Friday, February 27, 2015

Feature Follow Friday: Books to Save in a Fire

A weekly meme hosted by Alison Can Read & Parajunkee's View

How it Works: 

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

How does this work? First you visit the blogs of our illustrious hosts and leave your name on the post using using the linky tools, then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!

What sets this Hop apart from others, is our Feature. Each week we will showcase a Featured Blogger, from all different genres and areas. Find out below. Just remember it is required, if you participate, to follow our Features and you must follow the hosts (Parajunkee & Alison Can Read) as a courtesy. How do you follow someone? Well, if you have a preference, state it in your #FF post. A lot of blogs are transitioning to Wordpress in which they do not have the luxury of GFC, so an RSS subscription is appreciated or if you choose an email subscription. If you don't have GFC please state in your post how you would like to be followed.

This Week's Question: 

Your house is burning down and you have time to select three books you own to take with you. What three books? - Suggested by Alison Can Read

This Week's Answer: 

Too hard to answer! I don't want to answer. I can't answer, I won't answer! Okay.. I'll answer but I'm going to cheat. I can't pick three books. It's a little dramatic to compare it to Sophie's choice but that's what it feels like.

So when I think of the books that I would want to save it's books that are "irreplaceable." So I'm going to pick three ARCs and three finished copies. So my three ARCs are a signed copy of The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman because I'm really attached to it after the tortured history we have had. A signed copy of NIL by Lynne Matson because that is my first physical I ever got. I won it from a contest Lynne had and it's got the old cover on it which I kind of love. And my ARC of The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh which I also won and haven't even been able to read yet.

As for finished copies I would pick my Italian version of Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling which I got in Florence when I was studying there and tried to translate. This copy of The Portrait of A Lady by Henry James which was a gift from my mom and I really love because she picked it out special and it's just a gorgeous version. Finally, my copy of Eats Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss. I was obsessed with this book in college. When I saw that my aunt had a copy she gave it to me. She passed away unexpectedly a few weeks later and it's the last thing she ever gave me. I'll always cherish it. Okay... So now I'm crying.

And what about you? What books would you save in a fire? Leave me a comment of your thoughts.

And remember this is a blog hop so take a look around and if you like what you see give me a follow and leave me a comment so I can follow back. I am indifferent to the manner in which you follow so pick your poison: GFC, Bloglovin, and/or Twitter. Or Goodreads. Feel free to friend me there! I love seeing what other people are reading and checking out their comments.

Thanks for dropping by, happy FF and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

ARC Review & Author Interview: Flunked by Jen Calonita

 About the Book:

Flunked: Fairy Tale Reform School
By Jen Calonita
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
March 3, 2014
Get theBook: 
Amazon | B&N BAM | !ndigo IndieBound


Gilly wouldn’t call herself wicked exactly…but when you have five little brothers and sisters and live in a run- down boot, you have to get creative to make ends meet. Gilly’s a pretty good thief (if she does say so herself).

Until she gets caught.

Gilly’s sentenced to three months at Fairy Tale Reform School- where all of the teachers are former (super-scary) villains like the Big Bad Wolf, the Evil Queen, and Cinderella’s Wicked Stepmother. Harsh. But when she meets fellow students Jax and Kayla, she learns there’s more to this school than its heroic mission. There’s a battle brewing and Gilly has to wonder: can a villain really change?

Advance Praise for Flunked: Fairy Tale Reform School

“Charming fairy-tale fun.” –Sarah Mlynowski, author of the Whatever After series. 

“Flunked is spellbinding and wickedly clever. Gilly is smart, spunky, and a hilarious narrator!” –Leslie Margolis, author of the Annabelle Unleashedand the Maggie Brooklyn mysteries. 

“Flunked is a fresh and funny take on the enchanted world. (And who hasn’t always wanted to know what happened to Cinderella’s stepmother?”)” -Julie DeVillers, author of the Trading Faces identical twin series and Emma Emmets, Playground Matchmaker. 

“A reform school where all the teachers are former villains. Kinda writes itself, right?” Betsy Bird’s Librarian Preview

About the Author:

Jen Calonita is the author of the Secrets of My Hollywood Life series and other books like Sleepaway Girls and Summer State of Mind, but Fairy Tale Reform School is her first middle grade series. She rules Long Island, New York with husband Mike, princes Tyler and Dylan, and Chihuahua Captain Jack Sparrow, but the only castle she’d ever want to live in is Cinderella’s at Disney World. She’d love for you to drop her a line at or keep the fairy tale going at

My Review: 

**** An advanced copy of this book was provided to me from the publisher via Netgalley (thank you Sourcebooks Jabberwocky) in exchange of an honest review in retur. This fact has not changed my opinion. ****

I read Flunked: Fair Tale Reform School about a month ago and I absolutely adored it. It's a fast and fun read that fairy tale fans of all ages will absolutely adore. The book is full of interesting and likable characters, an engaging world, and an interesting plot that kept me entertained from beginning to end.

This month's theme is Retellings and I have had the opportunity to read a handful of very different twists on classic stories that we all know and love. In my experience with retelling I have noticed the one thing for me that makes it an interesting retelling is when the author makes an obvious tip of the hat to the classic stories but writes something completely unique. That is exactly what Jen Calonita has been able to do here. She does a fantastic in taking more than one story that we have all grown up with and turns the concepts all around. That starts with the world of Enchantasia. Despite this being after the "happily ever after," things are far from happy for most people. Like most Fantasy stories that I love there is a bit of political intrigue. Here we have an oppressive minority group of royals and some rebels who are doing their best to shake things up (there may be some of those rebels at Fairy Tale Reform school).

And those characters, both the rebels and the royals, that Jen created are what really engaged me in this story and made it such a creative twist on the classic fairy tales was the characters. Fairy Tale Reform School is full of all kinds of unique and likable characters. First we have our main character and protagonist Gillian Cobbler. She'd had a bit of a tough life and it's made her into quite the spunky little thief. Right from the beginning I love Gilly. She is a fantastic female protagonist. She's fiesty, smart, and tough but also has a sense of justice. She lent the book such an interesting voice that gave the book a really effervescent tone.

And that's just to start with. Of course this is a book about reforming villains so of course I have to talk about those famous villains featured here. We have my personal favorite, Madame Cleo aka the Sea Witch, who is slightly crazy but tons of fun. Wolfington, or the Big Bad Wolf, who is actually a real gentleman. And of course there is is the Evil Queen and Wicked Stepmother who are working hard to help the students and themselves in the process. Each villain teaches their own class and right before we meet them we get a newspaper interview and a little update about them and what they have been up to since their stories (or should I say the story they were featured in) ended. It was a really great way to learn about them before we interact with them and a fun and creative kind of storytelling.

My only criticism was in terms of the plot development. Flunked is more on the younger side of the YA spectrum, but that's not really what I mean. I liked that about the book. It made it a quick and fun read. But while everything built to an interesting and engaging conclusion, the way it got there got there felt a little rushed and odd at times. There were some great moments along the way but sometimes it felt like it was moving from moment to moment like a to do list. Although there was a pretty interesting mystery that kept me guessing until the very end and even caught me of guard so it couldn't have been that bad!

Besides the mystery, what I loved so much about the storytelling was the deeper message of the book. And that message is not just because she makes the villains the heroes (although that is something I totally loved). You might expect that this is a villain story. I personally love a good villain story, where we get the opportunity to understand what and why an evil character is doing. But this is much more lighthearted than that. No the heart of this story is a fantastic message about what it means to be a hero and that anyone can be a hero.

Flunked: Fairy Tale Reform School is a fantastic and interesting spin on the classic idea of heroism and fairy tales. The world is engaging, the characters are complex, and likable, and the plot is interesting and unique.

I give Flunked: Fairy Tale Reform School by Jen Calonita a 9 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. If you are looking for a fun and engaging fairy tale retelling  then check this book out. It would be a great buy if you're looking for something to pick up for the fairy tale loving girl or boy in your life. Let them experience and love Gilly and see that anyone can be a hero, even a villain. It's perfect for the young and young at heart!

Interview with Jen Calonita Author of Flunked: Fairy Tale Reform School

Thanks so much for agreeing to be on the blog Jen and sharing some info with readers about Flunked.

1. First things first, can you describe your book in 10 words or less?

Fairy tale reform school where villains can be heroes.

2. What inspired you to write Flunked?

Most people read fairy tales, or watch movies based on fairy tales, and are content with happily ever after. Even as a kid, I always worried about the villains. Sure, sometimes they died, but when they just disappeared from the page, I always wondered: Are they still out there? Could they ever redeem themselves? That idea always stuck with me and from it, FLUNKED was born.

That's so true. There is a lot of "unfinished business" when it comes to fairy tale villains. I like that you were worried about what would happen to them and not what would happen to the hero or heroine if they ever came back!

3. Flunked is a fairy tale retelling so let’s talk fairy tales. What is your favorite fairy tale and why?

I really enjoy The Frog Princess and The Princess and the Pea. Those are two that are pretty much happy stories in every version! I’m pretty much a fan of any of the fairy tales with a princess and a happy ending! I mean, so many of these fairy tales are such downers, aren’t they? Poor Sleeping Beauty in some versions. Poor Rapunzel!

Who doesn't love a good happy ending. There are some seriously dark endings to some fairy tales. Like Hans Christian Anderson's Little Mermaid is so not happy!

4. And speaking of retellings, if you could change the ending to any fairy tale what would it be? 

While I love a princess, I wish that some of these princesses had a bit more of a backbone. Do they have to take the prince’s hand in marriage right away? What’s wrong with a courtship first? I think that’s why I enjoyed Disney’s Enchanted so much. I love how fascinated Giselle is with the idea of a “date.”

That's so true! I never really thought about how there's no dating and courtship in fairy tales. They seriously invented insta-love didn't they? And I LOVE Enchanted. It definitely plays with a lot of the tropes in the genre.

5. I love that the book is about reforming villains. Who is your favorite villain in literature?

Hands down that has to be Voldermort from the Harry Potter series. I mean, is there anyone more evil? What blows my mind is how wicked he is from such a young age. It seems so obvious to me that he’s trouble, and yet, people in power—bad or not—always attract followers, don’t they? I loved reading about Harry Potter and Voldermort’s journey together.

Voldemort is a great villain. The contrast in attitudes between him and Harry despite having pretty similar upbringings. They're perfect foils.

6. Let’s talk writing. When you start writing do you like to outline things or do you just let it flow without a plan?

I’ve tried writing books both ways. In the end though, I think I’m too Type A to not have a plan! My friend, author Elizabeth Eulberg (The Lonely Hearts Club, Take a Bow), turned me on to post it notes and I feel like that helps my process a lot. I write down chapter and character storyline ideas on post its and pin them to my message board. Then I move them around like a puzzle till the story makes sense and I figure out where the holes are. It’s been such a helpful tool—for the most part. One time, I laid out all the post its perfectly on a table at a coffee shop I was working in, and then joked to the waitress, “Can I take this table top home with me?”

Wow! I hope they let you take it home. I like the post-it not idea. That sounds really helpful.

7. How much research went into creating the world of Flunked? Did you read a lot of fairy tales and nursery rhymes?

As soon as I started talking about the idea of Flunked, my husband got me these beautiful leather anthologies of Hans Christian Anderson and Grimms’ fairy tales. But the truth is, there are countless versions of every fairy tale out there in the universe so you can have a lot of fun turning the stories on their heads. At least, that’s what I wanted to do!

I love that, when you turn the stories on their head. You're right there are so many different versions of all the classic stories. And a lot of the ones you use like Snow White, Cinderella, and The Little Mermaid are pretty well known.

8. Is Fairy Tale Reform School the start of a new series or is this just a standalone? 

Flunked is the first book in the Fairy Tale Reform School series. The sequel, Charmed, will come out in 2016. After that? Who knows? There are always new villains to defeat in the fairy tale world. If people want more of Gilly, Jax, Kayla, Ollie and Maxine, I’d be happy to give it to them.

YEAH! I personally would love more Gilly, Jax, Ollie, and Maxine. I'd also love more Madame Cleo and more Wolfie. You definitely wrote some memorable characters.

9. If you were trapped on a deserted island with any fictional character, who would it be?

Ooh, can I pick someone from comic books? If so, I’d pick Thor, as played by my celeb crush, Chris Hemsworth. He could fly us right off that desert island! And if he couldn’t fly us off, at least I’d be stuck with Chris Hemsworth.

YES! You can totally pick Thor. He'd be great to be trapped on a deserted island with! Mmmm... Chris Hemsworth. I like it a lot!

Thanks so much for answering my questions Jen! Flunked is such a fun book and I hope everyone checks it out next week when it comes out!

More Fairy Tale Fun: 

Take the Fairy Tale Reform School Quiz and find out if you get sentenced to Fairy Tale Reform School, it will help to have an ally. Take the quiz and find out who your mentor would be.


5 Print Copies of Flunked: Fairy Tale Reform School 
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Book Review: Confessions of An Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire

Title: Confessions of An Ugly Stepsister
Author: Gregory Maguire
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: We have all heard the story of Cinderella, the beautiful child cast out to slave among the ashes. But what of her stepsisters, the homely pair exiled into ignominy by the fame of their lovely sibling? What fate befell those untouched by beauty ... and what curses accompanied Cinderella's looks?

Set against the backdrop of seventeenth-century Holland, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister tells the story of Iris, an unlikely heroine who finds herself swept from the lowly streets of Haarlem to a strange world of wealth, artifice, and ambition. Iris's path quickly becomes intertwined with that of Clara, the mysterious and unnaturally beautiful girl destined to become her sister. While Clara retreats to the cinders of the family hearth, Iris seeks out the shadowy secrets of her new household -- and the treacherous truth of her former life

This was not my favorite Gregory Maguire book but it was still very good. I'm a big fan of his Wicked Years series and his most recent book, a YA title, Egg & Spoon. To me he is a master at fairy tale retellings, taking the classic stories and giving them a unique and interesting twist. Confessions of An Ugly Stepsister was no different, it just didn't quite have the same magic as some of the other books of his I've read.

One of the things that I really liked about this book was actually one of the things that may have made it not an amazing read. In the Wicked Year and Egg & Spoon we get literal magic. They are fantasy read that take place in fascinating locations with magical spells and witches. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is not Fantasy. I mean maybe you could shelf it that way because of the fairy tale aspect but it's essentially Historical Fiction.The book takes us the Renaissance Holland and the world of the Dutch Master Painters. And while we don't actually encounter real figures like Vermeer and Rembrandt, that is the impression that the book gives. It was interesting to see the book incorporate the history of when the fairy tale could have taken place. It almost gave it more legitimacy. Not to mention the fact that the incorporation of painting and the cultural things from the time like plague and financial trouble made the book even more real and interesting take.

But it was definitely an interesting twist on the story. Not only the setting for the book, but also the characters. To start with, this is the well-known and well-loved Cinderella story told from the perspective of the ugly stepsister. And just like what Gregory Maguire did for the Wicked Witch of the West in Wicked, he does for the stepsister here. Our protagonist Iris, is incredibly sympathetic and likable. She's far from the evil and devious sister we are used to seeing, though she does have her moments. But he also manages to create an interesting Cinderella character who is particularly odious. She's not the demure would be princess that we are used to seeing. She's a little bratty and petulant but it worked. She's not very likable but she is responding to her situation in a completely realistic way and that was incredibly refreshing.

The plot of the book was also a unique twist on the classic tale. It isn't your typical Cinderella story with a fairy god mother, lost shoe, and charming prince. Yes, those elements were there but it was really a story about family, and about the relationship between these sisters. Where Wicked was about political intrigue this was about family dynamics, a subject matter I don't always love in my reading, though the interesting characters did redeem things a little bit. We follow these women as they struggle to better their circumstances in life sometimes in unlikely and less than savory ways. Or maybe that was just because of the characters were walking that grey area between likable and unlikable. Either way it was a fun twist on the Cinderella story.

What I am noticing about Gregory Maguire, the more books of his I read, is that he has a very specific writing style that is hard to describe. The pacing is a bit slower, the prose are a bit more utilitarian, for lack of a better word. It almost gives it this weird sort of brevity like a start and stop kind of style. It's like he puts together a series of moments that are explained in great detail but without many transitions, then it all comes together in the end after a lot of build up. In many of his books that I read that really worked but here it made things hard to get into. I expected to fly through this book, but Maguire forces you to take your time with the story. In the end it was an entertaining read. It didn't give me that satisfying feeling that I was hoping for but it was good.

I give Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire 7.5 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. Fans of Gregory Maguire should check this book out and experience another one of his interesting takes on a classic story. If you like fairy tale retellings then check this one out, especially if you prefer them on the more historical side. If you are looking for more of a Fantasy read by Maguire I suggest Egg & Spoon or Wicked.

Have you read Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Heroines

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Kickass Take Charge Ladies 
Some of my favorite heroines are of course the tough badass ladies who will knock anyone on their ass. They are the kind of women who are ready to battle anyone and everyone to protect those that they love and the ideals that they stand for. How can you not love these kinds of ladies!

1.) Vin in The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
How freaking amazing is Vin in this series? She starts out as an criminal orphan living in the streets and becomes well, I can't tell you but it's legendary. But what I can mention is how freaking amazing she is at Alomancy and defeating basically anyone who she goes up against.

2.) Celaena Sardothian in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas
What is there not to love about Celaena? She's the worlds best assassin and is a teenage girl who loves chocolate, books, and pretty dresses. She's basically my hero! She can kick some serious butt and it's amazing to watch her do it.

3.) Paige Mahoney in The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
Paige is tough but she's also smart. I'm putting her down here because my favorite things about Paige is that she is more concerned about others and will do what's best for them. But also because she's an insanely good strategist! She's had some brilliant plans so far in this series.

4.) Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I almost didn't include Katniss. She seemed too cliche. But seriously, how could I not. She is an amazing heroine with some pretty great hunting skills. But honestly she is on this list because of what she fights for. Katniss would risk everything for those she loves and that's pretty great!

5.) Adelina Amouteru in The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Adelina is probably the darkest and most troubled character on this list but it doesn't mean she's not a heroine. She is tough and take-charge in the face of adversity. She's pretty kickass with this amazing power but is she's also really sympathetic.

Smart But Demure, Ladies Who Still Rock Without Fighting 
But more than the tough and battle-ready ladies, I love a smart woman who uses her brain to fight her battles. Or doesn't fight any battles at all. There are some truly amazing heroines who do more just by being strong in the face of adversity.

6.) Veronica Mars in the Veronica Mars series by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
Alright so Veronica is far from demure. She's a little sassmouth but she's terrible at fighting. That's not why she makes the list.She makes it because she is smart and resourceful. She is without a doubt an amazing detective and she has brought down some amazing villains with her quick wit and mystery skills.

7.) Sansa Stark in A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin
I will seriously defend Sansa against any and all haters. She's had some amazing character development and has more strength in the face adversity than basically anyone in this series. She knows what to do to stay alive and she'll do whatever it takes. If you tell me she's not a heroine I will go off on you and you will not like it!

8.) Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
She's not the protagonist of this series but where would anyone be without dearest Hermione? Not defeating Voldemort, that's for sure. I think bookish know-it-alls everywhere found a kindred spirit in Hermione. She's tough, tenacious, and a real problem-solver.

9.) Jo March in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
I won't shut up about Little Women, It's my favorite ever. Seriously though who doesn't love Jo March. When we first meet her she is a brash tomboy who quickly works her way into our hearts and never ever leaves! She's smart and tough but is still a lady making her way in a time it wasn't really acceptable for ladies to be that way.

10.) Eleanor in Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Like many of the other ladies on this list Eleanor has to face some serious adversity. And like all the other amazing ladies she handles it with stoic grace and an inner strength that one wouldn't expect. I seriously loved this book and a lot of it had to do with how fantastic a protagonist Eleanor is.

What about you? Who are your favorite heroines? Do you love any of the ones I mentioned? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Classics Review: Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott

Title: Jo's Boys
Series: Little Women #3
Author: Louisa May Alcott
First Published: 1886 by Robert Brothers
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Best known for the novels Little Women and Little Men, Louisa May Alcott brought the story of her feisty protagonist Jo and the adventures and misadventures of the March family to an entertaining, surprising, and bittersweet conclusion in Jo’s Boys. Beginning ten years after Little Men, Jo’s Boys revisits Plumfield, the New England school still presided over by Jo and her husband, Professor Bhaer. Jo remains at the center of the tale, surrounded by her boys—including rebellious Dan, sailor Emil, and promising musician Nat—as they experience shipwreck and storm, disappointment and even murder.

Popular for over a century, Alcott’s series still holds universal appeal with its powerful and affectionate depiction of family—the haven where the prodigal can always return, adversity is shared, and our dreams of being cherished, despite our flaws, come true. In this edition of Jo’s Boys, readers once again experience a treasured classic by one of America’s best-loved writers.

Remember when I said I was a big fan of Little Women? Like two weeks ago. You remember, when I reviewed Little Men. I thought that book was going to be hard to review, but wow, this one is even harder.

Jo's Boys perfectly combined the sentimental elements of both Little Women and Little Men to create a fantastic conclusion to the series. It was a bit of a stretch to say that Little Men is the sequel to Little Women, but it's not hard at all to see that this is the sequel to Little Men. We get to follow up with Jo and the students from Plumfield ten years after the original story. We see them as adults, going on adventures, falling in love, and of course getting into trouble. There were still lessons to be learned and philosophical ideals to pontificate but it was very much a story about friendship, family, and love. It had the same kind of sentimentality and joy adding it as an addendum to the place in my heart where Little Women and the Marches live.

I think what surprised me most about Jo's Boys is the fact that it also had much more of a historical significance to it. I mentioned in my review of March, a Little Women retelling, last week that one of the things that I found it interesting Little Women didn't much address is the topical events at the time. We knew the Civil War was occurring because Mr. March was off fighting, but it didn't much get political (not that I'm complaining). And while Jo's Boys didn't mention the political side of things it did mention things like the California Gold Rush, westward expansion, and other cultural events making an impact at the time. It really served to ground the book in reality and gave it much more context which I really enjoyed.

And of course Alcott creates fantastic and likable characters that earn places in my heart. The opportunity to follow-up and spend more time with these beloved characters from the two previous books was amazing. We of course got to see Jo again with the same kind of caring for others and motherly attitudes from Little Men but she does have a few moments where she is her old self again being a little brash (including a very tongue-in-cheek scene regarding fans of Jo's book). We also get to see Laurie a lot more in this one which is delightful. I'm such a fan of adult Laurie and I'm going to confess something here that is going to be an unpopular opinion. As an adult I support Laurie and Amy being together. It makes sense (don't hate me!) and while I'm still sad that he and Jo didn't end up together I totally get it now. But that's the tip of the iceberg. There are also all the boys from Little Men like Dan, Nat, Demi, Daisy, Bess, and Nan. Alcott's characters are always so complex and sweet it's always a pleasure to see them again.

Well I guess that wasn't so hard afterall. Just like Little Men I really enjoyed the final installment in a series that I have loved for as long as I can remember. And when the book was over I was a little sad to have read the last words. "... let the music stop, the lights die out, and the curtain fall forever on the March family."

I give Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott a 9 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY. Little Women fans should continue with this series. If you are fans of Classics that have a coming-of-age YA/MG feel then you should definitely read all these books. I'm so glad I finally took the time to continue with the Marches and now I am really sad to see them go but it was a fantastic and sentimental journey with them.

Have you read Jo's Boys? What did you think?  What is your favorite Classic? Leave me a comment with your thoughts.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Book Blogger Love-A-Thon: Mini Challenge #5 High Fives

Book Blogger Love-A-Thon is a weekend long even hosted by Alexa Loves Books where bloggers share their love of books and blogging. Today's second challenge is to discuss some of our recent favorite things.

Favorite books is an impossible questions. I posted a picture on my Instagram with some of my absolute favorites in the shape of a heart. Probably the most recent books that I would add to my favorites of all time list are Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth and The Young Elites by Marie Lu.

I haven't read a lot of "five star reads" recently so I do want to give a quick shout out to those three which are The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson, and The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury.

My favorite genre is and will always be Fantasy but lately I think my reading tastes are changing and I've been reading a bit too much Fantasy because it's all starting to feel very similar. I'm also a huge fan of Historical Fiction but it takes a bit to blow me away when it comes to HF

I've also been really loving some Contemporary reads so I'd say that is recent fave. I've been trying to get some recommendations from fans of the genre so let me know any suggestions. I like more lighthearted and funny over sad and don't go for standard romances most of the time. Coming-of-age stories with slowburn romances would be best and no road trips!

Some of my favorite Contemps. Any recommendations based on these?

I'm totally obsessed with Brandon Sanderson so he needs a mention. I also love Rainbow Rowell and I'm excited for her new Fantasy coming out this fall. I'm also really excited for ACOTAR because Sarah J. Maas is amazing and Six of Crows because Leigh Bardugo is great. I need to read more Maggie Steifvater after I read The Raven King because I'm really impressed with her work. I also really like Lynne Matson who is so sweet. Her interaction with fans is one of the best I have seen. I'm really excited to read NIL Unlocked because her books are also amazing! (How did that turn into a talk of my most anticipated reads of the year?)

Impossible question and one I refuse to answer! Instead I will name some favorites in a few categories.

First Bloggers I Look Up To:
- Brittany of The Book Addicts Guide
- Octavia of Read Sleep Repeat

All four of these ladies have been very kind, supportive, and welcoming to me. They represent the best of the community for me and every interaction with them has made me so happy. There are the kind of successful bloggers I want to be one day.

Second, Blogger Friends You Should Follow:
- Stephanie at My Bookish Itinerary
I can't remember when I found Stephanie's blog but she's so insiteful and creative. She's been a good friend to me and you should check her out.

I think Violet was one of my first followers and she's still one of the best! I have had so much fun doing readalongs with you and I'm excited to do another one soon.

-Eileen at BookCatPin
I think you're a newer follower and blogging friends but you're a great one. We have so many amazing twitter chats about the books we read. We really should do a buddy read soon!

We have such similar tastes and senses of humor. Brittany is one of the sweetest people I've met through blogging and I cannot wait to meet you at BEA!

Bookish Merchandise/Bookish Sites:
Oh man, I'm trying really hard not to buy things besides books. I went through a huge Book Outlet problem but I'm in remission. I've also become obsessed with the Funko Pop figurines especially the Game of Thrones ones and the Harry Potter ones they just announced. Lately I'd say I'm totally into bookish jewelry! I really want this Harry Potter bracelet and this Etsy site is full of adorable things. 

Speaking of Etsy and adorable, I'm obsessed with my Snape bookmark from craftedvan and I want so many more. And Mapsburgh who is a local artist that makes maps of US cities in the style of The Lord of the Rings is amazing (I have the Pittsburgh one)
Okay... There are my favorites. How about you? What have you been loving?

Book Blogger Love-A-Thon: Blogger Author Love

So this isn't a challenge but I decided to take a moment to mention a few of my must follow authors on Twitter. If you didn't know, I'm a huge fan of Twitter. I think it's such an amazing way to interact with fellow bloggers and authors. I'm on Twitter so much, like more than I should be. There are lots of great authors who have a fantastic social media presence and here are a few that I love.

Lynne Matson @lsmatson
I'm such a fan of Lynne. She writes amazing amazing books and has a fantastic presence on Twitter. She is one of the authors I've seen that always interacts with fans of her books. Every interaction I have had with her has been so delightful. She also hosts monthly giveaways and really helps build a community for the fans of her books.

Rainbow Rowell @rainbowrowell
Seriously I am obsessed with her books. She creates amazing characters that feel so real with a sense of humor that cannot be beat. That is what I would say about her Twitter. It's so genuine and funny. She also interacts well and has favorited and responded to mentions which always makes me fangirl

Victoria Schwab @veschwab
Victoria always mentions and replies to tweets with fans as well. She is always interacting with those who have read her books. She is also one of those authors who tweets I love seeing. She has such humor, it's so self-deprecating but it's fantastic!

Sara Raasch @seesarawrite
I still need to read Snow Like Ashes and I'm embarassed to say that because I enjoy Sara on Twitter so much. She interacts well with her fans and is always retweeting reviews, fanart, and other things relating to her books. She also has a fantastic YouTube channel and Tumblr!

Mackenzi Lee @themackenzilee
Mackenzi is a debut author and I have been completely excited for her book ever since I learned about it. Steampunk Frankenstein you guys! She interacts so well with people on Twitter and has some hilarious insights into history and other things.

Susan Dennard @susandennard
Susan is a fantastic author with fantastic books but she is worth a follow for her insights into writing. She has a great monthly newsletter where she updates fans on her work and gives advice about writing.

Maggie Stiefvater @msteivfater
I started following Maggie before I read a word of her books but based on her Twitter I knew I would love them! I wasn't wrong. She is quite hilarious and sweet. She's like all the Raven Boys in one, which I mean obviously. Speaking of The Raven Boys, everything she says about the final book makes me excited and anxious!

J.K. Rowling @jk_rowling
She is the queen. That is all.

Who are your favorite authors one Twitter? Leave me a comment with your thoughts.

Book Blogger Love-A-Thon Mini Challenge #4: Snapshots

Book Blogger Love-A-Thon is a weekend long event hosted by Alexa Loves Books where bloggers come together to share their love of books and the blogging community. There are fun events, mini challenges, and lots of love being spread around. 

Today's first challenge today is "Snapshots" where we take fun pictures our books. I have a bunch of fun pictures on my Instagram of books (and cats) so definitely check that out. I have a few ones planned for this challenge. But here on the blog I thought I would give you a shelfie and bookshelf tour. I have two shelves, both organized differently so I'll point out some of my favorite books. If you see one you love leave me a comment. I haven't read them all but it may cause me to bump it up on my TBR or if I have read it we can chat about it.

My Adult Shelf: 
This used to be my only shelf but recently I got another one and this became my adult shelf. I shelf this one based on size. For me that is the most aesthetically pleasing. It is sort of problematic because I do not have the same editions with series but thankfully I don't have many adult books that are part of a series.

The very top shelf is some non-bookish things like photos, figurines, a giant pen, and cat toys I hide from Eponine because she gets crazy with the catnip ones. There are also some coffee table books like America the Book, The De-Textbook, and my personal favorite What Would Wonder Woman Do? The first shelf is my mass market paperbacks. A lot of Fantasy faves like the Mistborn trilogy, A Song of Ice and Fire, and The Wicked Years. Plus Classics like Little Women and The Portrait of A Lady
The second shelf is trade paperbacks. Some favorites on this shelf are Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo, and Wuthering Heights. This shelf is also where I store my bookmarks. The third shelf is mostly paperbacks, but has some of my absolute favorites. The Heart is A Lonely Hunter, Vicious, The Bone Season, The Historian, and The Magicians trilogy (one of the few I shelf together despite it not being the same format). I tend to also keep my monthly TBR on this shelf. It's usually bigger but the month's almost over.
The fourth shelf is some of my only hardcovers. As you can tell I prefer paperbacks. But this also has some favorites. The Tao of Pooh, The Name of the Wind, Bitter Greens, and the rest of my Wicked Years books. Finally the bottom shelf is ARCs. The ones in the front are ones I want to read. I'm pretty partial to The Magician's Land because I have a tortured past with it, Landline (also a tortured past), and NIL which was one of the first I received, I won it from Lynne. It also has the gorgeous The World of Ice and Fire book.
My Young Adult Shelf

I got this shelf a few weeks ago because I definitely needed it. I was attempting to shove all these books on one shelf (the one that's now got the hardcovers) and it wasn't working too well. I shelf this one a little different. Most of my YA books are series, either full or partial series, so I organize them by genre.

The top shelf is my Middle Grade. It has my Harry Potter books, Chronicles of Narnia, and America Girl books. The first shelf is Fantasy. I love basically every book on the shelf I have read. The left side is High Fantasy and the right is Historical Fantasy. Obviously I love Harry Potter, it's a total favorite! The Grisha trilogy is fantastic, The Young Elites is a new favorite, The Gemma Doyle trilogy is really good, and The Falconer is amazing and got me into steampunk and fae stories!
The second shelf here is mostly Science Fiction. The left side is standard Sci Fi and fades into Dystopia. In the front is Retellings. Because The Lunar Chronicles (a favorite) are SciFi it's a good transition. Other favorites include the Starbound trilogy, The Darkest Minds, Steelheart, and The Hunger Games (which are hidden). The bottom shelf is the most eclectic. The left side is Contemporary, the right is Historical Fiction, and in front of that is my "Maggie" collection. Favorites on that shelf are the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, my Rainbow Rowell books, The Luxe series, and The Raven Boys.  

And those are my shelves! What do you think? Some great books. Remember leave me a comment with some of your faves!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Book Blogger Love-a-Thon Mini Challenge #3 - Quotes

I always pull quotes that I love when I'm reading but they are typically dark and more dramatic quotes. But here are a few quotes about romance and friendship that I love.

What are your favorite quotes? Leave me a comment with your thoughts.

Book Blogger Love-A-Thon Mini Challenge #2: Valentines

Last year I had so much fun writing a love note to Severus Snape. I felt like he needed some love! But this year I was finding it hard to come up with someone to write a valentine for. Then it hit me, I am not the kind of person who has book boyfriends, but I ship like there is no tomorrow! So I decided this year to write valentines from one member of some of my favorite OTPs to the other. Beware, there may be some spoilers (I'm sorry, the second one definitely has a spoiler)

 What are your favorite ships/OTPs? Do we have any in common? Leave me a comment with your thoughts and a link to your valentines post! Thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading.