OwlCrate: March 2016

HOW DID I NOT SIGN UP FOR THIS PRECIOUS THING SOONER! Someone should have knocked some sense into me.

In case you don’t know what the glorious OwlCrate is, it’s just like Fandom of the Month only.. better? I don’t know, I love them both. OwlCrate gives you a new release in the Young Adult world and a bunch of bookish stuff centered around a specific theme. It’s a subscription box that is worth every little penny – count on that. (You guys can sign up here)

This is my first time getting an OwlCrate box, so I really had no idea what to expect besides sheer awesomeness. I am so glad I did this guys! I mean.. an adorable box full of bookish things and a book? Hell yes.

Look at the pretty little box! (Actually, the box is a pretty decent size)

12421710_10207282675480206_521472606_n

Isn’t it cute? The entire thing is actually decorated. There are footprints and all sorts of stuff throughout – it was so freaken adorable.

In case you were wondering, the theme of this month’s box was writer’s block! So fitting, right? (Shh.. don’t judge me and my nonexistent Wattpad updates)

12884481_10207282697560758_1049018093_n

12443266_10207282697400754_2108060092_n

 

Isn’t that awesome? I mean, not only is the postcard extremely detailed and fitting – there is an amazing note on the back and all sorts of little surprises thrown in.

The first thing I grabbed out of the box, besides the themed card, was this sweet little collection of buttons which now reside upon my bookshelf.

12516446_10207282674000169_1651070278_n

After that came a quill pen and an idea-generating notebook. I love them, I really, really do. They might be my favorite part of the box besides the book that came with it.

12895322_10207282674680186_35753631_n12721971_10207282674280176_1250709460_n

There are some seriously hilarious prompts in here guys, and I mean HI-LAR-I-OUS!

  • Boil down Hamlet to a tweet
  • You live in a cloud. Give three tips for how not to fall off
  • You’ve just heard your favorite potato chip flavor will no longer be available. Write an indignant letter to the manufacturer

That’s just some of them… there are over six-hundred.

12404658_10207282674160173_1799936278_n

Next came banned book socks. Squee!

This gorgeous pair made me unreasonably happy.

And finally… the book!

The book included in this month’s box is The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner.

12884568_10207282674920192_1699732655_n

It came with a handwritten note from the author and a really cute bookplate that has a profound quote.

Summary from Goodreads:

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

He and his fellow outcast friends must try to make it through their senior year of high school without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self. Graduation will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is content where he is thanks to his obsession with an epic book series and the fangirl turning his reality into real-life fantasy.

Their diverging paths could mean the end of their friendship. But not before Dill confronts his dark legacy to attempt to find a way into the light of a future worth living.

Doesn’t it sound amazing? I can’t wait to dive head first into this book!

So yea, that’s pretty much it. Amazing, huh? These have become my new favorite thing guys. I just found out next month’s box is going to be Dystopian themed and now I’m already squealing and I have to wait a month.

12443143_10207282673160148_1667807656_n

I would write something witty to sum this whole thing up, but I think the owl in the box is much better suited to this than I ever will be.

12324960_10207282675200199_895755521_n

The Hidden Twin

When Jey and I were born, somehow my parents convinced themselves we were both human. They even let the local priest of Rasus into our house to perform the holy branding on our splotchy little foreheads….But our mother was an Other, a princess of light and virtue straight out of a fairy tale. Jey and I are the forbidden porduct of an Other and a human–always twins, one human and one redwing. A redwing is supposed to be drowned by it’s parents at birth, but mine thought I was special. You just looked so much like a baby, my father says.

Title: The Hidden Twin

Author: Adi Rule

Series: Standalone?

Publication: March 22nd 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin

Pages: 272

Source: Publisher in exchange for honest review

Summary from Goodreads:

For eighteen years a girl with no name, a Redwing, has been hidden away in a small attic room within a city of hissing pipes and curving temples perched on the side of the great volcano, Mol, while her sister, Jey-identical except for her eyes-has lived her life in public as an only child. Their father had hoped the hidden girl would one day grow up to be a normal human girl and not the wicked creature mythology has promised, so he secretly spared her life as an infant.

But when she switches places with her sister, striking up a flirtation with the son of the Empress while working in the royal gardens and gets attacks by two suspicious priests on her journey home, she is forced to call forth fire to protect herself, unleashing her previously dormant powers and letting her secret out. She soon catches the attention of a cult with a thousand year old grudge as well as a group of underground rebels, both seeking her for their own gain. But when her sister goes missing and the Redwing uncovers a great plot to awaken Mol and bring fiery destruction upon them all, she is forced to embrace her powers.

My Thoughts:

Oops? That was my first thought when reading this. The Hidden Twin is kind of the epitome of an accident and I really don’t know how I feel about it. While the writing was decent, the story and plot itself was such an overworked, overused, obviously recognizable trope that I sort of wanted to throw it out the window.

Because of what I just said, I had a really hard time getting into the book – and for that reason, my reaction is basically bleh. What sounded original and intriguing in the synopsis ended up being an exact replica of every other young adult dystopian fantasy ever. A girl who is different from everyone else figures out she must be the one to save her people… yea, say hello to Divergent, The Hunger Games, Matched, The Maze Runner (Though Thomas is a boy), and every other book ever written. Just… UGH!

I wish there was more to the book itself. The plot was character driven, which would have been fine if the characters were interesting and original. But, instead, the reader is forced to rely on the development of a stock image character in order to get any sort of satisfaction out of this book – and boy, let me tell you, you will be left wanting.

Something was seriously missing from this story. It lacked a punch, it lacked character, and it lacked depth. It was sort of like reading an essay that was based off of the bare minimum requirement to pass – and that’s still sort of a compliment.

I will leave you with this interpretation of my overall feelings on The Hidden Twin:

Finding Hope Blog Tour

HEY ALL YOU WONDERFUL, BOOKISH PEOPLE!

So, remember when I did a review of the amazing book Finding Hope about a week ago? Yes? No? Well, anyways, a few days after it went live I got an email asking if I’d like to participate in the blog tour to promote the book – so of course I said yes.

FindingHope-BlogTour-TwitterPic-v1[1]

Buy Finding Hope here (DO ITTTTT):

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

 

So, now to the really, really fun stuff. As part of the blog tour, I get to do a guest post from the amazing Colleen Nelson herself! Say what? That’s right.

My question was this: How do you find time to write and what advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I mean, how could I not ask that? You all know by now it’s probably my favorite question. An aspiring writer can never have too much advice – trust me on that.

Colleen’s response *cue the squees*:

 

I started writing ten and a half years ago. I took a class at the Manitoba Writers Guild. Each week the instructor gave us ‘homework’. One assignment was to write the first chapter of a YA novel. That first chapter eventually led into my first published book, ‘Tori by Design’. It wasn’t easy! I had two little boys and a husband who traveled a lot for work, but writing became my escape. At the end of a long day with toddlers, losing myself in my novel kept me sane.
Fast forward 2016…I’ve been writing steadily since 2006 and have four books published, one more on the way and my fingers (and toes!) are crossed for another one that is in the hands of my agent. I’ve always got a project on the go, and enough ideas for books to keep me busy for a long time. I also teach full-time, but no matter how many other things I have on the go, I still find time to write. Most mornings I wake up at 5:30am to write. The house is quiet for at least an hour until my boys clamor for breakfast. There are lots of days when I would be happy to stay in bed, but I always think that the story won’t write itself. And I know that once the caffeine kicks in, the ideas will start flowing.
People often tell me that they’d love to write a book or that they have a great story idea, but don’t know how to get started. The secret is: the only way to get started is to write. Then write. And then write some more. I’m not sure why people think it’s a big mystery. Even if you’re not good at it or you never get published, the point is to write! To express ideas and thoughts and enjoy the freedom of putting them on paper. Take a class or finding a writing partner to bounce ideas off of are also great ways to stay motivated. But, really, being a writer comes down to perseverance and determination.

Any last words from moi?

fa36e-read2bthe2bbook

 

On Saturday, March 19th, don’t miss Colleen Nelson’s virtual launch for your chance to redeem bonus gifts and help support Pink Shirt Day by donating $1 from your purchase to the cause. Head to colleennelsonauthor.com for more details.

Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions

“If you stay here, you become lost. And no one can find you.”

“I like lost.”

Title: Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions

Editors: Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong

Series: Standalone

Publication: September 20th 2011 by HarperCollins

Pages: 443

Source: Purchased

Summary from Goodreads:

A journey may take hundreds of miles, or it may cover the distance between duty and desire.

Sixteen of today’s hottest writers of paranormal tales weave stories on a common theme of journeying. Authors such as Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine, and Melissa Marr return to the beloved worlds of their bestselling series, while others, like Claudia Gray, Kami Garcia, and Margaret Stohl, create new land-scapes and characters. But whether they’re writing about vampires, faeries, angels, or other magical beings, each author explores the strength and resilience of the human heart.

Suspenseful, funny, or romantic, the stories in Enthralled will leave you moved.

My Thoughts:

I was so happy I found this thing! I had no idea this book existed despite the fact that it holds short stories from some of my favorite authors. I ran across this gorgeous beast when rummaging around a used bookstore, you know, the best way of finding new books known to man. In all honesty, Enthralled was sheer perfection for an anthology. Not only was each story centered around a specific theme – though each had their own twist on the topic – the stories actually felt like stories. They were complete, heartbreaking, uplifting, and the perfect thing to get me through my week.

Giovanni’s Fairwell by Claudia Grey

This little story… just… aww! It was so cute, adorable, and any other adjective you can think of that reminds you of snuggling with puppies. This one is mostly about a set of twins realizing they have abilities and coming to terms with them, as it were – BUT, there is a sweet little twist included. Just.. just read it and swoon with me, yea?

Scenic Route by Carrie Ryan

I’d never heard of Carrie Ryan before reading this, but now I am so glad I found her! While this wasn’t my favorite short story in the bunch, it is definitely up on my list simply because it was not what I was expecting – in a good way. This story focuses on family and how certain people are willing to go to horrible lengths to protect the people they love. I think I liked this one because it carried such meaning in an itty bitty space.

Red Run by Kami Garcia

This one was very interesting, to say the least. Lemme be straight with you guys: I don’t like Kami Garcia’s writing (Or Margaret Stohl) and I haven’t since I read the disaster that was Beautiful Creatures. DON’T HATE ME! I couldn’t bring myself to like it, and the same goes for this story. While I enjoyed the plot and what it was trying to do… it was simply meh in every other aspect. Therefore, it fell flat and that’s all I have to say about that. (Yes, I am biased. Deal with it.)

Things About Love by Jackson Pearce

This was so cool. Plain and simple. I’ve never read anything by Pearce, and that means I did not read the story this is based off of – but that’s besides the point. Things About Love was almost cutesy fun, at least in my head. It’s about a djinn trying to wrap its head around humans and love. It was awesome.

Niederwald by Rachel Vincent

Huh…that was.. interesting? No, I’m serious. I liked it, I really did – I just was lost I guess. This, too, is a connection to a book – but this one using actual characters and things from the series that just flew over my head. I will admit, though, that it made me want to go out and get the Soul Screamers series so I can see what was actually going on. I still liked it, don’t get me wrong – I just don’t like missing things. Oops.

Merely Mortal by Melissa Marr

FINALLY! One connection to something else that I’ve actually read! Despite all that, though, this fell flat for me. It was sort of just underwhelming, and therefore disappointing. I had some pretty high expectations because I enjoyed Wicked Lovely and its interpretation of faeries. This just didn’t hit the bar for me. Should I feel bad? Also, be warned – if you haven’t read Wicked Lovely, this little tale is spoiler central.

Facing Facts by Kelley Armstrong

Spoilery but soothed my fangirl heart – and that’s all I have to say about that. *mic drop*

Let’s Get This Undead Show On The Road by Sarah Rees Brennan

While I appreciate the constant satire on vampire stereotypes and the like, the lore and everything else about this sort story required some serious suspending of disbelief and common sense. It was just lacking that little bit of…. sparkle (See what I did there? DID YOU SEE IT!?!?) I’m serious, though, despite the Twilight joke. This story was just another bout of meh.

Bridge by Jeri Smith-Ready

This one… wow. Just wow. If you read this, and when you read this – get some tissues and therapy lined up. This is sad, compelling, and needed. It is about family, about learning to let go, and trying to decide when everything becomes too much. It had a very fitting format, it was the perfect mode to tell the perfect story. This one might take the cake, as it were.

Skin Contact by Kimberly Derting

Leaving by Ally Condie

Why all the feels? Honestly, these last couple killed me, why did you have to join in? Ugh… this one cuts deep, and I mean deep. There is a lot in a little space, once again. This story really has something to say though, it has a purpose and it completely nails it on the head.

At The Late Night, Double Feature, Picture Show by Jessica Verday

Just close your eyes for a second and picture this: Flesh eating, zombie girl scouts and vampires dressed in so much drag they belong on Rue Paul’s Drag Race. This story is pleasantly surprising, entertaining, and everything else in-between.

IV League by Margaret Stohl

Gargouille by Mary E. Pearson

This short story was perfection. Just… agh! The feels, the romance, the setting – every little thing was amazing and I can’t figure out what else to say because it was so awesome. It was beautifully written. A short tale of love and sacrifice.. it deserves to be read.

The Third Kind by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

*Bows down to the queen*

Automatic by Rachel Caine

Rachel Caine…. *happy sigh*

Morganville makes an appearance and my life is made. It is just that simple.

 

Overall, this is a very good anthology – despite the few mishaps I noticed. If you’ve read the other works by these authors, you should be fine for the most part. Most of my issues stemmed from missing out on certain things or not understanding stuff – only one really missed my hit list because of bleh writing and the like. So, ENJOY!

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

 

Waiting On Wednesday # 23

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted each week by Breaking the Spine and lets us spotlight a book that we are eagerly waiting to be released.

This week’s Waiting On Wednesday is The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith!

Publication: March 22nd 2016 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Summary from Goodreads:

Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

 WHY MUST THE WORLD BE SO CRUEL!?!?! Ugh, I need to read this so badly. Anything up the Courtney Summers alleyway is on my must have list. This is the type of book that needs to be read, not only by me – but I mean for everyone. I cannot wait to get my hands on this gorgeous beast and proceed to tear my heart to pieces. I shall have ice cream, tea, tissues, and my teddybear on standby. 

Teaser Tuesday # 23

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

This week’s Teaser Tuesday is for the anthology Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions!

“Vampires on TV give us an unhealthy body image stereotype too. Do you know how hard you have to work to get a body like those actors on True Blood or The Vampire Diaries? Try doing that when your blood vessels don’t work anymore and your muscles are slowly starting to waste away.”

“If you stay here, you become lost. And no one can find you.”

“I like lost.”

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Lady Midnight

“When you love someone, they become a part of who you are. They’re in everything you do. They’re in the air you breathe and the water you drink and the blood in your veins. Their touch stays on your skin and their voice stays in your ears and their thoughts stay in your mind. You know their dreams because their nightmares pierce your heart and their good dreams are your dreams too. And you don’t think they’re perfect, but you know their flaws, the deep-down truth of them, and the shadows of all their secrets, and they don’t frighten you away; in fact you love them more for it, because you don’t want perfect. You want them.”

Title: Lady Midnight

Author: Cassandra Clare

Series: The Dark Artifices # 1

Publication: March 8th 2016 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Pages: 720

Source: Purchased at launch event

Summary from Goodreads:

The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

My Thoughts:

Reading this was a very surreal experience. Not only did I get to dive back into the amazing world of Shadowhunters, the book itself takes place very close to home – in fact, there were several places mentioned that I’ve been to before. Lady Midnight, the first book in Cassandra Clare’s new Dark Artifices series, is a book that will knock your socks off (Yes, I put that in there on purpose. If you’ve read the book, you know why). Filled with adventure, action, blazing and swoon worthy romance – not to mention a cast of characters that will both make you want to rip your hair out and bow down and kiss some feet at the same time – Lady Midnight is everything I could have wished for and so much more.

I can’t really say anything about this book without spoiling practically everything from The Mortal Instruments – even the Shadowhunters Academy and The Infernal Devices. Every story plays a part in what leads up to this, The Mortal Instruments most of all. I can say this, Lady Midnight sets itself apart from her other books for two main reasons. One: our protagonist is not only fully aware of the shadow world and what it contains at the start of the book, she is also a Shadowhunter born and bred. Two: While there is romance, this book is centered completely around family – specifically, the Blackthorns whom I adore immensely. A nice little tidbit – you’re actually introduced to all of these characters in City of Heavenly Fire, so it was really awesome seeing them again in their own story.

Like I said, I cannot say anything without spoiling everything for you guys. So, much like my review of Glass Sword, this review will now transform itself into gif central.

Remembering everything that happened to Emma and the Blackthorns in the conclusion of the TMI series:

The Characters (Especially Mark and Tavvy):

 

All the feels:

Me at the end:

That just about sums it all up. If you haven’t yet, READ IT! If you don’t plan to, READ IT ANYWAY! Get on the Shadowhunter train ya’ll, it’s one hell of a wild ride.

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble