)
Game of Thrones (another reread and one I'm taking slow on purpose because I want to savor it)
Even If The Sky Falls (I'm a few chapters in and not sure how I feel about it yet)
Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge (same; not sure how I feel about it yet)

Last Week

This Week
Monday-- Siege and Storm Review
Wednesday-- Waiting on Wednesday
Friday-- Writing Corner
Saturday-- Wrap Up

What did you guys get up to this weekend?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Carve the Mark

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not — their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?
Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power — something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.
Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuve, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive — no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive — or to destroy one another.
 Why I'm Excited
Maybe excited isn't the best word for this book.  I'm curious, though, very curious.  I liked Divergent when I read it the first time, but after Allegiant, and after struggling to reread the trilogy, I decided I just wasn't a fan.  Yes, this book might be better than those were (I'm certainly in love with the cover), but I'm going to wait for the early reviews to come rolling in.

Carve the Mark is released January 17th, 2017

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Infinity Dream Award

Thank you Lauren from Always Me for nominating me for this award!  If anyone reading this doesn't already follow her, you really should because her blog is amazing!

1. Give 11 facts about yourself
2. Answer the 11 questions set to you by who nominated you
3. Nominate 11 bloggers to receive this award
4. Ask the bloggers you've nominated to answer your own 11 questions
Bonus points: Answer questions in a vlog!

11 Facts About Me:

1. I love to bullet journal! I've always loved planners, and indulged in a personalized one last summer, but over winter break discovered the magic that is bullet journaling and have to taken to it with a passion.

2. I've always wanted to learn calligraphy, but can handwrite, surprisingly well, many different fonts and fancy letters.  My own handwriting has changes dramatically several times over the course of a year, though recently I've been really fond of writing in cursive.  I never thought I would use it as a skill, but now I've found it's just quicker and it looks nicer in my notes.

3. I used to take horse back riding lessons.  I stopped because the commitment was too much and I wasn't very fond of the people who taught me.  While learning I had several incidents that make for interesting stories... like the time I fell off of a horse and it ran away and was running through the stable and people had to catch it... or the time the horse I was riding had decided to jump (before I had learned how to handle that) and I rode it out like a pro so well that my mom thought it was just part of the lesson and was shocked to find out it was an accident.

4. I also used to learn how to play the trumpet.  I had originally wanted to learn to play the violin but the instructor told me I was a natural with the trumpet.  I was in fifth grade, so that was all it took to assure me I was a prodigy.  I hated the instructor, though, and lessons were during the time we had silent reading in class (my favorite part of the day!) and it only took about a month for me to quit.

5. Also in fifth grade: I used to play marbles all the time!  And, actually, I was really good.  I got a few friends really interested and soon we had the whole class playing.  At the end of the school year we had a competitive marbles competition in class and the teacher was all for it!  Unfortunately I haven't played in years.  I might just dig up all my marbles when I go home this summer, though...

6. When I was in seventh and eighth grade I loved playing Magic: the Gathering.  I taught myself how to play and collected so many cards!  (I mean, I had like 700 cards and was really in love with the game.)  I didn't have anyone to play with, though, and so would just sit in my room and design decks and then play against myself for hours.  A few weeks ago a friend expressed an interest in the game, so I bought a deck and relearned how to play (wasn't so hard to, either; just like riding a bike, really!) and it's been so much fun.

7. I've always wanted to be a published author, and that's till my plan (always working on some WIP or another), but I also want to work in Hollywood and be a screenwriter and director.  I still plan to minor in film (as that's all that my school offers in that department) and I still want to work in movies, but my plans have changed a bit.  Lately, I've been considering, after graduation (which is still several years away), to pursue a degree in library sciences or a job in editing.  I think I'd be good at both of those things, but I, luckily, still have plenty of time to decide on my future.

8. I pretty much can't see anything in the dark.  It has a lot to do with my depth perception (which is really, really bad).  I try not to drive at night at all (though I can and I'm not a hazard, I just drive slower than I normally would) and keep a light turned on in my room until I'm tucked into bed and know I won't get up again.

9. This is actually my third book blog!  Does that surprise you?  I had a blog when I was in eighth grade, but it was really poor, and after a year, retired it.  I had made no connections and hadn't really tried to, either.  Then, in sophomore year of high school I decided to try my hand at it again, but I hadn't learned my lesson, and made no connections.  When no one visits your blog it's really depressing.  This time around, though, I knew I was dedicated for the long run, and I had learned from past mistakes, and here I am today!  This is, by far, my favorite of the three blogs, and I'm so glad I came back to it.

10. I have been reading and writing for as long as I can remember.  The first book I remember reading on my own was a book in the Droon series.  My dad had read them to me at night, but then the most recent one came out and he wasn't home, so I sat down and didn't get back up until I had finished.  I was really a small child, maybe third grade.

11. I've only completed two "novels" that I've worked on.  One I wrote in fourth or fifth grade when I was mad at a friend.  I made all of my friends super heroes and super villains and I, of course, was a super hero, and the friend I was mad at was a super villain.  I wrote it in a thin spiral bound notebook and it's still probably in my room somewhere.  The second novel was one I co-wrote with a friend about a parallel world where everyone has powers.  She wrote the chapters from the perspective of Ebony "Eb", the female lead, and I wrote the chapters from Zander, the male lead.  It's not a horrible book, but we started it Freshman year of high school and ended in the middle of Junior year, so it's really not the best work, either.

My Answers:

I was going to answer these in vlog format, but I just haven't had the time (sadly).

1. What is your guilty pleasure song? The Climb, by Miley Cyrus

2. Do you have any tattoos?  Do you want one? No, I don't, but yes I want one.  For a long time I've wanted a really, really small one behind my right ear that's just the little copyright symbol to represent that I'm an original.  I've also played with the idea of a melting price tag (the scanner type one) on one of my shoulders which would mean something like you can't put a price on a person.

3. What is your favorite city? Amsterdam.  I fell in love when I visited and would love to live there.

4. If you had a daughter, what would her name be?  Kahlan (KAY-LAN).  Yes, it's a name from Sword of Truth, but I've always loved the name and I don't think it's way out there as some names go.

5. What is your most recently discovered favorite song/favorite at the moment? Long Live, by Taylor Swift.

6. Name a place or a few places at the top of your travel bucket list.  Iceland is pretty much the one place I dream of going right now.

7. How old were you when you started blogging? See my 9th fact about myself.

8.  What's your favorite musical?  Wicked!

9. What was your latest five star read?  Siege and Storm (no review yet), though I am in the middle of A Court of Mist and Fury and that for sure will end up with five stars, I love it so much!

10.  With what word would you most like people to describe you with?  Nostalgic? Important.  Yeah, important, even if it's only to them.

11.  Tell us about a book that has changed your life!  There are always books that will always mean something important to me.  American Gods, Percy Jackson, and, most recently, A Court of Mist and Fury (even though I haven't finished, there are parts of this book that just mean so much to me and will always be with me).

I Tag:
1. Christina @ Books and Prejudice
3. Natalie @ Netflix and Books
4. El @ So Bookalicious
5. Mariah @ Vibin With Books
8. Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles
9. Shayna @ The Bibliotaph
10. Alicia @ A Kernal of Nonsense
11. Carolin @ Just Another Book Blog

My Questions For You:
1. Are you currently in school?  If so, what's your favorite class?  If not, what was your favorite class?
2.  What has been your favorite read so far this year?
3.  Do your friends (outside of the ones met in the booknerd corner of the internet) share your passion for books?
4.  Do you have a tattoo?  Do you plan to get one?
5.  What was the first ARC you received?
6.  Where is your favorite place to read?
7.  What fictional character do you connect the most with?
8.  What's your first memory of reading?
9.  Do you like to write?  What are you working on?
10.  What song, when it comes on the radio, do you feel the need to sing along at the top of your lungs?
11.  When do you do most of your blogging?

Well, that post took forever to write, but it was a blast!