Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Spooky Reads To Get You Ready For Fall

It's our favorite time of the year (or one of them). The summer heat chills down to sweater weather, the leaves start changing colors, and you get to break out your Halloween decorations. Plus, let's not forget, pumpkin flavored everything! Anyways, wit the turn of the seasons, the theme preset of the books you read also shifts. Fall books have a certain ambiance about them that summer, winter, and spring reads do not. Choosing a good read is not easy. There are so many choices and they all are completely enthralling. So I'm here to help. Here are some of my fall reads recommendations to help you get that ambiance we love so much.

1. Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrines Home for peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow - impossible though it seems - they may still be alive.

What's a better read than a series that morphs haunting images and chilling tales all into one? I can't think of much. The images alone are enough to keep you up at night, but thread is something else entirely. If you haven't already, this is definitely a series to read to get you ready for the spookiest time of the year.

2. Nightfall by Jack Halpern and Peter Kajawinski

On Marin's island, sunrise doesn't come every twenty-four hours - it comes every twenty-eight years. Now the sun is just a sliver of light on the horizon. The weather is turning cold and the shadows are growing long. Because sunset triggers the tide to roll out hundreds of miles, the islanders are frantically preparing to sail south, where they will wait out the long Night. Marin and her twin brother, Kana, help their anxious parents ready the house for departure. Locks must be taken off doors. Furniture must be arranged. Tables must be set. The rituals are puzzling - bizarre, even - but none of the adults in town will discuss why it has to be done this way. Just as the ships are about to sail, a teenage boy goes missing - the twins' friend Line. Marin and Kana are the only ones who know the truth about where Line's gone, and the only way to rescue him is by doing it themselves. But Night is falling. Their island is changing. And it may already be too late.

Night is one of the spookiest times of day. You can't see what lurks in the shadows cast by street lights or see the monster under your bed. Halpern and Kujawinski have ten this ideal an turned it into something great instead f just a scare tactic used in horror films. A definite fall must read.

3. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price - and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. kA is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off along...
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive in the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kay's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction - if they don't kill each other first.

This is one of the most talked about books on social media. Everyone is excited. Everyone is talking. And everyone should be. This isn't your momma's story. It's dark, but exciting. It's not going to scare the crap out of you, but it is going to take you on a journey you won't soon forget. If you're not wanting a horror read, but something dark all the same, this is your book.

4. Asylum Series by Madeleine Roux

For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program - it's a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learn that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum - a last resort for the criminally insane. As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it's no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Taking the photo approach that Riggs did, this is another haunting tale that will probably have you sleeping with the lights on.

5. White Rabbit Chronicles by Gena Showalter

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. But that's all it takes. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone. Her father was right. The monsters are real. To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn't careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies.

An Alice in Wonderland inspired story with zombies? YES! We've all dressed up as Alice or a zombie for Halloween, so it's no surprise that this series made the list. It's a twisted take and a fun one too! It'll get you ready to dress up with you friends for Halloween. Who knows, maybe this series will inspire a costume.

6. Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie

Something freaky's going on with Sunshine's new house...there's the chill that wraps itself around her bones, the giggling she can hear in the dead of night, and then the strange shadows that lurk in her photographs. But the more weird stuff that happens, the less her mum believes her. Sunshine's always had a quirky affiliation with the past, but this time, history is getting much too close for comfort...If there is something, or someone, haunting her house, what do they want? And what will they do if Sunshine can't help them? As things become more frightening and dangerous, and the giggles she hears turn to sobs and screams, Sunshine has no choice but to accept what she is, face the test before her and save her mother from a fate worse than death.

What's spookier than an actual haunting? Ghosts are terrifying for a number of reasons and being trapped in a house with one is not something I plan on doing any time soon. If getting scared is on your fall rad bucket list, then this one should be on your shelf.

7. Survive the Night by Danielle Vega

Julie lies dead and disemboweled in a dank, black subway tunnel, red-eyed rate nibbling at her fingers. Her friends think she just off with some guy - no one could hear her getting torn apart over the sound of pulsing music. In a tunnel nearby, Casey regret coming to Survive the Night, the all-night underground rave in the New York City subway. Her best friend Shana talked her into it, even though Casey just got out of rehab. Alone and lost in the dark, creepy tunnels, Casey doesn't think Survive the Night could get any worse...until she comes across Julie's' body, and the party turns deadly. Desperate for help, Casey and her friends find themselves running through the putrid subways system, searching for a way out. But every manhole is sealed shut, and every noise echoes eerily in the dark, reminding them that they're not alone. They're being hunted. Tapped underground with someone - or something - out to get them, Casey can't help but listen to her friends' terrified regain: "We're all gonna die down here...." in this bone chilling sophomore novel by the acclaimed author of The Merciless.

This is one is cary because it doesn't deal with the paranormal or the unexplained. It make the fall reading list because it is a different approach than the aforementioned stories, but it will still give you chills. And not the good kind of chills. The chill of a some psychopath's breath on your neck.

8. Blood and Salt by Kim Ligget

"When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it in the deepest ocean. You will be al in - blood and salt." These are the last words Ash Larkin hears before her mother returns to the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But when Ash follows her to Quivira, Kansas,  something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time. Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town's history of unrequited love and murder, alchemy and immortality. Charming traditions soon give way to a string of gruesome deaths, and Ash feels drawn to Dane, a forbidden boy with secret of his own. As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash must fight not only to save her mother, but herself - and discover the truth about Quivira before it's too late. Before she's all in - blood and salt.

This read brings romance to the horror table. And let's be real. There's nothing more terrifying than falling in love. That set up against a horror-esque backdrop will have you wanting more.

Be prepared to be scared.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Revolution of Ivy by Amy Engel Review

A book that is highly anticipated, particularly in the Entangled Teen realm of YA publishing, is The Revolution of Ivy after the first installment, The Book of Ivy, took off gathered a rather large following, including the trending hashtag #BishopIsMine. This is easily one of the most popular books from the publisher. I, myself, fell into the mass following of Ivy. So when I got the opportunity to review the sequel, and supposed conclusion,  I could not pass this one up.


The first installment, for those who don't know, is about a city called Westfall that is one of the surviving communal towns after the War when everything went downhill. So it's a little dystopian, but it has a new and refreshing take on what the future looks like in literature. At sixteen, they force the daughters from the losing side of town to marry the sons of the winning sons of town. And in this installment, Ivy Westfall is being forced to marry her father's sworn enemy's son Bishop Lattimer - the son of the president of Westfall. Only there is one stipulation to that marriage contract that Bishop and the Lattimers don't know. Ivy's father has trained Ivy to kill Bishop; to put their family back in power. As all romance YA novels go, Ivy fell in love with Bishop and couldn't kill him. But she loved her family as well and couldn't let them go down for the planned assassination, either. So she took the blame and was put out of the "fence", which hardly anyone survives. And that's where The Revolution of Ivy picks up.

Ivy Westfall is lying beyond the fence, open to any threats out here. But she has this sort of hope that she can survive.

No one survives beyond the fence. At least that’s what my father always told me when I was a child. But I’m not a little girl anymore, and I no longer believe in the words of my father. 

Amy Engel has an enrapturing way of writing. She has easily created some of the most lovable characters in YA. The reason for the Bishop hashtag is simple: Engel wrote the perfect guy into Bishop with imagined skill and everyone loved him. With the first novel being such a success, and setting up this series for a whirlwind of events, I was expecting a lot out of this second novel. And she delivered.

All of our fears were realized as readers as we go through this installment. Mark Laird makes an appearance and it becomes pretty intense from there on out. 

I loved the new introductions of characters that were relatable and lovable. I would like to know more about the relationship side of Ash and Caleb, however. The idea of a civilization thriving outside of Westfall's walls is not far fetched. Rogue societies like that would definitely exist - and some even do know. Ivy stumbling across them was only good luck on her part.

Once Bishop shows up, the story-telling remains kind of lulled, hanging suspended, because as a reader, I knew something big was going to happen. And then something did. Bishop and Ivy finally have that long anticipated heart-to-heart after months of tension, but it's Callie's sister's head on the chopping block that sends this story back into motion.

I don't know why Ivy would want to go back and save her sister after all the hell she put Ivy through, but whatever Ivy needs to do. The fact that what happens actually happens makes me kind of annoyed that they even returned at all. They were doing just fine beyond the fence. But then everything works out and we get a happily ever after.

I was expecting a bit more of a morose ending with the world they live in being so dark. But everything worked itself out. Sure, there was that big explosion of an ending that had my head whirling, but Engel wrapped it all up nicely, leaving little to few loose ends. It's the perfect conclusion to The Book of Ivy. And if you haven't read either, now is the time. It's a wonderful series that will bring you in and hold you hostage for the duration. It's a definite recommend. I wonder if Amy Engel plans on writing more...I wouldn't object.

The Revolution of Ivy is the perfect ending to a perfect story. Many conclusions lack the emphasis the series needs, but this one did not. It's filled with relatable and lovable characters and a storyline that's a little refreshing, in some ways. And that's what I discovered when I read this book cover to cover.

The Revolution of Ivy will be on sale November 5th. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Summer Marked by: Rebekah L. Purdy Review

Ah! It's finally here! I must say, I was not expecting a sequel to The Winter People because it just ended so perfectly and nicely. I don't know what went into Purdy's decision making on a sequel, whether is was just the need to return to that world or she really did have so much more to say, but I was thrilled when I got the opportunity to receive and review this ARC from Entangled Teen.


All of my initial reservations about this book disappeared as soon as I started reading it. I loved seeing immediately in to Salome's life with Gareth in the Faerie realm. It was like a glimpse at "happily ever after" until Nevin had to show up and burst that beautiful bubble. But before that, we see a glimpse of the past where Salome's grandma is actually hiding a girl for the Faerie Queen that the queen bestows all of her powers in. Your inference that the girl is actually Salome isn't ever actually confirmed, but it's almost as good as confirmed over the course of the story and, especially, that first chapter where Doris (the grandma) is telling the real stories to little Salome and little Kadie, but the stories are actually based in truth.

Clearly, not everything ended happily at the end of The Winter People, although I didn't want to believe that. There was still turmoil in Faerie, which is probably one of the reasons a sequel was in order. The Winter Kingdom is still trying to take over everything and the Summer Kingdom is the only other one still standing - Autumn and Spring having already fallen to Winter. Nevin is king of Summer and Gareth is one of their best warriors, so Salome can't get out of Faerie trouble. That and Winter is still hellbent on killing her. Fun.

Meanwhile, Salome's best friend Kadie is returning from college for Thanksgiving with the plans of making this stay at home permanent. She followed her high school boyfriend to Texas and he ended up cheating on her. Of course, when Kadie returns home, something isn't quite right at her house. So she goes to Salome's where things are even weirder. She gets turned away at the door, and then gets a text "from Salome" that she's at this club and had a fight with Gareth (totally not true because Salome is off in Faerie trying to save Summer). So Kadie goes to the club and ends up getting kidnapped and dragged to Winter where she's held prisoner for information about Gareth and Salome and Summer.

Kadie is forced to spend her first night in Winter in the Red Room (which immediately reminded me of Fifty Shades of Grey). In the Red Room, it's really decorated with human body parts such as skin and bones (completely grossed, but I honestly loved it). So Kadie runs out of the room and comes face to face with a tree that is actually Salome's father. So let's throw it back to the time in The Winter People where Salome's dad hit her. Yeah, apparently that was not her dad. That was a Fae disguised as him, while her dad was really in Winter being turned into the tree. That piece of the story has yet to be fully explained, but her dad does die because Kadie puts him out of his misery towards the end of the story.

While Kadie is being held prisoner and having Etionne, one of the Winter Princes, take care of her and is probably the only reason she survived as long as she did with that mouth of hers, Salome is traveling to Summer with Gareth. First, they pick up some weapons in the ruins of Spring and a sword of the four kingdoms chooses Salome (major foreshadowing here). As they continue on, the run into some former soldiers of Spring and Salome is hearing voices. There's so much going on!

Trolls attack Gareth and Salome and Gareth sends Salome on ahead for safety with her horse that protects virgins. Why was this relevant? I mean, it did save her ass in the end, however. While trying to stay safe, Salome runs into ghosts that are tied to the ruins she's hiding in. They say she's the only one who can save them and we start to get this whole chosen one thing going on. I liked how in the first book, you didn't feel this, but it's okay that we do now.

Nevin shows up to save Salome. Gareth is still fighting off the trolls, and while Salome is rightfully worried, Nevin keeps trying to get her to calm down and it feels kind of sketchy and like he has ulterior motives. Gareth shows back up and everything is currently fine for Salome. Not so much for Kadie who's resilience has gotten her work in the Bone Yard. Basically in the Bone Yard, they separate the bones from the skin and muscles and blood. I found myself asking why all this darkness was necessary, but the answer was just that it made it more interesting. It shows how dark Winter really is and, let's be honest, who doesn't love a little gore?

Back in Summer, Nevin drops the bomb that he needs a queen so that the magic in Summer is more powerful than the magic in Winter. He wants his queen to be Salome. Like really? She already has Gareth and is like in love with him. Why does he have to complicate things!? But shockingly, it's not because he has secret feelings for her and wants to steal her from Gareth (because that just would have been too much for me). He actually has only loved once in his life and it was the King of Autumn. Awesome.

So everything is all crazy and twisted and Kadie is fighting for her life, Salome is dodging attempts on her life as well, and I'm starting to wonder what is this going to boil down to. The Winter Queen befriends Kadie (completely weird, but I see where it's going) and asks her to kill Salome. Etionne escorts Kadie to Summer so she can do her job and while Kadie is blood bound to the Winter Queen, she kind of has no choice. Etionne runs away to go and try to fight to save Faerie, and somehow Salome survives a dagger to the heart. Salome becomes Summer Queen, but also has the markings to be queen of all the other kingdoms (I am set in my inference that it's because she has the Faerie Queen's magic in her and only that reason), saves Gareth after he almost dies on one of Nevin's missions, and that happily ever after I loved so much from the first book is completely shot out the window.

So, basically, I had only a few qualms with this book and here they are: Kadie just accepts this Faerie-ness way too easily and quickly, and at one point she actually just states that she's in Winter and I was like "how do you know" with a bajillion question marks after it; I did not like how Kadie became all self-centered and tried to kill Salome because I thought she had more willpower than that (note: this is not a comment on the story or choices, just personal opinion I had while reading); and I don't really understand how Salome came back to life?

However, there is much praise I have for this book. Bringing in the other fae made it way more interesting. It still kept the darkness I loved from the first book even though they were in the sparkly faerie realm. Salome is slowly becoming a badass and I love it. And at least Gareth and Salome get to still be together even though Salome is married to Nevin and Queen of Summer.

I cannot wait to figure out how all of this plays out in the next installment. Hopefully that book comes out soon...

Hope you enjoyed this review! Please leave comments!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Cinder by Marissa Meyer Review

A series that is taking the YA world by storm is none other than The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I'm ashamed to admit, but I am a little late to the Lunar Train, but with the final installment, Winter, coming out soon, I figured now was as good a time as any to hop on board.


The first installment in this series is Cinder. It's a dystopian twist on the classic fairytale Cinderella, as I'm sure you probably guessed from the title. Now, I'm not a big fan of robots when taking that approach to dystopian novels. I just don't like robots, they seem cheesy to me. And that's one of the reasons it took me so long to pick up this book. But I did, I put my bias opinions aside about robots, and ended up falling in love with this story.

Now, this one took a bit to get going for me, but it did it in a way that was very relatable to the classic tale. A lot happens in the story, but it doesn't really pick up the pace until the last quarter of the movie. Same with this story. I liked it in the beginning, but I didn't love it until the last part of the novel.

One of the greatest aspects of this story is the parallels between the original and the dystopian. The futuristic inspired characters based off the original ones, is incredibly adorable. The evil step-mom, the fairy godmother, the carriage, IKO! Meyer creates adorable and lovable characters in a very dark setting. Her style really pulls you in and the story keeps you hooked.

The rest of this series is going to be thrilling and I can't wait for it. Cinder is a marvelous retelling and an enthralling set up for an exciting adventure and that's what I discovered Cover To Cover.

Illuminate by Tracy Clark Review


Since this is my first review of the series, let me go back over the first two books to get you caught up.

In the first book, protagonist Cora Sandoval discovers she can see auras and that her aura is solid silver unlike the many colors of the regular people around her. She also ends up falling for Irish exchange student Finn who randomly leaves after they have a few intense make-out sessions. Anyways, on Cora's journey to discover who she really is and what her special aura means, she travels to Ireland where she delves deep into her roots. She discovers she's Scintilla and thanks to her new friend Giovanni, she's on the road to finding all the answers with his help.

Of course, what is a good story without some bad guys. So these Arazzi guys show up and are actually the kind of people who kill by taking someone's energy/soul into their own creating a solid white aura. Oh, and they desperately want to kill Cora because she's like their natural born enemy.

Now, both of these books kind of ran together in my head, so I can't remember quite when book two picks up, so I'm just going to summarize them all together now.

Cora gets captured by this Arazzi man who happens to be Finn's uncle. And Finn happens to be an Arazzi (Ooh! Drama). Only Finn hates what he is and refuses to accept it. Cora still is doesn't know how she should feel about her first love being her natural born enemy and then there's Giovanni who's like perfect and Scintilla and helping her, but she swears he's hiding something from her. Anyways, Giovanni and Cora get captured by Clancy (Finn's Arazzi Uncle) and it turns out that Clancy has Cora's mother who was presumably dead for the majority of Cora's life. The reunion is short lived as Cora's father shows up to save them and dies so that they can all escape.

There's still so much more to discover about Scintilla in Ireland, so Cora can't just return home like everything is okay. Especially since her father died trying to help her. But luckily, that little secret Giovanni has been keeping is going to help them (supposedly). There's this facility in Dublin that can help them and he knows the doctor running it. They manage to get there and everything is fine and all until it's not.

They lock Cora in one room and Giovanni in the other in hopes that their strong feelings for one another will cause them to hook up and create children so that they can be studied like lab rats. They fake it, sort of, to get the doctor guy off their backs, but Finn walks in and sees it and everything goes down hill from there.

See, Finn was at the facility in time to see that because his "good friend" Lorcan (note the sarcasm there) brought him because Lorcan's mothers Ultanna is working with the doctor. Now, Ultanna is a very interesting lady. She believes she's immortal and is head of this Arazzi organization known as Xepa, which is hellbent on destroying each and every Scintilla. (Cora actually manages to sneak into a Xepa party wearing Ultanna's ring to do so recon).

Anyways, they manage to escape from the facility, leaving a lot of people dea. And literally nothing is okay anymore.

Cora gets kidnapped again, her mother gets kidnapped again, and then Mami Tulke (Cora's grandmother) gets kidnapped by Clancy and he's planning on using them for some kind of sacrifice. Cora's mother dies, but Mami Tulke and her both manage to escape.

Things happen, etcetera etcetera, and here we are. Book three: Illuminate.

This book starts off with a bang. Finn and Cora both kill Arazzi and regular humans working with the Arazzi. But the trouble they are facing is way bigger than an ambush leaving them murderers. Cora must go to Italy, Giovanni must go to Chile to be with his surprise daughter Claire (the offspring of an experiment done at the facility), and Finn must stay in Ireland.

I did not like how these guys were split up for the majority of the book. I get why it needed to happen, though. Real life does not mean they all get to hang out and do research together. Finn had responsibilities in Ireland. Giovanni had to be with his daughter for obvious reasons. And Cora needed to finish this lead. I just wish it hadn't been that way for selfish reader reasons.

Giovanni starts to prepare the Scintilla in Chile who were hiding out on Mami Tulke's ranch, which was like major news and made me really happy, for war with the Arazzi. Now this approach seemed pretty rushed and kind of sat awkward with me. I mean, I probably would have been the same way in a situation like that, but it was just a little odd feeling for Giovanni to hop right on in to battle strategy.

Finn's off in Ireland getting cozy for strategic purposes with Ultanna's daughter, who inherits the throne her mother left behind. Lorcan gets super pissed about that and Soarise is kind of sketchy this entire time. (I would like to say that I pegged her as the bad guy the moment she walked onto the page!) Finn isn't completely helpless towards Cora's cause. He's researching and doing as much as he can to help her using his Arazzi status.

Cora, on the other hand, makes a shocking discovery in Italy that I think we need to discuss. Cora discovers what that key that's been around her neck forever unlocks. And it's a picture of Mary and Jesus. Surrounded in a silver aura. As Scintilla.

First off, this is very dangerous for a writer to do. You don't know how your audience is going to react to taking something religious and powerful like that and messing with it in your writing. But I applaud Tracy Clark for doing it at the same time.

Now I know that many of you probably weren't too happy about this approach because it could be considered slightly blasphemous, but before you bring out the torches, hear what I have to say about it and why I think it was a smart thing for her to do.

Tracy Clark's world is entirely her own. If it were real, the odds are that someone like Jesus would have been Scintilla and there's literally nothing wrong with that. I mean, why wouldn't he be? He brought people back to life, so did Cora. It makes total sense and it would almost be inaccurate for that not to be the case.

Of course, it was kind of strange and it did take me a while to get used to it, being a Catholic myself, but I see where she was coming from and I respect that. It did work for the story as well, I must say. And when the story goes on and talks about the corruptness of the Church, I feel conflicted on that part. There is truth in it. Many churches are corrupted although I think our pope now is doing wonders for the Catholic community. But hey it is what it is and it worked for the story.

The story goes on and everything is sort of weird for a while. Cora enlists the help of some documentary person in return that she expose Scintilla. It reminded me of some book I read, but I couldn't place it. It was a nice road she took it down, however, because it offered more to the story than just going to Chile and saving the world would have. She had someone documenting it the entire time.

But then the Arazzi show up and Cora touches some age old book and suddenly everything is put in perspective. Arazzi and Scintilla are not natural born enemies. They were born to be together. So does this mean Cora chooses Finn? Because I was still stuck in that love triangle. And I guess I still am because what they decide to do doesn't exactly explain anything to me. Other than that they restored balance to the world (I'm talking Arazzi and Scintilla as a whole and not just Cora and Finn).

The Arazzi and Scintilla join themselves to each other by the Scintilla giving themselves to the Arazzi and then they all kind of erupt into light and disappear. It's a beautiful idea. But I'm going to be honest with you, I was left with no closure!

What happened to Claire? Was she really Arazzi because I didn't think so. And what about all those people falling down randomly and not because of Arazzi attacks? And who did Cora choose? Because it didn't feel like she chose Finn for romantic reasons. Please Tracy Clark, answer these questions and I will be able to die in peace!

Overall, it was a good book. I rated it four out of five stars on Goodreads. Deviate is still my favorite installment of the series, especially since it's got the best cover (in my opinion) and I'm really sad to see this series end. Cora was a character I related to and loved. I can't believe it's all over.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

"Till It Happens To You"

So today I want to talk about something that isn't book related at all. But it is Young Adult related. Sexual assault. I know it's pretty gritty stuff, especially for a review blog site like this one, but it's real and it's happening all over. So if you want to stop reading right now, I won't judge you.

Lady Gaga just released a new music video called it'll Til It Happens To You. The video focuses on sexual assault and sexual violence on college campuses. And watching this music video really moved me. It deals with some pretty graphic stuff that's scary as hell to think about. But I want to talk about it.

If you haven't already seen it, the video follows the stories of three college individuals. The first is a girl who gets raped/sexually assaulted in her dorm room by some guy. No alcohol or drugs were involved in her story and it really messes her up to the point where she doesn't leave her room or socialize. The second story is about a transgender boy who gets raped by a guy because the guy thinks that the individual is a girl and is trying to push that on him. The third story is about a girl who gets raped at a party. She goes there with her friend, and some guy roofies the both of them, but only ends up raping just the one girl because her friend sort of manages to get out of it and get them both out of that party.

I have always been terrified about going to parties as a college student myself. I hear the rumors about people being drugged and certain fraternities that are known for doing it. I have been to my fair share of parties and haven't always made the best decisions at them. And neither have my friends. We all try to stick together at these things, making sure at least one of us is sober, so that nothing ever happens to us, and so far we've been extremely lucky. But not everyone is. I count my blessings every day that I have had the fortune to not be a victim to such heinous crimes, but I know that not everyone is as lucky. In fact, one in five college women will be sexually assaulted this year alone. How scary is that? That is twenty-percent of the female population of your campus. And something need to be done about.

Some tips if you're planning on going out drinking over the weekends, or even hitting up that fraternity that's been advertising their party for the past month, that I've abided by and have worked for me:
-Don't drink anything given to you that's already open. If some frat guy hands you a beer, it most likely is safe to use. I won't say completely safe because I heard in one of my lecture classes that there is a way to drug an unopen can of beer, so be wary.
-Don't set your drink down/leave it unattended. This is easily one of the most common ways a roofie or other drug can be slipped into your drink. You're not paying attention, somebody takes notice, and next thing you know you have an identifiable drug in your drink and can't remember the rest of the night.
-Always stick with your friends. Don't ever party alone. It's not safe. Anything can happen. If you plan on going to a party, go with friends, and keep tabs on each other. Which brings me to...
-Have a DD. DD's are way more important than transferring you to and from the party. A DD is the person that keeps an eye on you all night and makes sure you don't do something completely stupid at the party that you'll probably regret when you wake up. They stop you from going into the VIP room with some random frat guy and they can be an extra set of eyes on your drink.

More importantly than partying safely, I also wanted to talk to you about what the song is saying. You won't understand what someone is going through until it happens to you, yourself. Sexual assault is not something that can be consoled by a good friend. It's dark and twisted and not in the good YA book way. It's scary and scarring. I know that I personally have never been in a victim's shoes, but I do know that if it has happened to you, you should speak up. There is someone out there who understands and can help you. Help is the most important thing.

I am happy to see awareness being raised more and more these days regarding sexual violence, especially those celebrity "No Means No" campaigns that are reaching way more people than a flyer on campus will.

Now because this is a book review blog, I want to circle this post back around to literature. There are plenty of YA novels out there that talk about sexual assault and violence and the stories of the people in them working their way out of it. But the books that are typically reviewed on this site (the paranormal, fantastical, dystopian, supernatural kind) don't usually have problems like that - the Wake series did however, if you'll recall. But I think that this should be talked about more in these books. I'm not saying, in every YA book released we need to have this in there, but I'm not saying author's should shy away from the topic because of how intense it is. It's a real thing that happens, so it should be a real topic that's written about. The more we talk about it, and the more we show lovable protagonists over coming obstacles us normal folk have to, the better it will be in the long run. If you don't talk about it, no one's going to stop it.

Sorry, if this was a bit too intense of a post for all of you. Don't worry, I'll be getting back to reviewing books in no time and recommending great ones to start reading. I just think that topics like this need to be talked about every once in a while because it's easy for people to pretend it's not happening when no one says anything.

Check back soon for more reviews! September 22nd the review for The Summer Marked by Rebekah L. Purdy will be up!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Illusion Cover Reveal!

Hey viewers! Guess what I have for you! That's right! I have the cover reveal for the third installment in The Hoodoo Apprentice Series, Illusion by Lea Nolan! And I might even have an exclusive excerpt for you...

So for those of you that have not heard of The Hoodoo Apprentice series, here are the summaries of the first two books:


Be careful what you search for…Emma Guthrie expects this summer to be like any other in the South Carolina Lowcountry--hot and steamy with plenty of beach time alongside her best friend and secret crush, Cooper Beaumont, and Emma's ever-present twin brother, Jack. But then a mysterious eighteenth-century message in a bottle surfaces, revealing a hidden pirate bounty. Lured by the adventure, the trio discovers the treasure and unwittingly unleashes an ancient Gullah curse that attacks Jack with the wicked flesh-eating Creep and promises to steal Cooper's soul on his approaching sixteenth birthday.But when a strange girl bent on revenge appears, demon dogs become a threat, and Jack turns into a walking skeleton; Emma has no choice but to learn hoodoo magic to undo the hex, all before the last days of summer--and her friends--are lost forever.

CONJURE: Amazon | Barnes and Noble 


Worst. Summer. Ever. Emma Guthrie races to learn the hoodoo magic needed to break The Beaumont Curse before her marked boyfriend Cooper’s sixteenth birthday. But deep in the South Carolina Lowcountry, dark, mysterious forces encroach, conspiring to separate Emma and Cooper forever. When Cooper starts to change, turning cold and indifferent, Emma discovers that both his heart and body are marked for possession by competing but equally powerful adversaries. Desperate to save him, Emma and her twin brother, Jack, risk their lives to uncover the source of the black magic that has allured Cooper and holds him in its grip. Faced with the horror of a soul-eating boo hag, Emma and Jack must fight to resist its fiendish power to free Cooper long enough to join their strengths and face it together, before it destroys them all.

ALLURE: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

And finally, here is the cover reveal and summary of Illusion!

New school. Cross-country move. Broken heart. If only these were Emma Guthrie’s worst problems as the first day of her sophomore year dawns. Instead, she must battle a trio of enemies—human and spectral—who may or may not have joined forces against her. All while pretending to be over Cooper Beaumont, her ex-boyfriend and true love, to shield him from her arch-nemesis’s revenge.

Worse, when the fight escalates, Emma is tempted to use the black magic she’s always fought against, endangering her own soul. As her enemies close in, join forces, and fight with new and dark magic she’s never seen before, Emma must finally harness the power within her to fulfill an ancient prophecy, defeat a centuries-old evil, save her family, and reclaim the only boy she’s ever loved.

This book is set for release October 5th, 2015! I am so excited for this one!

Author Lea Nolan is a USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance and YA. Her books for young adults feature bright heroes, crazy-hot heroes, diabolical plot twists, plus a dose of magic, a draft of romance, an d a sprinkle of history. She also pens smart, witty contemporary stories for adults filled with head-swooning, heart-throbbing, sweep-you-off your feet romance. Born and raised in Long Island, NY, she loves the water far too much to live inland. With her heroically supportive husband and three clever children, she resides in Maryland where she scarfs down crab cakes whenever she gets the chance.

Here is an exclusive excerpt from the novel! 

A screech echoes through the woods. The sound is like a nail scraped against tin and raises the tiny hairs on the back of my neck. It’s the unmistakable caw of a crow. Spinning, I search the dimness for the source. Before my eyes can focus, a glossy black shadow bursts through a sheet of Spanish moss draped on a nearby live oak.

Shrieking, I cover my head with my hands and duck, then dart toward the path that brought me here. The bird pursues, flapping its large wings and gaining ground fast. With a whoosh, it swoops from the sky and slams into me, sinking its talons into my arm. I scream, then thrash around, trying to knock it loose. Its spiky nails clamp deeper into my flesh.

“Get off her!” Cooper’s voice booms.

Tears, the very best kind, surge. I’ve never been so happy to have him near. “Help!” I lamely shake my arm again, but the psychotic bird hangs on.

Cooper’s feet pound against the dirt as he races toward me and my winged assailant. As he draws close, the crow squawks, then jams its beak into my scalp, yanking out a clump of hair.

Pain, brilliant yellow and blinding, flashes across my vision. I wail, overcome.

“Emma, duck.”
I drop to my knees. Something hard thumps against the bird, launching it into the air like a golf ball from a tee. Its piercing caw bounces across the clearing. As the bird soars into the moonlit sky, it attempts to beat its wings, but something’s wrong. Only one of its feathered sides extends. Midair the shiny black crow stalls then careens back toward the earth. Just as I’m sure it’s headed straight for us, the lame wing unfolds then beats furiously to avoid what is sure to be a deadly collision. Veering off, it follows a wobbly flight path toward the shadowy forest.

Cooper tosses a long, heavy stick onto the ground, then reaches for my hand and pulls me to my feet. “Are you okay?” His wide hands clutch my arms as his eyes search mine.

“I—I think so.” My voice shakes as I work to process all that’s happened in the last few minutes. My temperature drops as shock sets in. Was it real, or just an immensely screwed-up dream? One glance at the slick streak of blood dripping down my skin confirms my new wound, though I can’t tell how bad it is until I see it in the light.

Grabbing me close, he wraps his strong arms around my back. The heady scent of his Cooperness swirls around me, filling me with familiar warmth that heads off my shock. My thoughts zoom to the red stain that has likely already smeared his polo. “I’m bleeding.” I try to pull away.

“I know.” He grips me close, like he’s fallen from a ship and I’m the only life preserver.

“But it’ll get it on your shirt.” A tear streams down the side of my face.

He pulls away, just enough to meet my gaze. “Who cares about my shirt? I thought I lost you, Emmaline.” Brushing his thumb against my cheek, he wipes away the salty liquid.

“But you didn’t. You saved me.”

“I was almost too late.” His voice is breathy and so full of despair it nearly breaks my heart.

Now don't forget to enter the giveaway and get excited! Because Illusion is going to be here October 5th!