Blog Tour: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

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Welcome to this stop for the Passenger blog tour! My name is Aila, and I’ll be your guide for today. After all, you’re my passenger for this leg of the journey. 😉 It is with great pleasure to be featuring the amazing book Passenger by Alexandra Bracken, where music and time-travel weave a spell that will just mesmerize readers.

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Alexandra-Bracken-PassengerPassenger
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Series: Passenger
Release Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Get it Here: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks | The Book Depository

Synopsis:
passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.
In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.
Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.
Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever

passengerabouttheauthor

Alexandra Bracken

I’m Alex. I write about telekinetic teens and floppy-haired wizards. I love Star Wars, classic rock, and 18th century gentlemen. When I’m not up at 4 AM writing, you can find me running around the DC area, where I now live and write full time.

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Instagram

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Throughout the book, Etta travels to many destinations and time periods. In this tour, we’ll be looking at the different places that she goes to, and I, your guide, will be providing some background information on these places, as well as fanmade art (by yours truly). The places our characters visit are truly amazing, and I absolutely cannot wait for you to read about them yourself!

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Destination 1:

Atlantic, 1776

1atlanticpassenger

The first stop is on a boat heading from Nassau to New York City in 1776. You’ll have to read the book for yourself to know what’s happening to our characters!

What’s happening in the Atlantic during this time period?

  • It took people around seven weeks to get across the Atlantic Ocean, which does not include the periods during which ships were anchored.
  • Prior to becoming a British colony, Nassau served as the main base for several pirate captains, such as Blackbeard.
  • The British colonies imported 1.5 million slaves – more than three times the number of free immigrants across the Atlantic.

Sources: 1 2 3

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Destination 2:

New York City, 1776

3newyorkpassenger

The time travel aspect was so well-done in this book; the characters take into fact the clothes for the era they’re visiting and also keep journals to make sure they don’t meet themselves in different parts of time.

So what exactly took place in America in 1776?

  • Thomas Paine published the widespread Common Sense.
  • The Liberty Bell rang for the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Women had no equal rights during the time and were kept in the household – most were discouraged to achieve in academics.

Sources: 1 2

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Destination 3:

London, 1940

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Now at this point of the book, Nicholas and Etta are tasked by the Grand Master of the travelers to retrieve a special something. Their adventure is just beginning, ladies and gentlemen.

What was happening in London during this time period?

  • The Blitz hits London: it was a period of strategic bombing of the UK by Nazi Germany.
  • It is seen as a time of great community spirit, as Londoners were seen as calm in the face of danger sharing a positive spirit, courage, and a determination to succeed.
  • Londoners used air raid shelters called Anderson shelters to keep themselves safe during raids. They would also find shelter on platforms, tunnels, ticket halls, and staircases of the London Underground stations.

Sources: 1 2 3

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Destination 4:

Angkor, 1685

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This was probably my favorite setting of them all! The more romantic readers like me will certainly enjoy the swoony moments that happen at this exotic destination. Although the romance happened quite quickly, I found it believable and felt so many touching moments between the characters throughout the book.

What’s so special about Cambodia?

  • Angkor has been one of the biggest cradles of civilization. A team of international researchers in 2007 used satellite photographs and other modern techniques to conclude that it was the largest pre-industrial city in the world with an urban sprawl of 1,150 square miles that probably supported up to a million people.
  • The ancient temple of Angkor Wat in the deep Cambodian jungle was discovered by French explorers in the 19th century.
  • Millions of tourists visit Cambodia each year; luckily, there are thousands of on-site workers working to conserve the awe-inspiring monuments. UNESCO has moved to protect the site since 1992.

Sources: 1 2

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Destination 5:

Paris, 1880

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Throughout their adventures, Nicholas and Etta are getting chased or watched by certain people and travelers. The question is – can they hold them off long enough to get to their final destination?

What could you see people doing in France during this time?

  • Going to the opera, which was a favorite pastime, as the Opera House finished construction in this century.
  • Having a blast playing the game of tennis, which was also introduced in France.
  • Going shopping for long, flowing muslin dresses based on the classical designs of the Greeks and Romans for women, possibly.

Sources: 1 2

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Destination 6:

Damascus, 1599

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The action is continuous throughout the book, and this destination does not disappoint. I love how Bracken paints the settings! You can really become immersed in the different environments as she effortlessly describes the fashion and lifestyles of each place.

What’s going on in Syria during this time?

  • In 1516, Syria was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and was under their rule until 1918.
  • Damascus became a huge port and acquired a holy character to Muslims, because of the spiritual force of the numerous passing pilgrims who passed through it on their pilgrimage to Mecca.
  • A revival of the arts was experienced during the time. Carpetmaking was huge and the tradition of Persian miniature painting in manuscripts became popular.

Sources: 1 2

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And thus ends our journey for this post! The tour has concluded, my friends, but the story is ongoing. The fierce, courageous characters, dazzling settings and breathtaking plot will leave readers clamoring for more. Check out below for a giveaway of THREE finished copies of this adventure of a book!

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FANGIRLING OVER RICK RIORDAN: A Recap on Seeing Him

I’m so happy to be sharing my experience of seeing Rick Riordan last Friday with you guys!
After a stressful week of tests (Grr at APUSH and AP Bio) and preparing for tests (Calc and AP Lang), seeing one of my favorite authors was a great way to end it. This was also one of my first author events and I went with people who could actually appreciate my love for books. :’)

To start off, let’s talk about how right after school on Friday we were picked up and got to the event almost 2 hours early. It was at a performing arts high school in Kissimmee, and their auditorium was hugeeeee! Talk about school goals!

Continue reading “FANGIRLING OVER RICK RIORDAN: A Recap on Seeing Him”

Anna-Marie McLemore – The Weight of Feathers

20734002The Weight of Feathers
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Get it Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Synopsis:
For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.

Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she’s been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.

Beautifully written, and richly imaginative, The Weight of Feathers is an utterly captivating young adult novel by a talented new voice.

One-Way-Or-An-Author-ReviewI was intrigued by this book from the moment I read the pitch as The Night Circus meets Romeo and Juliet. Forbidden love, although not my favorite trope, is one I can enjoy immensely – if done right. And I can confirm after reading that it was definitely done right in this book. McLemore’s graceful prose, honest characters, and delightful plot all come together into this stunning debut about a girl and a boy on the outskirts of two rival families who find each other, and within time, love. 

I immensely enjoyed that Lace and Cluck are perfectly imperfect characters. Both of them aren’t exactly fully integrated into their respective families, but rather stand on the fringes of them. When the “disaster” mentioned in the blurb strikes, it exacerbates the situation, but it also allows them to find each other. Cluck is constantly mistreated by his family: by having a different-colored skin, a different mindset than the others, a different goal in life. My heart really went out to this sweet but abused character who really didn’t deserve the things that happened to him. When our characters started developing a romance, it didn’t come out from nowhere; it was justified despite their prejudices against each other’s families, and I can really see why Lace and Cluck would gravitate towards each other.

Speaking of the romance, it was so lovely and satisfying and delightful and everything good in the world. You could say both Lace and Cluck are two lost souls that find each other through an unfortunate chain of events. The romance was pretty slow to burn but fast to grow. It just fills my heart to see these characters find solace through each other and a place in the world for them to belong together.

While Lace’s family is from Spanish descent, Cluck’s family goes by French ways. McLemore incorporates these different cultures into the story seamlessly and with a magical flair that’s like sparkling glitter over everything. I really enjoyed reading the quotes in the beginning of the chapters that corresponded with each character – especially the Spanish ones, since I got to practice vocabulary for my Spanish class. :’)

Look forward to unveiling explanations on why our characters grew up with such treatment and what really happened to the families over the course of time. I felt like those statements were a little underdeveloped, and I wished we got to see the characters do more with the new revelations. Either way, they were definitely interesting twists to the plot that had me gasping like an obsesser over Spanish soap operas. (Which my Mexican friend made me watch a couple of episodes of. They can get pretty intense!)

I’d recommend this to all romance readers. You like it when a guy or girl falls in love with another guy or girl? Then grab this book, because the plot with hidden depths will suck you in, and the hint of magic will leave you grasping for more. Cluck and Lace are characters that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

One-Way-Or-An-Author-4star

Fanart Friday (#1): Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

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Happy Friday guys! I’m sure most of you are getting ready for the weekend like I am. 🙂 I’m not sure if this feature has been done or not, but I haven’t found it in the blogosphere yet so here it is: Fanart Friday!

Basically in the past I’ve done a lot of fanart for books and shows I’ve loved; however, I’ve never really shared them unless it was for a fanart competition (which I think we should have more of 😛 ) Thus, I decided to do a feature highlighting some fanart that I’ve done, or links to awesome ones that other people have done. (Because DANG the people in the blogging community are super talented.)

This baby was born when I started to get back to my drawing groove after reading Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, which comes out next year! Here’s some info about this super amazing book:

21414439Truthwitch
Author: Susan Dennard
Series: The Witchlands
Release Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Tor Teen
Get it Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Synopsis:
On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.
In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.
Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.
Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.
Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

This book is written in a limited third person point of view, where we can see the thoughts of several main characters throughout the book. One of my favorite aspects, however, was the sisterhood that Safi and Iseult share and how they have each other’s backs all the time. They provide a great foil to each other and are both kickass heroines that have courage and determination to do what they think is right.

This first picture was drawn the day I finished the book at 1 am (I fell asleep an hour later after scrolling through Susan’s Pinterest board and marveling through inspiration pictures.)

threadsisters

This picture features the main characters, Safiya and Iseult and a quote that I thought was pretty important. It wasn’t intentional, but I started using it as my phone background since it was a pretty good size. And then I thought – why stop there? You can click on these links to download sizes for your phone!

iPhone 5/5C/5S iPhone 6 Android

Why stop there indeed, because then I took each girl’s picture and made individual ones for those of you who like one more than the other. Me? I seriously admire and adore both of them so I used one picture for my lock screen and one for my home screen. 😀

I also have the sizes for each of these pictures if you’re interested!


safiya iphone6iseult iphone6Safiya:

iPhone 5/5C/5S iPhone 6 Android

Iseult:

iPhone 5/5C/5S iPhone 6 • Android

These pictures are definitely not perfect, but hopefully this feature will also help me develop my drawing skills as well as gather the interest of more readers to books that I thought were spectacular!

This past week I’ve been seeing bunches of awesome fanart around the blogsphere too, so here are the links to some beautiful graphics, bookmarks, designs, and more!

Do you like or have any fanart for books you love? You should link them below! 😀 I want to see them alllll. How do you guys think of this feature? Look out for more fanart soon!

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How to Get Over ARC Envy

We all know what it is.

And I’m pretty sure we all have had it at some point.

What is ARC envy? For those of you who don’t know, ARCs are Advanced Reader Copies that publishers give out to reviewers to spread the word about a book, months before its release. It’s like getting to see a highly anticipated movie before the release date!

I mean, I like to say I’m perfect (joking, joking), but in all honesty I’m human. I have faults, and being envious of another person because they have a book and I don’t is one of them. And I have to admit, I have succumbed to ARC envy several times throughout my blogging career.

You see someone post on Twitter an ARC they got. You’ve heard all about the ARC on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and maybe even Myspace. The person’s super happy with the ARC but then you think- “Why not me?” Those thoughts spiral into more and more dark directions until you’re left with a void of envy.

“Why not me? I have enough time to review books, and their pile must be super long! They haven’t even read the first book in the series, while I’m a fan- isn’t it obvious on who should get the ARC?! And look at their reviews, they’re not even that informational! This is ridiculous. My life is ridiculous.”

I’m not proud to say it, but those thoughts were similar to what I thought when I succumbed to ARC envy. But looking back at those silly, petty thoughts and comparing them to my (a little bit) more mature self today, I’ve realized that I’ve grown as a blogger and person. Thus, I want to share some things you should think about when you think you’re spiraling down a sharp path of ARC envy:

  1. BE HAPPY FOR THE PERSON WHO HAS THE ARC. 
    This is probably one of the most important things. How would you feel if you had the ARC? You’d be happy, right? You’d want other people to share the joy too. And you probably wouldn’t want someone fuming over why you got the ARC but they didn’t. So don’t be a hypocrite and let’s revel in other people’s happiness! You’ll find that you’ll end up being happier too.
  2. Take a look at your TBR shelf. That’s right, allllll those books you have to read, or were planning to, or told someone you’d read. 
    Are you looking at that shelf? Are you intimidated by the number of books on it, that at one point or another you were planning to read?
    Look at that poor, (maybe) neglected shelf and first try to knock some of those books before reading an ARC. After all, usually ARC’s aren’t OUT yet, so why don’t you go pick up one that is? There are thousands of books being published each year, and that ARC/book will most likely still be there next month/next year/next decade/next century.
  3. Think about a book you REALLY wanted an ARC of when it wasn’t out yet, and then to the moment when it DID come out. 
    Quick anecdote on this topic:
    Before A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas came out, I was DESPERATE for an ARC. I entered all the giveaways, emailed the publisher, and read a whole bunch of reviews for the book. Every time someone posted a picture of it I would cry inside. That being said, Barnes & Noble shipped the book a couple days before its release (yaaas!) and when I finally got the book, I devoured it in a day. I really enjoyed the book, but I have to confess: every time I look at the hardcover book sitting on my shelf, I get embarrassed at how desperate I was for an ARC. 
    The kind of embarrassment that leaves you also ashamed in a way.
    At this point, I’ve only read the book twice and have no plans on doing so again anytime soon. So I ask myself, “Aila, is it really necessary to behave so shamefully for a book you’ll get but most likely will not read that many times again?”
  4. Go to your local bookstore or library!
    When I’m in the mood for a book or ARC I don’t have (or just not reading anything on my shelf in general), I usually stop by the Barnes & Noble right next to my house or the public library not far off. Chances are if it’s a book, it’ll be there and if I have time I can stick around to read or check it out. If it’s an ARC though, we have a problem since it’s not published yet.
    But go there and look at the NUMEROUS amount of books there. I don’t believe you’ve read all the books there. Stroll around a little and- who knows? You might find something you really like! Either way, it’s a much better way to pass the time rather than patrol the web for something you don’t have.
  5. Do something to occupy your time.
    Like stated above, there are so many things you can do rather than fume for an ARC. Take a jog! If that doesn’t work for you, take a walk! If that doesn’t work for you, watch some TV shows! If that doesn’t work… Well, chances are, it will. I’m always open to giving recommendations so hit me up if you’re thinking about it.
    It’s really, really not the be-all-end-all, and you have to realize that an ARC in the grand scheme of life is pretty miniscule. Unless you’re the author of the ARC. Then- that’s pretty big.

In the end, most people who have ARCs worked hard to attain them, or they’re extremely lucky in giveaways. Like I said in the beginning, I’m human, and I’m pretty sure you are too. It’s not uncommon to be desperately wanting something to the point of petty thoughts, so don’t hold it against yourself. At the same time, you should know what it is and that it’s a waste of time, so why waste your time with it? After all, I can guarantee there’s books out there that you would really enjoy if you weren’t so fixated on ARCs.

If you think there isn’t, I can fix that.

So I want to hear your thoughts! Have you had a bad experience with ARC envy? If so, what have you done to get rid of it? 

Rachael Allen – The Revenge Playbook

23287156The Revenge Playbook
Author: Rachael Allen
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Get it Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Synopsis:
Don’t get mad, get even!In this poignant and hilarious novel, Rachael Allen brilliantly explores the nuances of high school hierarchies, the traumas sustained on the path to finding true love, and the joy of discovering a friend where you least expect.

In the small town of Ranburne, high school football rules and the players are treated like kings. How they treat the girls they go to school with? That’s a completely different story. Liv, Peyton, Melanie Jane, and Ana each have their own reason for wanting to teach the team a lesson—but it’s only when circumstances bring them together that they come up with the plan to steal the one thing the boys hold sacred. All they have to do is beat them at their own game.

Brimming with sharp observations and pitch-perfect teen voices, fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Mlynowski are sure to fall head-over-heels for this sharp tale—by the author of 17 First Kisses—about the unexpected roads that can lead you to finding yourself.

I won an ARC of this from Goodreads First Reads, which did not have an impact on my rating at all.

Four unlikely girls band together in The Revenge Playbook to go against the football team at their school. As a high schooler myself, it’s not surprising to see that the football players are treated as kings of the school and are given special attention or leniency in regards to their actions. It’s profoundly unfair and I enjoy the fact that the author focuses on those aspects.

In fact, this book had more serious topics than I thought it would. Overall it’s a fun and light read, but it does divulge into a lot of problems in high schools today, including bullying, hazing, and the social hierarchy at school. Each POV is from a character whose life was profoundly affected by the actions of the football team. Thus, they made it their mission to get back at them.

It was a little tiring keeping up with all four girl’s perspectives, but they had unique personalities that were enjoyable to read about. Another wonderful thing was that although Allen portrays the football team as d-bags, not everyone on the team fits into that stereotype. She writes a diverse cast of characters that is surprisingly realistic and ultimately down to earth in regards to their actions and thoughts.

Although The Revenge Playbook deals with the misconducts of football players and the consequences on other people, Allen delivers a humorous and touching read that focuses on the bonds made through acts of courage.

Patrick Ness – The Rest of Us Just Live Here

23830990The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Get it here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Synopsis:
What if you weren’t the Chosen One?
What if you’re not the one who’s so often the hero in YA fiction; who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you were like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again. Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Even if your best friend might just be the God of mountain lions…

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks Edelweiss and HarperTeen! So here’s the deal with this book: Every chapter starts off with a summary of what happened with the people who are usually the main characters of YA supernatural books we read. The ones that deal with the soul-eating ghosts or vampires or the like. Call them the indie kids, the hipsters, we all know who these people are. They’re the ones who skip out on graduation and prom because they’re too busy saving the world or spending days researching the history of the town to find out why it’s getting haunted or getting into relationships with sparkly vampires. BUT THIS BOOK IS NOT ABOUT THEM. No, it’s about a set of friends who live their lives out while the indie kids are saving the town or something. The rest of the chapter (after the summary) consists of what OUR main characters are doing. Ness is pretty much bitch slapping all those books about “the Chosen one” or “the Prophecy of Six” in each summary. It’s hilarious, especially with all the tropes he uses with amulets and Princes and love triangles – oh my! At the same time, our actual main characters are dealing with issues like life.

“And even if there’s no one in my family or my circle of friends who’s going to be the Chosen One or the Beacon of Peace or whatever the hell it’s going to be next time around, I reckon there are a lot more people like me than there are indie kids with unusual names and capital-D Destinies (though I’m being mean here; they’re often quite nice, the indie kids, just… they’ve got a clan and they’re sticking to it). Me, all I want to do is graduate.”

The main characters (as seen from the American covers: Mel, Jared, Mike (narrator), and Henna) go through events in their teenage lives that are so realistic and relatable to all of us – getting over a crush, recovering from anorexia, facing anxiety from oncoming college years, etc. Mel and Mike are children of a campaigning politican and an alcoholic. Jared is gay and has a special relationship with cats. Henna’s parents go on missionary trips to Africa – which there’s a war going on right now in the Central African Republic. Each character has to deal with their own problems, but in the end they all come together as a group of friends. And while this is happening, they’re also affected, like the rest of the population, by what the indie kids are conjuring up. Ness doesn’t beat around the bush in regards to sex, homosexuality, and mental illnesses in this book. It’s quite straightforward and there’s no glorifying it or making any of those concepts a big deal. He writes them just like we should treat them – as things people go through as life continues. Each character is realistic and three-dimensional. They’re just trying to survive in the crazy thing called life, and it makes us realize that we don’t have to have a parent that’s a god or have a scar in the shape of a thunderbolt to have a story – we can make our own.

“‘Not everyone has to be the Chosen One. Not everyone has to be the guy who saves the world. Most people just have to live their lives the best they can, doing the things that are great for them, having great friends, trying to make their lives better, loving people properly. All the while knowing that the world makes no sense but trying to find a way to be happy anyway.'”

Tera Lynn Childs and Tracy Deebs – Powerless (The Hero Agenda #1)

23314948Powerless
Authors: Tera Lynn Childs and Tracy Deebs
Series: The Hero Agenda
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Get it Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Synopsis:

Kenna is tired of being “normal”. The only thing special about her is that she isn’t special at all. Which is frustrating in a world of absolutes. Villains, like the one who killed her father, are bad. Heroes, like her mother and best friend, are good. And Kenna, unlike everyone else around her, is completely ordinary— which she hates.

She’s secretly working on an experiment that will land her a place among the Heroes, but when a Villain saves her life during a break-in at her lab, Kenna discovers there’s a whole lot of gray area when it comes to good and evil and who she can trust.. After all…not all strength comes from superpowers

I received an ARC from a giveaway hosted by one of the authors, which did not influence my review in any way. Thanks Tera Lynn Childs!

I started this book at 1:30 am in the morning because I’m currently suffering from jetlag after my trip to China. Before I knew it, I finished the book and it was 4 am. Yeah, terrible for my jetlag, but I couldn’t put the book down!

Fast-paced and exciting, Powerless is about a world where class hierarchy is divided into Ordinaries, Heroes, and Villains. Although the main character Kenna lives in the Heroes world, she doesn’t have any powers herself. Despite that fact, she holds herself up really well in the book. I enjoyed her character a lot, especially when her reactions in certain situations were so relatable. Sometimes I’ll get annoyed or frustrated by characters who do dumb stuff (or DON’T do stuff in general), but Kenna had reactions that showed that she has common sense.

Honestly, the only complaint I have with the book is the lack of an explanation of, well, the world. Modern references are used, such as the Vulcan symbol or SWAT team so it HAS to occur in present-day, but how do the Villains and Heroes integrate themselves into society? How does their own separate hierarchy conflict with our own, such as the government? (Because please, why do you need a president when there’s a Heroes League?) One of the Villains even mention going to school… so are there separate schools for people with powers? The authors never go through the logistics of it, and I couldn’t help but wonder. Of course, the exclusion of such details makes it more easier for the reader to get caught up with the action going on, so it’s not that big of a deal for me. Still, it would’ve been nice to see a little more background.

Speaking of action, the book is filled with it from start to finish. I guess it sucked that I chose THIS book to read at 2 in the morning because no way was I able to go to sleep after starting it. Right off the bat, the lab Kenna works out gets infiltrated by – gasp – villains. However, they’re not what they seem at first. And after this develops the obligatory “what’s wrong and what’s right” question that is so popular in literature these days. Because yeah, the world is shades of gray and just because you’re labeled as a hero doesn’t mean you ARE one.

The romance was cute and enjoyable to read about, although a little quick at first. There is definitely insta-attraction, but from there on I think it progresses at a more realistic rate as Kenna is conflicted over having feelings for a Villain (who may not be that villainous).

This book explores how people can use their powers – for good or bad, and the fine line in between. Add a strong main character and a ragtag crew that wants justice against the Heroes this time, and you have an awesome book that begs to be read.

AC Gaughen – Scarlet Trilogy

Scarlet Trilogy
Author: AC Gaughen
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Whoa, a whole series review? Yes ladies and gentlemen, this post will consist of three mini-reviews of the trilogy by AC Gaughen that follows the story of Scarlet – or in the legend of Robin Hood we know, Maid Marian. It’s a retelling that follows history quite well and provides great entertainment, especially if you’re on a 13 hour flight from Chicago to China. (Also, the covers are beautiful! I love how they’re consistent and have the same style.)

15793632Scarlet
Release Date: February 14, 2012
Get it here:
Amazon

Synopsis:
Will Scarlet is good at two things: stealing from the rich and keeping secrets – skills that are in high demand in Robin Hood’s band of thieves, who protect the people of Nottingham from the evil sheriff. Scarlet’s biggest secret of all is one only Robin and his men know…that she is posing as a thief; that the slip of a boy who is fast with sharp knives is really a girl.
The terrible events in her past that led Scarlet to hide her real identity are in danger of being exposed when the thief taker Lord Gisbourne arrives in town to rid Nottingham of the Hood and his men once and for all. As Gisbourne closes in a put innocent lives at risk, Scarlet must decide how much the people of Nottingham mean to her, especially John Little, a flirtatious fellow outlaw, and Robin, whose quick smiles have the rare power to unsettle her. There is real honor among these thieves and so much more – making this a fight worth dying for.

What I Liked: 

Scarlet is a very badass heroine. She’s a thief, yes, and she has the skills to prove it. I like her character introspection and how she gets angry at the other guys for thinking she’s weak – and setting out to prove them wrong.

The way Gaughen retells Robin Hood is compelling. The historical elements also make the setting more alive, with mentions of the current reigning monarch during the time as well as their situation. It gives breathe to the story.

Although at first I didn’t like it, Scarlet’s dialogue makes her character even more realistic. She speaks like how (I would guess) peasants spoke during the time, although the number of times I replaced “were” in my head with the correct “was” was quite exasperating.
The plot was interesting and exciting. Scarlet’s past catches up to her in this book, and the merry men have to figure out how to get past it while protecting each other. Nice details of friendship and love between the group.

What I Didn’t Like:

The romance was melodramatic and tiring to read about. There is a love triangle. there are dense characters on both sides, and there is miscommunication and misunderstandings galore. It made me annoyed and I find that it took away from the story.

Although Rob (Robin Hood) in the story is nice to read about, I didn’t fall in love with his character. I get that the main character is Scarlet, but I didn’t care on way or the other about Rob, even though he’s one of the love interests. It’s kind of sad, considering the retelling this book is based on is named after him.

I came for the fact that the last book recently came out, I stayed for the awesome heroine, cool historical setting, and exciting plot.

16181630Lady Thief
Release Date: February 11, 2014
Get it here: Amazon

Synopsis: Scarlet’s true identity has been revealed, but her future is uncertain. Her forced marriage to Lord Gisbourne threatens Robin and Scarlet’s love, and as the royal court descends upon Nottingham for the appointment of a new Sheriff, the people of Nottingham hope that Prince John will appoint their beloved Robin Hood. But Prince John has different plans for Nottingham that revolve around a fateful secret from Scarlet’s past even she isn’t yet aware of.
Forced to participate at court alongside her ruthless husband, Scarlet must bide her time and act the part of a noblewoman—a worthy sacrifice if it means helping Robin’s cause and a chance at a future with the man she loves. With a fresh line of intrigue and as much passion as ever, the next chapter in Scarlet’s tale will have readers talking once again.

What I Liked:

The stakes are higher in this book where more characters get involved. In Lady Thief, we’re introduced to more characters as Scarlet and her band of boys men navigate their way through court intrigue. Most of those characters are from history and the ones that play a big role in the story can definitely be found in history books.

Believe it or not, the antagonist, Lord Gisbourne, is very interesting to read about. In the first book, he is placed as the worst kind of cruel villain. In this book, we are given hints that his character is something more. It made me eager to read about him and hate him at the same time.

The story certainly took an interesting turn, as Scarlet discovers the truth about her past. In the first book she thinks she knows her secrets, but in this one it turns out that there is more going on in her life than she has ever expected. It’s interesting, it’s secretive, and it’s highly enjoyable to read about.

What I Didn’t Like:

Again, the romance wasn’t exactly swoon-worthy. Especially with the fact that in this book, Scarlet is married to Lord Gisbourne. Yes, this is a situation where I would condone cheating (typically I abhor cheating – knowingly or otherwise. That crap ain’t cool, man), however, in this book it just made me uncomfortable. It certainly didn’t help the romance develop.

I came to follow up on the series, I stayed for the ongoing complex plot and intense characters.

16181625Lion Heart
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Get it here: Amazon

Synopsis: The eagerly-awaited conclusion to the Scarlet trilogy delivers another action-packed and romance-filled adventure.
Scarlet has captured the hearts of readers as well as the heart of Robin Hood, and after ceaseless obstacles and countless threats, readers will finally find out the fate of the Lady Thief.
Imprisoned by Prince John for months, Scarlet finds herself a long way from Nottinghamshire. After a daring escape from the Prince’s clutches, she learns that King Richard’s life is in jeopardy, and Eleanor of Aquitaine demands a service Scarlet can’t refuse: spy for her and help bring Richard home safe. But fate—and her heart—won’t allow her to stay away from Nottinghamshire for long, and together, Scarlet and Rob must stop Prince John from going through with his dark plans for England. They can not rest until he’s stopped, but will their love be enough to save them once and for all?


What I Liked:

The storyline was pretty awesome, until the end. See more about the end later in the review. Other than that, it was as compelling as the other two books. We have murder, romance, running from people, and minstrel stories all over the place.

Characters showed a good amount of development throughout the book. In the beginning, Scarlet makes some pretty dumbass decisions that made me pretty angry. However, she learns from those mistakes and fixed them. It was dynamic and realistic to read about.

What I Didn’t Like:

The ending was abrupt and inconclusive. I expected this book to have a grandiose ending, especially with the whole “lion heart” thing going on with Scarlet. However, I did not expect the last paragraph I read to be the end. I honestly went back and forth between the pages, just to check that it was the last page of story. Yeah, it was. And yeah, the plot had a resolution, but the OVERALL story – spanning from the first book to this – did not have a conclusive ending.

One of the character’s death was obviously a plot device and one not well-done. (If you want to know who it was, I mentioned him in this post.) I can see why Gaughen decided on  his death to continue the plot, but I think she could have done it better. He had so much character potential wasted because of the way she killed him. It made the development in the second book all useless.

This is a continuing trend in these reviews, but again, I didn’t necessarily dislike the romance, but I didn’t exactly feel anything in regards to it. Considering the fact that Scarlet’s decisions were largely led by her love for Rob, I didn’t really get into it. I came to finish the series, I stayed, well, to finish the series; in between character development and an unsatisfying ending.

So overall, I’d give this series a 3.5. It was quite enjoyable while reading; however, although I can see myself rereading it sometime later in the future (when I forget about it), it isn’t something I particularly loved and will worship. Entertaining at the time, but not memorable.

Recommended for:
Readers who like Robin Hood or retellings with a little twist. If you enjoy historical settings with pretty good accuracy, then  you’ll also enjoy this trilogy too. Add up some romance lovers who also like court intrigue with their couple, then this should be your next read.

Sarah J Maas – A Court of Thorns and Roses

16096824A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Get it here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Synopsis:
A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Timesbestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore. 
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

I’m sure at this point many people have either read this book or read reviews for it. I’m also going to add a little bit of what I thought and hint: it’s a pretty popular opinion.

This was my first Sarah J Maas book, and I enjoyed it immensely!

What I Liked:

– The writing is descriptive and flows nicely.
I can see the beautiful setting in my hand, from the woods near Feyre’s house to the Fae realm. Additionally, all the characters stand out because they’re so two-dimensional. I love pretty much each and every one of them.

– The romance is certainly swoon-worthy.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t ship Feyre and Tamlin. With the way Maas set them up, they’re a definite OTP!

– The rest of the cast is lovely.
I may not like some of the characters, but I enjoy disliking them. For the most part, everyone was quirky and very enjoyable to read about. The villain could have been explored more, but overall Maas creates the best, fleshed-out characters.

What I Didn’t Like:

– There could have been more Beauty and the Beast
Tamlin was not that Beast-like. He had certain components of the fairy-tale, such as keeping Feyre away from her family, but he treated her REALLY well since the beginning. I never feared for Feyre once; he didn’t even look like a beast! Putting on a mask ≠ Beastly.

– The future love triangle.
I’m 103% sure there’s going to be one. And that’s not cool at all! Why does a kickass heroine also need a male harem? No to the no thank you. I thought Feyre was perfectly fine with Tamlin, and although I like the other character that will most likely be the next vertex in the triangle, I don’t think he could compare to my ship.

– Sometimes Feyre was dumb.
Of course, I enjoyed all the action her character was immersed in and how she jumped into things, but some decision were not really the greatest. A lot of the book was:
Everyone: “Feyre don’t do the thing!”
Feyre: *does the thing*
It got a little annoying throughout the book.

Recommended for:
Fantasy readers of all kinds! Sarah J Maas fans will definitely enjoy this one too. If you’re looking for a new retelling with two-dimensional characters and a gorgeous setting, check this one out!