Friday, January 30, 2015

This Star Won't Go Out | Ester Earl with Lori Earl and Wayne Earl

A collection of the journals, fiction, letters, and sketches of the late Esther Grace Earl, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 16. Photographs and essays by family and friends will help to tell Esther’s story along with an introduction by award-winning author John Green who dedicated his #1 bestselling novel The Fault in Our Stars to her.

I'm not going to rate this book, because that would only demean it. While I could tell you the aspects I liked and disliked about the book, it honestly would not make a difference. I'm not here to criticize and review Ester's story, but rather to use it as an opportunity to reflect on my own life. 

My favorite part of this whole collection was Ester's own writing. Her own raw, gritty updates on her life. Her confessions of laziness and misery is what makes her a real person, not the seemingly picture-perfect letters and notes from her friends and doctors. 

I loved her small group of Catitude friends. As someone who spends so much of her time online, I can only aspire to have friends as close-knit as the ones in Catitude. I initially picked up this book eager to read more behind the person who inspired the ever famous TFIOS, but as I learned about Ester and grew a friendship with her, she was no longer "the cancer girl that John Green wrote about" but rather a completely different person. In fact, halfway through I forgot John Green was even associated with her. 

Life is short. Ester taught me that. But the opportunities within it are endless. Ester taught me that too. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Tooth-Fairy Trap | Rachelle Burk

Bluma is a young tooth fairy who is allergic to her own fairy dust. She faces many problems during this night of tooth collecting, but her biggest challenge is Bradley's fairy trap. Bluma can succeed in collecting his tooth only with the help of the boy's grouchy hamster, and a few things she has collected through the night.

For the longest time I've been stuck inside my YA bubble, but recently I've been branching out to the nonfiction side of the world and even more recently I agreed to review a middle grade chapter book. Imagine taking the character development, plot, setting, conflict, etc. of an average YA book of about 300 pages and condensing it to less than a 100 pages, that's essentially what a children's book does, and I think that Rachelle Burke did a fantastic job of doing so.

I honestly think that this book served as a really good children's book. Not only does it take into account each element, but it encompasses a simple, yet entertaining storyline for children to follow. As a really cute story, this is definitely something I'd read as a nighttime story to my future kids or as a beginner book for a learning reader. 

I do wonder whether this book is a series, since I could definitely see Bluma having more adventures as a tooth-fairy.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Heir of Fire | Sarah J. Maas

Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy. 

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she grown to love? 

This book. A roller coster of emotions. But the best thing about this book wasn;t the intense plot not was it the beautiful worls built by Sarah J. Maas. No, the characters were what made this book. The development of each cahracter within this book was phenomenal. We saw sides and stories we didn't previously know and each one had some type of importance in the plot.

There are three more books in this series. THREE. I am so excited to get the rest. I need them. 

I'm now going to talk about everything within these glorious pages, so if you don't want to be spoiled, read the book and come back so we can talk about the beautifulness of this book together. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Assassin's Blade | Sarah J. Maas

Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan's most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin's Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas - together in one edition for the first time - Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn's orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free?

Again I am blown away by this series. The writing in these novellas was phenomenal and I got more of a sense behind Celaena and her backstory while also completely intrigued by the action. There's so little I have to say about this book other than the fact that it was incredible. Honestly I am utterly speechless. 

I'm not sure in what order, people typically read this series, so if you haven't read Throne of Glass yet I wouldn't read of this review because there are several spoilers that I quickly want to talk about. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Crown of Midnight | Sarah J. Maas

"A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached. 
It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend."

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far more loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closet relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances- not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie... and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for. 

Slowly I'm being entangled into this web of intense plots and realistic to-die-for characters as the plot gradually transitions from the simplicity I thought it was going to be to the complicated mess it will become.

There's honestly no way for me to discuss any part of this book without spoiling some aspect of it, and every part of this book should be experienced firsthand. So if you haven't already done so, definitely give this book (and series) a try, you will not regret it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Throne of Glass | Sarah J. Maas

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. 

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. 

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined. 

Whether it was the procrastination that prevented me from studying for my finals, or the sheer awesomeness of this book, I couldn't tell you, but I could not put this book down. Recently, I haven't found a book that I truly enjoyed, until I came across this one. I loved the characters, the plot, the setting, everything. It had a Hunger Games meets the Selection vibe to it, which I honestly really enjoyed. The romance in this book was adorable and the plot was fascinating, and I'm honestly so excited to see where this series leads. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Words With an Author | Iain Reading

Hey Fantabulous Readers!

Today we're joined with Iain Reading, author of the Kitty Hawk series!

1. How did you get into writing? When did you first start writing?

I first started writing about two years ago, just after I first came up with the idea for the Kitty Hawk series of books.  The idea was so appealing to me and I so much wanted to see how those adventures turned out that it just sort of pushed me into actually sitting down and writing them.

2. Where did you come up with the idea for Kitty Hawk? Who/ what is your inspiration?

I think the initial idea just came out of nowhere when I was lying in bed one day.  It kind of occurred to me that "wouldn't it be cool if there was a book about a female pilot whose name was Kitty Hawk?"  And because I've always been interested in things like Amelia Earhart and De Havilland Beaver Seaplanes and Humpback Whales and what not, the idea just sort of took on a life of its own, like it was writing the story for itself.  However, all these thoughts were quickly followed by being absolutely convinced that someone must have thought of the idea already.  I've had other ideas before and always found out that someone had thought of them already.  So I was so sure of it that I didn't even bother Googling it until the next day.  When I did, however, I discovered that apparently no one HAD thought of it already.  And the race was on to do something about it before someone else did.

3. Are any of your characters based on people you actually know, if so which ones?

I think there are bits of a lot of people I know (myself included) in many of the characters in my books.  Sometimes they are even based on people who I happen across in day-to-day life.  Just off the top of my head, for example: the helpful crew of the Alaska Fjordlines in book number one are real people; the cemetery maintenance worker at the Key West cemetery in book two was real, as was Roger the US National Park Ranger at Fort Jefferson / Dry Tortugas; Erik the defender of Icelandic nature in book three is based on a simple picture of a red-haired student at the University of Reykjavik that I saw online (including the blue paper airplane he was throwing at the camera, which became a hobby of one of the other characters in the book - Albert); and so on.  Inspiration comes from everywhere, it seems.

4. Have you written anything before Kitty Hawk?

I once wrote a very terrible book, long ago, about love and loss.  I basically wrote it for the sake of simply finding out where the story was going.  It wasn't a planned-out book so once I started it I was curious to see where it would end.  But it's really very terrible.  Seriously.

5. If you had to pick only five books from your bookshelf you could keep, what would they be?

Contact by Carl Sagan
The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux
IBM and the Holocaust by Edwin Black
It by Stephen King
A Night To Remember by Walter Lord

6. Who is your favorite character from any book and why?

I think Kitty Hawk herself is definitely my favorite character from any of my own books.  She is really inspiring to me.  She does so much and is so brave and clever and resourceful.  I definitely am living vicariously through her.

7. How long did the writing process take for Kitty Hawk? From conception of the story to final publication?

The first step was thinking about the story for a few months, just mulling it over in my head, and struggling to try and find a voice for her in the book.  Once I found that voice the writing went incredibly quickly and I had finished the book in a matter of weeks.  Following that was the editting and whatever else, which took another couple months.  All told it was probably about six months from start to finish.

8. Who are some of your favorite authors?

As previously mentioned, Carl Sagan, Paul Theroux, but to that list I would add another couple of writers whose books I would immediately buy if they came out with something new: Mark Kurlansky (Salt: A World History; Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World) and Thomas Hager (The Demon Under The Microscope; The Alchemy Of Air).  And finally, to this list I would add my newest absolutely favorite author Francesca Lia Block (The Elementals; The Hanged Man; Weetzie Bat).

9. What actors/ actresses could you see playing the characters of your book?

Strangely enough, I sometimes imagine that some of the characters in my books as certain famous actors or actresses.  For some reason the characters just seem to fit with the look somehow.  I am sometimes asked who I would like to have play Kitty Hawk herself if there was a movie made of the books, and I always answer that if that ever happened that there is surely some unknown actress out there somewhere who would be perfect for the role.  That said, however, if I had to pick a known actress I would probably have to say that Claire Danes from her older film Romeo and Juliet would probably be a pretty good fit.

10. How did you come up with the title and cover of Kitty Hawk? Did they morph as you wrote the book, or were they constant?

One of my writing processes is to actually create the cover of the book almost before I actually finish writing the book itself.  It helps to inspire me, somehow.  So for each of the four (soon to be five) Kitty Hawk books I have commissioned cover art during the writing process itself.  I choose elements from the book that I want to have included, and work with an artist to bring those elements together.

11. Are you planning to write any other books?

Just recently I finished the fifth book in the Kitty Hawk series, which should be out as soon as I sort of get my life together a bit.  I also just finished a book about the wars and genocide in Bosnia that has a bit of a fantastical spin to it.  And I am just started on a new book series for middle-grade which involves dragons (more to follow on that).  Once all THAT is done, I will do a second book in the Wizards of Waterfire series.  And then back to Kitty Hawk again for book number six.  So....  lots of things planned.  Where will I find the time?

12. What would your advice be to someone who's aspiring to be a writer?

My best advice would be simply to write the book that you are able to write, and not kill yourself and frustrate yourself and depress yourself trying to write something that you are incapable of writing.  Personally, there are many amazing books I would love to write, but I know that I simply can't do it.  I guess it basically boils down to being the writer you ARE, instead of trying to be someone or something else.

13. Finally, just to wrap things up, what's your favorite color and why?

I think my favorite color fluctuates over time, from Caribbean Blue to Royal Purple to Basic Black.  It depends on my mood, I suppose, like some kind of psychological mood ring.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Seven Deadly Sins Book Tag

Thanks to Cari and Haley from MyAddictionBooks for tagging me to do this tag.

I tag:

1. Cindy from The Book Feels
2. Danielle from The Fangirl Existence
3. Maria from Of a Fangirl 
4. Eduardo from Booming Books
5. The Fangirling Misses from Fangirling Misses

Here are the questions!

Greed- What is your most expensive book? What is your most inexpensive book?

My most expensive book is probably This Star Won't Go Out by Ester Earl ($26) and my least expensive book was Twilight by Stephanie Meyer ($0.50). 

Wrath - What author do you have a love/hate relationship with?

Rick Riordan. While I love him for the beautiful, wonderful characters and story he's given me (i.e. Percy Jackson, Annabeth Chase, Camp Half-blood), I can't help but resent him for not taking a part in his movies (which, if you didn't know, sucked bigtime). 

Gluttony - What book have you devoured over and over again with no shame?

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. I don't particularly like rereading books, but this one in particular I've read several times over, and I love it every time. 

Sloth - What book have you neglected due to laziness?

I can't think of a particular book, but ebooks I tend to neglect often. There's just something about holding a real book that overpowers the kindle. 

Pride - What book do you talk about in order to sound like an intellectual reader?

The Classics. The Scarlet Letter, Shakespeare, the traditional works. 

Lust - What attributes do you find in male or female characters?

Confident but not arrogant. 
Someone outgoing enough to make a move and not shy down from a challenge.
Has a sense of humor. 
Damn fine. 
(Examples: Percy Jackson, Daemon Black, Dorian Havilliard) 

Envy - What book would you most like to receive as a gift?

Any book is great. If you know me enough to get me a book, then you're already perfect. But preferably any book I need to read but haven't gotten my hands on. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

15 Most-Anticipated Releases of 2015

With the new year rolling in and college right around the corner, I'm most excited about all the fantastic books being released. These are some of the ones I'm fangirling the most about. 

P.S. A lot of these still don't have covers or titles so bear with me. 
P.P.S There were mucho formatting issues when copying and pasting the pictures and summaries. 

The Heir by Kiera Cass

Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won Prince Maxon’s heart. Now the time has come for Princess Eadlyn to hold a Selection of her own. Eadlyn doesn’t expect her Selection to be anything like her parents’ fairy-tale love story. But as the competition begins, she may discover that finding her own happily ever after isn’t as impossible as she always thought.

I originally thought this was a trilogy and, not gonna lie, was fairly disappointed by the end. The world needed to be fleshed out more and I'm so glad we get to see more of this world, and I'm so excited to see where we go with this. 

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Los Angeles. It’s been five years since the events of the Mortal Instruments when Nephilim stood poised on the brink of oblivion and Shadowhunter Emma Carstairs lost her parents. After the blood and violence she witnessed as a child, Emma has dedicated her life to to discovering exactly what it was that killed her parents and getting her revenge.

Raised in the Los Angeles Institute with the Blackthorn family, Emma is paired as a parabatai with her best friend, Julian Blackthorn. A series of murders in the city catch her attention — they seem to have the same characteristics as the deaths of her parents. Could the murderer be the same person? And her attention isn’t the only one caught: someone has been murdering Downworlders as well. The Fair Folk make a deal with the Institute: if the Blackthorns and Emma will investigate the killings, they’ll return Mark Blackthorn to his home. The catch: they have only two weeks to find the killers. Otherwise it’s open war between faeries and Nephilim.
The Shadowhunters of the Institute must race against time to catch the killers, even as they begin to suspect the involvement of those closest to them. At the same time, Emma is falling in love with the one person in the world she’s absolutely forbidden by Shadowhunter Law to love. Set against the glittering backdrop of present-day Los Angeles, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches from the warlock-run nightclubs of the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica.

I just read all of Cassandra Clare's books this year, and I'm in love with this fantasy world. Can't wait for more angels, demons and shadowhunters!

Throne of Glass #4 (Untitled)

The Fifth Wave #3 (Untitled)

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.

She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.

When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I've Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of makes it so amazing.

The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige

To make Oz a free land again, Amy Gumm was given a mission: remove the Tin Woodman’s heart, steal the Scarecrow’s brain, take the Lion’s courage, and then Dorothy must die....

But Dorothy still lives. Now the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked has vanished, and mysterious Princess Ozma might be Amy’s only ally. As Amy learns the truth about her mission, she realizes that she’s only just scratched the surface of Oz’s past—and that Kansas, the home she couldn't wait to leave behind, may also be in danger. In a place where the line between good and evil shifts with just a strong gust of wind, who can Amy trust—and who is really Wicked?

Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins

Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and best friend Bee has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can return her focus to the important things in life: school, canoodling with David, her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie, and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant.

Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done. The Ephors have decided they’d rather train David than kill him. The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can’t stay David’s Paladin unless she undergoes an ancient trial that will either kill her . . . or connect her to David for life.

Soaring Through Stars by Rajdeep Paulus

I read Rajdeep's books earlier this year (Swimming Through Clouds and Seeing Through Stones) and absolutely fell in love with the plot and the characters. I can't wait for their story to continue! 

RED by S. Elle Cameron

I read A Tragic Heart  earlier this year and even got a glimpse of the beginnings of RED, which I immediately fell in love with. I can't wait for the rest of the book to be released! 

Soulprint by Megan Miranda

Alina Chase has been contained on an island for the last 17 years—whether that’s for the crimes of her past life, or for her own protection, well, that depends on whom you ask. With soul-fingerprinting a reality, science can now screen for the soul, and everyone knows that Alina’s soul had once belonged to notorious criminal, June Calahan, though that information is supposed to be private. June had accomplished the impossible: hacking into the soul-database, ruining countless lives in the process.

Now, there are whispers that June has left something behind for her next life—something that would allow Alina to access the information in the soul-database again. A way to finish the crimes she started.

Aided by three people with their own secret motivations, Alina escapes, only to discover that she may have just traded one prison for another. And there are clues. Clues only Alina can see and decipher, clues that make it apparent that June is leading her to something. While everyone believes Alina is trying to continue in June’s footsteps, Alina believes June is trying to show her something more. Something bigger. Something that gets at the heart of who they all are—about the past and the present. Something about the nature of their souls.

Alina doesn’t know who to trust, or what June intends for her to know, and the closer she gets to the answers, the more she wonders who June was, who she is, whether she’s destined to repeat the past, whether there are truths best kept hidden—and what one life is really worth.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.

Winter by Marissa Meyer

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.
When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.
I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.

The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick 

Surprises abound and sparks ignite in the highly anticipated, utterly romantic companion to My Life Next Door

Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To:
- find the liquor cabinet blindfolded
- need a liver transplant
- drive his car into a house

Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To:
- well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.

For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard. 

Then the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days come back to shock him. He finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be, that he never could have predicted . . . but maybe should have.

And Alice is caught in the middle. 

Told in Tim’s and Alice’s distinctive, disarming, entirely compelling voices, this return to the world of My Life Next Door is a story about failing first, trying again, and having to decide whether to risk it all once more.