Monday, November 28, 2016

Carve the Mark ARC Review, Starting Booktube, and More!

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books/HarperCollins
Pub. Date: Jan. 17, 2017
Pre-Order it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Fans of Star Wars and Divergent will revel in internationally bestselling author Veronica Roth’s stunning new science-fiction fantasy series.

On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power—something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive—no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive—or to destroy one another.
Hey, guys! So before I get into the written part of the review . . . I STARTED A YOUTUBE! In fact, my first video, a review of Carve the Mark, is up now! If you want to check that out, here it is!

However, if you simply want to read the written review of Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth, keep scrolling! ^_^

NOTE: One of my favorite things about this book is how it tackles themes of overcoming prejudice. However, some readers have found aspects of this book to be problematic, so please keep that in mind if you're considering reading it :) Here are some links with information regarding the issues in this book: 

After reading Allegiant, the final book in Veronica Roth's Divergent trilogy, I was incredibly hesitant to pick up Carve the Mark. In fact, this book sat on my shelf for a couple of weeks before I decided to read it, and as soon as I did, I couldn't put it down. If you combine Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi with Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, with a sprinkling of Divergent, then you would get Carve the Mark. I wasn't in love with the dual POVs, and the world building needs more work, but all in all, I really enjoyed this book. Most importantly, there is a swoon-worthy ship coupled with a fast-paced plot, filled with constant twists and turns.

The fact that I loved this book so much makes me kind of concerned though, because this is duology, meaning that Roth still has time to break my heart, just like she did with Allegiant . . . but, it's too late for me.

This book was great, and I think that most Divergent lovers will think so too.

1) The plot was incredibly fast-paced. I read this book in one sitting and stayed up until 2AM to finish it because I simply couldn't put it down. Each page had me on the edge of my seat and desperately needing to know what happens next.

2) I truly loved the growth and progression of the romance between Akos and Cyra. Generally, when you have a book with dual girl/guy POVs, you already know that (surprise, surprise) they are going to become a couple. However, I was happy and impressed with how their relationship developed. These two didn't just see each other and just *boom* FALL MADLY IN LOVE. They actually were conflicted, struggled with how they should feel, and had multiple hurdles to overcome before they ultimately began to realize how much they cared for one another.

3) If you ever need tips on how to torture anyone physically or mentally, go to Veronica Roth because . . .

She has NO problem putting her characters through a ton of pain and turmoil . . . and I loved it! The stakes in this book were extremely high and it put me through an emotional rollercoaster.

4) Sibling relationships play a huge role in Carve the Mark, and it's great! Anyone who has siblings knows that these relationships are extremely complicated, regardless of whether the relationships are good, bad, or somewhere in-between. I love how much Roth plays with sibling dynamics.
1) World-building. The sci-fi elements seemed like they were simply thrown in there to make this world more than just a dystopian novel. There weren't enough sci-fi aspects to make me feel as if this was actually a sci-fi book. It felt more like a dystopian with minor sci-fi aspects, despite the setting being in space. 

Note: The spaceships/planes in this book are called "floaters." Now maybe I'm just weird, but as soon as I read, that all I could imagine was that the characters were traveling in flying poops.

2) As I previously mentioned, Carve the Mark is told in alternating dual POVs of Akos and Cyra. Although their separate POVs offered a broader picture of the plot, the characters' backgrounds, and their interactions, Akos and Cyra's voices sound much too similar. The main difference between their POVs is that Akos' sections are written in third person, and Cyra's are in first person. For me, that wasn't enough to separate the voices, and if anything, it made the story feel disorienting.

Friday, November 25, 2016

New Blog Design!

This post is coming a little late since the new design has been up for a couple of days already, however, I'm still in shock because of how gorgeous it is. So to celebrate our new look. I'm giving away 3 lovely 2017 ARCs, open internationally!

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Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Pub. Date: January 10th, 2016
Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby's powers are unpredictable, and she's not sure she's willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.

All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king's tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies—but together create a power that could change everything.

Publisher: Del Ray Books
Pub. Date: February 14th, 2016
Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England's grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England's most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family's secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi's brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

Publisher: Amulet Books
Pub. Date: January 10th, 2016
In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving! 5 Books I'm the Most Thankful For!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope all of you are having a lovely day filled with happiness and love! Today, I'm sharing with you five books that I'm thankful for ^_^

1. Ruin and Rising (The Grisha Trilogy #3) by Leigh Bardugo (Review)

This should come as no surprise to anyone since you guys should know by now what a Bardugo fanatic that I am. Ruin and Rising is my #1 go-to book whenever I'm in a reading slump, I'm having a bad day, or I need inspiration. Not to mention that Ruin and Rising confirmed my top OTP of OTPs! This book beat out my longtime favorite book, Tryst by Elswyth Thane. To me, it's the perfect end to the most amazing trilogy, and is simply just perfect ^_^

2. The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye (Review)

I have been going on and on about this book ever since I was lucky enough to get my hands on it last year. Evelyn did what I wasn't sure could be done—a YA fantasy set in Russia that nails the language, culture, people, and food to perfection. It's an amazing book, and is now one of my all-time favorites.

3) Dreamology by Lucy Keating (Review)

Contemporaries are not usually my cup of tea. I normally find many of them to be melodramatic and predictable. This one exceeded all of my expectations and took me by complete surprise. As a romantic contemporary, Dreamology truly opened my eyes. Alice and Max's story makes my heart absolutely sing!

4) Delirium (Delirium #1) by Lauren Oliver (Review)

This book got me through one of the toughest times of my life. I fell in love with it before I ever became a blogger. Lauren Oliver's writing is gorgeous, and even though I have mixed feelings about the next two installments in the trilogy, my love for this book in particular will be everlasting. 

5) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

I was in the 4th grade when this story was read to my class during story time and instantly, I fell in love with it. The Harry Potter books were my gateway to the book world. Though I had loved books before, this is the first one that made me realize that I wasn't alone. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone helped me escape some rough aspects of my childhood. I will forever be indebted to this book and I will definitely read this series to my own kids when they're old enough. 

What are some books you're most thankful for? Have you read any on my list? If so, what did you think of them? Happy Thanksgiving, guys! <3

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Obsidian and Stars by Julie Eshbaugh

My TBR list is always growing and I thought it would be fun to share my anticipation for those books with all of you. This is not my own original meme; it belongs to Breaking the Spine. It specifically spotlights upcoming releases. As it implies in the title, I'll be posting this meme on Wednesdays. Please feel free to comment and let me know what books you guys are waiting on as well!

Obsidian and Stars by Julie Eshbaugh
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pub. Date: June 13th, 2017
Pre-Order: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
After surviving the chaotic battle that erupted after Lo and the Bosha clan attacked, now Mya is looking ahead to her future with Kol. All the things that once felt so uncertain are finally falling into place. But the same night as Kol and Mya’s betrothal announcement, Mya’s brother Chev reveals his plan to marry his youngest sister Lees to his friend Morsk. The only way to avoid this terrible turn of events, Morsk informs Mya when he corners her later, is for Mya to take Lees’ place and marry him herself.

Refusing to marry anyone other than her beloved, and in an effort to protect her sister, Mya runs away to a secret island with Lees. And though it seems like the safest place to hide until things back home blow over, Mya soon realizes she’s been followed. Lurking deep in the recesses of this dangerous place are rivals from Mya’s past whose thirst for revenge exceeds all reason.

With the lives of her loved ones on the line, Mya must make a move before the enemies of her past become the undoing of her future.
I loved Ivory and Bone, the writing, the characters, the story, it was all amazing! I can't tell you how excited I am to get this book in my hands ^_^

The really cool thing about Obsidian and Stars is that this time we get Maya's perspective instead of Kol's. I can't wait to get inside her head for this new story!

What about you guys? Are you excited for this sequel? Have you read Ivory and Bone? Is it on your TBR?  Let me know ^_^

Julie Eshbaugh is the author of Ivory and Bone (HarperCollins, 2016). She used to have trouble staying in one spot, having lived in places as varied as Utah, France, and New York City. Julie eventually returned home to the Philadelphia area, where she now lives with her husband, son, cat and dog. Her favorite moments are when the unexpected happens and she cheers loudest when the pitcher gets a hit. 
Connect with Julie: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest |

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

My TBR list is always growing and I thought it would be fun to share my anticipation for those books with all of you. This is not my own original meme; it belongs to Breaking the Spine. It specifically spotlights upcoming releases. As it implies in the title, I'll be posting this meme on Wednesdays. Please feel free to comment and let me know what books you guys are waiting on as well!

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
Publisher: Razorbill
Pub. Date: February 17, 2017
Pre-Order it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
The youngest daughter of a proud Celtic king, Fallon has always lived in the shadow of her older sister Sorcha's legendary reputation as a warrior. But when Fallon was a young child, the armies of Julius Caesar invaded the island of Britain and her beloved older sister was killed in battle.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister's footsteps and earn her rightful place in her father's royal war band. But she never gets the chance. Instead, Fallon is captured by a band of ruthless brigands who sell her to an exclusive training school for female gladiators—and its most influential patron is none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, Fallon's worst enemy, the man who destroyed her family, might be her only hope of survival.

Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, chilling threats and the dangerous attention of Caesar himself to survive the deadly fights that take place both in and out of the arena—and claim her place in history among the Valiant.
The first thing that comes to mind after reading this synopsis and seeing the cover is this: 

The second thing is this: 

And if that combination doesn't make you want to add this book to your TBR I don't know what will! I mean, female gladiators... how was this not a thing before?! I guess we were all just waiting for Lesley Livingston to write it! 

What do you guys think? Have you heard of this one? Is it on your TBR already? Let me know ^_^

Monday, November 14, 2016

Double Eclipse (Summer on East End #2) Blog Tour!

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons BFYR
Pub. Date: November 8th, 2016
The sultry sequel to Triple Moon from #1 New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz.

Twin witches Mardi and Molly Overbrook are back for another summer in North Hampton, and this year they’re serious about two things: avoiding trouble and dedicating themselves to rest and relaxation. Molly’s headed to Aunt Ingrid’s, while Mardi has convinced their father, Troy—a.k.a. Thor, the god of thunder—to let her crash with her boyfriend, Trent, who also happens to be Tyr, the god of war. It’s a tangled web they weave, but that’s to be expected where gods and goddesses are concerned.

Their vacation’s just begun when an old secret is revealed, leaving Molly and Mardi to question everything they’ve ever known about their family. Then a hot new guy comes to town and starts brewing even more trouble . . . and soon enough, the twins are back to their old tricks.

After an ancient prophecy comes to light, Molly and Mardi notice some mysterious changes, changes that will put their sisterhood to the ultimate test. East End’s shaping up to be much more exciting than the girls were bargaining for, but what’s a summer in the Hamptons without a little magic and mischief?

Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for teens including The Au Pairs series, the Blue Bloods series, the Ashleys series, the Angels on Sunset Boulevard series and the semi-autobiographical novel Fresh off the Boat.

Her books for adults include the novel Cat’s Meow, the anthology Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys and the tongue-in-chic handbooks How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less and The Fashionista Files: Adventures in Four-inch heels and Faux-Pas.

She has worked as a fashion and beauty editor and has written for many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, The San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and FoxNews.

Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!).

She now divides her time between New York and Los Angeles, where she lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband and daughter.

11/7: Clockwork Bibliophile (Spotlight)
11/8: Once Upon a Twilight (Q&A)
11/10: The Reading Nook (Q&A)
11/11: In Wonderland (Book Look)
11/14: Brittany’s Book Rambles (Spotlight)
11/15: Here’s to Happy Endings (Review)
11/16: Live to Read (Guest Post)
11/17: Buttermybooks (Review)
11/18: Curling Up with a Good Book (Review)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Enter for a chance to win one of five (5) hardcover copies of Double Eclipse by Melissa de la Cruz (ARV: $18.99).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 9:00 AM Eastern Time on November 7, 2016 and 11:59 PM on November 18, 2016.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about November 21, 2016. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Flashfall Behind the Scenes & Giveaway!

Hey everyone! I have the privilege to have the awesome Jenny Moyer on the blog today, sharing her behind the scenes experiences of her book trailer! I hope you guys enjoy it, and believe me you need this book in your lives! 

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Release Date: November 15th, 2016
Orion is a Subpar, expected to mine the tunnels of Outpost Five, near the deadly flash curtain. For generations, her people have chased cirium—the only element that can shield humanity from the curtain’s radioactive particles. She and her caving partner, Dram work the most treacherous tunnel, fighting past flash bats and tunnel gulls, in hopes of mining enough cirium to earn their way into the protected city.

But when newcomers arrive at Outpost Five, Orion uncovers disturbing revelations that make her question everything she thought she knew about life on both sides of the cirium shield. As conditions at the outpost grow increasingly dangerous, it’s up to Orion to forge a way past the flashfall, beyond all boundaries, beyond the world as she knows it.

Jenny is the author of YA sci-fi/fantasy FLASHFALL, coming from Macmillan/Holt 11-15-16. She lives with her filmmaker husband and their three boys in Des Moines. 
Connect with Jenny: Website | Twitter | FB | Instagram | Tumblr | Pinterest

Behind-the-Scenes of FLASHFALL with Author Jenny Moyer

Not many people know that my agent, Sarah Davies, used to be a caver. When she offered me representation, it was one of the frst things she told me—that I’d really captured that world, and made her feel as if she was crawling through caverns again.

Her words elated me. As a reader, I love those moments when the pages of the book sort of “disappear” and you just feel immersed in the scene with the characters. Creating this experience for readers is one of my main goals as a writer.

I wrote parts of FLASHFALL with a pickaxe in my hand, so I’d be reminded how the weight of my character’s gear would limit her mobility and her dialogue. I learned to climb and cave so I’d be able to layer true experiences over made-up ones.
Me trying out Orion’s caver’s suit costume. I couldn’t resist!

My goal was to infuse the world of FLASHFALL with as many details as possible so it would feel real to readers. From the customs and creeds of the Subpars, to the patches they wear on their sleeves. All of these details went into the writing of FLASHFALL, and I wanted them to carry over into the scenes we created visually for the book trailer.

The first time I saw Anna and Koy (the actors who play Orion and Dram) in costume, I teared up. It was surreal to see my characters come to life like that. Especially when we started filming in the caves, and they were in character—saying lines pulled from my imagination.

I was thrilled when Booklist called my debut a “cinematic page-turner.” I hope viewers get a sense of that through this trailer as it introduces the story of a futuristic world of desolate mining outposts and the teenage ore scout determined to get her people free of them.

My husband, Jacob, is the main reason I didn’t give up writing, and he’s also a regional Emmy award-winning cinematographer, so it was really special having him produce the trailer.

We worked really hard on pre-production, including costumes and props–all the details. We even custom designed the outpost patches and sewed them on the caver’s suits ourselves, LOL! When I finally helped the actors suit up and get all their gear on, I  just sort of stood there, staring. It was so cool. But then we climbed into the caves and shot a few scenes with them “in character,” and I totally teared up. It’s just a book trailer–not a film–but it was amazing seeing my story come to life like that.

The trailer ends with a tease of a character. FLASHFALL is not just about the Subpar miners in the outposts. It features “Conjurors” who can manipulate organic matter. We filmed the “Conjie” scene in a sand quarry, in front of a green screen, and the effects were added in post production.

I look super short in this picture with the actor, LOL!

In the beginning of FLASHFALL, there’s lots of caving and climbing, and I wanted to make sure I gave readers an authentic experience. In order to do that, I researched and met with climbing experts who consulted on the book. One of my favorite experiences was one freezing day in Wisconsin, on the side of a mountain, my guide said, “Let’s set up that scene where . . .” and he walked me through what my characters would’ve done. It was terrifying and exhilarating. I also learned to rappel in all sorts of ways–which I enjoy much more than climbing. BUT nothing compares to the caving. I’m extremely claustrophobic (as is my character Dram), but I managed to squeeze through some dark, wet caverns. We ended up using some of those locations to film the book trailer!

Working to help create the book trailer pushed me to develop the world of FLASHFALL even further. My husband and I designed the Seal of Alara (that is worn as a patch on the cavers’ sleeves,) and the designers at Macmillan ended up incorporating it into the jacket design. It’s actually imprinted on the cover of the book!

I’m very visual, and part of my world-building process involves creating huge boards filled with images that inspire me as I’m writing and revising. To see what these look like, (and get a sneak peek at some of the things going on in Book Two), you can check out my Pinterest boards:

Brittany: Thank you, Jenny, for sharing this with us! It was absolutely awesome ^_^ 

Also, Jenny was kind of enough to send me an extra picture of the actor who played Dram in the book trailer and what better way to end this post than with a hot guy? xD 

If you guys attend Jenny's launch party for Flashfall you will get a chance to meet him or so I've heard ;)

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