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Posted in Blog Blitz

The 100 comes back to TV and a chance to win a box set!

I am so excited that THE 100 returns to TV tonight! And to help celebrate the show’s return Little Brown Books For Young Readers and Rockstar Book Tours are giving away 5 Boxed Sets of the Complete series! So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the
Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.
 
Title: THE 100 Box
Set (Books 1-4)
Author: Kass Morgan
Pub.
Date: 
January 3, 2016
Publisher: Little,
Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 1360
Formats: Paperback
Find it: AmazonGoodreads
All four thrilling novels in The 100 series, now available in a paperback
boxed set!

So what is THE 100 about?

Ever since nuclear war destroyed our planet, humanity has been living on
city-like spaceships hovering above the toxic surface. As far as anyone knows,
no one has stepped foot on Earth in centuries–that is, until one hundred
juvenile delinquents are sentenced to return and recolonize the hostile land.
The future of the human race rests in their hands, but nothing can prepare the
100 for what they find on this strange and savage planet. 
 
Read the series that inspired the hit TV show. The 100, Day 21,
Homecoming, and Rebellion are gathered together for the first time in this
striking box set, perfect for fans and series newcomers alike.

What’s going on in the TV show?

  


About the author

Kass Morgan studied literature at Brown and Oxford, and now resides in Brooklyn, where she lives in constant fear of her Ikea bookcase collapsing and burying her under a mound of science fiction and Victorian novels. 

Who doesn’t love a giveaway?  

5 winners will
receive the complete boxed set of THE 100 Series, US Only.
 
Ends on February 8th at Midnight EST!

Enter here!

Posted in Book Review

Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

 

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Caraval by Stephanie Garber, Flatiron Books, 416 pp.

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 1/2

 

As a self-professed lover of all books contemporary, I need to stop opening up every fantasy review I write with: “I don’t often read fantasy but when I do…” However, it works here so…I don’t often read fantasy, but when I do, the books I pick usually blow me away with dazzling world-building, high stakes, swoony romance and nail-bitingly juicy adventures. I got all of these things from Stephanie Garber’s debut YA high fantasy Caravalthe first book in a new duology that will capture adventurous readers from the first page.

Caraval is a scintillating tale of sisterhood, devotion, determination and mind-bending games. Scarlett and Donatella are sisters in near captivity under the gaze of their abusive father. Scarlett thinks the only escape for her and her sister is an arranged marriage until they get the opportunity to travel to a magnificent performance and game called Caraval. Scarlett has been yearning to go to see the spectacle since she was a child. But when the sisters take a leap of faith to see the show, things quickly go terribly wrong, turning their story into a race against time, odds and madness. A beautifully written performance in and of itself, Caraval is a gorgeous display of verbal splendor and nail-biting narrative.

However, please note that I’m keeping this review intentionally on the vague side. I went into this book with little background and I was amazed at how good it was. I heard the hype, but didn’t know details, and I want my review to keep that experience in tact for other readers.

If you like strong, multi-faceted female protagonists, then Caraval is the book for you. I was struck by dutiful but fierce Scarlett and bubbly, mischievous Tella from the beginning.  Their personalities jumped off the page and I quickly became invested in their story. Scarlett and Tella surprised me again and again and again with their strength and wit as well as their vulnerabilities. Their closeness was also endearing and the relationship between them made the book feel a little bit like Phantom of the Opera meets Frozen.  

The love interest (name redacted to make this review as spoiler free as possible), whose role in the story was predictable, but enjoyable. He was actually one of my favorite characters-brooding, snarky and surprising. Fans of slow burn romance or romance that is there but doesn’t take over the entire narrative arc will want in on this book as well. I’ll leave it at that. You’ll have to read the book if you want to know more. *wink*

In terms of premise, this book rocks it. In terms of world-building, this book hits it out of the park. Think Cirque du Soleil, but better and with magic. Garber is a master at describing colors and visual detail. You will feel like you are there in the story. Every detail was nuanced and careful. This book is just damn good storytelling and description. Garber is a talent and I can’t wait to read what else she writes in the future.

I did have a few qualms about the book. The very end gets very explain-y. I read some parts three times and I’m still not sure exactly what happened and who I can and can’t trust going into the second book. My other complaint is the fact that there’s a second book. I started this book thinking it was a standalone and was a bit mad when I found out I now have to wait for a sequel. But that’s a matter of personal preference.

Overall, this book was dazzling, a rare new gem in my library. The cover is amazing, the page design is beautiful, but it’s the story contained within the pretty package that’s the best part. Enjoy! And remember, it’s only a game. Or is it?

 

 

Posted in Book Review

Review: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

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Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson, Katherine Tegen Books, 400 pp.

Please note that I was given an advance copy of the book from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

Full disclosure: Everyone in my family, myself included, is a huge fan of crime dramas and those twisty crime “documentaries” that run on late night cable networks like 48 Hours. We love to try and guess the turns in the cases and guessing who did whatever crime is being discussed. I’ve never really seen those kinds of stories represented in YA, so I was thrilled to discover Tiffany D. Jackson’s gripping debut Allegedly.

Jackson’s novel tells the story of Mary, a sixteen-year-old black girl who was accused and prosecuted for killing a three-month-old white baby when she was nine-years-old. Living in an abusive group home for troubled teen girls and having recently discovered she is pregnant, she decides to take a stand and try to reopen her case for a second chance.

The best part about this book is the crucial diversity of narrative it brings to contemporary YA fiction. There are not enough YA books that include both representation of urban slang and complex, richly written WOC protagonists who jump off the page. This is one of them. Whether you like or hate Mary as a character, it’s almost impossible to deny that this book and its characters are excellently written. Mary is simultaneously the bright girl she was as a child and the resourceful prisoner she has learned to be. She doubts herself after years of adults calling her a monster, but still tries to find a way to take the SATs so she can go to college. Her narration was tender, perseverant and vulnerable.

The book also takes the reader to communities of black women and the importance of family and friendship, from churches to group homes. The relationship between Mary and her Momma was one of the most twisted relationships I have ever seen in YA. This book is a manifesto for the desperate acts that mothers will do for their children and vice versa. For the sake of not spoiling anything, you’re going to have to read this book to find out more for yourself.

The characters in this book are all nuanced and complex, from the girls in Mary’s group home to her attorney Ms. Cora to her child’s father Ted. This book doesn’t promise likeability, but it delivers on high emotions and high stakes dialog and relationships. It’s a book that will keep you on your toes from start to finish. I pride myself in picking out twists and even I didn’t see some of the biggest twists in this book coming.

My only problems with this book were pacing and its untied ending. The beginning of this book dragged for me and there were a few points where I really had to push myself through the static plot. However, the last bit of the novel started to move a little too quickly and by the end, I wasn’t satisfied that the whole story had been told. I wanted more and felt like Mary’s arc hadn’t been completely finished. It felt like a chapter or two was left off the end, or at the very least an epilogue showing a glimpse of the future.

Besides these snags, Allegedly is a worthwhile read if you are looking for dark, gritty, diverse contemporary YA fiction. It’s a book you won’t want to miss, because it’s one I’m sure people are going to be talking about for a while. And I can’t wait to see what Jackson, who has already shown herself to be a tactile writer and thorough researcher, has to offer in her next novel and the one after that and the one after that.

 

Posted in Book Review

Review: A List of Cages by Robin Roe

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A List of Cages by Robin Roe, Disney-Hyperion, 320 pp. Source

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 1/2

 
True brothers aren’t always blood related. Sometimes it’s the people we are fated to be around that become our true family and the people who affect us the most. This is certainly true in Robin Roe’s touching new novel A List of Cages.

Adam Blake is a popular guy who’s close to his social worker mom. Julian was a foster child in his home for months before being taken in by a distant uncle, who cut off all contact with the Blake family. When Julian and Adam are reunited, partially due to an assignment to Adam from the school psychologist who he works as an aid for, a series of events is set off that will bring the boys together, but also threaten to separate them for good.

I love books about sibling relationships and unconventional families. In that vein, this book did not disappoint. Despite not being genetically related, in every other way Adam and Julian felt like brothers. The way that Adam so tirelessly included Julian in his life was such a pure demonstration of brotherly love, and one of the things that I love about this book most.

On a craft level, this book is well written. It checks off all the boxes on the qualities of a dark contemporary without feeling too much like an issue book. It has flashbacks. It has some suspense. It has some scenes that will make you flinch. Trigger warning for physical and emotional abuse and violence, with strong implications of sexual abuse. The overall tone is dark and intense, but there are lighter moments and an overarching theme of hope and love.

Bridging a discussion of craft and character, Adam and Julian were my favorite characters by far. The novel is told from the two boys’ perspectives and each voice was richly developed. Adam’s energy and good intentions shined in his narration while Julian’s quiet resilience and hesitation shined in his. I was happy to see on the page representation of ADHD in Adam and dyslexia in Julian as well, both of which are needed in books for teens and adolescents.

The depiction of Adam’s mom, his friends Charlie, Matt, Emerald and co. and Julian’s uncle Russell were also well developed. If anything I would have liked to see more of Adam’s mom and it took me a while to get Adam’s friends straight. There is also a romance between Adam and a girl (I’ll keep it spoiler free) that was cute but seemed unnecessary and didn’t add much to the plot.

All of the adults in this book are super incompetent so if you’re a fan of the musical Spring Awakening, you might like this book too. Between the teacher’s cruel attitudes towards Julian, his lack of disability accommodations from the school and the school’s psychologist’s obliviousness, I was getting seriously frustrated with the lack of good judgement from any of them. Still, it seemed believable enough in the context of the book and didn’t bother me too much while I was reading it.

Overall, this is a powerful and heartbreaking story of love, trauma, loss and family. I finished it in a day and couldn’t put it down. These two boys will pull you into their world, and you won’t be able to help but wonder what happens next. Hope this emotional read is in the stars soon for you!

What’s Coming Up in 2017

Hello all! I had a very busy semester in the fall (SO glad it’s over) and I’m in the midst of grad school apps, honors thesis work and other fun but stressful things, but I would really like to get back to blogging. The idea of setting a page view or post number resolution for 2017 stresses me out. My goal for 2017 is just to do more and do some good by recommending diverse books. Check out my blog in the coming weeks for reviews of diverse books, new Top Ten Tuesday posts and other book blogging memes, personal posts about writing and more!

Posted in Writing

Sign Up for Write Now Pals!

People often say that writing is a solitary act.

But you don’t have to struggle alone. Having a sense of community as you’re writing can be incredibly helpful and inspiring.

On Twitter, I saw that Brianna @ Fable’s Library on Twitter was looking for an active writing community online. Figment isn’t as active as it used to be and it’s a massive community where it’s easy to get lost. NaNoWriMo is fun, but it’s only for a month and it can be a daunting challenge for beginning writers. I suggested that we create a buddy system for writers who want a bit of encouragement and then have a larger group chat where we can all chat about writing in general.

We have made a form to sign up to get a writing buddy, which you can find here.

Sign-ups are now open. We will then have a Twitter mixer for everyone to get to know each other and get the group chat started after we make the matches!

Posted in Book Review

Review: Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions & Heretics by Jason Porath

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 1/2

We all grew up with those princesses. The ones locked in towers waiting for men to save them. The women who were cursed and needed the prince to kiss them so they could awaken. Princesses who were prim, proper and above all, quiet. Perhaps that’s why Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions & Heretics by Jason Porath, born out of his popular web series, was such a refreshing read. It was nice to see page after page of badass women, even if all of them didn’t get their storybook happily ever after ending.

The book presents a hundred stories of women (real, maybe real and mythical) across space and time, across cultures and continents that broke the mold of expectations and did something great, even if it didn’t end well. From Mongolian wrestling great Khutulan to ant-lynching journalism rockstar to Baroque painter extraordinaire Artemisia Gentileschi, this book is chock full of women to look up to and enjoy learning about (Most of the time. Some of them made really crappy decisions, but hey, they were human). These are the stories of women you don’t learn about in school or anywhere else. Their stories are messy sometimes, but always glorious.

My favorite stories included Te Puea Herangi, Pope Joan, Josephine Baker, Jezebel, Joan of Arc, Ada Lovelace, Ida B. Wells and Artemisia Gentileschi. I loved the wide variety of women represented and knowing that this is a book that I can read again and again and still learn new things about each of the women. It feels like a fairy tale book for adults, for who I am and what I need today as a twenty-one-year-old woman about to go out into the world.

One of the things I loved most about this book was the art. A former animator for DreamWorks Animation, the style of the princesses’s portraits is fun, vibrant, bold and energetic. While I wish more body shapes and sizes were represented in the images and some of the changes in favor of aesthetics over historical accuracy were mildly irksome, I loved looking at the pictures and reading the art notes scattered throughout the stories that explained why Porath depicted the women the way that he did. It was nice to see his intention behind each image and the images made the book feel even more like a storybook.

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I also loved the trigger warning system Porath used in the book. Clear, non-invasive and color-coded, both the maturity rating from 1 to 5 and the content warnings for different issues were useful in navigating stories that might be more difficult to read. Appearing on the top left of the first page of each story, they were easy to read and navigate. Porath got trigger warnings right and seamlessly brought them into his gorgeously designed storybook. I also loved that the stories were organized in order of maturity instead of alphabetically, as it made the book feel less like a roster and more like a collection.

The takeaway is that I highly recommend this book. Read it if you’re a girl. Read it if you’re a guy. Read it if you’re 20 or 80 or anywhere in between. This book will teach you about the forgotten women in history and maybe even a little bit about yourself. And if you want more, don’t forget to check out rejectedprincesses.com.

Note: I received an advance copy of Rejected Princesses from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.