Nerd Vacation Day 1: Once Upon a Storybook

So, if you follow me on Twitter, you know that I am on vacation! This is my first real vacation. By real vacation, I mean I don’t have to take any time off of work or worry about not getting paid for the days I’m gone. I just got my teaching position, so not only does spring break mean REAL time off, but it also means I am getting paid! Score. On this trip, my best friend and I decided we want to go to some interesting book stores. We arrived in Anaheim around 2:30 this afternoon. We are staying at the Ayres Hotel, which is always gorgeous and accommodating and let’s not get carried away, you’re here for the books! With the limited time we’ve been here today, we didn’t know if we were going to go anywhere (other than the Anaheim Ducks Team Store, because that’s a huge reason we’re here. Go Ducks!). While we were hanging out in our hotel room, we looked on Yelp to find some bookstores pretty close to us. Upon researching, we found the Once Upon a Storybook indie bookstore in Orange. We called the shop to see if they had any YA titles and we found out that they are downsizing their YA from 3 shelves to one, so ALL OF THEIR YA TITLES WERE 25% OFF!! Of course we had to go! So, without further ado, here is my experience there.

Storybook 5This is the outside of the store. First of all…HOW STINKING ADORABLE IS THIS?! All the shops in this shopping center (off of 17th and the 55 freeway) have storefronts like this. Nowhere in Las Vegas do we have anything this adorable, seriously. I was caught immediately. The weather was beautiful and I was immediately smitten with the whimsy of this storefront. Remember, this is primarily a children’s book store. It’s the perfect ambiance. The signs out front show that they have regular readings for younger readers (the sign today offered a pre-school level story time). TOO CUTE.

Storybook 4Of course, no whimsy would be complete without a sign pointing you to your favorite fantasy world. This made me so excited walking in. Screw Disneyland, this is my happiest place on earth!

Storybook 3We asked the owner, a wonderfully pleasant and knowledgeable woman named Susie, what was upstairs. Her answer was completely unexpected. This is a picture of their upstairs room, in which she holds BIRTHDAY PARTIES AND CRAFT PARTIES!!! Along with the cute little reading nooks they have downstairs, upstairs is packed with craft supplies, long tables, and chairs for super fun birthday parties for younger kids. I didn’t ask what kind of crafts they make, but can’t we all assume they’ll be absolutely adorable?

Storybook 2Speaking of whimsy and adorable, I stumbled upon this while I was coming down the stairs from the craft room. IT’S. A. FAIRY. DOOR. You have to love a store that pays so much attention to detail, especially for its specific clientele of younger readers. Can’t you imagine being a little girl (which I once was), obsessed with fantasy worlds (which I still am), and stumbling upon this magical little fairy door? I was so smitten with this little door and the general ambiance of this whole cute, welcoming store, I almost didn’t know what to do with myself. I’m sure I scared people walking by with my many exclamations of, “HOW CUTE IS THIS?!”

Storybook 1And, finally, my purchases. At 25% off, I really can’t be mad at myself for this. Susie was so wonderful. She welcomed us as we came in as, “the YA ladies,” since that’s what we asked about when we called. She let me paw through every single box of YA novels she had already cleaned off her shelves. It was seriously like a treasure hunt. I found so many obscure books that I usually can’t find in Barnes & Noble (since we only have B&N in Vegas – we don’t have any indies. The only indies we have are Christian bookstores). I had to end up letting some things go since I had SO MUCH. Susie is also wonderful enough to offer an educator discount of 20% every day. If you’re ever in Orange, CA, I definitely recommend visiting this adorable bookstore, especially if you have some younger readers in your life. This place was an experience in magic, whimsy, and fantasy and I am so happy we stumbled upon this place!

Click the link below to visit their website!

Once Upon A Storybook

17300 East 17th St. #C

Tustin, CA 92780

Advertisements

Book Review: Compulsion by Martina Boone PLUS A GIVEAWAY!

CompulsionTitle: Compulsion

Author: Martina Boone

Series: Heirs of Watson Island #1

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: October 28, 2014

Genre: YA, Southern Gothic

Source: Purchased

I LOVED THIS BOOK SO HARD. It had some slight romance, some voodoo magic, some Native American lore, and some serious villains. Could you even ask for more?! Here’s your synopsis from Amazon:

All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lived with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead–a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.

Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family’s twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.

1. Barrie Watson is a FANTASTIC MC and I love her…for the most part.

This book opens after Barrie’s mother has died. She is sent to live with her Aunt Pru (whom she’s never met) on Watson Island (where she’s never been). She doesn’t really know what to expect, but in the first chapter, we kind of figure out a little about Aunt Pru since she completely forgets to pick Barrie up from the airport; she takes a cab instead. Barrie is really smart and headstrong. She is dealing with the loss of her mother and the cancer her godfather has – which is the reason she was sent away. She has an awesome supernatural gift of being able to find like things. This is a compulsion of hers – whenever there are lost things, she gets this sick feeling until the specific thing is found. I wish I had this power. The only downside to Barrie was that whenever she was with Eight, she became this rude, angry person for NO APPARENT REASON. I couldn’t handle this. I don’t know how Eight handled this. But, for the most part, she was pretty awesome.

2. We get to meet a lot of Barrie’s long lost family members.

The whole story kind of centers around Barrie and wanting to meet the only family she has left. She meets her cousin, Cassie, and you really don’t know what to think of her. Cassie is desperate for Barrie’s help in finding her family’s lost treasures, since Cassie’s family doesn’t have a “gift.” I’ll give Barrie some credit here, she is determined to see the good in everybody. None of Eight’s friends like Cassie (which is drastically clear), Eight himself doesn’t like Cassie, and Barrie’s whole household warns her to stay away from Cassie. So what does she do?! She attempts to get close to her and trusts her blindly! That sounds like a great idea! Cassie has a sister (who I didn’t really have an opinion about) and a horrible father named Emmett who is a super villain. He becomes a huge part of the story’s plot. However, he’s horrible. And you know this from the start, so don’t say I spoiled anything for you.

3. The supernatural element in this caught me off guard.

Granted, I knew there would be some supernatural elements to this, but I didn’t see much in the beginning past the gifts of the Watsons. However, you learn a LOT. You see a Native American spirit, and hear a spooky tail about spirits on the island. There is a blood sacrifice and scary ghosts and so much history to the island. Cassie actually tells Barrie the story, but you want to take it with a grain of salt since Cassie is saying it. But, something happens that proves Cassie’s story to be true, regardless of what you want to think. But believe me, this super creeped me out and caught me off guard.

4. Barrie’s family history is weird. It is super creepy and makes you want to take a shower.

Barrie’s mother, Lula, never talked about Barrie’s family or Watson Island. Everything we learn in the book about Barrie’s family, we as readers are learning with her. I thought this was an awesome way to do this. We know what Barrie knows, and it kept me guessing the whole time. This is one of those Southern Gothic novels where there IS that crazy family history and a crazy family feud where no one knows where it started, and no one knows if it will end. As someone *not* from the South, I find all of these things intriguing. I love me some Southern Gothic. This definitely fit the bill.

OVERALL: FIVE STARS!!! I know this was really short, only because there’s SO much to spoil. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, so trust me when I say that this was AWESOME. The end was super crazy (and really catches you off guard). I seriously did NOT expect that ending. Trust me when I say, you want to read this. It was so, so good. Click the link below to order, or go support your local library!

Click to Order!

NOW, IT’S MY VERY FIRST GIVEAWAY!! To celebrate 311 of you wonderful followers, I am giving away my hardback copy of The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury. Contest ends on April 10, so enter away! This giveaway is US only, I’m sorry. I’m poor!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY FOR A HARDCOVER OF THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER! I NEED THIS TO GO TO A GOOD, LOVING HOME. ENTER, ENTER! GO GO!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Would Love to Teach

A lot of the books on this list are books that are taught, but books I have never taught. These books are definitely on my teacher wishlist because they have themes and characters and situations that my students can relate to. These aren’t in any type of order, just here.

1. ButterButter by Erin Jade Lange

This is a book about a teenager who is severely overweight. He becomes popular after he releases his plan to eat himself to death. As the date looms closer, though, his life gets better. Does he go through with it? I would love to teach this book. It is a glaring look at bullying and not understanding what other people could be going through. Kids call each other fat all the time, but it could be a medical condition. Or something worse. I devoured this book in one sitting.

2. TeaseTease by Amanda Maciel

I finished this book this past weekend. I had grading I needed to do, but instead, I finished this in 8 hours. The language and situations are kind of mature, but this book is about a girl who commits suicide. However, it’s told from the point of view of the girl who bullies her: Sara. Sara is the worst person, ever. I hated her more than I’ve ever hated a fantasy villain. This book was so good. I know I’m supposed to hate this character, and I never found any redeeming qualities. This was a fantastic look at bullying and the repercussions that come with it. *gazes longingly*

3. Harry Potter CollectionThe Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

DUH. I took a college course in community college called Themes of Literature. The theme was magic in the Harry Potter books. The first section of the course was books 1-4; the second, 5-7. THIS. CLASS. WAS. AWESOME. I would spend an entire YEAR teaching these books. Because, duh.

4. CinderCinder by Marissa Meyer

I love fairy tale retellings. This one is fantastic because it blends Cinderella with a cyborg! How cool is that! There are a lot of themes of extreme rulers and balances of power. This is also an underdog story, which teenagers tend to LOVE. They all feel like their their own story’s underdog. There is a ton of cool technology, a swoon-worthy prince, and average people rising above to defeat an evil ruler. Perfect.

5. Percy JacksonThe Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan

Recently, my students and I wrapped up our Greek mythology unit. A ton of them had already read Percy Jackson, but those who hadn’t RUSHED to the library to get the first book. Which is insane, because a lot of my kids are not avid readers. Not only is this a good series for reluctant readers, but it teaches a LOT of mythology, to the point where kids don’t realize they’re learning! Yes, please!

6. The GiverThe Giver by Lois Lowry

This is a book that IS taught in schools, but I haven’t had a chance to teach it yet. This is a book about an alternate universe where there is no color and no emotion. Judas is chosen as the next Giver – the keeper of the memories of the past – and gets to see the world as it really is. The themes in this book are perfect for teenagers, since they tend to see the world as others see it. There is a very clear message about sticking to who you are, and never apologizing for it.

7. The Chocolate WarThe Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

I took a class in college called Teaching Young Adult Literature. In this class, we got to choose our own books, but we had two that were assigned. One was The Giver and the other was The Chocolate War. When I finished this book, I was wrecked. Floored, flabbergasted, in love. This is a book about a boy who is supposed to sell chocolate. He refuses. The end isn’t an end. You have to decide what happens to him. Again, there are themes of being an individual, resisting the status quo, going against the grain and sticking to your guns. Kids need this type of literature in their lives. They need to be the kid in this book. I need them to be the kid in this book.

8. The OutsidersThe Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

I loved this book so much more than I ever thought I would. Ponyboy is a wannabe thug. I have a lot of students like this. They come from rich neighborhoods and believe that they want this kind of life. Ponyboy is the same way. This book is extremely important for young people to read. The lessons this book teaches are lessons I could never hope to teach to them myself. I simply do not have enough wisdom.

Titus Andronicus9. Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare

I know I’m kind of cheating here. This is a play. But, it is my FAVORITE Shakespeare play. This one has the highest body count, mythology come to life, an evil queen complete with evil sons and an evil lover, and a man broken by an emperor. I always describe this play as Shakespeare’s Michael Bay film. He wrote it for money, it is extremely bloody, not to mention extremely messed up. I could never, ever teach this in a public school setting. Sigh.

10. The Truth About AliceThe Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

Yes, another book about bullying. I know people think that if we just raise our kids to “stand up for themselves,” then bullying would be nonexistent. That simply isn’t true. People are extremely mean, not just kids. This book is told from multiple different viewpoints, but focuses around one girl: Alice. Alice is a slut, and everyone knows it. This entire book is told in gossip…until the last chapter, when you hear from Alice. This book is incredibly moving. It’s phenomenally written with such a great message. I think all kids need this in their lives, even if it’s only to feel like they’re not alone.

Book Review: Winterspell by Claire Legrand

WinterspellTitle: Winterspell

Author: Claire Legrand

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Release Date: September 30, 2014

Series: Standalone (I think).

Genre: YA, Fantasy retelling

Source: Purchased

I LOVED THIS BOOK. Seriously, I loved this story, the heroine, the world, just everything. This might turn into a long review, so to that I tell you: sorry, not sorry. Here’s your synopsis from Amazon:

After her mother is brutally murdered, seventeen-year-old Clara Stole is determined to find out what happened to her. Her father, a powerful man with little integrity, is a notorious New York City gang lord in the syndicate-turned-empire called Concordia. And he isn’t much help.

But there is something even darker than Concordia’s corruption brewing under the surface of the city, something full of vengeance and magic, like the stories Clara’s godfather used to tell her when she was a little girl. Then her father is abducted and her little sister’s life is threatened, and Clara accidentally frees Nicholas from a statue that has been his prison for years. Nicholas is the rightful prince of Cane, a wintry kingdom that exists beyond the city Clara has known her whole life.

When Nicholas and Clara journey together to Cane to retrieve her father, Clara encounters Anise, the queen of the faeries, who has ousted the royal family in favor of her own totalitarian, anti-human regime. Clara finds that this new world is not as foreign as she feared, but time is running out for her family, and there is only so much magic can do…

1. Anyone who has seen the Nutcracker ballet has weird feelings about Drosselmeyer…

In the Nutcracker, Drosselmeyer is Clara’s godfather and is the one who brings her the Nutcracker. In essence, he is the crutch of the story. If not for him and his magical gift, there would have been no story. This is the same for Winterspell. However, in the ballet, Drosselmeyer always creeped me out for some reason. He just had that vibe about him. In this book, though, he is a bad ass. He teaches Clara to fight for herself and essentially turns her into a weapon in a time where women were meek and subservient. He teaches her to believe in herself and to never depend on others for her survival or her happiness. There is a point in the book where Clara gets mad at Drosselmeyer, and I kept telling her not to be mad at him. I know, I’m weird.

2. Clara starts out as a girl who is scared of everything, but by the end, she is this strong heroine with no traces of that girl you see in the beginning.

At first, I loved Clara. The first couple of chapters make you fall in love with her, especially because she is so skilled at fighting and sneaking – two things no woman in the 1800s would ever think to practice. As soon as she’s faced with Dr. Victor and Mrs. Plum, however, her bravery vanishes. She transforms into this meek child who forgets all of her godfather’s training. She forgets that she could murder Dr. Victor (who is super creepy and not to mention extremely cruel) with a flick of her wrist. He has no idea who he’s dealing with. By the end, though, she becomes the strong woman I wanted her to be and that made me SO happy.

3. WHO DO I TRUST?!

This book sucked when it came to figuring out who to trust. First you trust Nicholas, then you don’t, then you trust what Drosselmeyer says, then you don’t. THEN you trust Anise, THEN YOU DON’T. It’s horrible for my brain. I could not figure out who to trust and I was tearing my hair out trying to figure out who I could trust!

4. There are faeries, and they have different rules. At least, different from what I’ve seen.

The faeries in this book are extremely cruel. They’re led by an evil queen named Anise who basically brainwashes the human population into having Stockholm Syndrome. I am used to some faerie rules like that they cannot tolerate iron. That machinery makes them weak. But these faeries THRIVE on iron and machinery and building. When Nicholas and Clara get to the city, everything has been industrialized. It is the humans here who were resistant to machinery. I thought this was interesting since ever author and book has different fairy rules.

5. Now, to the issue of Queen Anise.

Don’t kill me, but I like the evil queen. She keeps her subjects stoned on a substance called sugar, which I took to be something like meth or speed. She supplies it and runs it and takes it away as she sees fit. When Clara spends time with her, I actually started to like her. She is so lonely, and she’s kind of sad. Once you found out about the atrocities committed against her people, you can’t really blame her for the way she treats humans after she takes over. I know everyone will probably hate me for this, but I felt BAD for her! She’s so sad! Don’t hate me. You’ll probably feel bad for her, too.

OVERALL: 5 stars!!! I know I didn’t tell you much, and that was by design. There was too much I could potentially give away as spoilers, and I always want to avoid that. However, this book was so insanely fun and snagged me immediately, even from page one. Do yourself a favor and go read this NOW! Click the link below to order!

Click to Order!

ARC Review: Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins

Miss MayhemTitle: Miss Mayhem

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Series: Rebel Belle #2

Publisher: Putnam’s Books for Young Readers

Release Date: April 7, 2015

Source: Lent to me as part of an ARC tour

*****WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE FIRST BOOK IN THIS SERIES, REBEL BELLE. DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU****** I loved Rebel Belle, so of COURSE I jumped at the chance to participate in the ARC tour! I loved this book, too, so gird your loins! Here’s your synopsis from Amazon:

Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and best friend Bee has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can return her focus to the important things in life: school, canoodling with David, her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie, and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant.

Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done. The Ephors have decided they’d rather train David than kill him.  The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can’t stay David’s Paladin unless she undergoes an an ancient trial that will either kill her . . .  or make her more powerful than ever.

1. You think life would become easier for Harper after all that crazy stuff in the first book. Well, it doesn’t.

So Harper finds out she has to participate – and pass – these trials called the Peirasmos. If she fails, she dies. The first thing we find out is that she is not a true Paladin, after all she’s been through with David. Plus, having Ryan in the mix – who, by the way, I feel is a horrible choice for a Mage, what was Saylor thinking?! – is super awkward for everyone. They find Bee, but I won’t tell you where. There’s crazy stuff going on with her, too. AND you find out a bunch more about the Ephors and their craziness. This is all in the first few chapters.

2. I ship David Stark and Harper forever. I love them so much.

So we know that in the first book, Harper dumped Ryan to be with David – who used to be her sworn enemy. They are super cute together and you get to see a lot of them in this book. Not only because Harper is his Paladin, but because they’re, you know…together. I love David. I have loved him since the first time I met him in Rebel Belle. I feel like he’s a part of me because he’s such a nerd. You go, David.

3. This book focuses a lot on the Oracle and fate vs. choice.

Harper and David seem to think that if David has a vision, they can stop it from coming true. If they just diffuse the situation, change some things, and get that particular person out of a situation, they think they can change the future. However, they come to find out that even though they change these things, a person can still choose when it comes down to it. For example, if meeting a certain person dooms someone to a life of misery, but they still meet that person, they still amble down the original path. So, really, all Harper is doing by trying to change the future (in some cases) is futile, because it will come to pass anyway.

4. Harper Jane Price loses it, and it is wonderful.

We all know Harper is an overachiever. She never lets anyone help her and she bogs herself down with all of these extracurriculars – along with being a Paladin. She does the same thing in this book, even when going through the Peirasmos. She struggles a lot more and we get to see her true self – rather than the mask she dons for everyone – shine through that exterior of perfect. I loved that about this book. She breaks down and she is real for the first time. We see her greatest fears, worries, and stresses. She never shows that. Here is a great quote from page 216 of the ARC: “No one can repress better than a good Southern girl.” And oh man, does she prove that. It’s a miracle to me how she stays put together through all of the things going on in her life OTHER than being a Paladin. Can I borrow some of her ambition?

OVERALL: FIVE STARS!!!! Again, going to warn you, the ending of this book was mean and horrible and I can’t believe Rachel Hawkins would do her readers like this! However, I have asked, and there is a third book in the works, so never fear, readers! This book goes on sale April 7, 2015 so click the link below to pre-order! You know you want to!

Click to Pre-Order!

Readers Helping Teachers – Andi’s Story

Kelly is the most wonderful and inspiring person I have ever met. I’m sharing this because it is insanely important, and not only because it is my story.

Live, Love, Read

Readers Helping Teachers

Today marks a very important day in my blogging history to date (although my history really is not that long). Today is my first ever feature of Readers Helping Teachers. This feature is designed to promote teachers, librarians, assistants, and other people who are trying to help make their communities a better place for the next generation. In today’s economy, many schools are struggling to buy books for their students, including regular English class classic novels. There are even some schools that don’t have libraries for students to sit and work, research papers, use computers, and print necessary materials. Many public libraries are being shut down or are forced to cut back on their book intake. We are all struggling in some way or another and the generation that is paying for it are the children who are growing up now without easy access to necessary…

View original post 1,757 more words

ARC Review: The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

Orphan QueenTitle: The Orphan Queen

Author: Jodi Meadows

Series: The Orphan Queen #1

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: March 10, 2015

Source: Physical ARC lent to me by a seriously generous and wonderful fellow blogger, Gail

I loved this book so much. Jodi’s INCARNATE series was so awesome, which made me super excited for this book. I met Jodi at the Vegas Valley Book Festival. One of the questions I asked the panel she was on was, “If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?” Her response was, “a unicorn.” Ever since then, I’ve loved her as a person as well as a spectacular author. Here is your synopsis:

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others,

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

1. The world in this book is fantastic!

In Wil’s world, magic is outlawed because it produces an evil consequence called wraith. Wraith is about to take over their land, so the king has outlawed magic because of that imminent threat. Along with the high society of the court – complete with fancy dresses, balls, and mounds of food – there is always the underlying fear of wraith. So, since magic is outlawed, of COURSE Wil has magic. They have a funny name for people who use magic. They call them flashers. I always found it hilarious, because I have a way different picture in my mind of flashers.

2. I love that Wilhelmina goes by Wil.

My dad named my sister and me “girl” names, obviously, but he gave us names that when shortened, employers wouldn’t know if we were boys or girls. Of course, on all of our professional documents, we go by our full names, but it’s a great concept. My full name is Andrea and I go by Andi as a nickname. I love that Wil does this, especially because she knows how little power women have.

3. BLACK KNIFE

When we first meet Black Knife, he is trying to thwart Wil. She is attempting to steal stationary from a warehouse for forged papers. Black Knife shows up, and we hear about how he is constantly trying to catch them for stealing. Black Knife is not the police, he is kind of a Batman-esque vigilante, yearning for justice. He knows the law is iffy at best, so he takes matters into his own hands. Anyway, he dresses all in black, with a silk mask over his face, and even though we only see his eyes, he is still a hunky dreamboat.

4. The villain(s).

So, Wil infiltrates the palace in order to harm the current monarchy. Her family was slaughtered by this monarchy ten years ago, and she is the rightful queen and heir to the throne. There is one conversation with King Terrell where they are eating breakfast, and you get super confused. At first, he’s the villain, and then he’s kind of…not. He’s totally a man looking out for his son, and from that point on, you feel really torn about him. Prince Tobiah and Wil have met before. She actually saved him, so it’s kind of a miracle he doesn’t recognize her. Prince Tobiah is a total snoozefest. He’s cold, distant, and always bored. The ladies of the court are also villains. I’m not going to tell you much about them, because spoilers.The other villain here is something intangible, but also tangible. That’s honestly the best way I can explain it. It’s called wraith, and it destroys the land because of magic. It is created as an after effect of using magic, almost like an incandescent smoke. You can smell it and feel it, but unless it’s concentrated or infused a being, it’s more a malevolent presence than anything. Yes, you read that right. It infuses animals with its evil and engorges them to huge heights. There are also the glowmen, who are tainted by wraith, who pretty much serve its purposes. Coolest. Concept. Ever.

OVERALL: FIVE STARS!!! However, let me warn you, the ending is brutal. Like, I hated books for like a second and half when I finished this book. Luckily, there is the #OQSupportGroup on Twitter who can help you through this and be your shoulder to cry on. This was full of adventure and intrigue. And, it was light on the romance, which I loved! Click the link to pre-order, you’ll definitely want this tomorrow!

Click to Pre-Order!

The Orphan Queen Blog Tour Character Reveal: Black Knife

OQ Tour Banner

Welcome to my stop on The Orphan Queen blog tour! I’ll be telling you about the hunky dreamboat, Black Knife.

WIBKWho is Black Knife?

Black Knife actually prefers to use a plain, black-handled sword. He arms himself with several other weapons, including a handheld crossbow and knife, but in spite of his name, it’s the sword he’s really known for. 

Black Knife is a mystery through most of this book. He dresses in all black, with a silk mask concealing his face. He is kind of a Batman-esque vigilante. He craves justice, and he wants nothing more than to help his people. There are messages scrawled for him through the town, punctuated by a drawing of a black knife. The messages range from thanking Black Knife for good deeds he has done, while others admonish him for doing the law’s work. The people love him; the people hate him. The question throughout the book is: who is Black Knife? When you find out, you’ll freak.

Orphan Queen

Title: The Orphan Queen

Author: Jodi Meadows

Series: The Orphan Queen #1

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: March 10, 2015

Find It: GOODREADS || AMAZON || BARNES & NOBLE || INDIEBOUND || BOOK DEPOSITORY

Synopsis:

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others,

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

Jodi MeadowsAll About Jodi Meadows

Jodi Meadows lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, with her husband, a Kippy*, and an alarming number of ferrets. She is a confessed book addict, and has wanted to be a writer ever since she decided against becoming an astronaut. She is the author of the INCARNATE Trilogy and the forthcoming ORPHAN QUEEN Duology (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen).

*A Kippy is a cat.

And, on a personal note, I also know that Jodi loves cookies. She has also admitted that reader tears are a main ingredient in her cookie recipes.

FIND JODI AT: WEBSITE || TWITTER || GOODREADS || TUMBLR || FACEBOOK

I hope you enjoyed this spot on the blog tour! As stated above, this book releases TOMORROW, March 10, 2015. You need to camp outside of Barnes & Noble for this one. Also, Twitter has an #OrphanQueenSupportGroup to help you through this. Tweet us/them when you finish. We will be there with digital hugs and cookies. Don’t look to Jodi for comfort; she enjoys when you cry. Check my review for my thoughts on this book!

The New Kids on the Block Book Tag!

NKOTB

Last month, Andi from Andi’s ABCs and Gail from Ticket to Anywhere unveiled their new joint endeavor: The New Kids on the Block book tag (as inspired by the Taylor Swift book tag).

When Emma, over at Miss Print tagged me in her post today, my first thought was, BUT I WAS BORN IN 1987!! I was a Backstreet Boys and *NSync girl! Thankfully, Andi and Gail graciously put these tags together for those of us who never got introduced to NKOTB. Don’t get me wrong, though, I would TOTALLY go to a NKOTB concert in a heartbeat – but only if it’s free. Don’t kill me.

nkotb1Lady ThiefYes, Lady Thief. You blew my mind and alternatively shattered my heart.

nkotb2

A Madness So DiscreetTHIS. BOOK. RIGHT. HERE. I swear I’m not ONLY excited about the cover. I love Mindy McGinnis. She is my spirit animal and an incredibly story teller.

nkotb3

A Thousand Pieces of YouWhile this book was overwhelmingly MEH for me, do you SEE this incredible cover?! All about time travel and multiple universes – this cover is so, so beautiful.

nkotb4

Rose Under FireROSE F*CKING JUSTICE. I don’t need to say any more here.

nkotb5.Another Little PieceJust stop it. Kate Karyus Quinn is the QUEEN of creep outs and plot twists.

nkotb6

The Ring and the CrownHad to shake myself awake when this book was over. Snoozefest. Trouble sleeping? Read this for a page or two.

nkotb7

EndgameI don’t care what you say, I still think about this book, months after finishing it.

nkotb8

These Broken StarsThis book broke me. It made me cry and was absolutely amazing and I cannot wait until I can get my hands on the sequel.

nkotb9

Darkest Part of the ForestThis one was especially hard, since I have so many standalones I adore, but this is a recent one which BLEW MY MIND.

nkotb10

EmberDon’t read this book if you have to sleep. There was absolutely nothing boring. Needless to day, I was super tired every morning after trying to read this in bed, wow.

nkotb11

CinderThis is one of my all time favorite series. I would LOVE to see this on the big screen. Of course, they’d have to do it right. I would be super critical of this film.

nkotb12

Vanishing GirlsSo, I have this preordered, but I’m scared. I hated Panic, but I loved Oliver’s Delirium series, so I keep holding out hope for her standalones! Fingers crossed!

nkotb13

HPThis will always be my answer to this question. Can she write us the story from James and Lilly’s point of view? Draco’s? Dumbledore as a prequel?! SOMETHING?!

Tagging

Book Review: In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

In the Shadow of BlackbirdsTitle: In the Shadow of Blackbirds

Author: Cat Winters

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction

Publisher: Harry N. Abrams

Series: None. Standalone.

Release Date: October 7, 2014

Source: Borrowed from the library

Alright ya’ll, my Cat Winters obsession continues! Again, gird your loins, because this was FANTASTIC. I couldn’t believe that this was her debut novel! This was so great, so just stick with me because there is a TON to cover. Here is your synopsis from Amazon:

In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. At her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?
Featuring haunting archival early-20th-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.
1. This was again, a huge testament to early feminism in the early 20th century.
So, if you read my review of The Cure for Dreaming, you know how much I fell in love with Cat Winters. The feminism in that novel was potent, while in this novel, it was a little more undercover. Our main character, Mary Shelley Black, is smart. She is crazy smart. She likes to take machines apart and put them back together, she likes to read, and she values her mind. One quote that stuck out to me was in the beginning, on page 19: “‘Why can’t a girl be smart without it being explained away as a rare supernatural phenomenon?'” YOU GO, GIRL. Everyone in this book underestimates Mary Shelley, and they always get their just desserts for doing so.
2. The pictures riddled throughout this book are so super creepy!
You may judge me for this, but I didn’t notice the spirit over Mary Shelley’s shoulder until it was actually mentioned in the book. Riddled through the book are pictures from that year – 1918. There are people in flu masks (that was the year the Spanish influenza broke out), people lifting coffins draped in American flags (this was also during World War I), and strange spirit photography relationships. This novel focuses on those three things. It’s jarring to be immersed in the fears of the time, then see actual photos. It makes everything seem so REAL. A lot of the time, when I’m reading historical fiction, I feel so disconnected from the time, like it’s not partly factual. These pictures changed all of that. Yes, they could be doctored, but I don’t want to believe that. *covers ears and hums at the naysayers*
3. This book is seriously creepy, especially if you’re scared of the possibility of ghosts.
As a slight nonbeliever in spirits, this book still freaked me out. I was honestly kind of bored with this until page 116. Then stuff got…insanely creepy and crazy and odd. Mary Shelley tries to kill herself. This is no spoiler, so don’t yell at me! She gets herself struck by lightning (because she’s smart and knows how to do so), but puts her soul back into her own body. After this, she is highly tuned in to spirit activity – especially for a specific boy. After she comes back to life, the whole story takes a turn for the strange, in a completely incredible way. If you’re scared of ghosts, or creeped easily, do NOT read this book in the dark.
4. It was extremely difficult to tell who the villains are in this book.
I won’t really say much more than that for fear of bringing up spoilers. All I’ll tell you is that it is AND isn’t who you think. All of the visions Mary Shelley sees are so horrible and confusing and dark, that I was seriously guessing until everything was revealed. I love when I can’t figure things out. It’s so exciting.
5. Cat Winters is making me love historical fiction again.
Her author’s notes make me so happy. I get to read her awesome writing and insane stories, then I get to see what inspired them. The three biggest events/crazes in this book are represented with such attention to detail and research, that I am completely in awe of Winters. First, the Spanish influenza. There are corpses everywhere in this book, and mostly because of the flu. Everyone wears flu masks – you rarely see a character’s entire face. This was a horrible and vicious blight throughout the world, and is represented in crystal clear clarity. Second, World War I. This war was the first to introduce finely tuned killing machines, like machine guns. This was also the first emergence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or shellshock, as they called it in 1918. Soldiers lost their minds and when they came home, were killed. No one knew how to help these boys and that, too, is something you’re forced to deal with in this book – face to face, and with no forgiveness. Third, spirit photography, and whether or not it has merit. Can you imagine if you were living in this time, losing someone to the war or the flu, and a photographer claims he can catch your loved one’s spirit in a photo with you, one last time? I know I’d fall for it, for sure. Spirit photography plays a huge role in this book. If that is a foreign subject to you, Winters will gladly school you in all things spirit photography.
OVERALL: 5 STARS!!! I will read absolutely anything Cat Winters writes. I am a fan for life. I cannot believe this review got as long as it did. I apologize I can’t tell you more, I just really don’t want to spoil anything for you. Click the link below to order, or go pick this up from your library. This was an insane ride that I never wanted to get off. Cat Winters is an incredible weaver of stories and her writing is intoxicating and addicting. Go forth and read, my friends!