Summer of Series: Mindee Arnett Interview & Giveaway

You guys! I have adored everything Mindee has written, so I am so excited to have her on the blog today!

The Nightmare Charade
third in the The Arkwell Academy series
To be published August 4, 2015 by Tor Teen
Add to Goodreads
The final installment in a thrilling fantastical mystery series.

Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare. Literally. Dusty is a magical being who feeds on human dreams.

Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy is hard enough, not to mention the crazy events of the past year. Dusty may have saved the day, but there are many days left in the year, and with an old foe back to seek revenge, she'll need all her strength to defeat him and save her friends.

Mindee Arnett thrills again in this stunning final installment in the Arkwell Academy series.
Hello Mindee! Thank you so much for stopping by the blog today! I’m really excited to have you because I loved The Nightmare Affair so much!
Thanks for having me. I’m so happy to be here!

Describe The Arkwell Academy in a tweet! 140 characters or less. No cheating or the Twitter Gods are going to get you.
Girl and her boyfriend solve mysteries through dreams and magic.

What has been your favorite part of writing The Arkwell Academy?
This is going to sounds strange, but my favorite part was actually ending it. Or maybe I should say—getting to end it. So many book series don’t get the chance to end, but I was very fortunate. Not only did I get to end my series, but I got to do so in the way I wanted. There’s a deep satisfaction in bringing these characters to a close. I think readers of the first two books will be happy.

Did you always plan for The Arkwell Academy to be a series? How did it take
shape in your mind?
I didn’t actually plan a series. I was hopeful that it might become one, but there was no guarantee. The Nightmare Affair was my first published book, and at the time all I was prepared to be satisfied with just the one book. Lucky for me though, Tor Teen asked for three. So as soon as the book was accepted for publication, I began to make official plans for the sequels. Fortunately, I had laid a lot of threads in the first book that I was able to pick up for the sequels. That’s how I write all my books, dropping in certain details here and there that I can pick up later if the opportunity arises.

Book three, The Nightmare Charade, is almost upon us! Can you tell us anything
about it?
At the start of The Nightmare Charade Dusty is back at Arkwell from a summer-long vacation in Europe with her mother. She hasn’t heard from Eli in weeks, thanks to efforts from her mother and the magickind government to keep them apart. But once they’re both back on campus, nothing can stop them from reuniting. They meet, planning to make up for lost time, but right away they are interrupted by the magickind police who need their help tracking down a lost magical object, the deadly and dangerous Death’s Heart. The search starts them on a perilous journey where they will face enemies both new and old, and where their desire to be together will be challenged at every turn.

What is the most interesting thing you have Googled in the name of research?
As readers of the Arkwell Academy series know, there’s a connection to the King Arthur myths in my books. So I did a lot of research into the Arthur stories. That by itself isn’t very interesting, but in my research I discovered that in some of the stories Arthur and Merlin commit infanticide in their attempt to stop Mordred from coming to power. This was a real eye-opener for me. Usually, Arthur is considered a hero, but that’s some pretty villainous actions he’s taking right there. Although I don’t
reference the infanticide lore in my books, the idea of it definitely influenced me. A lot of Dusty’s story is about turning good and evil on its head, and asking the question of what makes someone good or bad and everything in between

What is one series you would recommend to readers?
Gates of Thread and Stone series by Lori M. Lee. It’s a wonderful fantasy with a kickass heroine. Kai is funny and fierce.

Thor, Iron Man, or Captain America? GO!
This is sooooo not fair. Can’t I have them all? Actually, I have a really hard time picking between Thor and Cap. I love them both. But I guess if I had to choose only one, I would go with Thor. Demi-god for the win! __________________________________________________________________________________

Giveaway!

Tor is kind enough to be giving away the full Arkwell Academy trilogy!

All entrants must be 13 years or older and this giveaway is open to the US and Canada only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
__________________________________________________________________________________

It is not too late to join the fun as we celebrate our favorite series and welcome new ones! Sign up for Summer of Series and knock down that TBR! 

Summer of Series: Ashley Elston Interview & Giveaway!

Well, this post was initially supposed to go up on Saturday and I feel terrible that it didn't, but I have had some major laptop drama. So much so that I'm actually on a forced hiatus until I get a new one, but hey! I wanted to share this awesome interview and giveaway with all of you, so check it out!

The Rules for Breaking
second in the The Rules for Disappearing duology
Published May 20, 2014 by Disney Hyperion
Add to Goodreads
Anna Boyd almost lost her life to get what she wanted most in the world: freedom.

But just when it seems that her family has finally escaped Witness Protection, the illusion that Anna could resume a normal life comes crashing down.

The deadly man Anna knows as Thomas is still on the loose, and now he's using her as a pawn in a dangerous game with the drug cartel determined to silence her forever. When Thomas and a mysterious masked man capture not only Anna but also her fragile younger sister and her boyfriend, Anna decides it's time to break all the rules-even if it means teaming up with the lesser of two evils.

Anna will do whatever it takes to protect the people she loves and win her life back once and for all. But her true enemies are hidden in plain sight. Before long, Anna will learn that putting her trust in anyone may be the last mistake she ever makes.
Describe The Rules for Disappearing duology in a tweet! 140 characters or less. No cheating or the Twitter Gods are going to get you. ​Gah! This is hard! Okay - here goes - 
By the sixth placement, Meg's done running. She's done with the Witness Protection Program. No matter what it takes - she's getting out. ​​​

What has been your favorite part of writing your duology? 
The research has been fun. I went to New Orleans several times and there's no better town to do research in. I've loved the school visits and meeting readers. That's probably the best part. ​ ​

What was your writing process like? Did you always plan for it to be two books?
I'm sort of a mix between a plotter and a pantster. I know the main points I want to hit in a book but I'm not always sure how I'm going to get there. I didn't plan in the beginning for there to be two books mainly because I wasn't sure I could get the first book published. Luckily, I was given the opportunity to continue writing in that world.

Your next book, This Is Our Story, was recently announced; can you tell us a little bit about what we can expect?
I'm really loving this book right now. It's a YA legal thriller told from two different viewpoints - the unknown shooter who accidentally killed his friend on an early morning hunt and the intern to the prosecutor assigned to the case. It's been really fun to write.

​What is the most interesting thing you have Googled in the name of research?
How to remove your fingerprints from your fingers - I do not recommend googling this. It's pretty gruesome. Cheesy pick up lines. Bullet wounds. ​ ​

What is one series you would recommend to readers?
​I just finished the Finnikin of the Rock series and I'm in love with those books. ​ ​
(Lili: I read these last month and I am OBSESSED!!!)

Thor, Iron Man, or Captain America? GO!
​Iron Man all day long. ​
__________________________________________________________________________________

Giveaway!

Ashley is being the awesomest of awesome and giving away a signed paperback of the first book in this duology, THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING.

All entrants must be 13 years or older and this giveaway is open to the US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
__________________________________________________________________________________

It is not too late to join the fun as we celebrate our favorite series and welcome new ones! Sign up for Summer of Series and knock down that TBR! 

A forced hiatus

Hi everyone!

If you haven't seen the drama on twitter, my laptop is pretty much dead. I've been to Apple 3 times in the past 4 days and there's no hope right now. I'm typing this post on my phone and preparing to give my lovely Summer of Series cohost, Danielle of Love at First Page, access to my blog to post this weeks summer of series posts since I can't do it myself.

I'm hoping to get home to New Jersey this weekend and maybe buy a new machine with the help of my parents, but my blog will be relatively inactive until we can make that happen. I love living alone and being independent, but I feel like my life just kind of fell apart with the loss of my laptop. My life is on there, my blog, my ability to apply for jobs and communicate with a lot of my friends and family.

Gah! I just miss you guys so much and hate that this is happening. If you see me on twitter say hi! And know I'm fighting super hard to not have this hiatus be any longer than necessary. If I had a choice this wouldn't even be a thing right now.

<3 Lili

Review: The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

Series: The Remnant Chronicles #2
Publication Date: July 7, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 470 (ARC)
Source: From Publisher for Review
Intrigue abounds in this hotly anticipated sequel to The Kiss of Deception!

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia's erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar's interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.

Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: there's Rafe, who lied to Lia, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives amongst them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country... and her own destiny.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

This book got me out of a terrible reading slump, and I am so thankful it did. But what else is to be expected when you combine a strong heroine with a crazy Komizar, a love-struck assassin, and a ridiculously intelligent and sneaky prince? PURE AWESOMENESS, THAT'S WHAT!

The Heart of Betrayal picks up right where book one left off and just throws us back into things. I have to say, one of the most interesting things about this book was the world-building and crazy power dynamics of Venda. It made this entire book one huge politicking game that was off its rocker and all over the place. Interesting and scary all at once.

But this was also the one negative of the book, if you ask me. In order to see the world with Lia and Rafe, prisoners of Venda since Kaden's few POVs were there to fill in gaps more than anything else, we had to get out of the Sanctum. To get out of the Sanctum you had to curry favor with people and bide time. So there was a lot of boredom pretty much while our characters bought themselves those allies and time. Sure, we learned about Venda, but we didn't get to see the action and adventure we knew were looming. Instead we dealt a lot with the creepy Komizar that has a thing for mind-games that constantly leaves readers sick to their stomachs. So many horseback rides and so much random wandering when there could be awesome action! It's sad that the pacing in this book was a little slow in the middle because the beginning and espescially the end were killer! BOOK THREE NOW PLEASE?!

And, as always, I have to mention the ship. This is one ship I desperately want to set sail. It is a ship worth rooting for that's crazy perfect and I love it. I want it. It's gotta happen. Book three now, yes? (How many times do I have to ask nicely before I get it?)

I was hesitant going into this one because book one blew me away, but book two stepped up to the plate and held its own. No sequel syndrome here, just lots of heartbreak and horseback riding and crazy cliff-hangers that leave you dying a slow and painful bookish-anticipation death. But, in all honesty, it's those reasons you have to read this series because it is so dang good!

Mary E. Pearson, you are a goddess!



4.5 stars

~*~Links~*~

FTC Disclaimer: I received no compensation of any kind in exchange for my honest review 

Summer of Series: A.C. Gaughen Interview & Giveaway!

I first read SCARLET back when it was a stand-alone, so for it to be a crazy successful trilogy with the best ending ever makes me really happy. I am so excited to welcome A.C. Gaughen to my blog today!

Lion Heart
third in the Scarlet series
Published May 19, 2015 by Bloomsbury Children's
Add to Goodreads
The eagerly-awaited conclusion to the Scarlet trilogy delivers another action-packed and romance-filled adventure.

Scarlet has captured the hearts of readers as well as the heart of Robin Hood, and after ceaseless obstacles and countless threats, readers will finally find out the fate of the Lady Thief.

Imprisoned by Prince John for months, Scarlet finds herself a long way from Nottinghamshire. After a daring escape from the Prince's clutches, she learns that King Richard’s life is in jeopardy, and Eleanor of Aquitaine demands a service Scarlet can’t refuse: spy for her and help bring Richard home safe. But fate—and her heart—won’t allow her to stay away from Nottinghamshire for long, and together, Scarlet and Rob must stop Prince John from going through with his dark plans for England. They can not rest until he’s stopped, but will their love be enough to save them once and for all?
Describe the Scarlet trilogy in a tweet! 140 characters or less. No cheating or the Twitter Gods are going to get you.
Ha!  How's this: "Girl with knives takes down the medieval patriarchy in just three novels.  Also, Robin Hood."
(Lili: If I wasn't already in love with this series, then you would have just succeeded in making me fall in love with it!)

What has been your favorite part of writing this trilogy?
UGH! One favorite?  It's amazing how many people have shared their love/tears/ragefire/feels with me over the books--that's just so totally beautiful and vulnerable and kind.  But I guess I'm really still not over the fact that this is what I wanted to do when I was seven, and by the time I got my big girl shoes, I was able to do it professionally. That's...still kind of amazing.

I know Scarlet initially released as a stand-alone and it was so well-loved it turned into a trilogy. Can you describe what that process was like? How did you choose to expand upon the story?
So, sort of an insider secret, it was always my intention to have the story be a trilogy. My publisher wanted to be more cautious, so they purchased Scarlet as a standalone and then said we'd talk after the book came out. The funny thing was, I thought I was totally prepared to write a trilogy and I knew where the story was going and I was READY.  But that was such hubris--writing is a crazy beast and when you think you know where the story "has" to go, it tacks and runs down a different path.  So it was a very unexpected, humbling journey--a lot of work and a lot of joy.  I had no idea how hard it would be to say goodbye!

Now that this amazing trilogy is done, can you share any hints about your future works?
*steeples fingers* well yeeeessss...Just a little bit!  My next series is going to start in 2017 and the series is currently titled "Elementae" and the first book is TERRA--the first book centers on Shalia, a young girl that discovers she has the ability to control the earth on the same day she marries Calix, a young king that hunted the Elemental powers to extinction.  The series as a whole will introduce women with other elemental powers, and I'm pretty psyched about it!!  I'm a hardcore fantasy fan, and this genre was where I started all my scribblings as a kid--in fact, this world and Shalia's character in particular is something I've been thinking about since I was about 14!

What inspired you to write Scarlet initially? It is such a great re-imagining and the imagination behind it is crazy amazing!
A lot of different things--partially, totally missing my time in Scotland (I went to school there and lived there for a while) and partially my love of Robin Hood--and my frustration with the typical portrayal of Maid Marian, and how she ends up a little lame.  Will Scarlet's character is always shadowy, and angsty, and a little off-screen, and it suddenly struck me that I might know why that was.
(Lili: OMG YES!)

What is the most interesting thing you have Googled in the name of research?
God, I've been getting this a lot lately, and I have to say I should probably change my answer to avoid being on MORE watchlists...but yes, it always has to do with a) the mechanics of medieval torture (did you know more people died from INFECTION than the torture itself?  And it was almost impossible to recover from being tortured because of that?) (also, please play out the philosophical ramifications of that--that literally, when a society was reduced to torturing for information, no one could recover....just saying....)

Ahem.  b) also lots of stabbing questions--where can I stab someone that they will bleed out slowly?  Where can i stab someone and they will not die?

Yeah.

BUT, c) probably the most interesting thing for my geeky heart was looking up some modern scholarly articles about King John's reign and rise to power, and how despite his perception, he might actually have been a really effective King.

What is one series you would recommend to readers?
ALL OF THEM THATS MEAN AND HARD.  I think the series that has been my biggest love in the past few years is the Grisha Trilogy, but I'm just going to assume that everyone already knows how awesome that is.  One of my all-time favorites might be the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz.  Or any of Ally Carter's series....or Katherine Longshore's Royal Circle Series (seriously amazing YA historical fiction).

Thor, Iron Man, or Captain America? GO!
I mean, we're talking about series, so let's just say Thor is for Tuesday, Iron Man is for Wednesday, and Captain America...welll he might take a few more days.  And that is definitely a series worth--ahem--rereading.

Heyo.
(Lili: And here I was thinking it was impossible to love A.C. Gaughen even more!)
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Giveaway!

Annie being the awesomest of awesome is providing a signed copy of LION HEART to one winner.

All entrants must be 13 years or older and this giveaway is open to the US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
__________________________________________________________________________________

It is not too late to join the fun as we celebrate our favorite series and welcome new ones! Sign up for Summer of Series and knock down that TBR! 

And, of course, be sure to stop by Danielle's blog!

My Current Obsession (3): Parks and Recreation


The last time I did one of these, I focused on THE UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT. That was exactly four months ago plus one extra day. Crazy, right? I guess it comes as no surprise that my current obsession is in the same comedic vain...Amy Poehler's hilarious PARKS AND RECREATION. As I write this post, I am eight episodes into season four and I am loving it so much I just want to fangirl with everyone!

Parks and Rec



Literally, the reason I love this show is because of the cast. I can't remember the last time I have encountered a show where I have loved each and every character. They're all so different and dynamic, and that's what makes this show so wonderful. They are the most unlikely group of friends and the funniest group of co-workers, and I didn't think I could love a bunch of goofballs as much as I love my Pawnee goofballs.

Leslie Knope played by Amy Poehler: Amy Poehler is always hilarious, but she plays a relentlessly optimistic wannabe small-town politician that is desperate to go down in the history books and get out of her mother's shadow. At the same time, she can throw down and shoot a gun like nobody's business. When she's pursuing something passionately, you know she's going to make you laugh your ass off. Plus, her love life is pretty hilarious and adorable at all once. Also obsessed with waffles because life.

Ron Swanson played by Nick Offerman: Lover of meat, hater of people, laziest boss in the world, man's man (every week he has to sand down his toenails because they're too strong for clippers) that is only attracted to psychotic women named Tammy...with the sweetest and most surprising kind side that he keeps buried way deep until someone amazing like Leslie needs it to make a rare appearance. Also, owner of a sick mustache.

Andy Dwyer played by Chris Pratt: Compared to the rest of the cast, Andy isn't as huge of a character. But if there's anything we all know it's that Chris Pratt is awesome and absolutely hilarious. While the entire show is hilarious, he provides a ridiculous amount of comedic relief because every scene he is in is meant to make viewers smile, even if other characters are struggling. It's crazy to think that he was initially just supposed to be a guest star in season one. I am so happy he is now there full time! Plus, his blooper reels on Youtube are drop-dead funny.

April Ludgate played by Aubrey Plaza: The most lovable deadpan college student character you'll ever come across. I literally can't say anything else because she's perfect.

Tom Haverford played by Aziz Ansari: Firstly, can I say I am so happy for him that he lost weight? I know he wanted to and he was never that large, but comparing him today to what he looked like in the first season of the show is such a drastic change. Aziz plays a wannabe gangsta government employee obsessed with partying and hot women, but he doesn't have enough game to appeal to anyone but elder cougars in town that are looking for extramarital affairs. He's also obsessed with fashion. In other words, he is perfectly hilarious. Just like everyone else.

Ann Perkins played by Rashida Jones: A super gorgeous nurse that ends up being Leslie's best friend and even though they are complete opposites, I am obsessed with their friendship and their ability to constantly be there for each other and lift each other up. Plus, her love life is also hilarious.

Chris Traeger played by Rob Lowe: Relentlessly optimistic, increasingly bubbly, obsessed with his health and obtaining perfection, super-sleuth, and ridiculously attractive. Need I say more?

 Ben Wyatt played by Adam Scott: Cute nerdy new addition to the office that is wonderfully nerdy and nice to look at and nerdy. Did I mention he was adorkably nerdy? He appeals to my soul!  

Jerry Gergich played by Jim O'Heir: Slowly approaching retirement office mess-up that is the butt of all jokes and the easiest person to blame for everything. EVERYTHING IS YOUR FAULT, JERRY!

Donna Meagle played by Retta: Always in the background of all episodes to deliver a hilarious line when necessary, best office worker ever with an attitude. In other words, all things cool.  
 

~*~Just get past season 1~*~


Season one is only six episodes long, so it has a few issues and the main one is that it is way too short. The characters aren't fleshed out and it's like the creators of the show were still on the hunt for the true heart of each character. Everything else becomes super interesting in season two once the characters are properly fleshed out and the obsessiveness with the pit morphs into so much more. I have to say, though, that season three rocked my freaking socks off and I'm prepared for it to continue to blow my mind.

Plus, this is a quick binge since the longest episode so far has been 27 minutes and the shortest a mere 20 minutes! Just watch it. You can thank me later. ;)

Have you ever seen Parks and Rec? Who was your favorite character? Do you want to watch it if you haven't already? Share your thoughts below!

The Last Ever After Blog Tour & Giveaway!

I am beyond excited to kick off The School for Good and Evil blog tour because this series is full of 3 things that I love: fairytales, middle-grade shenanigans, and epic characterizations. Before we look at the awesome interview Soman did with me and Harper's even awesomer (yep, I had to go there!) giveaway, let's take a look at book 3, which releases tomorrow!

In the epic conclusion to Soman Chainani’s New York Times bestselling series, The School for Good and Evil, everything old is new again as Sophie and Agatha fight the past as well as the present to find the perfect end to their story.

As A World Without Princes closed, the end was written and former best friends Sophie and Agatha went their separate ways. Agatha was whisked back to Gavaldon with Tedros and Sophie stayed behind with the beautiful young School Master.

But as they settle into their new lives, their story begs to be re-written, and this time, theirs isn’t the only one. With the girls apart, Evil has taken over and the villains of the past have come back to change their tales and turn the world of Good and Evil upside down.

Readers around the world are eagerly awaiting the third book in The School for Good and Evil series, The Last Ever After. This extraordinary conclusion delivers more action, adventure, laughter, romance and fairy tale twists and turns than you could ever dream of!
~*~Interview~*~ 

Hi Soman! I am so excited to have you on the blog! If you could live in any fairytale for 24 hours, which would it be and why?
Any fairy tale with a grand ball at its end. I love formal parties and dressing up and I’d be the first one with glitter in my hair on the dance floor. So yes, throw me into any fairy tale with a good party. 

Speaking of fairytales, I first picked up your series because I LOVE fairytales. So what is your favorite fairytale? 
There’s something so sinister about Hansel and Gretel, isn’t there? It just feels so real. You have a sister protecting her oafish brother from a witch determined to eat the both of them. In real-time, Gretel has to figure out how to save her brother and outsmart a witch. There’s no one to help her. It all comes down to cleverness and wit. To me, that’s a real fairy tale: a true survival guide to life.

How did you come up with the idea to have a school for the good and evil?
 I’m not sure where the idea came from, other than I really wanted to write my own fairy tale that wasn’t just a rehash of old stories. I wanted to tell a new kind of fairy tale we’d never seen before. So that led me to the idea of new characters in a new class at a school. 

You have a movie version of the series in the works right now with Universal Pictures. What was your reaction when you heard the news?! 
I was in an airport, so I had a glass of champagne at an airport bar. It was definitely a thrill and it’s been a fantastic process being deeply involved in the making of the movie.

You have a knack for writing really interesting good and evil characters, so what would you say is your process for creating such complex and layered characters? 
You have to feel your way through the characters. You can’t just write from your head. If you write cerebrally, it’s going to feel very, very flat. You have to be able to dig in and actually believe you’re in the world. So that’s my secret: I live in the Endless Woods while I write. My friends will tell you I’m not much fun when I’m in the throes of the book, because I’m just not here on earth during that whole period. 

How does it feel to have your insanely awesome debut series coming to an end?
 It’s sad. I love these characters, but it won’t be the end of the SGE universe forever. The movies are coming and I’ll continue to work on expanding the universe. But it’s also a relief to be able to have a balanced life again. Writing Book 3 was very, very intense.

Can you share anything about your upcoming projects? I have to know what is next! 
There’ll be a companion to SGE coming out in Summer 2016, which we’ll announce soon. And then I’ll start work on a new series… more on that soon as well. Stay tuned to www.schoolforgoodandevil.com for all news about SGE and non-SGE related projects.

And for the most important question of all...chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry ice cream?
None, because I’m lactose intolerant. I love ice cream so much, but I can’t eat it. Excuse me while I go bury my head in the toilet and cry over this sad question. Can someone invent non-dairy ice cream that tastes as good as real ice cream? Please? 
(Lili: I feel so bad! I'll get right on that invention!)

~*~Giveaway~*~

 
Harper is giving away 3 complete sets of The School for Good and Evil trilogy! This giveaway is US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to check out Reading Teen tomorrow for an awesome guest post celebrating book 3's release!

Stacking the Shelves #101

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

I have not done one of these in forever, but ahhh! Look at this haul! I am still freaking out over it even though it has spanned weeks! <3

 Gifted from Jessie (THANK YOU!)
The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
Jesse's Girl by Miranda Kenneally

Gifted from Montana (THANK YOU!)
The Rose Society by Marie Lu
Starflight by Melissa Landers
Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty
Juniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings

For Review From Penguin (THANK YOU!)
The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick

What did YOU add to your shelves?

Summer of Series: Victoria Schwab Interview & Giveaway!!!

Hyperventilate along with me because VICTORIA SCHWAB IS ON MY BLOG RIGHT NOW! WHAT! WHAT! WHAT!!!! Also, her interview is kind of amazing. Check it out below!

A Gathering of Shadows
second in the A Darker Shade of Magic series
To be published February 23, 2016 by Tor
Add to Goodreads
Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.
Describe A Darker Shade of Magic in a tweet! 140 characters or less. No cheating or the Twitter Gods are going to get you.
A magician who can move between worlds acquires a very dangerous stone, gets his pocket picked by a cross-dressing lady thief. Chaos ensues.

What has been your favorite part of writing A Darker Shade of Magic?
It’s a close match between the magical fight scenes and Lila’s knives.

How did A Darker Shade of Magic take place in your mind? In other words, what was your inspiration?
It all started a couple of years ago with the image of a boy in a fabulous coat walking through a wall covered in blood, and running into a girl disguised as a masked thief. From there it took another year or so to sort through who these two were, and what on earth led them to this moment.
(Lili: I am dying!)

Book 2, A Gathering of Shadows, (a book with an AWESOME name and cover!!) comes out in February of 2016. Is there anything about it that you can share with us right now?
I am not supposed to say TOO much, but AGOS has pirates and magical tournaments and princely angst and characters we thought were dead (and a world we thought was gone).
(Lili: I can't handle this! dgdfgdfgsdgasdlksdhfdofugjdkfgj)

What is the most interesting thing you have Googled in the name of research? My guess is that the government would find your research pretty intruiging... ;)
Oh man. I looked at a lot of weapons. And maps. And fabulous coats ;)
(Lili: YES! FABULOUS COATS! <3)

What is one series you would recommend to readers?
The Curseworkers series—White Cat, Red Glove, Black Heart—by the extraordinary Holly Black.

Thor, Iron Man, or Captain America? GO!
Loki.
(Lili: Good choice! You and Melinda Salisbury have got the right idea! (; )
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Giveaway!

Victoria is giving away a preorder of the second book in the ADSOM series, A GATHERING OF SHADOWS!

All entrants must be 13 years or older and this giveaway is open internationally as long as The Book Depository ships to you.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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It is not too late to join the fun as we celebrate our favorite series and welcome new ones! Sign up for Summer of Series and knock down that TBR! 

And, of course, be sure to stop by Danielle's blog!

Review: Frostborn & Nightborn by Lou Anders

Series: Thrones & Bones 1 and 2
Publication Date of Book 2: July 14, 2015
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Reading Level: Middle Grade
Pages: 368 (ARC)
Source: From Publisher For Review
From the author of Frostborn comes Book 2 in the acclaimed Thrones and Bones fantasy-adventure trilogy for fans of Lloyd Alexander and Brandon Mull.

Karn Korlundsson is a gamer. Not a riddle solver. But in order to rescue his best friend, Thianna Frostborn, he will need to travel to the faraway city of Castlebriar (by wyvern), learn how to play a new board game called Charioteers (not a problem), decipher the Riddle of the Horn, and tangle with mysterious elves.

Meet Desstra. She’s in training to join the Underhand—the elite agents of the dark elves. When she crosses paths with Karn, she is not all that she appears to be.

Everyone is chasing after the horn of Osius, an ancient artifact with the power to change the world. The lengths to which Karn will go in the name of friendship will be sorely tested. Who knew that solving a riddle could be so deadly?

~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

When I read middle grade, I get super excited. Mostly because when I began reading, I jumped straight to YA and didn't get to explore middle grade the way it deserves to be explored. When a fantasy series comes my way which is titled Throne and Bones (!!!), I knew I had to give it a chance.

I'm going to forgo talking a lot about book one because while I enjoyed Frostborn, I can't say I loved it. It held my interest, it kept me curious, it was a decent read, but Nightborn is where this series truly takes off in my eyes. I think that this in large part due to the fact that the pacing of book two is much better, and also I found myself inexplicably fond of nearly every character I encountered because their characterization was just so spot on. No sequel syndrome here, folks!

In book two, everyone and everything is chasing after the Horn of Osius. The main character, Karn, is sent by the dragon, Orm, to find this ancient relic that can control the dragons because we can't have that happening. Karn is willing to hunt down the Horn, but he's more considered with finding his friend Thianna who was previously dispatched on this quest and suddenly disappeared. I don't know about you guys, but any story involving an awesome friendship will hold my attention, but what makes it even better is the fact that Thianna is a half frost giant! Just take a minute to process that. I freaking love crazy cool creatures like that.

But, speaking of cool creatures, we also meet Desstra who is of the dark elves--a new race that we did not meet in Frostborn. The world in Nightborn is just so much more complex because of Anders's ability to expand on book one. But anyway, back to the review...Desstra is skilled in poisons and traps, but lacks the killer instincts that her race is known for, which hinders her from graduating and becoming a member of the Underhand. Inevitably, her path crosses with Karn and shenanigans, trickery, and why the heck are you being so stupid, Karn? moments ensue. I mean, seriously, Karn needs to get himself a little bit of common sense every now and then.

I could sit here and go on for hours about this cast. I will say that Anders's writing is rich with great characters that truly stand apart from each other which makes his novels fun and very easy to read.

4 stars

~*~Links~*~

FTC Disclaimer: I received these books and no other compensation of any kind in exchange for honest reviews.

Summer of Series: Sarah Fine Interview & Giveaway!

Sarah Fine has been a long time author friend of mine, so I am super excited to be able to have her on the blog today!

Of Dreams and Rust
second in the Of Metal and Wishes series
To be published August 4, 2015 by Margaret K McElderry Books
Add to Goodreads
War erupts in this bittersweet sequel to "Of Metal and Wishes", inspired by The Phantom of the Opera and called “relentlessly engrossing” by The Romantic Times.

In the year since the collapse of the slaughterhouse where Wen worked as her father’s medical assistant, she’s held all her secrets close. She works in the clinic at the weapons factory and sneaks away to nurse Bo, once the Ghost, now a boy determined to transform himself into a living machine. Their strange, fragile friendship soothes some of the ache of missing Melik, the strong-willed Noor who walked away from Wen all those months ago—but it can’t quell her fears for him.

The Noor are waging a rebellion in the west. When she overhears plans to crush Melik’s people with the powerful war machines created at the factory, Wen makes the painful decision to leave behind all she has known—including Bo—to warn them. But the farther she journeys into the warzone, the more confusing things become. A year of brutality seems to have changed Melik, and Wen has a decision to make about him and his people: How much is she willing to sacrifice to save them from complete annihilation?
What has been your favorite part of writing this series?
Probably writing Bo. He is NOT a typical romantic lead. He is more or less a genius psychopath with a history of deep trauma, and he acts that way. I think it’s easy to want him to behave in a more predictable, healthy manner, but knowing his background, I just couldn’t do it. So I’ve seen reviewers describe him as creepy, and scary, and unlikeable, and I’m thinking … yup. What else would you expect? The trick was to present glimmers of goodness and selflessness while still honoring all his emotional wounds—to really show the struggle of a seriously damaged soul clawing his way toward a bit of light, and to show readers why Wen feels about him as she does.

What was your inspiration behind this story? It’s so dark and wonderfully enticing with its Phantom of the Opera comparisons. It didn’t start out as Phantom. It started with my macabre fascination with The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, which was reawakened when I watched Food, Inc. So the idea of writing a book set in a slaughterhouse was actually the jumping off point! It only became Phantom later, as I realized the parallels, and at that point, I embraced them. I mean … Phantom of the Opera set in a slaughterhouse. Every single time I say that, I get some type of reaction. At least it’s memorable?

I know that book two is the official end of the story and it’s coming out in less than 3 weeks, but can you tell us if you’ll be exploring more of this world in the future?
Nope. I’m done with the world. That’s just my preference—once I feel like I’ve told a story, I don’t usually want to linger in a world. I want to invent a NEW world with NEW characters and create a NEW story! I get bored easily, and readers deserve to have tales told by energized, thrilled writers. So I always want to move on before anyone gets bored.

What is the most interesting thing you have Googled in the name of research? For Of Dreams and Rust, I did a lot of research on engineering models of the movements of spider legs. If you read the book, you’ll see the results.

What is one series you would recommend to readers?
ONE series? Um … sorry. I just can’t. The Elemental series by Brigid Kemmerer, The Control series by Lydia Kang, the Under the Never Sky trilogy by Veronica Rossi, and the Penryn and the End of Days series by Susan Ee. TO NAME BUT A FEW.

Thor, Iron Man, or Captain America? GO!
Captain America. I’m a sucker for wholesome good guys with a touch of darkness or melancholy, but just a touch.

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Giveaway!

Sarah being the amazing person that she is is offering a duology set of both of the titles in this series to one lucky entrant.

All entrants must be 13 years or older and this giveaway is to the US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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It is not too late to join the fun as we celebrate our favorite series and welcome new ones! Sign up for Summer of Series and knock down that TBR! 

And, of course, be sure to stop by Danielle's blog!

Waiting on Wednesday #54


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine.
My pick of the week is...
 

Publication Date: January 26, 2016
Publisher: Razorbill
Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start…until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.
~*~Why I Am Waiting~*~

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS MEETS THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE! NEED I SAY MORE?!?! 
Caps. Absolutely. Necessary.

 Have you heard anything about this book? Are you also excited? Can you not wait?!?!

Summer of Series: Lindsay Ribar Interview & Giveaway

I first met Lindsay at a diner with a ton of other bloggers, and I've been friends with her since. I'm very happy to welcome her to the blog today! I highly recommend checking out this series because, hello, genies!

The Fourth Wish
second in the The Art of Wishing series
Published July 31, 2014 by Kathy Dawson Books
Add to Goodreads
Here’s what Margo McKenna knows about genies:

She’s seen Aladdin more times than she can count; she’s made three wishes on a magic ring ; she’s even fallen head over heels in love with Oliver, the cute genie whose life she saved by fighting off his archenemy. But none of this prepared her for the shock of becoming a genie herself.

At a time when she's trying to figure out who she wants to be, Margo is forced to become whomever her master wants. Everything she's taken for granted—graduating from high school, going to college, performing in the school musical, even being a girl—is called into question. But she’s also coming into a power she never imagined she'd have.

How will Margo reconcile who she is with what she’s becoming? And where will she and Oliver stand when she's done?
 
Describe The Art of Wishing duology in a tweet! 140 characters or less. No cheating or the Twitter Gods are going to get you.
Gender-bendy, genre-bendy duology about making wishes, making music, and making out. Oh, and stabbing!
Side note from Lili: HOW CAN YOU NOT WANT TO READ THIS? THIS TWEET IS PERFECTION!

What has been your favorite part of writing this series?
My favorite part was probably figuring out the rules of how genies worked. Sometimes I shaped the characters to fit the rules, sometimes vice versa, but the characters and the rules developed together, and that was a really fun process.

How did the idea behind The Art of Wishing come to you? Was it always meant to be a duology? 
The Art of Wishing started with one character: Oliver. I read a lot of paranormal romance, especially the ones that feature a human girl and a supernatural boy. But I started noticing that a lot of those romances contained a huge imbalance of power in the boy’s favor, just because he’s the one with magic. I wanted to find a way to turn that idea on its head – and that’s when the idea of genies occurred to me. A supernatural creature of immense power… who can only use his power when his master makes a wish. The result was that the imbalance of power tipped very much in the other direction, which gave me some really fun complications to play with.

This book was originally sold as the beginning of a trilogy, actually. I’d envisioned a story of huge scope, and I’d outlined it for my editor, who liked the idea. But there’s a huge difference between an idea that’s still safely in your head, and an idea that you’re trying to translate to the page. Long story short: The idea I had simply didn’t work. It was so large in scope that I grew bored with writing it – so my editor and I decided to simplify it, keep it intimate, keep it focused on the story of these two characters navigating their lives together. And the story I wanted to tell there – well, it only took two books to tell. Since there was no point in stretching it out to fill three books, I decided to go with two.

Since your series is complete, do you have any ideas for future works that you can share with us? Or is there any possibility that you may be revisiting this world?
I have no plans to revisit this world anytime soon, although never say never, I suppose. Right now, I’m editing a stand-alone dark paranormal YA called Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies, about a seventeen-year-old boy who can reach into other people, via objects that they own, and steal parts of their personalities away. It’s tentatively due out in 2016.
Another side note from Lili: I freaking want this book! Gah!

What is the most interesting thing you have Googled in the name of research?
YouTube videos of avalanches. (Not for the genie books.)

What is one series you would recommend to readers?
Only one? Well, that’s hardly fair. How about one finished series and one unfinished series? In terms of finished series, I’ll recommend the Shade trilogy by Jeri Smith-Ready. Her writing is so beautiful, and the world-building and characters just feel so real to me. This is paranormal romance done right.
In terms of unfinished series, check out The Jewel by Amy Ewing. The first book came out in fall 2014, and it’s just so dark and twisted, and so imaginative. And, call me biased, but when I first met Ash, the narrator’s love interest, I couldn’t help but thinking that he and Oliver (my genie) would be very good friends.

Thor, Iron Man, or Captain America? GO!
Iron Man. No question.
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Meet the author!

I'm just sayin', this is probably one of my favorite author about me sections ever.
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Giveaway!

Lindsay is kind enough to offer the winner a choice between book 1 and book 2 as her giveaway.

All entrants must be 13 years or older and this giveaway is to the US and Canada.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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It is not too late to join the fun as we celebrate our favorite series and welcome new ones! Sign up for Summer of Series and knock down that TBR! 

And, of course, be sure to stop by Danielle's blog!

What is my life?


So, if you haven't noticed I've been somewhat MIA on ya'll recently. I'm still around, but nowhere near as much as I used to. For a while it was because I was commuting into NYC 5 days a week for my internship and non-profit job, which took an extra 3 hours out of my day on top of my 8 hour work-day, so you can imagine the exhaustion. I would come home and just not have the energy to read.

That's not really true anymore because I have moved to NYC for the remainder of the summer and my round-trip commute is now closer to 45 minutes to an hour. It's wonderful in that sense, but since moving to New York City I have begun walking a lot. I'm trying to get back to the weight I was in the beginning of the school year before I had the crazy roommate who tells people my accomplishments are hers because she made me stress eat so much, and I'm doing this by walking a lot as to not hurt my injured knee or over exert myself. Plus, it's nice to come home after a long day of work and plug in my headphones and listen to music or a podcast while I enjoy NYC. I'm walking a ridiculous amount and I'm loving every minute of it. (To put it into perspective, I get so lost on my walks that I've walked 31 miles in the past 4 days).

But, again, I come home and I'm exhausted. I shower, get in bed, and watch Parks and Rec because I just don't have the energy to read and focus on reading. Plus, walking a lot makes me tired and I'm actually getting more sleep than I've ever gotten before in the past several years. It's crazy!

But, yeah, I'm kind of adjusting to this new lifestyle choice, and I don't really know how to get myself back into reading because I'm not willing to give up the exercise for it. I've spoken to a few people and they say it takes time to adjust to spending most of your time working and traveling to and from work because such a thing is exhausting, but I am so ready to be past that stage.

So, I was wondering if anyone has advice on how to get back into reading when dealing with a full plate of exhaustion due to your activities for 10-11 hours of the day five days a week? I'd love to know because I miss reviewing!

Now that you know what's going on in my world, what's going on in your world?

Summer of Series: Susan Dennard Interview & Giveaway

Can we take a moment to acknowledge how excited I am to have Susan on the blog today? It's Susan Dennard people! If you haven't read any of her books, you are seriously missing out.

Strange and Ever After
third book in the Something Strange and Deadly series
Published July 22, 2014
Add to Goodreads 
In the conclusion to the trilogy that Publishers Weekly called “a roaring—and addictive—gothic world,” Eleanor Fitt must control her growing power, face her feelings for Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus...all before it’s too late.

He took her brother, he took her mother, and now, Marcus has taken her good friend Jie. With more determination than ever to bring this sinister man to justice, Eleanor heads to the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt in hopes of ending this nightmare. But in addition to her increasingly tense relationships with Daniel, Joseph, and her demon, Oliver, Eleanor must also deal with her former friend, Allison, who has curiously entangled herself in Eleanor’s mission.

With the rising dead chomping at her every move and Jie’s life hanging in the balance, Eleanor is convinced that her black magic will see her through to the bitter end. But there will be a price. Though she and the Spirit Hunters have weathered every battle thus far, there will be consequences to suffer this time—the effects of which will be irreversible. And when it’s over, only some will be able to live a strange and ever after.

Susan Dennard will leave readers breathless and forever changed in the concluding pages of this riveting ride.
Describe your new series, The Witchlands, in a tweet! 140 characters or less. No cheating or the Twitter Gods are going to get you.
Six elemental magics, three war-hungry empires, and two best friends who must save it all. ;)

What has been your favorite part of writing The Witchlands?
My favorite part of exploring the Witchlands has been the HUGE scale. With four point of view characters in book one (and more to come later!), with three empires and more kinds of magic than I can count, and with so many histories and backstories and relationships -- gah! There's just so much to share and dig into! Of course...all that scale and size also makes writing it a whole new kind of challenge for me.

How did the writing process for The Witchlands differ from your debut series Something Strange and Deadly?
Well, because the world is so much bigger and I'm dealing with SO many more characters and arcs, I needed more time to write and revise.

How did the idea for The Witchlands come to you? It is freaking awesome!
The idea for the Witchlands was sort of a one-two combo. I heard "El Dorado" by Two Steps from Hell right around the time I was toying with two words: Threadwitch and Truthwitch. Somehow, the combination of those words and that music just...KAPOW! Ideas! World! Characters! IT all burst forth, and as I wrote, I realized the two leading ladies--the Threadwitch and the Truthwitch--were EPIC best friends just like my best friend and I are. ;)

What is your favorite line from The Witchlands?
Oh gosh! While this isn't necessarily my favorite line, it's one that I think so perfectly summarizes the first book: "Everything had gone horribly wrong." It's also the opening line of the book, and as readers will see, things don't really get better for my poor heroines as the book progresses. ;)

You made me bawl at the end of the Something Strange and Deadly trilogy, so I need it in writing that you won’t do it to me again at the new of this new series. This isn’t a question, but it’s entirely necessary to my sanity.
I promise not to make you bawl unnecessarily at the end of this new quartet. Does that work? ;)

You have a third series under your belt, kind of, with the online publication of The Starkillers Cycle that you co-publish with the amazing Sarah J. Maas. What is it like co-publishing a story with your best friend while simultaneously spending years on stories you have sole creative control over? How do these experiences differ?
The Starkillers is SO FUN. It helps Sarah and I relax, and I also think it pushes us as writers. We write characters very different from those in our books, and the world is SO huge -- we really get to flex our muscles and try new things. It's also just nice to have no editorial process. One day, when we finish this mondo tale, we'll of course hire a professional editor...but until then, it's just us and our muses!

Truthwitch ARCs are in the world, which means edits are done! So, what’s next for you? Anything you produce is amazing, so I have to start mentally preparing myself now.
I'm working on the second book in the Witchlands series, Windwitch. It has been tough because -- as mentioned -- this world is HUGE and I'm working with a vast cast of very different characters. I'm definitely pushing my own skills to the limit, but hopefully I'll reach this challenge and rise above!

What is the most interesting thing you have Googled in the name of research?
The most interesting thing I've googled in the name of research is how to make dynamite!! I feel certain that dynamite + my googling how to make EMPs has put me on every FBI watchlist out there...

What is one series you would recommend to readers?
Oh. Wow. That's an incredibly tough question....I think, probably, the ONE series I'd recommend to readers (at least teens) is the Abhorsen trilogy from Garth Nix. There is still no world or cast of strong women quite like his.

Thor, Iron Man, or Captain America? GO!
Captain America for face. Thor for body. And Iron Man for brain. Does that count? ;)
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Meet the author!


Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. As a marine biologist, she got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (she’ll get to Asia one of these days!)—before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor.
She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series as well as the forthcoming Witchlands series (Tor, 2015), and when not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, exploring tidal pools, or earning bruises at the dojo.
She lives in the Midwestern US with her French husband and Irish setter, and you can learn more about her crazy thoughts and crippling cookie-addiction on her blog, newsletterTwitterFacebook, or Pinterest.

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Giveaway!

Susan has an awesome giveaway for everyone! She is going to share a copy of her first book, Something Strange and Deadly, with one winner! If the winner is in the US it will be a paperback, but if the winner lives outside of the US it will be an eBook.

All entrants must be 13 years or older and this contest is open internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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It is not too late to join the fun as we celebrate our favorite series and welcome new ones! Sign up for Summer of Series and knock down that TBR! 

And, of course, be sure to stop by Danielle's blog! Alyxandra Harvey has a US/CAN giveaway going on today!