Episode #24: Booked All 2018

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LATE UPDATE: Sorry for the late update! Maggie and Jess were away at school and experienced a hectic couple of days.

It’s officially 2018! That means you need more books to read, right? Right. Duh. Well good news, night owls! Jess and Maggie have plenty of bookrecs for you.

 


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Bad Girl Gone ★☆☆☆☆

31450580.jpgBased on the premise, I thought I’d really enjoy Bad Girl Gone. Well–I knew I’d have an issue with the “she’s blatantly dead why can’t she tell” part of it, but the rest of it I fully expected to enjoy.

Sixteen year-old Echo Stone awakens in a cold sweat in a dark room, having no idea where she is or how she got there. But she soon finds out she’s in Middle House, an orphanage filled with mysteriously troubled kids.

There’s just one problem: she’s not an orphan. Her parents are very much alive.

She explains this to everyone, but no one will listen. After befriending a sympathetic (and handsome) boy, Echo is able to escape Middle House and rush home, only to discover it sealed off by crime scene tape and covered in the evidence of a terrible and violent crime. As Echo grapples with this world-shattering information, she spots her parents driving by and rushes to flag them down. Standing in the middle of street, waving her arms to get their attention, her parents’ car drives right through her.

She was right. Her parents are alive—but she’s not.

She’s a ghost, just like all the other denizens of Middle House. Desperate to somehow get her life back and reconnect with her still-alive boyfriend, Echo embarks on a quest to solve her own murder. As the list of suspects grows, the quest evolves into a journey of self-discovery in which she learns she wasn’t quite the girl she thought she was. In a twist of fate, she’s presented with one last chance to reclaim her life and must make a decision which will either haunt her or bless her forever.­­­­

Echo is obnoxious and self-centered. I’m all for something focusing on personal development but I couldn’t make it far enough to watch her learn from her mistakes.

True to books I can’t stand–a love triangle is featured prominently. Echo loved Andy when she was alive. They even had obnoxiously disgusting nicknames for each other: rabbit and wolfie. Once Echo died, she fell for Cole. Because he’s super hot. Then she gets incredibly jealous when Andy is eyeballed by a new–living–girl and rushes to kiss Cole. And I wanted to hurl. Echo is literally every stereotype about teenage girls all rolled into one and it annoyed me to no end.

Everyone lacked a genuine personality and Echo’s mind reading power made her troubles too easy to get through.

Shimmer and Burn ★★★★☆

9781481471992_fca55Don’t you just love when you pick a book for the cover and the writing is just as beautiful?

To save her sister’s life, Faris must smuggle magic into a plague-ridden neighboring kingdom in this exciting and dangerous start to a brand-new fantasy duology.

Faris grew up fighting to survive in the slums of Brindaigel while caring for her sister, Cadence. But when Cadence is caught trying to flee the kingdom and is sold into slavery, Faris reluctantly agrees to a lucrative scheme to buy her back, inadvertently binding herself to the power-hungry Princess Bryn, who wants to steal her father’s throne.

Now Faris must smuggle stolen magic into neighboring Avinea to incite its prince to alliance—magic that addicts in the war-torn country can sense in her blood and can steal with a touch. She and Bryn turn to a handsome traveling magician, North, who offers protection from Avinea’s many dangers, but he cannot save Faris from Bryn’s cruelty as she leverages Cadence’s freedom to force Faris to do anything—or kill anyone—she asks. Yet Faris is as fierce as Bryn, and even as she finds herself falling for North, she develops schemes of her own.

With the fate of kingdoms at stake, Faris, Bryn, and North maneuver through a dangerous game of magical and political machinations, where lives can be destroyed—or saved—with only a touch.

There were so many wonderful fantasy elements in Shimmer and Burn, and Taranta’s writing is so immersive that it was easy to get lost in it.

The opening scene is so powerful and dark and amazing and I knew after I’d finished the first chapter that I was going to be recommending this book to everyone. Faris’s mother attacks her on page one. There are so many emotions, questions, and eye openers in just that one scene there is literally no way for you to put the book down.

And it only got darker. Taranta was totally unafraid to kill these characters and there is no where, on any page, where I believed anyone was safe.

Faris’s characterization is wonderfully new in the world of YA. She is in no way, shape, or form a perfect little snowflake and I loved reading her. She makes mistakes and harbors a lot of guilt for them. She is incredibly well written.

The only place that Shimmer and Burn lost points for me was the romance, and that is really only because I’m tired of seeing that in my fiction. I always feel like romances take away from a character’s autonomy.

Shimmer and Burn is alluring and terrifying and deserves a very special place on your shelf.

 

Between the Blade and the Heart EXCERPT

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Cover Between the Blade and the HeartWhen the fate of the world is at stake
Loyalties will be tested

Game of Thrones meets Blade Runner in this commanding new YA fantasy inspired by Norse Mythology from New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking.

As one of Odin’s Valkyries, Malin’s greatest responsibility is to slay immortals and return them to the underworld. But when she unearths a secret that could unravel the balance of all she knows, Malin along with her best friend and her ex-girlfriend must decide where their loyalties lie. And if helping the blue-eyed boy Asher enact his revenge is worth the risk—to the world and her heart.

ONE

The air reeked of fermented fish and rotten fruit, thanks to the overflowing dumpster from the restaurant behind us. The polluted alley felt narrow and claustrophobic, sandwiched between skyscrapers.

In the city, it was never quiet or peaceful, even at three in the morning. There were more than thirty million humans and supernatural beings coexisting, living on top of each other. It was the only life I’d ever really known, but the noise of the congestion grated on me tonight.

My eyes were locked on the flickering neon lights of the gambling parlor across the street. The u in Shibuya had gone out, so the sign flashed SHIB YA at me.

The sword sheathed at my side felt heavy, and my body felt restless and electric. I couldn’t keep from fidgeting and cracked my knuckles.

“He’ll be here soon,” my mother, Marlow, assured me. She leaned back against the brick wall beside me, casually eating large jackfruit seeds from a brown paper sack. Always bring a snack on a stakeout was one of her first lessons, but I was far too nervous and excited to eat.

The thick cowl of her frayed black sweater had been pulled up like a hood, covering her cropped blond hair from the icy mist that fell on us. Her tall leather boots only went to her calf, thanks to her long legs. Her style tended to be monochromatic—black on black on black—aside from the shock of dark red lipstick.

My mother was only a few years shy of her fiftieth birthday, with almost thirty years of experience working as a Valkyrie, and she was still as strong and vital as ever. On her hip, her sword Mördare glowed a dull red through its sheath.

The sword of the Valkyries was one that appeared as if it had been broken in half—its blade only a foot long before stopping at a sharp angle. Mördare’s blade was several thousand years old, forged in fires to look like red glass that would glow when the time was nigh.

My sword was called Sigrún, a present on my eighteenth birthday from Marlow. It was a bit shorter than Mördare, with a thicker blade, so it appeared stubby and fat. The handle was black utilitarian, a replacement that my mom had had custom-made from an army supply store, to match her own.

The ancient blade appeared almost black, but as it grew closer to its target, it would glow a vibrant purple. For the past hour that we’d been waiting on our stakeout, Sigrún had been glowing dully on my hip.

The mist grew heavier, soaking my long black hair. I kept the left side of my head shaved, parting my hair over to the right, and my scalp should’ve been freezing from the cold, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel anything.

It had begun—the instinct of the Valkyrie, pushing aside my humanity to become a weapon. When the Valkyrie in me took over, I was little more than a scythe for the Grim Reaper of the gods.

“He’s coming,” Marlow said behind me, but I already knew.

The world fell into hyperfocus, and I could see every droplet of rain as it splashed toward the ground. Every sound echoed through me, from the bird flapping its wings a block away, to the club door as it groaned open.

Eleazar Bélanger stumbled out, his heavy feet clomping in the puddles. He was chubby and short, barely over four feet tall, and he would’ve appeared to be an average middle-aged man if it wasn’t for the two knobby horns that stuck out on either side of his forehead. Graying tufts of black hair stuck out from under a bright red cap, and as he walked ahead, he had a noticeable limp favoring his right leg.

He was a Trasgu, a troublemaking goblin, and his appearance belied the strength and cunning that lurked within him. He was over three hundred years old, and today would be the day he died.

I waited in the shadows of the alley for him to cross the street. A coughing fit caused him to double over, and he braced himself against the brick wall.

I approached him quietly—this all went easier when they didn’t have time to prepare. He took off his hat to use it to wipe the snot from his nose, and when he looked up at me, his green eyes flashed with understanding.

“It’s you,” Eleazar said in a weak, craggy voice. We’d never met, and I doubt he’d ever seen me before, but he recognized me, the way they all did when their time was up.

“Eleazar Bélanger, you have been chosen to die,” I said, reciting my script, the words automatic and cold on my lips. “It is my duty to return you to the darkness from whence you came.”

“No, wait!” He held up his pudgy hands at me. “I have money. I can pay you. We can work this out.”

“This is not my decision to make,” I said as I pulled the sword from my sheath.

His eyes widened as he realized I couldn’t be bargained with. For a moment I thought he might just accept his fate, but they rarely did. He bowed his head and ran at me like a goat. He was stronger than he looked and caused me to stumble back a step, but he didn’t have anywhere to go.

My mother stood blocking the mouth of the alley, in case I needed her. Eleazar tried to run toward the other end, but his leg slowed him, and I easily overtook him. Using the handle of my sword, I cracked him on the back of the skull, and he fell to the ground on his knees.

Sigrún glowed brightly, with light shining out from it and causing the air to glow purple around us. Eleazar mumbled a prayer to the Vanir gods. I held the sword with both hands, and I struck it across his neck, decapitating him.

And then, finally, the electricity that had filled my body, making my muscles quiver and my bones ache, left me, and I breathed in deeply. The corpse of an immortal goblin lay in a puddle at my feet, and I felt nothing but relief.

“It was a good return,” my mother said, and put her hand on my shoulder. “You did well, Malin.”


Amanda Hocking NEW--credit Mariah Paaverud with Chimera PhotographyAmanda Hocking is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.

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Social Links:
Author WebsiteTwitterFacebook . Author Blog

Copyright © 2018 by Amanda Hocking in Between the Blade and the Heart and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.

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Enter the giveaway for a finished paperback copy of Between the Blade and the Heart.

 

Truly Devious ★★★★★

35008814Maureen Johnson has broken my heart in the past (I’m looking at you, Shades of London) and Truly Devious was no different.

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

Maureen Johnson hooked little Maggie’s heart with 13 Little Blue Envelopes when I was just starting to get into the YA age group. Then I fell in love with her Shades of London series when I started using Audible on my commutes to school. And now, Truly Devious has hooked it’s claws into my heart.

Maureen has a stellar command of mystery and magic, of tossing in a twist at juuuuust the right moment to keep you reading way past your bedtime. The choice to intersperse snippets from the 1936 mystery surrounding Truly Devious and the Ellingham murders never felt intrusive. Whenever those pieces came up in the narrative, I never felt annoyed or cheated out of Stevie’s story, which was set in the modern day. In fact, I enjoyed getting snippets of interviews between the detective and the suspects and chapters following Albert Ellingham. It informed my reading and built a richer story.

Beyond that, I loved Stevie. She was clever, witty, a bit of an outcast and her anxiety spoke true to my heart. Not only that, but the queer representation was stellar itself. It never felt like it was there for “Diversity Points” but rather it felt like a natural part of the world, which as it turns out, is exactly like our real world. Shocker, I know.

Truly Devious was another great read from a favorite author of mine and it’s got its claws hooked directly into my heart. I honestly can’t wait for the rest of the series!

Truly Devious releases on January 16th, 2018.

Conspiracy of Stars ★★★★☆

34848207I only recently came into Sci-fi and I’m glad I did, because it introduced me to Olivia A. Cole’s A Conspiracy of Stars and my emotions are still in tatters.

Octavia has only ever had one goal: to follow in the footsteps of her parents and become a prestigious whitecoat, one of the scientists who study the natural wonders of Faloiv. The secrets of the jungle’s exotic plants and animals are protected fiercely in the labs by the Council of N’Terra, so when the rules suddenly change, allowing students inside, Octavia should be overjoyed.

But something isn’t right. The newly elected leader of the Council has some extremist views about the way he believes N’Terra should be run, and he’s influencing others to follow him. When Octavia witnesses one of the Faloii—the indigenous people of Faloiv—attacked in front of her in the dark of night, she knows the Council is hiding something. They are living in separate worlds on a shared planet, and their fragile peace may soon turn into an all-out war.

With the help of Rondo, a quiet boy in class with a skill for hacking, and her inquisitive best friend, Alma, Octavia is set on a collision course to discover the secrets behind the history she’s been taught, the science she’s lived by, and the truth about her family.

You know the reading went well when you can’t write a review for at least a week after finishing the book because your heart has been stampeded on.

I won’t lie though; A Conspiracy of Stars did take me a hot minute to get into. It was a slow start and there were a lot of info dumps when the main characters were learning something in school, but once the story hit the road, it hit the road running and I just had to keep up.

Octavia is not just smart, she’s tough and curious and determined to do what she thinks she needs to do, even if it gets her in trouble. I loved her for it.

When the story really got started, I honestly couldn’t even put the book down. I just had to finish it, I had to know what was going to happen and when I did, it hurt in the best way possible. I would have given A Conspiracy of Stars five stars, had it not been for the fact that a lot of the problems Octavia ended up facing were fixed by Deus Ex Machina, a.k.a. an adult like a parent or teacher. She was given the answers to a lot of questions instead of figuring it out on her own. I would have liked to see her figure it out herself.

But the writing was solid and amazing, and that plot twist at the end had me literally screaming. The first thing I did was reach out to my good friend and fellow book nerd Jessica Henderson and text her to go and get this book. It was that good.

A Conspiracy of Stars releases on January 2nd, 2018.

Shadow Weaver ★★★★★

9781492649953_5aa32MarcyKate Connolly’s Shadow Weaver is a-maz-ing. A beautifully written spooky middle grade experience.

The shadows that surround us aren’t always as they seem…

Emmeline has grown up with a gift. Since the time she was a baby she has been able to control shadows. And her only friend and companion is her own shadow, Dar.

Disaster strikes when a noble family visits their home and offers to take Emmeline away and cure her of magic. Desperate not to lose her shadows, she turns to Dar who proposes a deal: Dar will change the noble’s mind, if Emmeline will help her become flesh as she once was. Emmeline agrees but the next morning the man in charge is in a coma and all that the witness saw was a long shadow with no one nearby to cast it. Scared to face punishment, Emmeline and Dar run away.

With the noble’s guards on her trail, Emmeline’s only hope of clearing her name is to escape capture and perform the ritual that will set Dar free. But Emmeline’s not sure she can trust Dar anymore, and it’s hard to keep secrets from someone who can never leave your side.

I knew I was going to love this book after the opening scene. Here are just a few lines:

The first time my shadow spoke to me, I was a mere infant in the cradle. They say on the night I was born that even the stars fled the sky and the moon hid under a dark cloak… I held out my tiny arms and smiled at the shadow in the corner of my room.

And it smiled back.

Connolly fully immersed me in this comet blessed world. As I read through Shadow Weaver, I could tell that Connolly had a clear picture of how this world looked. Between houses, woods, cabins, soldiers, and even the magic–I was never at a loss for appearances.

Shadow Weaver is beautifully spooky right from the get go and Emmeline is beyond relatable to any reader of any background and any age.

Emmeline needs friends and caring family members and she lives most of her life without either. Her reliance on Dar, her shadow and only friend, makes so much sense that it hurts. And while we are led to mistrust Dar right from the start, we also grow more into that feeling and question her motives throughout the whole book.

The history of the world and it’s relevance to Emmeline’s story are laid out perfectly, sprinkled in all the right places making Shadow Weaver completely devoid of info dumping.

Seriously, just an amazing read.

 

Between the Blade and the Heart ★★☆☆☆

35425584I was really excited for this one. I’d read Amanda Hocking’s Freeks and enjoyed it, but Between the Blade and the Heart just sort of… didn’t work for me.

Valkyries have one great responsibility: to return immortals to the afterlife by slaying them. As a Valkyrie, Malin has always known that the balance of the world rests on her ability to carry out orders. But when Malin discovers that her mother spared the life of an immortal who was destined to die, her world is thrown into chaos.

Malin not only wrestles with the knowledge that her mother might not be who she thought—she’s also thrust into the path of a gorgeous blue eyed guy named Asher who needs her help slaying the rogue immortal who destroyed his family. The balance of the world is at stake. And, as Asher competes with Malin’s ex for her love and loyalty, so is her heart.

Like, look at that description. That sounds awesome! A girl who can kill immortals? How cool is that? I’m choosing to ignore that tropey gorgeous new guy competing with the main character’s ex romance sub-plot. That had nothing to do with the fact that I had to DNF this one.

I liked Hocking’s writing in Freeks. It was punctual and flowed well. But something about Between the Blade and the Heart‘s writing just felt so damn boring that I couldn’t get back the 15% mark.

I’m not sure what it was. It was an interesting premise and a cool world, a little sci-fi, a little urban fantasy, and I liked the idea of it.

But liking the idea of something isn’t the same as liking the actual thing itself.

I was bored and annoyed with Malin, I didn’t care what happened to her and I just wasn’t connecting to the story. Not to mention how often I found myself rolling my eyes at every single page.

I couldn’t connect to the story; it happens. This one wasn’t for me.

Between the Blade and the Heart releases January 2nd, 2018.

Episode #23: Booked All Christmas

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IIIIIIIIIIT’S CHRISTMAS TIIIIIIME! Only a few days left before some weird old guy breaks into your house to leave you stuff… To celebrate, Jess and Maggie have a whole bunch of books that came out this year that should definitely be on your TBR.


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Before She Ignites ★★☆☆☆½

9780062469403_24007It sounded like it would be a great read. Fantasy. Anxiety. Dragons. But Before She Ignites fell short for me and I ended up putting it down about 75% of the way through.

Before

Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.

But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.

After

Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.

No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.

At first, the out of order narrative was intriguing. We bounced back and forth learning just what got Mira thrown in prison in the first place. The first few shifts in time worked like flashbacks and added to the story in place. But as the book went on and I learned more about Mira, and her personality, the more these shifts worked against the book.

You might assume that being thrown in prison by those you trusted would sparked a certain amount of forced maturity on a person. It might be a wake up call to an absurdly naive and privileged character, like Mira. But the flashes just showed me the same character.

Mira before and Mira after, aren’t significantly changed. I would assume getting thrown in prison and being starved and taken from a world of comforts would change a person. I don’t see strength in Mira, I see naivete.

She gets warnings at every turn: you don’t know who you can trust in the Pit. And her first actions are to trust the people in her cell block. Her excuse is that the friendliness is a custom on her island, but that’s just not strong enough for me. The friendliness should from Mira before, and be something to work back to for Mira after.

Her lack of change comes through strongly in the out of order narrative and it’s where the book lost a lot of stars for me.

 

But it wasn’t all bad. The anxiety, the part of the story which really intrigued me, was really well done. Although Mira has panic attacks for legitimate things and I really wanted to see her have one for no reason at all to really drive home to readers who don’t suffer from them just how obnoxious and intrusive they can be, her coping mechanisms were spot on. Her reactions and frustration with losing control of her of her body were accurate and I really enjoyed them.

But the one thing which annoyed me to know end was how the dragons were referred to. Always by full Latin-esque names: drakontos quintus, drakantos mons, drakontos aquis, drakontos raptus, drakontos titanus, drakontos mimikus, drakontosrex, drakontos maior, drakontos sol, drakontos ignitus, and drakontos milus. I understand that Meadows is trying to create a species and keep us thinking is sizes and colors, but the jargon for her world was tiring and it made the descriptions sound unnatural.

People say, “I have dogs” not “I have a black Labrador, St. Bernard mixed breed canine.” I think this could have been a lot better if the academic classification of the dragons had been less integrated into Mira’s narration.

Episode #22: Maggie’s Lonely Little Podcast

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This week Maggie takes you on a little solo journey while Jessica catches up on school work and newly married life. Maggie talks a little about her current reads and her upcoming final semester for her MFA program. She’s only a little nervous… only a little!


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Winter Break!

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I have finally turned in my last packet of the semester. It might be crap but it’s done. Now on to my plans for winter break.

  • Sleep!
  • Put at least an extra 10,000 words into my work in progress.
  • Read a bunch of books to front load next semester.
  • Plan out the end of my work in progress.
  • Sleep!
  • Finish designs for the (hopefully) soon-to-be opened Booked All Night store.
  • Build up my TBR for the year.
  • Go on a requesting spree for the up coming year!
  • Sleep!
  • Make cookies!
  • Sleep!
  • Get back to agility practice with my dogs.
  • Compete and NOT be eliminated in an agility competition.

In all honesty though, I’m looking forward to putting some time into my WIP that doesn’t involve a deadline. I’m hoping a brief relaxing pace helps me to move the story forward.

The semesters are all coming to close, so what is everyone else planning to do over their breaks?

This Darkness Mine ★☆☆☆☆

9780062561596_305afI requested it because it was weird, and I like weird, but I don’t know… I just wasn’t feeling this.

Sasha Stone knows her place—first-chair clarinet, top of her class, and at the side of her oxford-wearing boyfriend. She’s worked her entire life to ensure that her path to Oberlin Conservatory as a star musician is perfectly paved.

But suddenly there’s a fork in the road, in the shape of Isaac Harver. Her body shifts toward him when he walks by, her skin misses his touch even though she’s never known it, and she relishes the smell of him—smoke, beer, and trouble—all the things she’s avoided to get where she is. Even worse, every time he’s near Sasha, her heart stops, literally. Why does he know her so well—too well—and she doesn’t know him at all?

Sasha discovers that her by-the-book life began by ending another’s: the twin sister she absorbed in the womb. But that doesn’t explain the gaps of missing time in her practice schedule or the memories she has of things she certainly never did with Isaac. As Sasha loses her much-cherished control, her life—and heart—become more entangled with Isaac. Armed with the knowledge that her heart might not be hers alone, Sasha must decide what she’s willing to do—and who she’s willing to hurt—to take it back.

Edgar Award–winning author Mindy McGinnis delivers a dark and gripping psychological thriller about a girl at war with herself, and what it really means to be good or bad.

I sat on this one for a while. I mean, did I want to read a book that was going to so obviously end with split personalities? The longer I waited to pick it up the less interested I became in actually getting it off my review list.

And then I finally bit the bullet and opened it up.

The writing was confusing, at best. When it wasn’t confusing it was boring.

Part of what made my eyes roll is that Sasha is suddenly portrayed as “bad” the minute she has sex and the reason her unborn twin sister has any control is because Sasha absorbed her heart in the womb. Like I said, it’s “twist” is exactly what you thought it’d be.

I was really pushed out of the story for these issues, as well as the writing, and ultimately, I skipped around a lot just to look for the ending to confirm what I thought was going to happen.

And I want to put this out there: the synopsis says This Darkness Mine is about a “a girl at war with herself, and what it really means to be good or bad.” Being sexually active does not make you bad. The end.

Episode #21: Everless

This week’s episode contains major spoilers for Sara Holland’s Everless! Jessi and Maggie talk about what they liked, what they didn’t like, and how the middle felt a little bit like a fat cat in the snow.

Follow Sara Holland on Twitter and be sure to get a pre-order of Everless before it comes out on January 2nd, 2018!


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Everless ★★★☆☆½

everlessTime is a prison. One girl holds the key. This is a thrilling, high-stakes new fantasy duology, perfect for fans of Red QueenThree Dark Crowns, and Six of Crows.

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is extracted from the blood, converted into coins, and used as currency or consumed to add to one’s lifespan. The rich aristocracy amass eons in their vaults, while the poor are forced to cut their futures short in order to survive in the present. And few families are richer than the Gerlings, who lord over the peasants from Everless, their palatial estate.

A fateful accident once spurred Jules and her father to flee Everless in the dark of night. But ten years later, in order to save her dying father, Jules must secretly return. Everless holds more temptations—and dangers—than Jules thought possible. Soon, she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets, and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

This dazzling debut novel, starring a fierce heroine and rife with high-stakes adventure, engrossing mysteries, star-crossed romance, and captivating magic all set in a richly built world, will leave you counting down the seconds until the next installment.

I’m mixed about this one. I definitely loved the prose and the very literal take on “time is money.” I really loved the greater world that Holland created here with the Sorceress and the Alchemist, and general fantastical elements that wove their way around this story.

But I hated the pacing and particular character flaw so much I put it down. Continue reading

Jessica’s December TBR

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Children of Blood and Bone

Author: Tomi Adeyemi
Series: Legacy of Orïsha
Publication Date: March 6, 2018

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

A Darker Shade of Magic

Author: V.E. Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic
Publication Date: February 24, 2015

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

Blood Will Out

Author: Jo Treggeriari
Series: n/a
Publication Date: June 5, 2018

Ari Sullivan is alive—for now.

She wakes at the bottom of a cistern, confused, injured and alone, with only the shadowy recollection of a low-pitched voice and a gloved hand. No one can hear her screams. And the person who put her there is coming back. The killer is planning a gruesome masterpiece, a fairytale tableau of innocence and blood, meticulously designed.

Until now, Ari was happy to spend her days pining for handsome, recent-arrival Stroud Bellows, fantasizing about their two-point-four-kids-future together. Safe in her small hometown of Dempsey Hollow. But now her community has turned very dangerous—and Ari may not be the only intended victim.

Miss Ellicott’s School for the Magically Minded

Author: Sage Blackwood
Series: n/a
Publication Date: March 21, 2017

Chantel would much rather focus on her magic than on curtsying, which is why she often finds herself in trouble at Miss Ellicott’s School for Magical Maidens. But when Miss Ellicott mysteriously disappears along with all the other sorceresses in the city, Chantel’s behavior becomes the least of her problems.

Without any magic protecting the city, it is up to Chantel and her friends to save the Kingdom. On a dangerous mission, Chantel will discover a crossbow-wielding boy, a dragon, and a new, fiery magic that burns inside her—but can she find the sorceresses and transform Lightning Pass into the city it was meant to be?

Episode #20: National Not Writing Month

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This week we talk about the atrocious new policy regarding GoodReads giveaways, our participation (or lack there of) in NaNoWriMo, and share our thoughts on the cover for Victoria Aveyard’s next book, War Storm.


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Everless ★★★☆☆½

everlessTime is a prison. One girl holds the key. This is a thrilling, high-stakes new fantasy duology, perfect for fans of Red QueenThree Dark Crowns, and Six of Crows.

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is extracted from the blood, converted into coins, and used as currency or consumed to add to one’s lifespan. The rich aristocracy amass eons in their vaults, while the poor are forced to cut their futures short in order to survive in the present. And few families are richer than the Gerlings, who lord over the peasants from Everless, their palatial estate.

A fateful accident once spurred Jules and her father to flee Everless in the dark of night. But ten years later, in order to save her dying father, Jules must secretly return. Everless holds more temptations—and dangers—than Jules thought possible. Soon, she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets, and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

This dazzling debut novel, starring a fierce heroine and rife with high-stakes adventure, engrossing mysteries, star-crossed romance, and captivating magic all set in a richly built world, will leave you counting down the seconds until the next installment.

I’m mixed about this one. I definitely loved the prose and the very literal take on “time is money.” I really loved the greater world that Holland created here with the Sorceress and the Alchemist, and general fantastical elements that wove their way around this story.

But I hated the pacing and particular character flaw so much I put it down. Continue reading

Happy Holidays!

BAN logoMerry Christmas Season BookNerds! The best way to support us this holiday season doesn’t cost you any money. Simply follow us and our little project and make sure to share you favorite posts and podcasts!


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Q&A with Lily Anderson

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About the book:

image002.jpgElliot Gabaroche is very clear on what she isn’t going to do this summer.

  1. She isn’t going to stay home in Sacramento, where she’d have to sit through her stepmother’s sixth community theater production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
  2. She isn’t going to mock trial camp at UCLA.
  3. And she certainly isn’t going to the Air Force summer program on her mom’s base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play Ender’s Game, Ellie’s seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it’s much less Luke/Yoda/”feel the force,” and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn’t appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alien she’d be able to defeat afterwards.

What she is going to do is pack up her determination, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and go to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College, the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program. And she’s going to start over as Ever Lawrence, on her own terms, without the shadow of all her family’s expectations. Because why do what’s expected of you when you can fight other genius nerds to the death for a shot at the dream you’re sure your family will consider a complete waste of time?

This summer’s going to be great.

About the author:

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LILY ANDERSON is an elementary school librarian and Melvil Dewey fangirl with an ever-growing collection of musical theater tattoos and Harry Potter ephemera. She lives in Northern California. She is also the author of The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You. Continue reading

Episode #18: Choose Your Own Scare

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This week, Jess and Maggie are joined by the spooktacularly talented Mr. Robert Cook, who narrated our terrifyingly short adventures with time travel!

Sorry for the late upload!

Enter your favorite YA titles for a Night Owl! We’re taking nominees from now until October 31, 2017. Voting for the best of the best will begin November 24, 2017 and will be accompanied by a giveaway of some awesome Booked All Night swag and some of the best books of 2017!

Click here to nominate your favorite books for a Night Owl, the books that kept you up all night, all year.


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No Episode This Week!

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Just a reminder that Jessica is getting married tomorrow! And since Maggie is also in the wedding, there will be no episode this week. We’ll be back next week with all sort of bookish fun though!

Make sure to enter your favorite titles for a Night Owl! We will (hopefully) be adding winning titles into our end of the year giveaway so make sure to get your favorites in every day!

Entries close midnight EST Halloween. Voting opens November 24th, 2017 and will close December 25th, 2017. Tune into the New Year’s Eve podcast to find out which titles won the Night Owl!

Episode #17: Book Snacks

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What do you munch on while you’re reading? Jess and Maggie have a whole list of great munchies and how to make them!

Enter your favorite YA titles for a Night Owl! We’re taking nominees from now until October 31, 2017. Voting for the best of the best will begin November 24, 2017 and will be accompanied by a giveaway of some awesome Booked All Night swag and some of the best books of 2017!

Click here to nominate your favorite books for a Night Owl, the books that kept you up all night, all year.


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Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm ★★★★★

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LOVED THIS! Phoebe and Her Unicorn is one of my favorite middle grade comic series.

Phoebe and Marigold decide to investigate a powerful storm that is wreaking havoc with the electricity in their town. The adults think it’s just winter weather, but Phoebe and Marigold soon discover that all is not what it seems to be, and that the storm may have a magical cause. To solve the case, they team up with Max, who is desperate for the electricity to return so he can play video games, and frenemy Dakota, who is aided by her goblin minions. Together, they must get to the bottom of the mystery and save the town from the magic storm.

If you haven’t checked out the other Phoebe and Her Unicorn books or checked out the weekly strip on DanaSimpson.com, then go do that RIGHT NOW.

Phoebe and Marigold are the new Calvin and Hobbes. Period. End review.

But in all seriousness, I have yet to read a Phoebe and Marigold story that didn’t make me laugh out loud. They are equal parts hilarious and educational, complete with a list of vocabulary words that may be above grade level for some readers.

If I had children, these would be a staple before bedtime for us.

Pub Date: October 17, 2017

Get Your Nominations In Now

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It’s time to start voting in your favorite books of the year for the coveted Night Owl. We will be taking nominees in a variety of categories for the duration of October. Polls will close on Halloween while we tabulate the entries and voting will re-open in December for final voting. Tune into the Booked All Night Podcast on New Year’s Eve to find out who won the Night Owl!

Entries close midnight EST Halloween. Voting opens November 24th, 2017 and will close December 25th, 2017. Tune into the New Year’s Eve podcast to find out which titles won the Night Owl!

Episode #16: Fall Cozy BookRecs

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This week’s episode is all about books for you curl up with as the weather gets a little chilly outside. So grab your pumpkin spice lattes, booknerds, it’s time for some bookrecs!

Enter your favorite YA titles for a Night Owl! We’re taking nominees from now until October 31, 2017. Voting for the best of the best will begin November 24, 2017 and will be accompanied by a giveaway of some awesome Booked All Night swag and some of the best books of 2017!

Click here to nominate your favorite books for a Night Owl, the books that kept you up all night, all year.


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Episode #15: A Court of Pain and Feels

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Tonight we’re talking about A Court of Thorns and RosesA Court of Mist and Ruin, and A Court of Wings and Ruin (now that Maggie has finally finished it). We’re recapping our favorite scenes, our biggest problems, and our most treasured characters.


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Starfish ★★★★☆

29456598It’s always rare for me to pick up a contemporary book and love it. The last one that did that was They Both Die at the End earlier this month and that one made me sob. Starfish was emotional for different reasons.

Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

From debut author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes a luminous, heartbreaking story of identity, family, and the beauty that emerges when we embrace our true selves.

A little slow to start, Starfish took my own self-confidence and rattled it around. Kiko has confidence issues and social anxiety that stem from a past trauma and an unloving, racist mother. So when she distances herself from her toxic home, she starts to find parts of herself in California, with the help of her childhood friend Jamie.

The romance subplot didn’t draw me in (though usually I’m a sucker for friends to lovers romances) and any time there was romantic screen time, I felt like I just wanted to get a move on. I was mostly interested in Kiko’s growth into a braver, more confident person.

The portrayal of anxiety was the best I’ve ever seen. I don’t suffer from as intense social anxiety as Kiko, though I do have some milder form of social anxiety, but I know people whose anxiety is as bad as Kiko’s. Bowman knew her stuff when she was portraying Kiko’s anxiety and how people around her reacted to it, especially if those people didn’t have anxiety themselves.

I loved watching Kiko grow as the story went on, and I resonated with a lot of her insecurities about beauty. I may never full understand how societal beauty standards affect girls of color, but as a fat girl myself, I’ve felt that pressure to look a certain way just to be seen as beautiful in a parent’s eye. I’ve felt that hopelessness when I knew it wasn’t something I could control and how my simply existing was a disappointment to some people.

I cried as Kiko made the realizations about herself and beauty and as she became this braver person because of her experiences. I couldn’t put Starfish down and it changed my view on life.

Starfish publishes September 26th, 2017.

Waiting on Wednesday #12

Shadowhouse Fall

Publication Date: September 12th, 2017

34051373.jpgThe extraordinary sequel to the New York Times bestseller Shadowshaper is daring, dazzling, defiant.

Sierra and her friends love their new lives as shadowshapers, making art and creating change with the spirits of Brooklyn. Then Sierra receives a strange card depicting a beast called the Hound of Light — an image from the enigmatic, influential Deck of Worlds. The shadowshapers know their next battle has arrived.

Thrust into an ancient struggle with enemies old and new, Sierra and Shadowhouse are determined to win. Revolution is brewing in the real world as well, as the shadowshapers lead the fight against systems that oppress their community. To protect her family and friends in every sphere, Sierra must take down the Hound and master the Deck of Worlds… or risk losing them all.

Shadowshaper was one of my fave urban fantasies of last year. I’ve devoured every novella that DJ Older sent out over the past year since Shadowshaper hit shelves and I’m severely disappointed in myself that I ALMOST forgot that Shadowhouse Fall came out yesterday!

Good thing I went straight to B&N and bought a copy straight off the shelves!

 

They Both Die at the End ★★★★★

33385229Holy mother of feels, y’all. I was warned this one had a lot of heart-smashing, toe-curling feels to dish out, and even thought I knew what was going to happen (because, regardless of how hard you hope, the title tells you everything you need to know about the ending) I still cried like a baby.

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

I really really really wanted this title to be a lie. I wanted to have Mateo and Rufus survive and be happy and together forever and the entire time I had hope that the title was wrong and that I wouldn’t cry forever.

I’m not a fan of contemporary. I don’t hide that fact. But this was just enough fantasy to pique my interest and I was hooked. The ways the characters and the story intersected was amazing. I loved the little details that tied it all together.

Though the closer I got to the ending, the more I despaired. I was sure the ending was going to happen a certain way and then it didn’t, and Mateo’s and Rufus’s actual deaths were fitting and just so goddamn painful to experience. I was barely able to read with all that rain coming out of my eyes.

I did have a lot of unanswered questions about Death-Cast and how that came to be and how it all worked. I wanted more out of the story in a world building way that I didn’t quite get.

So, in summary: feels on feels on feels on feels.

The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding ★★★★★

cover110213-mediumSave yourself the time of reading my review and just go buy the book. I LOVED IT!

“I would say it’s a pleasure to meet thee, Prosperity Oceanus Redding, but truly, I only anticipate the delights of destroying thy happiness.”

Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his old and storied family history — that is, until he discovers the demon living inside him. Turns out Prosper’s great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made — and then broke — a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. And, weirdly enough, four-thousand-year-old Alastor isn’t exactly the forgiving type.

The fiend has reawakened with one purpose — to destroy the family whose success he ensured and who then betrayed him. With only days to break the curse and banish Alastor back to the demon realm, Prosper is playing unwilling host to the fiend, who delights in tormenting him with nasty insults and constant attempts trick him into a contract. Yeah, Prosper will take his future without a side of eternal servitude, thanks.

Little does Prosper know, the malefactor’s control over his body grows stronger with each passing night, and there’s a lot Alastor isn’t telling his dim-witted (but admittedly strong-willed) human host.

From #1 New York Times best-selling author Alexandra Bracken comes a tale of betrayal and revenge, of old hurts passed down from generation to generation. Can you ever fully right a wrong, ever truly escape your history? Or will Prosper and Alastor be doomed to repeat it?

Bracken uses the perfect blend of darkness and humor. I loved learning about Prosper’s family history and reading Alastor’s many, MANY quips at Prosper’s expense as well as the numerous other humorous moments.

“If I had sat down at my desk at home, opened my spiralbound notebook, and tried to draw my perfect nightmare… it would have been adorable in comparison to this place.”

“Why is he talking like that? … It sounds like he swallowed a Pilgrim.”

“Do not keep my lord and master waiting. It is a school night and he has a bedtime.”

Alastor is hilariously bad at being bad, Prosper is steadfast and good, and I loved every second of their journey together.

Without giving away too much, know that Alastor has been asleep for 300 years and doesn’t know what traffic cones are for. And that scene alone should be why you pick up this book.

Waiting on Wednesday #11

Starfish

Publication Date: September 26th, 2017

Pre-order it here!

29456598.jpgKiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

From debut author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes a luminous, heartbreaking story of identity, family, and the beauty that emerges when we embrace our true selves.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a big fan of contemporary books, but I’ve heard so much about this on Twitter and I really want to see for myself just how great this book is! Plus, look at that pretty cover!

Maggie’s September TBR

September TBR

I’m still reading a lot of the same ARCs; but I’ve been approved for Adam Silvera’s They Both Die At The End so expect that review up soon! I’m also finally starting Six of Crows and finishing up my all time fave The Savage Dawn, book 3 of Melissa Grey’s The Girl at Midnight series.

I won’t include the back copy for all top row, since you can see that in my August TBR post, but here’s all the new stuff:

Continue reading

Jessica’s September TBR

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Going to be a slow September apparently. I’m super excited that I was approved for the second Mice of the Round Table by Julie Leung. I’ve had This Darkness Mine for a little bit now and I really need to get it off my review list since it comes out this October. The Stolen Child is an old one but my teacher recommended it to me. Here’s all the back copy: Continue reading

Waiting on Wednesday #10

One Dark Throne

Publication Date: September 19th, 2017

Pre-order it here!

29923707The battle for the Crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail?

With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

In this enthralling sequel to Kendare Blake’s New York Times bestselling Three Dark Crowns, Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must face the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other.

The first book, Three Dark Crowns, was super intriguing, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Girls Made of Snow and Glass ★★☆☆☆

34932579I had hoped, more than anything, that I would love Girls Made of Snow and Glass. I was promised a feminist f/f fairy tale retelling, but all I got was a slow, dull book where the LGBT+ themes took a backseat to…whatever the hell was happening.

I really really wanted to like this book. But I had to DNF it, which I always hate doing.

Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy retelling of the Snow White fairytale as you’ve never heard it before, tracing the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start: the beautiful princess and stepmother queen.

At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

I thought the concept was awesome: a girl made of snow, and a woman with a glass heart. It was what initially pulled me to hit the ‘request’ button. But the alternating POVs with the time hopping (where Lynet’s POV was in the present, while Mina’s chapters were her backstory and leading up to her becoming the Queen) made it just a headache and a half.

It was part of the reason why it felt so agonizingly slow; by the time I finished a chapter and was properly attuned to that character, we changed timelines and everything was different. I had to remember what was going on in that timeline, who knew what and such and it was too much of a hassle. The intertwining of the past and present just flat out didn’t work.

As a result, I wasn’t connected to either character and had no desire to keep reading. I had to DNF it at a third of the way through the story, which is a shame, but I’ve learned a lot through book blogging: if I have to force my way through a book, then that book isn’t going to be enjoyable for me.

Waiting on Wednesday #9

Warcross

Publication Date: September 12th, 2017

Pre-order it here!

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From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu—when a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths.

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.

I love love love love Marie Lu.

Have I mentioned that I love her? I love her writing so much so I’m extremely pumped for this video game inspired spy book from her?

I think I’ve smashed the pre-order button like twenty times.

Shimmer and Burn ★★★★☆

9781481471992_fca55Don’t you just love when you pick a book for the cover and the writing is just as beautiful?

To save her sister’s life, Faris must smuggle magic into a plague-ridden neighboring kingdom in this exciting and dangerous start to a brand-new fantasy duology.

Faris grew up fighting to survive in the slums of Brindaigel while caring for her sister, Cadence. But when Cadence is caught trying to flee the kingdom and is sold into slavery, Faris reluctantly agrees to a lucrative scheme to buy her back, inadvertently binding herself to the power-hungry Princess Bryn, who wants to steal her father’s throne.

Now Faris must smuggle stolen magic into neighboring Avinea to incite its prince to alliance—magic that addicts in the war-torn country can sense in her blood and can steal with a touch. She and Bryn turn to a handsome traveling magician, North, who offers protection from Avinea’s many dangers, but he cannot save Faris from Bryn’s cruelty as she leverages Cadence’s freedom to force Faris to do anything—or kill anyone—she asks. Yet Faris is as fierce as Bryn, and even as she finds herself falling for North, she develops schemes of her own.

With the fate of kingdoms at stake, Faris, Bryn, and North maneuver through a dangerous game of magical and political machinations, where lives can be destroyed—or saved—with only a touch.

There were so many wonderful fantasy elements in Shimmer and Burn, and Taranta’s writing is so immersive that it was easy to get lost in it.

The opening scene is so powerful and dark and amazing and I knew after I’d finished the first chapter that I was going to be recommending this book to everyone. Faris’s mother attacks her on page one. There are so many emotions, questions, and eye openers in just that one scene there is literally no way for you to put the book down.

And it only got darker. Taranta was totally unafraid to kill these characters and there is no where, on any page, where I believed anyone was safe.

Faris’s characterization is wonderfully new in the world of YA. She is in no way, shape, or form a perfect little snowflake and I loved reading her. She makes mistakes and harbors a lot of guilt for them. She is incredibly well written.

The only place that Shimmer and Burn lost points for me was the romance, and that is really only because I’m tired of seeing that in my fiction. I always feel like romances take away from a character’s autonomy.

Shimmer and Burn is alluring and terrifying and deserves a very special place on your shelf.

 

Waiting on Wednesday #8

A Reaper at the Gates

Publication Date: April 10th, 2018

Pre-order it here!

30809786Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister’s life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she’d have to fight.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias’s devotion—even at the cost of his humanity.

I’m gonna say it too: I’m not a fan of changing covers halfway through a series. I like my set to match. (Ignore the fact that my HP set doesn’t match. I was young and abroad when 4 and 7 were published, so I have UK covers)

But that is the only issue I have, my own perfectionism. That being said. I LOVE THE COVERS. I love that Laia and Elias and Helene are front and center, I love that these characters of color are presented on the covers now, especially because we need to keep pushing for diversity and representation.

Also if Ember and Torch tortured me, I can’t wait for Reaper at the Gates to flat out murder me.

Mask of Shadows – ★★★★☆

29960675Pre-order it here!

Mysterious and tense, Mask of Shadows delivered on almost every promise it had given. I was pulled in by the characters and Linsey Miller’s writing was thrilling and poetic. Plus the representation of genderfluid and other queer identities was everything that fantasy books have been missing. And yet…

I Needed to Win.
They Needed to Die.

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class—and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand—the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears—Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.

But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.

The moment I heard that Mask of Shadows had a genderfluid main character, I knew I needed to get my hands on it, whether for reviewing purposes or just pre-ordering it to have and to hold. Then when I learned Mask of Shadows was a fantasy assassin fight to the death story, I was already in love.

Fantasy is a genre close to my heart, one I’ve always loved, but the lack of representation and diverse characters is glaring. In a world where magic and dragons are real, why shouldn’t there be queer characters? Why is a queer main character so unbelievable? Well, that’s a discussion for another blog topic.

I had some hesitations about Mask of Shadows, in that Sal would have been the only queer character and that the book would have used their identity as a marketing ploy; it wouldn’t be the first time books or movies have tried to garner queer readers, simply because we were starved for representation. But in reading, all my hesitations were thrown out the window at how well the representation was handled.

Sal was never only identified by their genderfluidity; they were a thief and an assassin first, a fierce competitor, clever and flirtatious and had terrible aim. The subject of pronouns was brought up, showing how natural asking or presenting pronouns should be, something we in our modern day world can’t seem to handle. Characters asked, “How should I address you?” and when characters that didn’t respect Sal’s pronouns tried to misgender them, that character was corrected (or punched in the mouth, depending on which character was doing the correcting).

Miller’s writing was lyrical and bright in many places, but sometimes I found certain passages confusing and ended up having to read over those several times. It was never enough to throw me out of the story, but it did slow me down. The only reason I can’t give Mask of Shadows five stars is because of the worldbuilding. The little worldbuilding we got left me wanting more, a little confused and sometimes frustrated.

We get a timeline of the history of the world towards the end of the book, but what I would have loved the most is having a map. A fantasy world is hardly complete without a map for readers to peruse and explore, or to reference when it’s brought up in the story. Especially since Mask of Shadows was rife with politics, a map would have been crucial to have. Barring a map, then there could have been better descriptions regarding the nations and the state of the world around the characters. Miller does a fantastic job of painting an intriguing character, but the setting often felt like a vignette: detailed the closer we were to the character, but fuzzy and empty the further away we got.

Mask of Shadows was still an entertaining read and one I think I’ll come back to again and again. If more fantasy books had the representation this one did, I think we queers would be alright.

Episode #9: Reading and School

*Sorry for the late upload! Maggie and I were super jet lagged from residency.

School is just around the corner, or already in session for some of you. How do you keep up with your reading and writing life while school is in session? Jessica and Maggie have a few tips.


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Waiting on Wednesday #7

Mask of Shadows

Publication Date: August 29th, 2017

Pre-order it here!

29960675I Needed to Win.
They Needed to Die.

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class—and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand—the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears—Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.

But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.

Genderfluid assassin in a fight to the death to become a royal assassin? HECK YEAH. I got to review this book thanks to NetGalley, but I just can’t wait to hold this book in my hands!

Little Monsters ★★★★☆

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I don’t know if this is obvious, I love thrillers.

Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister.

Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them.

Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn’t exactly feel like an accident.

But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers.

Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone.

Recently, I posted a big long list of YA tropes, which you can view here. On it, are evil (cheerleader-esque) teenage girls. And there were a lot of them in Little Monsters. BUT… I love them so much. They’re so evil I love it. I’m a terrible person.

Kacey is a new girl in a small town. She had a big fight with her highly unstable mother and moved in with her father, whom she’s never met, and his family in Broken Falls. But lucky for her she made new friends: Bailey and Jade.

Queue my other least favorite tropes: girl goes to party, girl doesn’t make it home.

Okay, the party is presented like the usual “girl goes to party and tries drugs for the first time,” it’s a legitimate social gathering here and it’s huge, because Kacey wasn’t invited. As the summary says.

In a small town where everyone already has tight and long-form relationships, it’s not long before everyone suspects Kacey and she, rightfully so, begins to retreat inward and keep her loyalties to herself.

I did, despite many red herrings, guess the culprit, but I did suspect a few others before that.

I really loved the depiction of the small town, complete with its own local legends and universal small town culture. It really added to the general mood of Little Monsters.

I also loved the friendships. It was all so accurate about how complicated teenaged friendships can be. All the obsessions and jealousy was turned up for the sake of the story but it never popped me out of the book.

One thing that did bother me is Kacey’s “Mysterious Past,” which is never fully pinned down. It added to the mystery for sure, but definitely took away from the project as a whole. I think if Bailey’s journal entries, our only alternate viewpoint, could have been expanded to help us better understand Kacey.

Definitely a solid YA thriller and it’s already out! So go pick it up and… you know… don’t read it before bed. (You’ve been warned)

Zero Repeat Forever – ★★★★☆

Pre-order Zero Repeat Forever here!

28945665When the apocalypse comes and the invading Nahx destroy civilization, Raven struggles to survive with her friends in a world that’s slowly burning. A dark and lonely sci-fi story, Zero Repeat Forever was enthralling—but also a little disappointing.

He has no voice, or name, only a rank, Eighth. He doesn’t know the details of the mission, only the directives that hum in his mind.

Dart the humans. Leave them where they fall.

His job is to protect his Offside. Let her do the shooting.

Until a human kills her…

Sixteen year-old Raven is at summer camp when the terrifying armored Nahx invade, annihilating entire cities, taking control of the Earth. Isolated in the wilderness, Raven and her friends have only a fragment of instruction from the human resistance.

Shelter in place.

Which seems like good advice at first. Stay put. Await rescue. Raven doesn’t like feeling helpless but what choice does she have?

Then a Nahx kills her boyfriend.

Thrown together in a violent, unfamiliar world, Eighth and Raven should feel only hate and fear. But when Raven is injured, and Eighth deserts his unit, their survival comes to depend on trusting each other…

I will 100% admit that I was drawn to Zero Repeat Forever by its shiny cover. It’s just so pretty. Take a minute to really cherish it.

Now back to this story.

On my list of favorite genres, Sci-fi trails somewhere in the middle of the list; it’s not my favorite, but I don’t dislike it. I find it hard to get into, most of the time. Zero Repeat Forever was half sci-fi, half apocalypse story. I couldn’t even call it a dystopia, since that would mean there was some sort of societal order to the setting, but there was just death and invasion.

I was intrigued by the dual POVs of the story, one of Raven, a human girl lost in the wilderness with some camping friends, trying to survive after the aliens invade, and the other was Eighth, a Nahx boy who’s “defective” and rebels against his people.

The survival plot was intense and definitely the reason I kept reading, but for most of the books, as the characters are traveling to and from certain points, not much happens. As my good friend J.M. Tuckerman likes to put it, “a whole heck of a lot of nothing happens. Twice.”

My biggest gripe with the story was that we didn’t even really get a sense of what the Nahx were doing, even though half of the book is written in one of their perspectives. We don’t know where they really came from, what they were doing on Earth and what their goals were. And I understand not knowing what the characters don’t know, but little hints dropped from Eighth’s perspective, just little bits and pieces we could try to put together would have made the story that much better.

All in all, I enjoyed the book, but the ending was ultimately unsatisfying. Had we known more about what the Nahx were up to and how their process worked, the ending might have had a bit more weight to it. I won’t spoil anything, but I felt like the ending was too abrupt and it’s obvious it’s supposed to be setting up a sequel—but I would have liked at least some loose ends wrapped up, or certain things revealed.

G.S. Prendergast’s Website . Twitter

Zero Repeat Forever releases on August 29th, 2017.

Witchtown ★★★☆☆

30971734A mother-daughter witch duo that pulls heists as they travel across the continent seems like it would have been exciting, magical and engrossing. Instead, Witchtown was slow, vague and a bit of a let down.

When sixteen-year-old Macie O’Sullivan and her masterfully manipulative mother Aubra arrive at the gates of Witchtown—the most famous and mysterious witch-only haven in the world—they have one goal in mind: to rob it for all it’s worth.

But that plan derails when Macie and Aubra start to dig deeper into Witchtown’s history and uncover that there is more to the quirky haven than meets the eye.

Exploring the haven by herself, Macie finds that secrets are worth more than money in Witchtown.

Secrets have their own power.

That blurb alone made Witchtown, the haven Macie and her mother arrive in, sound like it was going to be creepy or deadly or something more than the dusty, plain small town it ended up being. Witchtown promised a lot but my expectations sort of fell immediately when the opening to the book started with a history lesson that toed a lot of lines, particularly when it referenced a massive systematic oppression that hearkened to a lot of what we’re seeing both today, regarding queer people and people of color, and what we’ve seen in the past, like in the times of Nazi Germany or the colonization of America and the subsequent, and still going, oppression of Indigenous peoples.

There’s a lot to unpack that wasn’t even mentioned in the first few pages of the book, and we haven’t even met our main character yet.

It took me a long, long time to get into the book. Call it what you will: a slow and boring start, a main character I wasn’t interested in, lackluster worldbuilding; but I just couldn’t bring myself to care about Macie or the story until I was halfway through the book.

This isn’t to say that I didn’t like WitchtownIt was a decent book, but it felt all over the place, tied through several unfinished and unexplored subplots, rather than one main thread.

I had expected a heist story, but that fell through almost immediately. Then I expected a mystery, where Macie tried to find out what was causing all the accidents and attacks. Then I expected Macie to start coming into her own power, but that never happened until the literal last few pages.

So little is actually explained and we’re only given poor vague reflections to try and orient ourselves. Not to mention that the town is so lackluster, I only imagine the town square and then a void surrounding it all. This is a town that’s supposed to be full of nothing but witches, it’s supposed to be quirky and different and full of people who come together as refugees from the outside world of non-witches, but it’s so boring.

Throw in a creepy, lying Prince Charming looking love interest and you have Witchtown.

If the story was really about Macie breaking from her mother’s heists to be with her new found friends, I might have liked it more. But it felt like a mishmash of different ideas hastily tied up that just sort of falls apart if you look at it too long.

I wanted to love Witchtown. I love magic and witches and twists and fun quirky towns. But it had so little of that, that I’m not quite sure what to call it. My favorite, though, definitely not.

Witchtown publishes July 18th, 2017. Pre-order it here!

The Librarian Blog Tour & Giveaway

Jessica's Blog Features (1)

Hey there night owls! It’s midnight on the East Coast which means we can post this awesome blog tour and giveaway for Christy Sloat’s The Librarian, which recently published on June 17th. Read the excerpt for this historical YA romance and then enter the giveaway to win one of five e-copies of the book!

About the Book

the librarian

The Librarian by Christy Sloat
Genre: YA Historical/Romance
Published June 17th, 2017
Published by CHBB Publishing
Goodreads . Amazon . B&N

He’s from 1892 England, she’s in a small library in 2017. And that’s just the start of their troubles.

Emme never meant to stay in Maine. She’d come only to find a librarian for her Gram’s library, a custodian for the collection of mysterious books she’d promised to protect. On a dark, wintery night, alone in the library, she takes her first glance into one of the antique novels and finds herself transported to 1892 England staring into the eyes of handsome and dashing hero Jack Ridgewell. As each chapter passes she learns you can truly fall in love with a character in a book, that book boyfriends are real and Emme must choose between the real world, and his.

When the last page is read he’s gone and Emme feels the cold loneliness of lost love. Will she find Jack again, or will their love be forever lost? The answer lies within the pages…

Continue reading

Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora ★★★★☆

Definitely one of my favorite pieces featuring a second language since Zoraida Cordova’s Labyrinth Lost.

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Save the restaurant. Save the town. Get the girl. Make Abuela proud. Can thirteen-year-old Arturo Zamora do it all or is he in for a BIG, EPIC FAIL?

For Arturo, summetime in Miami means playing basketball until dark, sipping mango smoothies, and keeping cool under banyan trees. And maybe a few shifts as junior lunchtime dishwasher at Abuela’s restaurant. Maybe. But this summer also includes Carmen, a cute poetry enthusiast who moves into Arturo’s apartment complex and turns his stomach into a deep fryer. He almost doesn’t notice the smarmy land developer who rolls into town and threatens to change it. Arturo refuses to let his family and community go down without a fight, and as he schemes with Carmen, Arturo discovers the power of poetry and protest through untold family stories and the work of Jose Marti.

In Cordova’s Labyrinth Lost, Alex’s family heritage is present but not in the way that Arturo’s is.

Their life revolves around the family business and the family itself. Which was amazing. That was the sort of family that I grew up in and it made me feel right at home reliving those experiences. Especially with the mention of cousins aren’t really cousins but you call them cousins anyway. I had so many of those.

One of the greatest lessons I took from this book is that your family is important, but so is the family you choose. You see that with Arturo and his friends (especially in the Twitter DMs) but also in the community when they stand up for the restaurant.

My favorite part of the book, though, was Abuela, who only speaks in Spanish.

I don’t speak Spanish. I had it once in sixth grade, and so my knowledge of the language includes numbers one through ten and a few greetings. But I knew what Abuela was saying.

Not because her speech was translated. Not because I looked up everything she said. But because the other characters just reacted to her and I took my context clues as I needed to – as I do when I’m at a friend’s house and their parents don’t speak English.

I loved the way her Spanish was included because I can see this book being used to introduce the language to not native speakers in the classroom, but also as a way for native speakers to shine in a class that isn’t taught in their first language.

Waiting on Wednesday #6

The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Publication Date: June 27th, 2017

Buy it here!

29283884An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, romantic, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a sumptuous romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

Historical fiction about a bi boy and his crush gallivanting across Europe? Sign me up! I’ve been hearing non-stop great things about this on Twitter, so I just can’t wait to get my hands on this one!

The Best Kind of Magic ★★★½☆☆

25436641.jpgA cute premise with great potential that was squandered by a forgettable character voice and boring writing.

Amber Sand is not a witch. The Sand family Wicca gene somehow leapfrogged over her. But she did get one highly specific magical talent: she can see true love. As a matchmaker, Amber’s pretty far down the sorcery food chain (even birthday party magicians rank higher), but after five seconds of eye contact, she can envision anyone’s soul mate.

Amber works at her mother’s magic shop–Windy City Magic–in downtown Chicago, and she’s confident she’s seen every kind of happy ending there is: except for one–her own. (The Fates are tricky jerks that way.) So when Charlie Blitzman, the mayor’s son and most-desired boy in school, comes to her for help finding his father’s missing girlfriend, she’s distressed to find herself falling for him. Because while she can’t see her own match, she can see his–and it’s not Amber. How can she, an honest peddler of true love, pursue a boy she knows full well isn’t her match?

The Best Kind of Magic is set in urban Chicago and will appeal to readers who long for magic in the real world. With a sharp-witted and sassy heroine, a quirky cast of mystical beings, and a heady dose of adventure, this novel will have you laughing out loud and questioning your belief in happy endings.

A lot about this world is never clear from the start, including many key points about our protagonist. Her voice fluctuates from sounding like a 13 year old to a 16 year old, I never get a clear picture of her—and in fact only find out she had funky colored hair about a third of the way through the book—and her slang is outdated. In fact, it goes from Amber saying “amazeballs” to saying “gag me”.

There’s a lot of overcorrection and inconsistencies in the narrative, which not only means it’s annoying to the reader but also confusing. It feels like a waste of my time if the character spends a paragraph going “Well, actually…”. On multiple occasions, Amber mentions that not a lot of people know about magic or the magical underworld of Chicago, and yet a majority of her high school population is some brand of fey or troll or magical being.

I wasn’t invested in the story or even interested in really finding out what happens to the characters until nearly half way through the book. As a matter of fact, I was bored through most of it.

And even worse, the climax felt cheap as the threat never threatening at all. The one redeeming quality of the finale was Kim, as that would have been the only reason I would continue to read the story.

All in all, I didn’t love it and I didn’t hate it, and I was more intrigued by the concept than the actual story. Amber’s voice irritated me and I didn’t quite root for her during the story. I would read book 2, but I wouldn’t buy it.

Buy it here!

The Podcast Starts This Week!

http://feeds.feedburner.com/bookedallnight/jOjUStarting this Thursday at 11pm, Booked All Night will be posting podcasts talking about YA (specifically the reading and writing there of). We will be talking about YA books at large, specific titles, our own work, and we’ll be doing it all with a healthy dose of adult language.

We will be adding the podcast to both iTunes and GooglePlay, but you can use these feeds to add the podcast to any player:

Our direct RSS: https://bookedallnight.blog/category/podcast/feed

Feedburner: http://feeds.feedburner.com/bookedallnight/jOjU

Waiting on Wednesday #5

Want

Publication Date: June 13th, 2017

Buy it here!

71CkxWRUEbL.jpgFrom critically acclaimed author Cindy Pon comes an edge-of-your-seat sci-fi thriller, set in a near-future Taipei plagued by pollution, about a group of teens who risk everything to save their city.

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is, or destroying his own heart?

I’ve been dipping my toes into sci-fi a bit more recently, and Want has everything I seem to like: dystopian, futuristic setting, teens struggling to make a difference, and set in a non-Western location? Heck yeah! Also, look how shiny that cover is!

Blood Rose Rebellion ★★☆☆☆

31020402.jpgIt’s no lie that I’m a lover of all things fantasy; give me a book about magic and I’ll instantly add it to my TBR pile. But sometimes, among the diamonds, I’ll just find shiny bits of broken glass. And Blood Rose Rebellion certainly falls into the “glass” territory.

The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

Magic that stems from your blood, a revolution sparking across Europe and a setting in an eastern European country? That’s ticking off so many boxes for me. I always love seeing fantasy books set in eastern Europe, which is what drew me to books like Blood Rose Rebellion and the Shadow and Bone series.

But Blood Rose Rebellion was agonizingly slow and I just couldn’t bring myself to finish it. Y’all know I hate DNF’ing a book. I like to give the story the benefit of the doubt and at least try to finish it, just to see if it got better in the end. I just couldn’t keep going with this.

Anna has the power to break spells, but it takes her way too long to realize this power even though it’s immediately obvious. There’s supposed to be a rebellion brewing, but we don’t see that at all, except in strange little snippets of one character coming back to say, “Hey, remember that rebellion? We could use you!” and then disappearing for five chapters.

All we get is Anna obsessing over boys. And while that’s not inherently a problem, it becomes one when it hinders the progression and pace of the story. Not to mention that her cousin kisses her (and is a major creep about it) and Anna never addresses it again!

I couldn’t finish Blood Rose Rebellion no matter how hard I tried, and I just have other books I need to read that hopefully are much better than this one.

BookCon 2017

Maggie and I went to BookCon this weekend. It was a lot of fun and, as always, a lot of strife. ARCs were really hard to come by this year. I didn’t see any that weren’t attached to a LONG autograph line-and on the note of autograph lines-can we talk about how PRH seemed grossly under-prepared to handled all of their in booth signings?

A line for tickets that security kept moving, a line after tickets that security kept moving, no idea where to wrap it–every time I passed their booth the inside was just a gaggle of people. It’s not their first rodeo so it’s very disconcerting to see things like that.

I made it to all of my autographing sessions but not the panels. Panels were another let down this year. The booktuber panel especially was just watching them do what they do on their channels. It was boring. And they didn’t know how to talk into a microphone or moderate themselves.

The Holly Black and Leigh Bardugo panel though-hands down-best panel I have seen at BookCon period. They were just fabulous. Fun fact: Leigh jumped out of a tree to meet Holly at SDCC.

One year, I really need ReedPop to step up their game and get organized. This year was such a pinnacle of no one knew where things were supposed to be. They turned lines around-like-completely around-made the front the back and the back the front, cut them in weird sections, told us we couldn’t go one way, then that we could only go that way. It’s unacceptable beyond the first year. These are lessons they should have learned from by now.

Follow Me Back ★★★☆☆½

I love the cover. I love the format. And I love the alternating viewpoints. But I don’t love the third viewpoint or where it gets added.

Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…

Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.

When a fellow pop star is murdered at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…

Follow Me Back was everything I wanted with experimental formats. Conversations are formatted to look like tweets, the accounts actually exist online (see @TessaHeartsEric and @EricThornSucks), the platform itself is used correctly and not altered for the sake of what is needed for the story, and the police transcripts add just the right amount of tension.

I loved all of that.

Follow Me Back accurately depicts the real struggles of those with anxiety disorders. Geiger did a wonderful job with Tessa’s character, always showing her high levels of anxiety and letting us know her feelings on it. There was a never a moment when Tessa didn’t acknowledge that her anxiety was irrational.

These characters are their own, which is so important given the viewpoints are short and we switch from Eric to Tessa after as few as two paragraphs.

When Tessa and Eric’s relationship starts to get serious, we finally get the third viewpoint. And – I think it could have been left out. When I got there-I had no interest in this new character, and only a few sentences in I had strong suspicions as to who it was, and I was correct. I don’t like being correct when I read thrillers – it takes all the fun out of it.

I very strongly recommend that this book finds its way to your shelves, even with its extra character. You won’t regret it.

Bring Your Own Book #3

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Happy Weekend Booknerds!

It’s time to play Bring Your Own Book! Here are the rules!

  • I post a target: Famous Last Words, Currency in a Dystopia, Wedding Toasts, etc
  • You post an answer that you find in the pages of your nearest or dearest book in the comment
  • You cite your answer so that everyone can get the book!
  • I re-post my favorite answers!

Today’s goal is…

Continue reading

Jessica’s June TBR

Jessica's TBR.png

I have taken soooo long to get through A Court of Wings and Ruin that I barely made any progress on this list. I’m willing to bet it’s just my usual Summer slump, when I read slower because nothing is due and everything is done on my time.

Buy Them Here (Affiliate Links)

  • Dividing Eden
  • The Hate U Give
  • Hunted
  • Spindle Fire
  • A thousand Pieces of You
  • Ten Thousand Skies Above You
  • The Wood

Dividing Eden

32051572.jpgTwins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.

As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.

With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?

I actually have this one for review and I totally requested it for its cover. I mean look at that cover. That chair is sexy. I said it. That is a sexy chair.

The Hate U Give

32075671.jpgSixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Hunted

Spindle Fire

A Thousand Pieces of You

Ten Thousand Skies Above You

The Wood

Waiting on Wednesday #4

Dividing Eden

Publication Date: June 6th 2017
Buy it here!

diving eden.jpgTwins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.

As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.

With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?

Honestly, I really want it for the cover. I’m currently reviewing it, but I want this cover on my shelf.

Dividing Eden ★★★★☆

diving edenTwins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.

As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.

With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?

BEHOLD! FOR I HAVE FINALLY FINISHED THIS BOOK! And it was amazing.

I’m working my way back into love with the fantasy genre and between Diving EdenA Court of Thorns and Roses, and Red Queen my interest has certainly been piqued.

While I loved damn near all of Dividing Eden, it lost a few points with its prophecy: one twin is cursed (pronounced “evil”) and will spread the curse across the kingdom. The “one light-one dark” trope was definitely something that pushed me away from fantasy in the first place. After the king and the eldest prince die, Carys and Andreus are forced to compete in the Trial of Succession to prove who would be a better ruler.

I know it’s prevalent in YA but I really enjoy when there are trials like these. They often show a lot of culture. Think about the hunger games for a second-someone plans it all, someone approves of it being aired, million watch it, and twenty four people are volunteered to compete in it. You can see that people are monsters. Or, consider the choosing ceremony in Divergent, the motto is faction before blood, but people are still shocked and outraged when children choose a different faction than the one they grew up in.

Just something to consider.

As characters, Carys and Andreus were fleshed out wonderfully. They were engaging and despite the constant comparison between them, they remained two separate identities. They are fiercely loyal to one another, as twins often are, so I was rattled when it seemed so easy to wedge them apart

The head hopping was also difficult to adjust to. We are swapped between both of the twins but the swap often happens in the same scene. It was a bit jarring at first but I got used to it after a few chapters.

Overall, Dividing Eden is well written and a great start to a new series. I have many questions about the world and the characters that will keep me reading into book #2 and the plot was so engaging I know of at least five other bloggers that I’m going to force this book on.

Breaking ★★☆☆☆

31450940.jpgBreaking is a companion novel to Burning. So it was a little daunting to read having not read the other but was still an enjoyable read.

Prep school gets a twist of supernatural suspense in this commercial YA thriller.

Charlotte has always been content in the shadow of her two best friends at the prestigious Underhill Preparatory Institute. Ariel is daring and mysterious. Devon is beautiful and brilliant. Although Charlotte never lived up to the standards of the school—or her demanding mother—her two best friends became the family she never had. When Ariel and Devon suddenly commit suicide within a month of each other, Charlotte refuses to accept it as a coincidence. But as the clues point to a dangerous secret about Underhill Prep, Charlotte is suddenly in over her head. There’s a reason the students of Underhill are so exceptional, and the people responsible are willing to kill to protect the truth…

Suspenseful and scintillating, with hints of the supernatural, this fast-paced thriller will keep readers hooked.

Definitely slow to start and I was definitely missing something by not having read Burning first.

Breaking is a dark twisted little tale for fans of Alice in Wonderland even if it is a bit on the nose, complete with bottles that say “Drink Me.”

Charlotte’s story is intriguing enough for her story to work as a standalone, her two best friends kill themselves within a month of each other, but the world needs further building and I suspect the world is built up in Burning. 

I hope when this book goes to publish that the publishers are much clearer on the fact that this is a companion novel.

B.Y.O.B. #2

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Happy Weekend Booknerds!

It’s time to play Bring Your Own Book! Here are the rules!

  • I post a target: Famous Last Words, Currency in a Dystopia, Wedding Toasts, etc
  • You post an answer that you find in the pages of your nearest or dearest book in the comment
  • You cite your answer so that everyone can get the book!
  • I re-post my favorite answers!

Today’s goal is…

Continue reading

WoW: House of Furies

Publication Date: May 30th 2017
Get it here!

houseoffuriesAfter escaping a harsh school where punishment was the lesson of the day, seventeen-year-old Louisa Ditton is thrilled to find employment as a maid at a boarding house. But soon after her arrival at Coldthistle House, Louisa begins to realize that the house’s mysterious owner, Mr. Morningside, is providing much more than lodging for his guests. Far from a place of rest, the house is a place of judgment, and Mr. Morningside and his unusual staff are meant to execute their own justice on those who are past being saved.

Louisa begins to fear for a young man named Lee who is not like the other guests. He is charismatic and kind, and Louisa knows that it may be up to her to save him from an untimely judgment. But in this house of distortions and lies, how can Louisa be sure whom to trust?

Featuring stunning interior illustrations from artist Iris Compiet, plus photo-collages that bring Coldthistle House to chilling life, House of Furies invites readers to a world where the line between monsters and men is ghostly thin.

House of Furies ★★★★★

houseoffuriesAfter escaping a harsh school where punishment was the lesson of the day, seventeen-year-old Louisa Ditton is thrilled to find employment as a maid at a boarding house. But soon after her arrival at Coldthistle House, Louisa begins to realize that the house’s mysterious owner, Mr. Morningside, is providing much more than lodging for his guests. Far from a place of rest, the house is a place of judgment, and Mr. Morningside and his unusual staff are meant to execute their own justice on those who are past being saved.

Louisa begins to fear for a young man named Lee who is not like the other guests. He is charismatic and kind, and Louisa knows that it may be up to her to save him from an untimely judgment. But in this house of distortions and lies, how can Louisa be sure whom to trust?

Roux uses language like Austen and plots like Brontë. House of Furies is simply amazing and if you think it isn’t up your alley-you’re wrong. Do not smile. Do not frown. Do not, under any circumstances, put this book down. Continue reading

House of Furies ★★★★★

houseoffuriesMadeleine Roux uses language like Austen and plots like Brontë. House of Furies is simply amazing and if you think it isn’t up your alley-you’re wrong. Do not smile. Do not frown. Do not, under any circumstances, put this book down.

After escaping a harsh school where punishment was the lesson of the day, seventeen-year-old Louisa Ditton is thrilled to find employment as a maid at a boarding house. But soon after her arrival at Coldthistle House, Louisa begins to realize that the house’s mysterious owner, Mr. Morningside, is providing much more than lodging for his guests. Far from a place of rest, the house is a place of judgment, and Mr. Morningside and his unusual staff are meant to execute their own justice on those who are past being saved.

Louisa begins to fear for a young man named Lee who is not like the other guests. He is charismatic and kind, and Louisa knows that it may be up to her to save him from an untimely judgment. But in this house of distortions and lies, how can Louisa be sure whom to trust?

With a story that is very reminiscent of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Madeleine Roux delivers a perfectly gothic ghostly mystery. I’m sure you’ve seen my other reviews here-I don’t use that praise lightly.

When I first opened House of Furies, I thought for sure that I would need to get used to the language. But Roux isn’t just dabbling in an Austenian language, she has mastered it. The language is beautiful and so important to the story since any modern day language would easily have affected the character development and flow.

House of Furies is told through Louisa’s POV with small snippets from a book on faerie lore. I am very happy to tell you that the chapters are never an intrusion to the narration and the chapters are always relevant to the past and future of the story.

The conclusion is an emotional roller coaster. So much so that I actively have notes on my ARC that say “AUGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” And they happen often. So if you are ready to audibly scream in public as you eagerly turn to the next page, pre-order House of Furies. And if you aren’t ready, do it anyway.

House of Furies Publishes May 30, 2017
PRE-ORDER THROUGH AMAZON AND SUPPORT RRW

Bring Your Own Book #1

SPRINGTIME.png

Happy Weekend Booknerds!

It’s time to play Bring Your Own Book! Here are the rules!

  • I post a target: Famous Last Words, Currency in a Dystopia, Wedding Toasts, etc
  • You post an answer that you find in the pages of your nearest or dearest book in the comment
  • You cite your answer so that everyone can get the book!
  • I re-post my favorite answers!

Today’s goal is…

Continue reading

Social Badges for BookCon

Not every bookworm is a social butterfly. As of yet, BookCon does not have social badges for their event. So I made some. Feel free to download these badges, print them, fold them in half, laminate them, and hang them from your lanyard to help make your con a little easier.

3Green: I like making friends! Come talk to me!

2Yellow: I’m a little shy. Please let me start the conversation.

1Red: Do not talk to me unless I know you.

WoW: The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora

That’s mah teachah!!

I’m not going to lie, I’m mainly excited for The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora because Pablo Cartaya was my mentor last fall at Sierra Nevada College and he was the #Best. Pablo is ridiculously talented and I’m 100% psyched for everything he does. And since, technically, Epic Fail is already out, I’m just waiting for it to be delivered to my house!

Save the restaurant. Save the town. Get the girl. Make Abuela proud. Can thirteen-year-old Arturo Zamora do it all or is he in for a BIG, EPIC FAIL?
For Arturo, summetime in Miami means playing basketball until dark, sipping mango smoothies, and keeping cool under banyan trees. And maybe a few shifts as junior lunchtime dishwasher at Abuela’s restaurant. Maybe. But this summer also includes Carmen, a cute poetry enthusiast who moves into Arturo’s apartment complex and turns his stomach into a deep fryer. He almost doesn’t notice the smarmy land developer who rolls into town and threatens to change it. Arturo refuses to let his family and community go down without a fight, and as he schemes with Carmen, Arturo discovers the power of poetry and protest through untold family stories and the work of Jose Marti.
Funny and poignant, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora is the vibrant story of a family, a striking portrait of a town, and one boy’s quest to save both, perfect for fans of Rita Williams-Garcia.

COVER REVEAL

christina newAbout the Author:

Christina Benjamin is an Award-Winning Author residing in Florida. She’s a proud book nerd, 100% Gryffindor, has entirely too many book boyfriends and loves coffee and tacos!

She loves to read and write across genres. Her best selling books are The Geneva Project series and The Practice Boyfriend. Check them out if you dare.

About the Book:

The Almost Boyfriend by Christina Benjamin

Genre: YA contemporary romance
Nobody likes Devon James, including Devon James. And why should they? He had it all and took it for granted—money, girls, popularity and a future with endless possibility. Now he’s just a washed up has-been. Or so everyone thinks. No one knows the real reason the handsome soccer star quit the team and dumped the hottest girl in school, but they’re not about to forgive him for it either. That’s why he’s perfect for Samantha Connors.
Sam Connors always follows the rules. But when her father forces her to leave Boston to finish her senior year of high school at a posh prep school in Ireland she has no choice but to rebel. And bad boy Devon James is just the guy to help her break all the rules.
Sam is determined to get her life back and return to Boston by any means necessary. Her plan is crazy, but she’s convinced it will work—almost.
A Fun, Fast, YA Romance Read.Perfect for fans of Gossip Girl, 13 Reason’s Why and Pretty Little Liars. (Note: Suggested reading age 16+ for mature language and content.)
And now for the cover…

Continue reading

EXCERPT : Girl Out of Water

I float in the Pacific Ocean.

As I straddle my longboard, cool water lapping around me, I watch surfers up and down the coast take on baby waves, four-­footers that will carry them a short distance before breaking into froth and foam.

I’m waiting for something better.

The sun beats down on the slip of my neck between my wet suit and hairline. The tender skin burns, but I don’t dare move to massage it. Seagulls circle overhead, squawking over the swilling water. They dive to the surface, then soar back up, carrying scraps of seaweed and tiny fish.

And then I see it—­in the distance, coming toward me, coming for me. My gaze flickers over the green-­blue water as I watch the wave take shape. It’s not a three-footer or even a four-footer. No, it’s much better. My fingers drum against my thighs, and I lean forward, gnawing my sun-­chapped lip. Continue reading