Friday, June 29, 2018

ALA Annual 2018 Recap

Hi friends, you may have noticed that the past few weeks my posts here have been few and far between. I know that I haven't been posting much these past few months anyway but there was a big break these past few weeks and I wanted to explain why. Well you see, I went to ALA. If you are not aware, ALA stands for The American Library Association. They host two conferences a year, Midwinter and Annual. This is my second year going to the annual conference and I really enjoy it.

I have been to both ALA and Book Expo and I have to say, I prefer ALA to BEA. For one thing, ALA is much more chill. With BEA it's so much more structured. You got here at this time to get this book and it's your only chance to get it. Plus publishers only bring a limited number of titles with them. This could be my perception but ALA seems like there is more titles. Plus you can ask for what you want and the publishers will give it to you if they brought it.They are also more willing to talk to you and share titles that you might not of heard of. There is a lot more recommending happening at ALA. But it's also easier to get carried away because of that. It's not hard to get 50 books a day (don't worry, I didn't do that).

The other thing I really like about ALA is that it moves locations. It is in a different city every year which I really like because then you can get to explore a new place while attending a fun bookish conference. This year it was in New Orleans which was amazing because I have never been and it is a place I have always wanted to visit. And boy was it a beautiful place to visit, if a little hot and humid. It seriously feels like you are getting two vacations in one.

Okay, that is all for the general info about ALA, how about some specifics about my trip.

Day One: Friday

After some flight delays (a trend for my trip) I landed in New Orleans two hours late which technically meant I arrived on Friday morning. Exhausted I made my way to the hotel to meet up with my girls who I would be staying with: Michelle from Pink Polka Dot Books, Katie from Katie's Book Blog, and Shelley and Octavia from Read Sleep Repeat. I love these ladies. We have been rooming together for a few years now and I always have a ton of fun with them. But like I sais, exhausted so I basically went to bed.

Then in the morning I woke up and I had to get some work done. I work from home which means I can work anywhere which basically also means I don't have an excuse to take vacation time. So I worked all morning and then when I was done we headed out to get lunch and to the convention center to get our passes. Lunch was great. I got my first of many po boys, this one was blackened fish, from Picayune. When we got to the convention center it was huge. Like at least a milt from one end to the other. I mean there was a whole other conference happening at the same time. That's how big it is. After that we headed to an Escape Room which we had booked because we wanted to do something fun and different but air conditioned. It had this cool jazz theme and was awesome. Besides the five of us we also had three women who got just as into it as we did and we worked together well. We ended up escaping the room and solving the murder with ten minutes to spare. They gave us another mystery to solve but we definitely didn't have enough time for that.

After the escape room we went back to the French Quarter for a ghost tour. This was the main thing I wanted to do in New Orleans. I hate scary stuff but I love hearing the stories. The tour we did was really cool. It was a four in one tour so we learned about ghosts, witches, vampires, and voodoo. The tour guide was not only really engaging but super cute. He kept saying we like everyone on the tour was part of the stories which I completely loved. Plus it was great to walk around the French Quarter because it is so pretty, even though it was disgustingly hot and humid. After the tour we went back to the hotel to swim in the pool. Did I not mention that our hotel room was huge and opened up onto the pool. Then we went to dinner at Mahoney's Po Boys and Seafood because it was right next the hotel. I got a fried oyster po boy which was pretty good but nothing to write home about. We were all oretty exhausted from the day so we went to bed.

Day Two: Saturday

Saturday was the first day of the exhibit hall being open so we headed to the convention center early. I grabbed an egg sandwich from the hotel for breakfast because I new I needed to eat some food before being on my feet all day. The line wasn't too crazy so we just waited for them to open the doors. I headed straight to Disney because they had limited numbers of The Darkest Minds tote bags and copies of The Darkest Legacy which I definitely needed. Then I wandered around a bit before getting in line for Laini Taylor to get a copy of The Muse of Nightmares. Laini was amazing and I talked to her about the audiobook for Strange the Dreamer and how much I love Steve West. Other highlights of the day were Julie Kagawa who I also talked about audiobooks with, Jennifer Lynn Barnes who I gushed to about The Fixer, and Adib Khoram and Nathalie C. Parker whose exaggerate beef I may have helped fuel.

After going a little overboard and picking up 38 book I took the shuttle back to the hotel. I was so glad that our hotel was one of the shuttle stops because I have stayed at hotels before where you had to lug your books a mile away and this was great. After that we ended up going to dinner at Acme Oyster House which was around the corner. The line was crazy long but it was good. I had had an alligator sausage po boy for lunch so I wanted something other than seafood for dinner and so I got the New Orleans medley which had jambalaya, red beans and rice, gumbo, and a sausage. It was really good and between that and the crawfish hush puppies I got, I was a proud member of the clean plate club. Then Michelle, Katie, and I decided to go out on Bourbon Street because you got to. I got a vampire's blood daquiri which I am pretty sure was cherry flavored but Michelle said did actually look like blood. Then as we were walking by another place and because I'm a sucker we followed a lady over who said it was "shot time." Before I knew it she was coming at me with two test tubes in her mouth that emptied into my mouth that ended up being $14 shots. We totally got ripped off but it is a story.We kind of just walked around outside with our drinks and then went to the hotel because I am lame.

Day Three: Sunday

Sunday was the second day of the exhibit halls being open so we headed down there early but first, breakfast. And we knew we needed to get beignets so we went to the Cafe du Monde in the mall by the conference. And they were amazing! If only I had remembered to order my coffee without cream and sugar. That morning there was a lot of signings I wanted to do so I bounced around a lot before lining up for Kerri Maniscalco. I adore Kerri and it was so great to see her and pick up a copy of Escaping from Houdini (which I have already finished). Other highlights of the day were Nova Ren Suma who I gushed to about her books, Megan Shepard, and Mackenzi Lee. I was much more responsible today and ended up with 13 books and all of them I was really excited about and most of them were signed.

That night I went back to the hotel to chill a little bit before going to get dinner with Michelle. I was kind of over the seafood so we went to a Mexican place that was like a stepped up version of Chipotle. I know there are better places to eat but sometimes you just need something familiar. After that we ended up going to this park down by the water to relax and check things out before getting more beignets. That's right, two rounds of beignets in one day. This time from Cafe Beignet. They were definitely delicious and I regret nothing.

Day Four: Monday

Originally my plan was to go to the conference for the last day but I realized I basically got all the books I wanted and I have been burned before waiting in line for display copies. So I decided to do more touristy stuff with Michelle. First we got breakfast at Jimmy J's Cafe which was a cute and funky cafe around the corner. I got steak and eggs because I definitely needed the protein. Then we took the bus to the Garden District which has these pretty mansions and the LaFayette Cemetery No. 1. I couldn't go all the way to New Orleans without visiting a cemetery and my friend who went to Tulane recommended this one. It was definitely really cool. On the way back we took the streetcar by all the mansions and it was a pretty and nice ride.

That night I had plans to have dinner with my coworker who lives there. We both work remotely so it was the first time I had met her so that was cool. Plus we went to a vegan soul food place which was awesome because I could eat mac and cheese and collard greens without worrying about it upsetting my stomach. Then I met back up with Michelle and we went to Louis Armstrong Park and Congo Square. It was a nice little park but I wish I had learned more info about it. On our walk back through the French Quarter we ended up stumbling upon where the home of Voodoo Queen Marie Levau used to be so that was cool. But Michelle was hungry and I had to use the bathroom so we walked around trying to find a place for her to eat. We ended up going to the New Orleans Burger and Seafood Restaurant. I was originally going to just get a beer but they had alligator poppers and I wanted to try alligator for real. But I was super full and I kind of regretted it. They were good though. Then back to the hotel for the night.

Day Five: Tuesday

This was our last day in New Orleans and I had to leave for the airport in the morning so we all just went to breakfast together at The Ruby Slipper Cafe which was around the corner. I ended up getting a grapefruit mimosa because why not and it was really good. I'll tell you this, New Orleans definitely knows how to do brunch. Then we did a little souvenir shopping. But like I said, I had to head to the airport. After a bit of a shuttle snafu (the wrong driver picked me up) I ended up making it to the airport early for my flight which would have been less frustrating if it wasn't delayed for lightning. But I made it to Orlando thinking I would have a shorter layover but that flight was delayed too! I got home two hours later than planned, tired and a little worse for wear but me and all my books made it safe so no complaints.

All in all it was an amazing trip. I got to explore a beautiful and amazing city, I hung out with some of my blogging friends in and out of the convention, and I picked up some super exciting books. If you have a chance to go to ALA I would definitely recommend going. Also, try to add a few extra days and do some touristy things. The books are great but the experiences can't be beat and this way you get two vacations in one.

And I did pretty good when it came to books. I got just over 50 which is one of my lowest ever at a bookish conference. Plus I am very excited about all of these books. I definitely have a very exciting fall full of books ahead of me.

Have you ever been to ALA or BEA? What is the coolest place that you are visiting this summer? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Audiobook Review: Providence by Caroline Kepnes

Title: Providence
Written by: Caroline Kepnes
Published: June 19, 2018 by Lenny (Random House)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: A propulsive new thriller about the obsessive nature of love when an intensifying relationship between best friends is disrupted by a kidnapping. 

Growing up as best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe are the only ones who truly understand each other, though they can never find the words to tell one another the depth of their feelings. When Jon is finally ready to confess his feelings, he's suddenly kidnapped by his substitute teacher who is obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft and has a plot to save humanity. 

Mourning the disappearance of Jon and facing the reality he may never return, Chloe tries to navigate the rites of entering young adulthood and "fit in" with the popular crowd, but thoughts of Jon are never far away. 

When Jon finally escapes, he discovers he now has an uncontrollable power that endangers anyone he has intense feelings for. He runs away to protect Chloe and find the answers to his new identity--but he's soon being tracked by a detective who is fascinated by a series of vigilante killings that appear connected. 

Whisking us on a journey through New England and crashing these characters' lives together in the most unexpected ways, Kepnes explores the complex relationship between love and identity, unrequited passion and obsession, self-preservation and self-destruction, and how the lines are often blurred between the two.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

I loved the You duology and I was super excited to check out her new book because it takes places where I live, in Providence. And even though this is a very different book, I was not disappointed. Kepnes really knows how to write an engaging book with complex characters.

What I loved about this book is that it's not your typical mystery or thriller. Yes, there are elements of that here. Kepnes writes a story that has you wondering and questioning from beginning to end. She does a great job of establishing a cat and mouse narrative where you root for both of them to succeed which adds a lot to the drama and adventure. But there was more too it then that. There is kind of a science fiction/horror element here. It's inspired by an H.P. Lovecraft story so that should give you some indication of what we are working with. And Kepnes did a great job of weaving the two together to craft an engaging and interesting story.

The book alternates perspectives between Jon, Chloe, and Eggs. This is kind of hit or miss for me but here it worked. The first half of the book is just Chloe and Jon. When Jon gets kidnapped Chloe, his best friend, is pining for him. It's a sweet story of friendship and seeing both perspectives you want them to reunite. But the really interesting part is when Eggs joins the narrative. There is a lot of mistaken intentions and misunderstandings that make the book full of conflict and drama. But I also think this was aided by the fact that for most of the book I listened to the audiobook and each character had a different narrator. They all did a really good job. I picked up the audio because Jon is narrated by MacLeod Andrews who I love, but I also really enjoyed the narrator for Eggs. He had the perfect Rhode Island accent. It wasn't too over the top and I loved that. Plus he has narrated some Lovecraft which was extra cool.

Kepnes also did a great job with establishing the characters. I loved in You how she was able to get you to sympathize with a serial killer, and in this book she gets you to sympathize with two different people who are on opposite ends of the conflict. It's not hard to sympathize with Jon. He was kidnapped and the backlash from what happened to him has crazy consequences. It was cool seeing him grow and develop throughout the book and become a little bit more grey in what he was doing morally. Eggs however lives in the grey. These are the types of characters who are doing the wrong thing for the right reasons or the right things for the wrong reasons. But either way, those are the kinds of characters that I love reading about.

I also really appreciated the setting of this book. As I said before, I live in Providence and I was a little nervous that this book wouldn't capture the city that I love but I think that it didn't. The entire book didn't take place in Providence, but the part in the city was great. There were landmarks that I recognized and she captured what it is like living in a college town (they are sometimes as annoying as she let on). Kepnes must be familiar with the city or she did her research. Either way I really appreciated that. Her books are usually show a lot of affection for New England and I appreciated that.

On the whole this was a really good read. It didn't blow me away like You and Hidden Bodies did but it still struck a cord emotionally. It had a lot of conflict and an engaging plot, great characters, and a setting that I really enjoyed.

I give You by Caroline Kepnes 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. I would definitely recommend this to fans of more mysteries or want to try something with subtle science fiction/fantasy elements. It's also a good book if you like reading thrillers with dubious characters.

Have you read Providence? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Comics I've Read Recently: Spring 2018

I read a good amount of comics, but it has been almost a year since I've done one of these posts. Usually I do it every few months so I was about due. Lately with as little as I am reading, it's comics that I turn to to round out my reading months. Plus it's just great to read something a little different and comics are amazing.

Runaways, Vol. 7: Live Fast by Brian K. Vaughn and Adrian Alphona 
(Amazon / Goodreads / Comixology)

SynopsisThe Runaways say good-bye to the past, and make hard decisions about their future. Plus: Still reeling from the events of Civil War: Young Avengers/Runaways, the teenage heroes must now confront a horrific enemy who threatens to tear the team apart!

Collects Runaways #19-24.

My Thoughts:

I have read the original Runaways for awhile now. I don't know why I have been waiting so long because I seriously love it. It's definitely my kind of comic. It has a unique cast of teenage characters, mystery, and a little bit of a sci-fi flair.

And this one was just as good as all the other previous books. Volume 6 seriously broke my heart and in this one I totally felt for Chase. I mean Chase may be my favorite character in the series and so him struggling really hit me. But in general the character development in this series has been amazing. You really connect with them over seven books and you want them to succeed so it's hard to see them not.

Only the whole, this is an amazing series and I think the perfect comic for people who may not necessarily big fans of comics. It's super accessible if you are new to comics and for people who do love them there is enough to enjoy.

Lumberjanes, Vol. 3: A Terrible Plan by Noelle Stevensen and Shannon Waters
 (Amazon / Goodreads / Comixology)


 Trying to take advantage of the first quiet day at camp in a while, Mal and Molly's date takes a bizarre turn with the appearance of the Bear Woman! Back at camp, Jo, April, and Ripley must stay on their toes as they try and earn every badge possible, which ends up being a lot harder than any of them ever planned.

 This New York Times bestselling series continues with Lumberjanes #9, "If You Got It, Haunt It Badge;" #10, "Abscence Make the Heart Grow Fondant Badge;" #11, "Go Ball-istic Badge;" and #12, "Oldie but Goodie Badge."

My Thoughts:

This is another series that I am really dragging my feet on reading. I really enjoyed the first two volumes and I wanted to keep reading it but for some reason it took me a year or so to actually do that. But this is such a fun series. It's geared a little bit younger but it's still got great characters and lots of fun and engaging storylines.

The interesting thing in volume three is that it's one of the first ones where the gang is split up. Mal and Molly kind of take focus as they go on their own solo adventure. I loved seeing these two get a little bit more of the attention because I think sometimes they can get lost among some of the more vivacious characters in the group.

This was definitely a great volume in the Lumberjanes series and I am really glad I took the time and continued reading it. Again, this is a comic that is really accessible. It's fun and super readable with great characters and is perfect for a preteen or teenage girl who wants comics where they can see themselves represented.

Lumberjanes Vol. 4: Out of Time by Noelle Stevensen and Shannon Waters

Synopsis: The mystery of history! 

 Jen just wants a normal lesson with her cabin, teaching Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley the basic survival skills needed without any supernatural intervention. But when a blizzard hits camp, Jen finds herself separated from the girls and in more trouble than ever... until a mysterious taxidermist swoops in to save the day. Who is she and what is her relationship to Rosie? Join Jen as she finds a way back to her girls, and a way to save the day! 

This New York Times Bestseller and Eisner Award-Nominated series is written by Noelle Stevenson (Nimona, ADVENTURE TIME™), and Lumberjanes co-creator Shannon Watters, and illustrated by Brooke Allen (A Home For Mr. Easter).

My Thoughts:

Another amazing Lumberjanes volume. I seriously need to read the rest of this series, I am loving it a lot. In this one we get to see Jen take a little bit more of the spotlight. She is usually way in the background and I loved being able to see here get more attention. Plus it was fun seeing the girls try to rescue her. It was a fun role reversal.

But the thing I liked most about this volume is the fact that you learn a lot about the camp. You learn more about Rosie and her history, plus Bear Woman, and the camp when it was originally founded. I really loved that and I am such a sucker for things that show historical things and how they impact the present day, even comics.

Yeah, I definitely need to read the rest of this series. I know there are like six more volumes so I better get on that. This series is really just amazing and it's a totally great escapist kind of comic. You can read it in a day and fall for the Lumberjanes.

Runaways, Vol 1: Find Your Way Home by Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka
(Amazon / Goodreads / Comixology)


The "IT" book of the early 2000s with the original cast is back--Nico! Karolina! Molly! Chase! Old Lace! And, could it be...GERT?!

 The heart of the Runaways died years ago, but you won't believe how she returns! Superstar author Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park, Carry On) makes her Marvel debut with fan-favorite artist Kris Anka (ALL-NEW X-MEN, CAPTAIN MARVEL) in the series that will shock you and break your heart! Did Chase and Gert's love survive their time apart? Have Karolina and Nico's feelings made their friendship impossible? What emotional landmines lie in wait to DESTROY the Runaways?!


My Thoughts:

So I love Rainbow Rowell. I have read and loved all her books. When I heard she was writing a comic I was super pumped. And plus this was the kick in the pants that I needed to finally read the original Runaways.

And while I am not a fan from back in the day, I definitely fell in love with the characters during Brian K. Vaughn's run so I was a bit nervous for Rainbow's take on them. But I honestly loved them. They feel like a more modern version of the original characters. They are a little bit older, a little bit more, jaded, but still maintain the spirit of the characters. That's kind of one of the things I didn't like about the Runaways TV show, it changes the characters personalities too much. But not this.

Plus it has a really great plot. The bulk of it is all about getting the gang back together but there is a lot of surprises and a good amount of action. It's not quite at the same level of world-saving adventure that the Vaughn run was but I say give it time. I'm sure Rainbow has some surprises in store for us.

Rat Queens, Volume 4: High Fantasies by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Owen Gieni
 (Amazon / Goodreads / Comixology)

Synopsis:The Queens are back!

Palisade is still a rat-infested hell hole, and Violet, Hannah, Dee, Betty, and the brand-new Queen, Braga are the only hope of saving it! It’s been a long time since they’ve done a good slaughter, so join them as they get back to the basics of killing monsters and drinking away the profits! This is a fresh, hilarious new take on the RAT QUEENS with new artist OWEN GIENI!

Collects RAT QUEENS, VOL. 2 #1-5

My Thoughts:

I love the Rat Queens series. It's so fun and amazing with kickass characters and a great sword and sorcery vibe. But like all comics I am dragging my feet in reading it.

This one is just as amazing as the first few volumes. You really connect with the characters in the course of the three previous books. You learn their backstories, meet their families, and just fall in love with them and their friendship. Here we continue to learn more about them and their past but it's a little more subtle which I liked. It's more about the queens as they are now. Speaking of the queens, we added Braga officially to the team here and I loved that!

Plus the plot here is really fantastic. It definitely has that classic fantasy adventure story thing going for it. They're on a quest and it's got fight scenes and hidden temples and narrow escapes, you know classic kind of things. I love the way that they engage the reader in the adventure in this series and this book was no exception.

And those are all the comics I have read in the past few months. Have you read any of these comics? What did you think? Do you have any comics or graphic novels that you would recommend to me? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Vengeful
Series: Villains #2
Written by: V.E. Schwab
Published: September 25, 2018 by Tor Books

Synopsis: The sequel to VICIOUS, V.E. Schwab's first adult novel.

Sydney once had Serena—beloved sister, betrayed enemy, powerful ally. But now she is alone, except for her thrice-dead dog, Dol, and then there's Victor, who thinks Sydney doesn't know about his most recent act of vengeance. 

Victor himself is under the radar these days—being buried and re-animated can strike concern even if one has superhuman powers. But despite his own worries, his anger remains. And Eli Ever still has yet to pay for the evil he has done.
Why I'm Waiting:

Victoria Schwab is one of my auto-buy authors. I will read and probably love every book of hers that comes out. But this book is even more special because Vicious was the first Victoria Schwab book that I read and I really loved it. It had fantastic characters and a cool world. At the time there was no plans for a sequel as far as I know so when they announced that there was going to be one I was super excited. I can't wait to follow up and find out how Sydney and Victor are doing. Plus I'm super curious about Eli.

I am definitely going to be picking up a copy of this book. I listened to the audio for Vicious so I will maybe do that again for this book. I thought the narrator did a great job and lately I feel like the only way I can get through a book is if I listen to the audio. I may start by rereading Vicious. I kind of want a refresher. But either way I am planning to get my hands on this book.

What about you? What are you waiting for this Wednesday? Are you waiting on Vengeful along with me? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I'll Read on the Beach

A weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

I am so excited to be back in Rhode Island this summer because that means I can spend my weekends on the beach. I have missed my New England beaches so I am pumped to be able to visit them again any time I want. So here are the books I plan to read on the beach.

1.) Providence by Caroline Kepnes - Add to Goodreads
My favorite books to read at the beach are mysteries and thrillers. There is something so satisfying about that. And I love Kepnes' books so I can't wait to read this one very soon.

2.) Tell Me No Lies by Adele Griffin - Add to Goodreads
I have been wanting to read this book for awhile. I mean it's a book set in the 80's and my friend Michelle loves Adele Griffin and says her books have a fun twist to them.

3.) Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie - Add to Goodreads
I loved Skrutskie's previous series and I am so excited for another one of her books. Especially because this one is more of a hard science fiction world and has more kickass female characters.

4.) The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas - Add to Goodreads
As previously stated, I love a mystery on the beach. And Kara Thomas books are some that I have read every summer for the past few years. This one sounds fantastic and I can't wait to read.

5.) The Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken - Add to Goodreads
I am super pumped to check back in with Zu and the other characters from the previous series. Plus I mean, I love me some Alexandra Bracken books so really I would read anything she writes.

6.) Bright We Burn by Kiersten White - Add to Goodreads
I just read the second book in this series and loved it. I can't wait for the final book in the series. I think it's going to be a really intense and amazing read!

7.) Girl at the Grave by Teri Bailey Black - Add to Goodreads
I have a copy of this from Netgalley and it sounds totally up my alley. I mean, once again, it is a mystery and I love there is kind of a true crime vibe with a family angle. I'm excited.

8.) Seafire by Nathalie C. Parker - Add to Goodreads
I have plans to pick up a copy of this book at ALA because it sounds totally amazing. I love me a YA fantasy and this one also has lady pirates.

9.) Mirage by Somaiya Daud - Add to Goodreads
This sounds like a totally cool YA science fiction series and  I have really been loving genre fiction inspired by Middle Eastern culture. I am also hoping to pick up a copy of this one at ALA.

10.) A Room Away from the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma - Add to Goodreads
I have only read one Nova Ren Suma but it completely blew my mind and I want to read many more of her books. She is going to ALA and I am planning to meet her and get a copy of this book so I can add it to my beach bag.

There you have it, all the books I plan to read on the beach this summer. Obviously that is subject to change because who know how often I'll get to go to the beach, but still. What books are you planning to read at the pool/beach this summer. Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Book review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Title: The Belles
Series:The Belles #1
Written by: Dhonielle Clayton
Published: February 6, 2018 by Freeform (Disney Book Group)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

Wow! This book was seriously amazing. I am completely kicking myself for waiting this long to read it. I mean, I had heard good things about it and it sounds like a total me book so I picked up a copy but I wanted to wait a little for the hype to die down. But now I wish I hadn't because this book was everything I was hoping it would be and more.

First off, the world of this book was completely brilliant. I read a lot of YA fantasy and I am always looking for unique magical systems. This one I definitely feel like fit that bill. The idea of The Belles is such an interesting concept. These are young women who have an innate ability to change the appearance of others. What I loved about the system is that it's not just that they need the ability. There are also different tools and tricks that go into it. I also really liked that fact that the power has its limits. It takes it's toll on The Belles and it takes its toll on the people who partake. I love that it's one of those magical systems where magic doesn't solve all the problems, it creates them as well. However I do think the world-building could have used a little more information. There's a really history to it as well that we have only begun to scratch the surface on it.

But my favorite thing about this world is the political intrigue. I love a fantasy with a lot of politics and court intrigue and this book that that in spades. Seriously! This book had an amazing and devious antagonist who was up to all kinds of nonsense and I loved every second of it. They were such a brilliant villain with vicious scheme after vicious scheme. I was even surprised by a few, although to be fair some of them were more obvious. But either way, it made for a really fantastic facet of a really engaging world.

I also really liked the plot development, but there were some elements that I didn't love. There was a lot more to this plot then I was expecting. I mean first we have the political intrigue which added a lot of drama and plenty of twists to the book. I would say probably for the most part the main focus of this plot was on the political stuff, but there was a lot more to it then that. I do however think that it suffered a little bit from first book syndrome. There were many plot points that were introduced here without much of a resolution. It sometimes felt like it was just dropping clues for something that wouldn't matter until future books, which is totally fine, but I wanted to know more and after awhile it got a little annoying because I knew I wasn't going to get anything from this book. But it did really build to a very exciting conclusion that had me totally on the edge of my seat and in the need on the next book.

Finally, this book had some seriously brilliant characters. I already mention that amazing antagonist and seriously, they were so good, but this also had some really great protagonists. I adored Camelia. She very easily could have been this cliche Mary Sue type but she was super nuance. She had amazing power, power that she doesn't even really understand, and she wants to experiment. She wants to be the best and sometimes that gets her into trouble and she decides how to use her powers for good instead of evil. Plus I really liked that she's very caring and about acceptance even though beauty is a commodity and she earns her living by making people beautiful. Basically she was great and I loved her. But there were other really great characters. There were some interesting portrayals of family and friendship here which I also really enjoyed. The characters were a big part of what I loved about this book.

And boy did I love this book. I loved it a lot. It is probably one of my favorite books of the year. It has a unique and fascinating world, tons of political intrigue and surprises, and amazing characters. I really wish I had read it sooner but better late then never, right?

I give The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY! If you have been waiting to read this book, stop waiting! Read it now. It's really amazing a must read for fans of YA fantasy.

Have you read The Belles? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Blog Tour: Save the Date by Morgan Matson Review and Favorite Quotes

Title: Save the Date
Written by: Morgan Matson
Published: June 6, 2018 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect. 

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster. 

There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge. 

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo. 

Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute. 

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.


*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher as part of the blog tour in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

I love Morgan Matson books, Since You've Been Gone is the book that made me realize that I don't hate YA contemporaries, I just needed to find the right ones. Since then I have read all Morgan's new books and loved them all. So I jumped at the chance to be a part of the blog tour for this book. And it was a really good read.

What I liked about this book, and all Morgan Matson books, is that it is a really great balance between serious and fun. Like the previous books I have read there is a lot of humor to this book. I was definitely laughing and smiling numerous times while I was reading. It's a sweet and fun book with a lot of silly moments. Many of them were so outlandish that you could see it in a TV comedy or a movie. But there were also some heart-warming moments and some sad moments.  It struck the right balance and made for an emotional and engaging read.

The heart of this book and what made it more sentimental was that it is essentially a story of family. What I loved about the Grant family that Morgan created here was that it was so realistic. It was a family that was inherently flawed. They didn't always get along but they still really loved one another. I loved that they had so much history and in-jokes. It reminded me of my family which was obviously relateable and enjoyable. I loved the way their story developed throughout the book as they came together.

But the plot on the whole wasn't as tight as it could be. For the most part I would say that this book just felt like a series of moments strung together over the course of a few days. I mean that's how life is, so it was realistic in that way, but it doesn't necessarily make the most cohesive and engaging book. And yes, the wedding and the hijinx that went along with it was a good basis for a story, and it built to an interesting conclusion, I just wish that there was more of a specific plot. 

But this isn't really a plot-driven read. It's a character-driven book and it worked in that capacity. The main character of Charlie had to carry a lot of this book and that was fine with me. Charlie was a likable character if a little bland. She had some good development though and I like watching her try to go with the flow despite all the crazy things that were happening. But the secondary characters is where this book really shined. I loved all Charlie's siblings, especially JJ, her best friend Siobban , and even Bill. Usually I love Morgan's love interests and romances but in this book the romance was super basic and that I loved even more. Morgan knows how to write some great characters and this book was no exception.

All in all this was a really good read and I enjoyed it so much. It had a great balance between serious and fun, a fantastic family dynamic, and fun and likable characters. 

I give Save the Day by Morgan Matson 9 out of 10 stars


"She loves that dog more than me,"... said to... shaking his head. 
"Were you waiting for me to disagree with that?" p. 142

"I leaned against him, resting my head against his arm as I looked at everything that was there--everything our mother had done, for good and bad, this whole world she'd brought into existence with some paper and ink." p. 158

"It was a moment better than all the ones I'd been picturing, and I found myself wishing it had to end." p. 303

"How was it that you only fully realized what you had when it was gone? And I knew there would be new friends, new experiences, maybe even amazing adventures ahead of me. But I felt like I needed, for just a moment, to appreciate what I was-- what we all were--leaving behind." p. 416-7


Goodreads :  Amazon : Barnes & Noble : Book DepositoryKobo : IndieBound : iBooks



Morgan Matson was born in New York City and grew up there and in Greenwich, Connecticut. She attended Occidental College inLos Angeles, but halfway through a theater degree, she started working in the children’s department of Vroman’s Bookstore and fell in love with YA literature. 

Following college graduation (and the proud bearer ofan incredibly useful thea-ter/English degree) she received her M.F.A. in Writing for Children from The New school and worked asan editor for YA novels. She received a second M.F.A. (for reasons that made sense at the time) in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California.

Her novels have been translated into dozens of languages, and published all over the world.

Morgan’s first novel, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, was inspired byher love of road trips, snacks, and the quest for the perfect playlist. It was named an ALA Top Ten Best Book, a Publisher’s Weekly Flying Start book, and was shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Book Prize.

Her second novel, Second Chance Summer, was inspired by her experiences spending summers in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. It was the winner of the California Book Award (YA category) and was named to the ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults List, selected for the Oklahoma Sequoya List, and selected as a School Library Journal Best Book.

 Her third novel, Since You’ve Been Gone, was published in2014,and was a Pub-lisher’s Weekly and international bestseller. It was named to the YALSA Teens Top Ten list, and the Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award List.

Morgan’s fourth novel, The Unexpected Everything, was published May 3rd, 2016.

She currently lives in Los Angeles with her dog, Murphy.


  • Prize:3 copies of SAVE THE DATE by Morgan Matson 
  • US Only 
  • Starts: 6/4 
  • Ends: 6/21

Have you read Save the Date? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

ARC Review: LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff

Title: LIFEL1K3
Series:Lifelike #1
Written by: Jay Kristoff
Published: May 29, 2018 by Delacorte (Random House)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap. 

Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it. 

But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past. 

Even if those secrets were better off staying buried.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

I have loved every Jay Kristoff book I have read. Whether he is writing fantasy or science fiction, the man knows how to writing a thrilling read full of surprises. I was super excited to read his first solo YA and I was not disappointed. This book was amazing and everything I was hoping for.

The best thing about this book was definitely the plot. It was a totally amazing book and from the very beginning I was enthralled by this book. It has tons of action, daring escapes, thrilling fights, and surprises. Basically it has everything I love. But the best part is the twists. What I love about Jay Kristoff books is that you never know what to expect and every time you think you have it all figured out, he proves me wrong. This book seriously was nothing but unexpected twists and turns that had me reeling. More than once I had my mouth agape looking like a total idiot. It really built to a thrilling and exciting conclusion and for someone like me who is a plot driven reader, I ate it up.

I also completely loved the world of this book. It's one of those hard sci-fi dystopian novels and I love those kind of worlds. This one definitely has a Mad Max: Fury Road sort of feel. It's a post-apocalyptic world where the planet is destroyed and only the strong survive. They do this with all kinds of cool technology. It's a gritty and bleak landscape that lends itself well to any kind of plot really, but definitely one full of surprises and action.

The other thing that this book really showed me is how well Jay Kristoff writes characters. He's really good at creating complex and dubious characters, which naturally are my favorites. This book had three main perspectives and I loved most of them. The main character is Eve, who is this badass girl who fights robots to help her sick grandfather. She's tough and carrying at the same time. She has some great development throughout the book as you learn more about her. The other amazing main character is her best friend Lemon Fresh. Lemon is a streetwise pickpocket who loves pretty things and has a heart of gold. She's more than just a sidekick though and I loved having some of the book from Lem's perspective. The only perspective I could have done without is Preacher. I mean it was fine seeing things from an antogonist's perspective but I think on the whole it didn't add a lot to the book.

But all in all this was a great read. It was full of action and surprises, the world was thrilling and engaging, and the characters were complex and likeable. I was really looking forward to reading this book and I was not disappointed.

I give LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. This book is amazing and you should definitely read it. It's a great science fiction read whether you like hard sci-fi or dystopia. I would recommend this book to anyone whether you want to try more YA sci-fi or you are a huge fan.

Have you read LIFEL1K3? What did you think. Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Gave Me the Travel Bug

A weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

This list was surprsingly difficult to put together. Maybe because most of the books I read are genre fiction with fictional worlds or in dramatic historical time periods. So here is a list of ones I was able to put together.

1.) The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Obviously this book is on like every one of my lists. But to be honest, one of my favorite things about this book is the fact that it takes you to amazing places throughout Eastern Europe that I want to visit.

2.) The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
I distinctly remember reading this book as a teenager and wanting desperately to visit Santorini. I still want to visit there to be honest.

3.) The Custard Protocol by Gail Carriger
I wasn't sure which Gail Carriger series to put on this list because her books make me want to visit their locations. But this series definitely because it takes you to India, Egypt, and a lot of places along the way.

4.) The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee
This is another one of those travel books that have plenty of places I want to visit. I think most notably Venice. I was only in Venice for only one day when I was in Europe in college and I want to go back.

5.) Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab
It might seem a little weird to include this book on the list because most of it takes place in a fantasy world. But a fantasy London and London is pretty much a character and it made me want to visit.

6/) Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
In this book, in case you didn't know, takes place in Paris and it absolutely made me want to go to Paris again for a visit. You can never have enough time in Paris.

7.) Now I Rise by Kiersten White
I just finished this book and it definitely made me want to visit Istanbul and Eastern Europe. It was of course reminiscent of The Historian which may be why I liked it want to visit.

8.) Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
I would guess that everyone who reads this book wants to visit Scotland. It's makes Scotland sound beautiful and amazing. Plus maybe I'll go through some stones and marry a super hot Highlander.

9.) The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
Another favorite book that had an amazing and beautiful setting. I wasn't exactly sure where Andalusia is but I'd like to go there, or to the Sahara Desert that the book takes you to. Why do deserts sounds so appealing in books?

10.) Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
I mean this may surprise you considering that this book is a crazy mystery but it also takes place in Aruba. I love the beach and so any book that takes place on the beach makes me want to go there.

There you have it, all the books that made my list. What books gave you the travel bug? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!