Review: Alienated by Melissa Landers

Series: Alienated #1
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 352 (ARC)
Source: Trade
Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara's classmates get swept up by anti-L'eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn't safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara's locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she's fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~ 

There is only one way to describe this book: half adorable hilarity and half serious. It's a beautiful combination of both. While we sit here laughing to our hearts content, the underlying themes of extreme xenophobia and judgment are definitely prevalent throughout the novel, making this one great journey.

We begin the novel by meeting Cara, who I adored. She's sassy, smart, and she simply does what is right. This is my type of girl and I absolutely loved her characterization because she felt so real to me. Anyway, she is responsible for hosting one of three of the world's first foreign exchange students. And by that I mean a legitimately foreign alien from another planet--L'eihr.

This alien is named Aelyx and I really enjoyed him as well (almost more than Cara). Sure, he's tall and handsome, which is awesome, but he is also used as a huge source of comic relief. Comparing the world he grew up in to the Earth was really interesting to me. He sort of reminded me of a Vulcan. I'm making this comparison because Vulcans were the first aliens I was ever introduced to as a child and also because of the lack of emotional understanding and connection to the world. Both races are very analytical, logical, and structured while the human race is full of insane humans who are ruled by their emotions. Landers made these two worlds collide exquisitely and drawing comparisons between the two led to many laughs and fascinating new discoveries. Plus, watching Aelyx's journey of self-discovery and growth was beyond awesome too. He wasn't just a science experiment, he was a being with a past, present, and a future that was struggling to adapt in a world where he is hated that he doesn't really understand. He also despises most of the food, so that sucks.

The relationships in this book were, without a doubt, my favorite aspect of it. There was kissing, there was crushing, there was awkwardly throwing yourself at people because you don't know what to do. It was perfect. But the familial relationships were amazing as well. Cara's parents are so full of love and justice, I couldn't have asked for them to be written any other way. We need more people as sacrificing and steadfast in their beliefs as them.

But, with all things aside, this fun-loving book is forced to get serious fast. Most of the human race doesn't like the L'eihr's. They're aliens that are stepping foot on their planet, after all. The threat is obvious and it is only doubled due to the fact that their technologically is astronomically better than ours. Talk about light-years ahead of our time. This made me, as a reader, really interested to learn about their devices, but I understand why people would be freaked out. Anyway, this threat keeps mounting and the population goes nuts. It was almost like a cult was formed and there was death threats, physical threats, picketing, rioting, a lack of safety. You name it and it was forced upon Cara and Aelyx and the two other sets of exchange students throughout the world. All of this tension keeps mounting until it explodes at the end in a way that had me flipping pages to see what happens.

The ending, unfortunately, came as no surprise to me because of certain events that happened throughout the novel. However, it certainly made me excited for book two to see what else Landers has in store for us. There are little things that I didn't like about the book, like how Cara handled her friendship with Tori. I also didn't like her final decision made in the novel, though it's necessary for the series to continue. But, all little things aside, this book was both adorable and serious and perfect. I couldn't have asked for a better introduction alien adventure that certainly has me anxious for book two. Landers came out with a solid debut that easily promises more amazing shenanigans and space exploration to come.

This is the perfect read for those looking for a hilarious sci-fi that also explores deep themes of prejudice and xenophobia. It makes you think, but it makes you laugh so hard that you cry as well. What more could you ask for?


3.75 stars

~*~Links~*~
  

Israel Recap!

So, as you all know, my blog has been sort of dead for the month of January because I was in Israel from January 8 - January 19th! I just want to begin by saying that this was the best vacation of my life. It seriously altered me on an emotional level and put me in a place of self-awareness and positivity. Not to mention the fact that I am really in touch with my religious beliefs for seemingly the first time ever in my life. This trip was just sheer perfection.

And, well, I want to share some pictures (and my journey) with you!

The first day that we were in Israel, we were in Tel Aviv. This city is so freaking gorgeous and our hotel was amazing. I'm not even kidding you, this was the view from my balcony and I even convinced myself to wake up early to go for a jog along the beach at 6am.

I was actually really sad to see this city go. It was gorgeous and we only got to spend a day there. D:

On our way to the Sea of Galilee we stopped in Old Jaffa and toured around. This city is gorgeous and full of history, but my favorite part was Independence Hall. This is where Israel became a nation. And we sat in that building. I thought it was pretty cool.


After Tel Aviv we stayed along the Sea of Galilee for three nights and these were three of the best nights ever. All we had to do was go on a ten minute walk from our hotel room and we could see some beautiful views.

Look at the water! :o
I went back to watch the sunset.
This is where I celebrated my first Shabbat. It's pretty much a resting period from Friday afternoon until Saturday afternoon. A full 25 hours of no technology and calmness and relaxation. For the first time ever I did yoga. A group of 40 people ages eighteen to twenty five got bored and played an epic game of tag along the beach, we shared horror stories around a fire with our worst injuries. We all pretty much bonded in ways I never thought possible, and while I don't observe Shabbat in America it's an experience that I respect and really loved.

Upon Shabbat's immediate closing, we spent a night out in Tiberias. It was fun, we all danced and lived it up, and then went back to Kib Ginosar and bonded again while discussing the Israeli army and the defense forces. See, in Israel, if you are a citizen you have to enroll in one of the army's twelve branches and protect your country for at least three years. Everyone does this and it's beyond respectable. 

The next day, we met our eight soldiers. Among them, an air force pilot, an air force commander, an air force intelligence agent, a first sergeant explosives expert, a sergeant in the artillery field, two infantry soldiers, a medic, and an engineer--all nineteen or twenty years old.

We are very territorial of our soldiers--they're now our best friends.


Left to Right: Bar, Shirel, Chen, Shany, Yarden, Alon, Tally, and Ido.

Upon picking up our soldiers and having them change into normal clothing, we went to Agamon Hula. The Hula Valley is an agricultural part of Northern Israel and it's a place where birds migrate to a lot when it's warmer out. There, we went on a five mile bike ride (that made me realize I have awesome bike riding legs) and saw the birds. At times, it felt like we were in the middle of a horror story because there was so many.

After that, we went on a three hour long nature hike in an Israeli National Park. This was perhaps one of the most gorgeous things I've ever done, but it was also really muddy and several people lost their cameras when trying to catch themselves, so I don't have any pictures myself. :( I do however have a group shot of us being tourists in front of a waterfall.


The next morning we explored Tzfat, another gorgeous city full of history. Let me tell you, Israel really made me hate the fact that America doesn't have ruins and beauty the way so many other places do.


Shortly after this, we met with a border defender that helps to protect the lookout point of Israel. You can see all surrounding countries from this point. And let me tell you, this guy was passionate and crazy. He dropped cuss words left and right and he genuinely did not care what anyone thought of him. His only objective was to protect Israel and, in his words, "he'd mow down anyone who dare threaten his people." This was a shocking experience because I've never seen someone so passionate that it almost led to insanity. It just shows how strongly united ties are to this nation.

After that, we helped out Lechet, an organization that farms crops solely for the Israeli poor and the remaining Holocaust survivors. We spent two hours picking beets, and we all looked like murderers by the end of it. My friend has this awesome picture of me holding a beet that's twice the size of my head, but he's still in Israel so I don't have the picture just yet.


That night, a Holocaust survivor named Sarah Goodman visited us in our hotel to discuss her experiences and prepare us for Yad Vashem (The Holocaust Museum in Israel) the next day. Sarah Goodman is such a strong individual and I highly recommend looking up her memoir if you get the chance. She has a zest for life that a lot of people lack and throughout the several hours she was with us, she never stopped smiling.


The next day was a really heavy day. We had Yad Vashem, the Herzl museum, and Har Herzl (the cemetery for fallen troops, sort of like the Israeli version of Arlington).

I have no pictures of Yad Vashem. It's simply not a place you take pictures. But I can tell you I bawled my eyes out for the four hours we were in there. We literally went on a journey throughout the entire Holocaust, beginning to end and the aftermath while trying to reach the light at the end of the tunnel--the museum is seriously designed that way. If not for the soldiers and my fellow group members, I don't know how I would have survived that.

I will, however, show you this:


Upon exiting Yad Vashem, you are immediately greeted by an outlook of trees. These trees are the trees that the Jewish communities around the world raise money for, buy, and then send to Israel to plant to represent those who have perished in the Holocaust, hope, and the survivors. They just keep multiplying. I can say I've helped with at least ten of them myself throughout my years in Hebrew School. And to see this after such a depressing museum, my heart swelled.

After this there was another memorial to the fallen children in the Holocaust. This room was, again, not a place to take pictures. It simulated stars shining everywhere and it was dark, you had to feel for the handlebars of the walkway around you to signify how lost the children were. There are pictures of their young faces hanging everywhere that make your heart ache, and their names are on a loop that never ends, stating their name, their age when they died, and where they were from. Newborns to teenagers alike are mentioned, and you can't help but bawl again because if I was alive during this time period, my name could have been among them. It takes over a year for the loop to complete and it's absolutely terrifying.

After Yad Vashem, we went to Har Herzl, the cemetery. This place is the final resting place to so many heroes, and again, it was life changing just like Yad Vashem.


This is the grave of Theodor Herzl. Herzl was a Jewish journalist who eventually became the father of Zionism, in turn he became the creator of the state of Israel. Sort of a big deal, eh?


This is, in my opinion, one of the most important graves in the cemetery, aside from the famous leaders that are buried there. This is the grave of the man whose death led to the creation of the Lone Soldier Foundation. I mentioned the Israeli military above. A lot of Jewish individuals that plan to make aliyah (move to Israel and become a citizen) often join the military. The man above was no different. He moved so that he could join the military and fight for his country. He pursued this goal with abandon. One day, while on leave to visit family back in America, a war broke out. He called his commander and forced him to allow him to return and fight. While in battle, he was killed. He had nobody in Israel, his parents and friends had to fly out for his funeral. While soldiers can go home on the weekends to their families, he went back to an empty, tiny apartment. But when he was buried, thousands of people showed up to commemorate his sacrifice and desire to protect his country even though he was born so far away. This is the grave of an amazing man, and it is important to me because I have a friend in the army who is a lone soldier, and I have several more who will be lone soldiers in the following few years--one moving as soon as a month. Because of this man's sacrifice, lone soldiers will no longer truly be alone.

Heavy day, right?

To make it all better, our birthright organization entitled Taglit sent us to a megaevent. The prime minister of Israel even showed up to welcome us and give a speech! This event was pretty much a two hour long concert full of Israeli celebrities. Some of them covered English songs, but most shared their own in Hebrew, and while I couldn't understand them all, we had an amazing time. There were thousands of Jewish people ages 18 to 25 from America, Israel, Canada, Ethiopia, Uruguay, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, and so many more places celebrating our heritage together.


The next day was our first day in Jerusalem and what I was most excited for was the Wall. It was an amazing experience to say the least and I put some serious thought into writing my note. It took me a solid two hours to put that together.


This is a picture of my friend and I after we walked backwards and were about to exit the women's area of the Wall. If you are in Jerusalem, you must visit the wall. Seriously. The rest of the day was spent exploring this beautiful city.

That night was my favorite night of the trip. One of the soldiers, Shirel, had his father bring him his guitar and a singer on the trip, Avital, and him had a jam session. Shirel then passed the guitar to a bunch of other people and we spent hours taking turns and jamming to songs and just wow. This was a perfect night. I'm near the bottom of the screen between the two guys, curled up in a ball so that I wouldn't have to display my tone deafness, but I belted out Let It Go anyway.



The next day we were supposed to go on an archeological dig, but there was a scheduling mishap and the fact that they gave us a guide that only spoke Russian by accident. Oops. So, instead, we just crawled in the caves at Adullam. These things were awesome. We pretty much crawled up a mountain while underground. Israeli guerrilla fighters used these caves to protect themselves. Here's a picture of all of us stuffed into a passageway while we were preparing to go into a new tunnel. These tunnels were so tiny that I discovered I am near claustrophobic. Yup. And then I overcame that fear.

I am near the upper left of the screen.
Shortly after this, we had to say goodbye to the soldiers. They had to return to duty and we had to say goodbye. :( So, I guess I'll just share some pictures of me and the three soldiers I got closest to.

Chen (meaning grace) and myself
Shirel (meaning song of God) and myself (Shira, meaning song)

Alon (meaning oak tree) and I. I really love this picture.
After leaving the soldiers, we journeyed into the desert and spent the night in a Bedouin tent. Let me tell you, Bedouin tea is the best tea in the world. I lost count at 47 cups. We spent the night bonding around a campfire and then we all froze our butt's off while sleeping in a tent.


Yes, I slept here while sick. And got way sicker. But that's okay because I woke up to my favorite day ever!!!!

The best day ever started with me waking up at 5am to watch the entire process of the sunrise after wandering away from the Bedouin camp and into the real desert for several hours.

One of the most beautiful and jaw-dropping things I have ever seen in my life. You can see the sun's rays!
So worth waking up at 5am and functioning only on two hours of sleep while I hacked up a lung.

Shortly after eating breakfast, we went to ride camels! This was an awesome experience, but it freaked me out because camels stand up with their hind legs first, so I was on a 90 degree angle with the ground at one point.



After riding camels, we immediately set off to head to the Masada. We climbed it. And to say I made it up this thing while sick is like the accomplishment of my year. The views, the process, the stories are all spectacular, but your guide reminding you that you're walking on an area where a mass suicide was once committed isn't that pleasant.

Entrance to the trail.

View from the top on one side, you can see the Dead Sea in the distance.

View from the top on the other side.
And we ended the day at the Dead Sea! Guys, it's awesome floating like a dead person. That's all I've got to say. Here's a picture of my friend and I preparing ourselves with the exfoliating mud (which I stole and brought some back to America). I was only half way done when the picture was snapped. Oh well.

After this, we journeyed to a Kibutz that was about twenty minutes outside of Jerusalem to spend our last night there, as well as Shabbat. This kibutz...hated me. While Shabbat was very peaceful and I showed signs of finally feeling better, we had no curtains and I actually had to take a shower with a flashlight because we had no electricity. Oh, and we had to hunt down the family that owned the property every time we wanted to get into our room since our legitimate key always jammed and did not actually open our door. Keep in mind it was three people to a cabin and this only happened to my cabin. My luck, right?

This was our solution to curtains to block us from the parking lot and old men right outside. LOL
The next day was my Bat Mitzvah! While it was still Shabbat, I have no pictures. But it was a calming day full of meditation and us saying good-bye to Israel. When Shabbat ended, we did the usual chair lifty thing and someone did get a picture of that.

This is honestly fun as hell.
We explored Jerusalem until 2am, drove back to Tel Aviv, took off at 5:30am, and came back home.

And this was truly the trip of a lifetime. It changed me on a personal level and I am already dying to go back.

I hope you enjoyed this post. (: Would love to hear your thoughts below!










Waiting on Wednesday #42


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine.

My pick of the week is...

The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Heskell

A magical adventure set in an enchanted castle that is sure to appeal to fans of Gail Carson Levine, Karen Cushman, and Shannon Hale

When Sand wakes up alone in a long-abandoned castle, he has no idea how he got there. The stories all said the place was ruined by an earthquake, and Sand did not expect to find everything inside-from dishes to candles to apples-torn in half or slashed to bits. Nothing lives here and nothing grows, except the vicious, thorny bramble that prevents Sand from leaving. Why wasn't this in the stories?

To survive, Sand does what he knows best-he fires up the castle's forge to mend what he needs to live. But the things he fixes work somehow better than they ought to. Is there magic in the mending, granted by the saints who once guarded this place?

Unexpectedly, Sand finds the lost heir, Perrotte, a girl who shares the castle's astonishing secrets and dark history. Putting together the pieces-of stone and iron, and of a broken life-is harder than Sand ever imagined, but it's the only way to gain their freedom, even with the help of the guardian saints.

With gorgeous language and breathtaking magic, Merrie Haskell's The Castle Behind Thorns tells of the power of memory and story, forgiveness and strength, and the true gifts of craft and imagination.
~*~Why I Am Waiting~*~

Do you see that synopsis? Need I say more?! This not only looks like a great fantasy, but an awesome retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Sign me up. I am a retelling fiend! <3 

Don't forget to link me to your WoW's! 

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Reading Level: Young Adult, 13+
Pages: 352 (ARC)
Source: From Publisher For Review
Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

It's no secret that I am a sucker for fairytale re-tellings and Beauty and the Beast is my favorite story to be retold. These retellings can get really deep and intense when done right. And CRUEL BEAUTY does not disappoint at all in this category. Seriously, it was so close to perfection that I have no idea how I can write this review. I'm 99% tempted to just keyboard smash and go OMGIGNIFEX over and over and over.

In the very beginning of this book, I had a little bit of trouble getting into it. Hodge suffers from a small case of telling and not showing. There's an insane amount of world-building and history in the beginning and the stories that she shared in order to bring these tales to life were fascinating. But each story was literally introduced with something along the lines of "this is how the story goes". I got sick of this form of info-dumping really fast. Luckily for me, after the initial world-building was out of the way (in a writing style full of beautiful imagery, I might add) this was no longer a problem and my issue of being disconnected from the novel quickly faded as the relationships explored in the novel began to fascinate me.

Everyone in this novel, and I mean everyone, is messed up. They've all got issues. Seriously, if an entire society or cast of characters belongs in a psych ward, this would be it. But, damn, did I love it. The sheer complexity brought to each character is absolutely absurd because nobody is what they seem on the surface. A common theme in this story is that there is wickedness and cruelty beneath nearly everything, it is simply outwardly visible in some more than others. This exploration of cruelty and wickedness shows that there is beauty in malice, and I loved this unique plot point. There seriously is beauty in malice. Who would have thunk it? I never would have thought it until Hodge convinced me of this.

But back to the beautiful characterization.

Our main character is among my favorite of all time. Nyx has lived a really complicated life full of negativity and hatred because of the fact that she was meant to be sacrificed to save her father's domain. Her destiny must be fulfilled and the fate of the world was literally riding on her shoulders. You can only imagine her upbringing--no love and compassion, but strict teaching and coldness so nobody would get attached to the wicked creature who would inevitably cease to exist mere days after her marriage on her seventeenth birthday. Because of this, it was surprisingly wonderful to see the few times her heart swelled beneath her tough and wicked exterior. It was not often, but it was heartwarming.

And the funny thing is that, like any Beauty and the Beast retelling, we do have romance in this one. Somehow buried way, way deep in the plot, it eventually grows to be all-consuming with the type of slow-burn that makes any girl swoon. Our prickly, impulsive heroine in love? No way!

When Nyx is married off to the Gentle Lord, a demon who can take the shape of a human, she expects to be dead by evening. What she does not expect is for a love triangle of epic proportions to ensue. I hate love triangles, but it's impossible to resist a love triangle done right. And while this is sickly twisted and broody and dark, this is a love triangle done perfectly and some other authors need to take serious note. We have Ignifex, the lord to which she is married who is surprisingly deep though incredibly forgetful despite the fact that his wickedness is even more pronounced then Nyx's. If there was a king of mind-fuckery and evilness, it would be him. And, boy, did I love him for it. It's hard to find a twisted, deep, caring yet cruel villain that can somehow make a superb hero all the same. Hodge managed to do just that. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Shade, the poor soul enslaved for nearly one thousand years by Ignifex to do his bidding. Shade has knowledge that Ignifex does not, knowledge that can alter the very world that Nyx lives in, but is unable to share it because of supernatural forces. Where Ignifex is forgetful and hard, Shade is intelligent and gentle, and Nyx can't help but be drawn to these two completely different entities that are cruel in their own ways.

Hodge's beautifully dark writing and twisted, masterful storytelling takes you on the ride of a lifetime with this one. Though it left me with a few questions, my initial woes were completely forgotten because I found the overarching tales to be so engrossing. With one of my favorite casts ever--heroes, villains, and anti-heroes alike--I think I may have found a new favorite world and author. With her debut novel Hodge presents herself as a force to be reckoned with, and I seriously recommend giving this book a chance. If you are at all a fan of dark, gritty reads like myself, I forbid you to not give this one a try.

 
4.5 stars

~*~Links~*~

FTC Disclaimer: I did not receive any form of compensation in exchange for my honest review.  

Stacking The Shelves #56: A back-log from the vacation!!!


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

This is a haul spanning a few weeks because of my trip to Israel! I will definitely do a recap post about the trip one of these days. But, unfortunately for me, I came home from the trip and got really sick. Double ear infection with a mild head-cold sick. So, I'm sorry that the blog has been rather inactive this month. That'll change now that I'm finally getting better! The medicine I'm on put me out of commission for a bit, but I'm back with vengeance!


Trade
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (Thank you, Lori!)


Gifted from Kelly
Origin by Jennifer L. Armentrout


Gifted from Montana
Paper Towns by John Green
Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas (I loved this book!)

For Review From Edelweiss
 The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
Talker 25 by Joshua McCune


For Review from Macmillan
One-Man Guy by Michael Barakiva
Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel


What did you add to your shelves? 

Avalon Launch Day Excerpt & Giveaway

Series: Avalon #1
Publication Date: January 21, 2014
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Reading Level: Young Adult
A ragtag group of teenage mercenaries who crew the spaceship Avalon stumble upon a conspiracy that could threaten the entire galaxy in this fascinating and fast-paced sci-fi adventure from author Mindee Arnett.

Of the various star systems that make up the Confederation, most lie thousands of light-years from First Earth-and out here, no one is free. The agencies that govern the Confederation are as corrupt as the crime bosses who patrol it, and power is held by anyone with enough greed and ruthlessness to claim it. That power is derived from one thing: metatech, the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light.

Jeth Seagrave and his crew of teenage mercenaries have survived in this world by stealing unsecured metatech, and they're damn good at it. Jeth doesn't care about the politics or the law; all he cares about is earning enough money to buy back his parents' ship, Avalon, from his crime-boss employer and getting himself and his sister, Lizzie, the heck out of Dodge. But when Jeth finds himself in possession of information that both the crime bosses and the government are willing to kill for, he is going to have to ask himself how far he'll go to get the freedom he's wanted for so long.

Avalon is the perfect fit for teens new to sci-fi as well as seasoned sci-fi readers looking for more books in the YA space-and a great match for fans of Joss Whedon's cult hit show Firefly.
~*~Excerpt Graphic~*~

I think this is a really unique and cool way to share an excerpt, so check it out below!



~*~Giveaway~*~ 
Enter for your chance to win if you are thirteen years or older and do not live outside of the US!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
Disclaimer: I am hosting this giveaway on behalf of an outside party and do not take any claim for prizes. 

Temporary Hiatus: Shalom, Israel! & A Giveaway

If you haven't noticed my freak-outs on twitter recently, I am finally going on my birthright to Israel! I cannot express to you my excitement! Travelling is a passion of mine and Israel has been a dream destination for years. Not only have I wanted to go for as long as I can remember because my parents honeymooned there, but I've been wanting to go because I want to learn more about the place that my ancestors came from. Plus, a great majority of my family lives in Israel and it's scary to think that I may meet some of my blood relatives for the first time ever a mere month before my nineteenth birthday. Again, just like the trip, this prospect is both scary and exhilarating.


This trip is going to contain a lot of amazing experiences. Though it's several years late, I'm going to have my Bat Mitzvah. I'm going to spend a night in the desert with the Bedouins and hike the Masada at 4am. I'm going to spend a day at the Dead Sea and cover myself in mud and float like a dead person (talk about awesome!). I'm going to visit the Holocaust Museum in Israel, and bawl my eyes out as I think of my great-aunt who passed away last year bearing the tattoos of two different concentration camps. I'm going to observe Shabbat for the first time (twice!) and I'm going to ride a camel! How awesome is that?! I will visit the Wall. I will visit Jerusalem. I will learn about something that I consider to be a defining factor of who I am, yet I barely know nothing about. 

I hope to come back from this trip completely changed. So many people have told me that my Birthright is a life-changing experience, and I genuinely hope it is.


So, with all that in mind, I want to enjoy what little time I have in Israel. It's not often that you can travel across the world on a trip that costs less then $100 because it is your birthright. Not to mention the fact that I want to learn. I won't have access to the Internet, nor do I really want the distraction. I want to come back with a million pictures and stories, and keeping up with my blog while I'm overseas would make that nearly impossible.

So, I'm going on a temporary hiatus for the duration of this trip. I take-off today at 6pm, so I have to be at the airport around 2pm. I will be landing on January 19th, at around 1pm. The blog will immediately begin to pick up again upon my landing. But, until then, there will be no posts going up unless I decide to throw up a meme or two for your entertainment.

If you are a very close blogger friend and you want to keep in touch while I am away, download the app "Viber". The icon is a purple background with a white telephone. As long as you are connected to wi-fi, you can text me. If I am in my hotel at night, that's the only time I can reply. 

I hope that you guys understand the purpose of this brief hiatus. It's important to me and something that I genuinely want to take advantage of. 

See you in 11 days!


~*~Giveaway~*~


Because I'm going to be gone for a while, I want to leave you guys with a giveaway. What better way to bring in the New Year and start it off right?

Here's how this is going to play out...I currently have two books up for grabs. Both come out in March 2014. If I can get up to 700 GFC followers throughout this giveaway, I will also add an April 2014 book to the pile. So, want to know what is being given away?
 

Elusion by Claudia Gabel & Cheryl Klam
Cress by Marissa Meyer

~*~Guidelines~*~
1. Must live in the US.
2. Must be 13 years or older.
3. Cheaters will be disqualified and I have the right to disqualify anyone as I see fit.
4. Giveaway ends February 20, 2014 at midnight.
5. There are up two winners, three winners if I reach 700 GFC followers.
6. Giveaway winners will be e-mailed, if there is no response within 48 hours I will pick a new winner.
7. Winners will be formally announced during the STS post following the completion of the giveaway.

Please be aware that I check every giveaway entry.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
Good luck!