Top 5 Wednesday: Summer Reads I’m Looking Forward To

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Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes and created by Lainey from Gingerreadlainey.

In my corner of the world things are heating up; Summer officially begins 21 June and while that doesn’t mean much since I work year round and my son attends a summer session of school, it does get me to thinking about what kind of books I read during the summer.

To me, Summer is the time for contemporaries and Winter is the time for fantasy books. I read those genres all the year through, but during these seasons there seems to be an overabundance of those particular ones. For today’s Top 5 Wednesday topic, I’m going to share with you the Top 5 Summer Reads I’m looking forward to reading this year, all of which are contemporary novels.

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When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

I’ve got a copy of this and admittedly have started it a little early, but since it feels like summer already around here, I figure that’s okay. It takes place during the summer, Dimple is a strong smart character, Rishi is the biggest sweetheart so far, and I cannot wait to  share this book with the rest of the world.

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Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

Pretty much any Sarah Dessen book is a good read for the summer, but this will be her latest one so there’s that. The thing I love about her books is that they all feel like they were made for summer. Three of her books even take place in the perfect beach town, Colby, North Carolina (based on Emerald Isles, North Carolina). I don’t think Once and For All is based in Colby, but there might be a mention and that would be enough for me.

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Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Film geeks. Surfing town. This book just screams fun to me. I’ve got it queued up and ready to go on my book table, so hopefully I can get some obligation books out of the way and settle into this on my balcony with a cool drink.

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Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Admittedly not one of the happier titles on my list today, but it still sounds so good. Letters to the Lost is about two people who are exchanging letters through a graveyard & aren’t as much strangers as they’d think. It feels like there’s so much depth & sorrow & potential for feeling in this book, just from the summary, and I wish I’d been able to see the author at an event recently. *tears* I’ll have to settle for this book once I’ve got it.

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Changes in Latitudes by Jen Malone

I haven’t heard much about this one, but it certainly sounds like it’ll be just the ticket. It’s about an unconventional “road” trip: the main character, Cassie, is being dragged along on a four month “road” (read: boat) trip from Oregon to Mexico with her recently divorced mother, younger brother, and a boat hand. She apparently knows a bit more about her mother’s role in the divorce than she’s letting on, she wants to keep that from her brother, and there’s a bit of a romance developing between her and Jonah, the boat hand. I love the ocean, so I hope that gets described and isn’t relegated to the background for the whole book.

So these are my five Summer Reads I’m Looking Forward To. Are any of these titles on your list as well? Have you read any advance copies of them? Let me know what you know in the comment section down below. 🙂

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Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Marked Beauty by S.A. Larsen

Hello Readers! Welcome to the Cover Reveal for

Marked Beauty by S.. Larsen

presented by Ellysian Press!

Be sure to check out the giveaway detail at the end of the post!

Here we go!!

 

Uncovering hidden secrets can sometimes kill you . . . or worse, steal your soul.

Anastasia Tate has a secret. She can feel the emotions of others through their life energy auras. Not a welcome gift for a teenager. Especially when a sinister presence begins stalking her.

Viktor Castle also has a secret. He’s tasked with protecting humanity yet cursed by an ancient evil to destroy it.

After Viktor saves Ana’s life, her abilities grow stronger. Drawn together, she senses Viktor has answers to lifelong questions. Only he shuns her at every turn, knowing he has saved her only to put her in more danger.

As Ana struggles with her attraction to Viktor, he tries everything to bury his unexpected feelings for her. But they must find a middle ground. For only together can they combat the dark forces threatening both their lives . . . and their souls.

Title: Marked Beauty
Author: S.A. Larsen
Publisher: Ellysian Press
Release Date: October 2017

 

S.A. LARSEN is the author of the award-winning novel Motley Education, the first book in a fantasy-adventure series for middle grade readers. Her work has appeared in numerous local publications and young adult anthologies Gears of Brass and Under A Brass Moon by Curiosity Quills Press. Marked Beauty is her debut young adult novel. Find her in the land of snowy winters and the occasional Eh’ya with her husband of over twenty-five years, four children, a playful pooch, and three kittens. Visit her cyber home anytime at www.salarsenbooks.com.

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This is a #hashtag giveaway, where two lucky winners will receive a FREE eBook of Marked Beauty upon its release.

To participate:

  • Share one of the premade images via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Or write up a blog post using one of the images.
  • Include #MarkedBeauty in your description.
  • Optional for extra entry: include Add to Goodreads (with link) in your description.

***Posts MUST contain the hashtag #MarkedBeauty for entry into the giveaway or we won’t be able to find you.

Pre-made tweets (you add the image)

“A lust 4 life energy. An ancient curse. One soul’s journey thru death 2 find the cure.” #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal http://bit.ly/2qdE0q0

“Uncovering some secrets can kill you, or worse … steal your soul.” #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal http://bit.ly/2qdE0q0 #YAlit

An ancient race. A timid girl. And a journey to the in-between. #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal http://bit.ly/2qdE0q0 #YAlit

The giveaway begins May 17th and will be open until May 23rd. Winners will be announced May 24th via social media.

 

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Top 10 Tuesday: My Top 10 Favorite Mums in Books

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Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. You can find the prompts here.

In the United States, this past Sunday was Mother’s Day. My husband and I had made plans in advance of realizing it was this Sunday, however, so while we did do something special, it wasn’t related to the holiday. My son had brought me home some plants from school the last couple of days this week, so I’ve got some planting to do soon. Hopefully the squirrels won’t go after them!

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday topic is rather open ended and can be anything related to mothers. I decided to do my topic on my favorite mothers in fiction, whether it be young adult or otherwise.

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Mrs. Weasley, Harry Potter series

She was not only a fabulous mother to seven children on an admittedly small budget, but despite not having much, she always made sure there was enough for those she considered family to. She welcomed Harry into the Weasley family and said he was as good as her son, something she demonstrated time and again.

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Catherine’s Mother, The Weight of Zero

The main character, Catherine, has a mum who is desperate to help her daughter and tries her best to do so as best she can. Catherine is going through some hard things, but this is one of the few books I’ve seen where the depiction of an eating disorder has a good parental relationship as well.

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Becky Bloomwood, Shopaholic series

In book five, Becky Bloomwood experiences her pregnancy and book six, Mini Shopaholic, is set two years later when her daughter is two years old. Becky is not a perfect mum and that’s okay. This book doesn’t make it seem like she’s got it all under control or that her daughter is the shining example of toddlerhood. She’s a real mum that has to figure out how to parent, how to say no, and she still manages to be her funny self through it all.

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Katie Nolan, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

While Katie admittedly makes a mistake when she chooses Johnny Nolan, deciding that slaving away all her days is worth it for him when she’s know him not quite four months, she makes as good a life for their children as she is able. It’s a hard life because this story takes place in early 1900’s Brooklyn and they are poverty stricken, only able to keep a roof over their head because Katie works as the janitress in theirs and two other tenement buildings. Despite this and the scarcity of food, she never lets their circumstances stand in the way of her hopes for a better future for her children. She will make sure they have it, one way or another, and that starts with an education, something her own mother never had and which she herself barely has. There’s no room for shame in Katie’s world, only the light of the future.

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Sally Jackson, Percy Jackson and the Olympians

Sally knows what her son is and does everything she can to protect him from the creatures that would seek to kill him, including marrying a man she doesn’t love and that treats her horribly. It’s a terrible sacrifice, but she bears it for Percy.

My favorite little kickback that she has is when Gabe, Percy’s step-father, insists there’s no blue food, and Sally makes it her mission to bring home every blue food she can find. As she works in a candy shop (or something similar, I forget), this is a bit easier than you’d think, but still, it’s quite funny.

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Julia’s Moms, You’re Welcome, Universe

I’m sorry  I don’t remember their names, but these two do good by Julia, especially the one who owns a shop and gives Julia a wall to paint on. Literally, the daughter that just got expelled for tagging and her mom gives her a wall so she can keep doing what she loves without getting into any more trouble. I loved that.

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Hana, Wolf Children

I’ve only seen the anime version of this story, but I’ve heard it’s rather faithful to the manga. Hana, while a college student, falls in love and marries a man who, she finds out, is part wolf. This doesn’t matter to her, however, and they settle down into a happy life. Shortly after the birth of their second child, though, her husband dies and Hana has to drop out of school and raise her children in a world where they are neither fully child nor fully wolf.

One of the most heartbreaking scenes in the film is when both children are very ill and Hana cannot figure out whether to take them to the vet or the pediatrician. She has to battle not only their dual natures, but the human world which doesn’t understand them and seeks to take them away from her, as a single mother. She persists, though, and is one of the greatest mothers I’ve ever seen in anime. The ending of the story is still quite sad, but Hana gives her children as much preparation for the worlds they enter as she could have.

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Alana, Saga

Alana is one of the most bad-ass mamas on this list. Again, she’s not perfect, as there are times in the series when she’s a bit off (see: theater troupe), but she will stop at nothing to protect Hazel, her precious daughter, from those that would seek to destroy her because her parents are from opposite sides of a war.

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Kyoko Honda, Fruits Basket

Kyoko was a wild child who ran in a gang until she met Tohru’s (the series’s heroine) father. They settled down to have a family, but his life was tragically cut short and she was left to raise Tohru as a single mother. She never let her attitude sink low, though, and raised Tohru to be an independent, self sufficient young woman. Though Tohru does lose her mother prior to the start of the series, and thus we never actually meet her, we do learn a lot about Kyoko from Tohru’s and other character’s memories. From those we learn that she never, for one moment, thought of giving up on Tohru.

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Yukari Takara, Lucky Star

Sadly we don’t see too much of Yukari in either the anime or the manga Lucky Star, but I have to admit to a sweet spot for her. She’s the one on the left in the picture above and she has one of the kindest natures of anyone on this list, though she can be a bit of a ditz at times (like mother, like daughter). She’s the kind of woman, I like to think, that would be a toned down anime version of Mrs. Weasley, welcoming anyone into her home that was a friend of her child’s.

 

Have you are any of these books or recognize any of these Mamas? Who are some of your favorite Mums in literature? Let me know in the comment section below.

 

 

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Review: Get It Together, Delilah! by Erin Gough

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Published: 4 April 2017

Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC

Category: LGBT (FF)/Young Adult/Contemporary

Seventeen-year-old Delilah Green wouldn’t have chosen to do her last year of school this way, but she figures it’s working fine. While her dad goes on a trip to fix his broken heart after her mom left him for another man, Del manages the family cafe. Easy, she thinks. But what about homework? Or the nasty posse of mean girls making her life hell? Or her best friend who won’t stop guilt-tripping her? Or her other best friend who might go to jail for love if Del doesn’t do something? But really, who cares about any of that when all Del can think about is beautiful Rosa who dances every night across the street. . . . Until one day Rosa comes in the cafe door. And if Rosa starts thinking about Del, too, then how in the name of caramel milkshakes will Del get the rest of it together?

Rating: 4 Stars

This was a neat book to read because it’s one of the few that takes place in Australia. It’s sad that so few do because the ones I’ve read have been so much fun (including The Rosie Project).

Delilah is a strong character that, admittedly, has her flaws. She’s trying to do too much for the adults in her life, either ignoring the mother that abandoned her or the father who’s heart was broken in the process and caring for his cafe while he heals on a trip abroad. Doing so makes her school work suffer, her main passion being geography, though with the way the teachers and the students were treating her as a lesbian, I don’t blame her for wanting to not attend anymore.

Rosa was a cool character that I got to like not only because she was Delilah’s crush, but because she was trying to save the local library, an action sure to win over my heart. The supporting characters in this novel as well, the patrons of the Flywheel, were fun, though not especially fleshed out. They were present but not so much so that they too away from the people we were really meant to care about i.e. Delilah and those closest to her.

I liked how, though the book is written like a traditional novel, there were parts where it felt like Delilah was speaking directly to me as the reader. It was like having a one-sided conversation, but it never felt awkward. I was hearing her tell her story, anything from the meanness of Georgina to the weirdness of a night spent drinking with Charlie to a moment enamored with Rosa.

The story was an easy read in the sense of style, though there were some moments that upset me, such as how Georgina and Ella treated Delilah at school. This book doesn’t gloss over the elements of homophobia that Delilah had to face, from her fellow classmates or from her guidance counselor. These events didn’t encompass her, though. Her attitude may have been brusque, understandably so considering everything, but Delilah was still an admirable girl for not only dealing with those bullies, but also for supporting her family, such as it was in it’s non-traditional state.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianna Baer

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Quinn Cutler is sixteen and the daughter of a high-profile Brooklyn politician. She’s also pregnant, a crisis made infinitely more shocking by the fact that she has no memory of ever having sex. Before Quinn can solve this deeply troubling mystery, her story becomes public. Rumors spread, jeopardizing her reputation, her relationship with a boyfriend she adores, and her father’s campaign for Congress. Religious fanatics gather at the Cutlers’ home, believing Quinn is a virgin, pregnant with the next messiah. Quinn’s desperate search for answers uncovers lies and family secrets—strange, possibly supernatural ones. Might she, in fact, be a virgin?

Rating: 2 Stars

I’ve been reading a lot of books lately that have this thing where they decide not to give you a solution to their plot line, even though they have potentially good elements. Add this to the list of potentially good books that let me down for just such a reason, as well as disappointing writing.

I thought that the premise sounded good, but that the writing left a lot to be desired. I found myself skimming large portions of it because the writing was very dull. I wanted to rip my hair out from how slow things were going. The fact that I could skim these bits and still follow the story line proved to me how superfluous they really were. The multiple points of view did not help with this problem. They felt really extraneous because there were so many of them: Quinn, her father, her boyfriend, a potential hookup, one or two of the believers that flock to her doorstep, etc. It’s unusual to have so many points of view that work successfully; I can only think of one instance (Sandy Hall’s A Little Something Different – 15 different points of view and it was fun!). In The Inconceivable Life of Quinn, they all felt like too many voices pulling at what little plot there was and stretching it even thinner.

The book also felt like it was conflicted as to it’s identity. Primarily written as a novel that takes place in a strictly realistic setting, there were magical realism elements that didn’t get introduced in-depth until too late. Was this intentional or was it an unconscious switch? It felt like a roller coaster jerk in storytelling styles in a somewhat unpleasant manner.

The mythology of the Deeps sounded like it could have been really neat if it had been developed as an actual real thing, rather than something that might or might not have been real and that 95% of the characters thought was just a children’s story.

The ending was murky, as we never get a solution to the primary questions of the novel, something that has been infuriating me lately with novels. There are huge setups and no payoffs in the end? That amped up the feeling of frustration I was experiencing through the book. I don’t think I’ll be trying any more of this author’s work because, while her idea might have sounded appealing, the execution of it was not to my liking and would push something potentially more worthy further down or completely off my TBR list.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi (The Star-Touched Queen #2)

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Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Goodreads

Published: 28 March 2017

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Category: Fantasy/Young Adult/Romance

An ancient mystery. An unlikely union. For one young princess in a state of peril, a dangerous wish could be the only answer…

She is the princess of Bharata—captured by her kingdom’s enemies, a prisoner of war. Now that she faces a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. But should she trust Vikram, the notoriously cunning prince of a neighboring land? He promises her freedom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together they can team up and win the Tournament of Wishes, a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor. It seems like a foolproof plan—until Gauri and Vikram arrive at the tournament and find that danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans, mischievous story birds, a feast of fears, and twisted fairy revels. New trials will test their devotion, strength, and wits. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

Rating: 4 Stars

Roshani Chokshi returns to her beautifully cultivated world with the tale of two royals fighting for the right to rule their kingdoms in A Crown of Wishes.

A companion novel to The Star-Touched Queen, you should be able to read this book even if you haven’t read the previous one, though there are a couple of characters and connections that you might not be familiar with. Gauri, for example, one of the main characters, in the younger sister of Maya, the main character from The Star-Touched Queen.

Told in the alternating perspectives of Gauri, a princess that wishes to save her kingdom from her vicious older brother, and Vikram, a prince who wishes to take true control of his kingdom rather than allow a council to rule it, the story begins in a bit of a heavy handed fantasy method. Vikram’s perspective felt a little more fanciful to me and required more work, taking me out of the story whenever it cropped up.

Gauri was vastly more interesting to my mind. Her fierceness was present from the first moment we met her as a prisoner of war. She’s been in a dungeon for six months, but her cunning mind has used this time to beguile her jailers into thinking her weak while in fact she’s gathered knowledge that will, hopefully, help her regain her strength and mount a force to take back her kingdom from Skanda, her wicked brother.

Both characters share similar motives, though if I had to choose which one I believed in more it would have been Gauri without question. She might have made slightly foolish decisions, but they were never more foolish than those of any person going to war, fighting for a kingdom. If anything, she trusted too much and that caused her plans to falter, lead to her temporary imprisonment and potential execution. However, it also lead to the opportunity to collude with Vikram and go to the Tournament of Wishes.

The quality of writing was maintained from Chokshi’s previous novel, perhaps even improved a bit now that she’s had the experience of writing a novel. The descriptions were not overly flowery, which I appreciated, because it let the wonder of the individual events shine without being overpowered. Easily pictured and easily sunk into, this novel takes you on an adventure of peril, of discovery, of battles not only for kingdoms but for one’s true self. Vikram and Gauri must fight not only for what they believe is right for their kingdoms, for their people, but for their futures.

While there are no future books planned in this world, I anticipate more books from Roshani Chokshi being highly anticipated. She demonstrated to me with The Star-Touched Queen and A Crown of Wishes that her knowledge of fantasy is well in hand, as is her writing ability. The future is bright for this author and for those of us lucky enough to read her books.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Top 5 Wednesday: Books as Event Themes

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Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes and created by Lainey from Gingerreadlainey.

I don’t remember what my prom theme was, though I think the song was something by Eric Clapton. However, I do like to think that if I were going to a prom today I’d recommend a circus theme because of the sheer amount of books out that could serve as inspiration. It wouldn’t even have to be prom, necessarily, but maybe a combination prom/carnival?

These five books are all books that I think would serve as amazing inspiration for events whether they be the prom/carnival mentioned above, an off the wall wedding, or anything where you can have fun in a magical setting.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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The book that started it all for me as far as circuses and carnivals and whatnot in books are concerned. The black and white color scheme sets the dress code for the event, plus the trace of red for the devoted fans of the Circus. The tents could be set up for amusements and there are all kinds of snacks that could be made that are inspired by the snacks in the book (caramel corn, candy floss, etc.).

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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Now I haven’t read this one yet, but Caraval is a legendary game where the winner wins their heart’s desire. This could be set up as an epic game for an event, maybe a LARPing event where the participants are characters from the novel?

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

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This would be an amazing theme for an interactive magic show where the magicians are wandering among the crowd. Vika and Nikolai, the two enchanters dueling in this book, have to come up with magical feats that will impress the Tsar. Take that concept and introduce it to a crowd that can decide which wins at the end of the night, and you’ve got a magical competition with some of the attraction of American Idol or some other competition where the audience phones in for their favorite.

Freeks by Amanda Hocking

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Freeks is a new release this year that I recently picked up from the library. It’s about a girl that lives in a traveling circus that longs for a normal life, but when it looks like that might become a possibility, she has to turn around and embrace a hidden power to save her friends. Described as a sideshow, it sounds like there are some cool elements within that could be brought out at an event to make it really special, really cool.

Joyland by Stephen King

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Now this would be an excellent theme for one of those escape rooms or a series of them where you have to solve puzzles to move on to the next one, etc., until you find the door that lets you out of the whole affair. Take that concept and use a Stephen King novel as the basis for the theme and it’s going to be equal parts awesome and terrifying.

 

These are the books that I think would inspire amazing events, whether they’re magical or terrifying. Which book based event would you like to attend the most? Have you ever attended a party with a bookish theme? Let me know in the comment section down below.

 

 

 

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.