Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For The First Half of 2016

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

This Week's Topic
Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2016

Lauren's Picks:

1. The Last Star by Rick Yancey

2. The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

3. The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Julia's Picks:

4. The Winds of Winter by George R.R. Martin: 
Unfortunately this is just my hope beyond hopes. There still isn't an official release date... I just really, really want to read it before the next season of Game of Thrones in April... :(

5. Forevermore by Kristen Callihan:
Book 7 in the Darkest London series. I adore these books and can't wait for more!

6. Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt:
I love the Maiden Lane series, and in the course of looking this up, I found that there is a new on out that I forgot about! So I need to read that, but I want this. 

Jamie's Picks

7. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson: Morgan is one of my go-to's when it comes to contemporary YA and all of her books have elicited 5 stars from me. SUPER EXCITED FOR THIS ONE YOU HAVE NO IDEA.

8. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys: I have loved both of Ruta's previous books and I am so excited to read yet another historical fiction from her. She's writing some of the BEST historical YA out there. 

9. The Last Boy and Girl in the World: I feel like Siobhan Vivian is super underrated and I've enjoyed the contemporary YA I've read from her and I'm SO excited for this upcoming book from her!

10. The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski: I CANNOT WAIT TO FOR THIS CONCLUSION TO A TRILOGY I HAVE LOVED SO MUCH. I feel like my feels are not prepared!!

Tell us what you are anticipating!!!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Tahleen reviews: "Winter" by Marissa Meyer

Title: Winter
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Macmillan Young Listeners, 2015 (print available from Feiwel & Friends)
Narrator: Rebecca Soler

Rating: 4.5 stars

**Possible spoilers for Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress!!**

At long last, we have the final installment in Marissa Meyer's excellent Lunar Chronicles quartet. This tome delves deeper into the story of Princess Winter, the stepdaughter of the terrifying Queen Levana of Luna. Winter refuses to use her Lunar gift, and as a result she struggles with Lunar Sickness, a mental illness that causes vivid hallucinations and confusion in those who suffer from it. Winter also has the misfortune of being extremely beautiful and very well loved by the people of Luna, earning her the jealousy and hatred of Levana. And so, this Snow White tale follows the bones of the original: the queen orders her beautiful stepdaughter killed, only to have the one ordered to do the killing unable to go through with it and create a ruse to save her.

Of course, Winter is also the conclusion to the other three stories that began in the previous entries in the series. Cinder is still at large, accompanied by Cress, Thorne, Kai, Iko, and Wolf. Scarlet is still imprisoned in the royal menagerie as Winter's pet. And Levana is after total control.

This was an intensely satisfying ending to what I think is a fantastic series. Meyer expertly retells the original folktales, cleverly bringing them into the sci-fi world she has created. All of the characters are extremely well rounded, including the villains, and the action and battles get super intense. I also loved how the relationships keep maturing and growing throughout. My favorite has to be Thorne and Cress, though Scarlet and Wolf are just lovely too. And I still love Iko.

The narration by Rebecca Soler is great. She has distinct voices for every character, and I could easily pick out who was talking. She has great pacing and an attractive voice. I went after the audio editions of each of the books in this series because I enjoyed listening to her interpretations so much. The only thing I thought was kind of weird was her decision to give Kinney, a guard on Luna, an Irish accent. Why? Aren't they all from Luna? Why would he have an accent from Ireland in that case? Minor quibble, especially since I can't complain really about listening to a well-done Irish accent, but it threw me off a bit.

I was very pleased with how things turned out in the end. I am very much looking forward to the collection of short stories that will be released in February, titled Stars Above.

Disclaimer: I got this CD audiobook from my local library.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Top Ten Books We Wouldn't Mind Santa Leaving Under Our Trees This Year

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

This Week's Topic
Top Ten Books We Wouldn't Mind Santa Leaving Under Our Trees This Year

Lauren's Picks

Jamie's Picks
4-- My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrick Backman -- This one looks really great! Hannah's raving about it made me add it to my list, I believe!

5 -- The Diviners by Libba Bray -- I've really wanted to read this one for a while and recently have been like "yeah, I want that day to be soon. "
6 -- Hello? by Liza Wiemer -- I've heard nothing but amazing things and Liza is so lovely! 

Bridget's Pick
7 -- Illustrated Harry Potter!

Jana's Picks

The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line

8 -- The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas

I just discovered Veronica Mars this year, and I LOVED it! So I am dying for this book!

Mr. Kiss and Tell

9 -- Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas
Ditto to my above statement!

10 -- If You're Lucky by Yvonne Prinz
Looks amazing!!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Lauren Reviews These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
Published: October 2015 by Random House Delacorte
Source: eARC
Rating: 4 Stars

Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon - like all the girls in her class - she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo secretly dreams of becoming a writer - a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.

The more Jo uncovers about her father’s death, the more her suspicions grow. There are too many secrets. And they all seem to be buried in plain sight. Then she meets Eddie - a young, brash, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper - and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. Only now it might be too late to stop.

The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

Another historical fiction book that furthered my love for the genre. Jo Montfort is a young lady in waiting when her father dies. She immediately doubts her father's death was a suicide and starts to lead a double life. One where she walks the streets at night investigating the possible murder of her father and another where she acknowledges her social status and acts accordingly - like a young lady who looks pretty, has a delicate mind, and is well-mannered. 

Eddie, a man she meets at the newspaper her father used to own, becomes her partner in the investigation of her father and her father's company secrets. Jo ends up doing and seeing things that rich young ladies of that time period would be shunned and cast out for if her actions were exposed. Jo throws caution to the wind, deciding the truth is worth any consequence. 

I loved following Jo's journey and her perseverance throughout was incredible. She could have her entire future ruined every single time she snuck out at night and yet she still risked it. She was a true journalist during a time when woman were thought of as small-minded and weak. 

If you're looking for a good historical fiction with a large dose of mystery, this one is for you. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Bookish Holiday Traditions

The holidays are the time for sharing, for caring, and—yes—for reading! Seriously, what's better than curling up with a blanket, a mug of your hot beverage of choice, and a lovely book (perhaps one that Santa brought) while it's snowing outside? I can't think of much.

The holidays are also the time for traditions, and we want to hear about yours! Specifically, what are your bookish holiday traditions? I personally don't have any, and I'd really like to start one...or more!

My husband, for example, always read The Night Before Christmas aloud with his parents on Christmas Eve when he was growing up, each reading a portion of the story in turn. (This is a lovely tradition, but I'm glad I haven't yet been wrangled into participating because the only thing I hate more than listening to people read aloud while trying to follow along in the text is reading aloud myself. Sorry, honey.)

Another delightful tradition that always makes the rounds on social media this time of year is Iceland's jólabókaflóð, or "Christmas Book Flood." Icelanders traditionally give and receive books on Christmas Eve, and spend the rest of the evening enjoying their new treasures. This is something I'd love to have as a tradition someday, but most of my family members probably wouldn't be interested, unfortunately. (Maybe when my husband and I have kids and start spending holidays in our own home rather than traveling, we can start enforcing this tradition!)

Something I would love to start, but would be difficult to make an in-person tradition since we move so much, is a holiday book-swap. Set a date and time for people to bring, say, five books they love (their own copies or new copies) to share with others. Everyone gets to sit and hang out and drink wine and eat snacks and then, at a specified time, you can go decide which books you want to take home.

As I'm thinking this through, I'm considering two options: 1) you bring (for example) 5 books, but you can only take home 3, and all the extra books are donated, or 2) you bring however many you want, but you can only take home the same number you bring. This might be tough to enforce, though—maybe you'd get a different colored bracelet depending on how many books you brought, or a badge, or a punch card. Hmmm. Any ideas?

Of course, I'd also love to start the tradition where people stop saying "but what else?" when I tell them that I want books for Christmas, but...

What are your bookish holiday traditions? What traditions do you want to start?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Top Ten Best Books We Read In 2015

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

This Week's Topic
Top Ten Best Books We Read In 2015 (you can do it by only 2015 releases,  overall , by genre (top ten fantasy books I read in 2015), etc. however you choose to make your BEST list)

Jana's Picks

1 -- A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
LOVED this book. I've had a hangover since I read it back in March. Loved everything.

2 -- The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall
This was the first book I read in 2015, and I loved it! It's swoony and thrillery. Plus it's all international and exciting!

Lauren's Picks

I related to this book in so many ways it's almost unbearable. I can barely find the words to describe how much this book impacted me and I read it right at a time in my life that I needed to.

This book hit every aspect that I could even imagine would intrigue me and left me wanting more.
Also seconded by Daisy!

I really loved this book. I was completely engrossed from the beginning and I loved how everyone was connected, even if it was by a thread. 

Daisy's Picks

THIS BOOK YOU GUYS!! You should all read it, it's beyond amazing and I totally loved it! I have so many ships to ship and flawless plot and just YES.

I can seriously not get enough of Sarah J. Maas' writing and this series in particular! It's one of my favourites and I die at the end of every book because I know I'll have to wait another year to continue the awesomeness. *seconded by Jamie!!*

I'm so incredibly late to the party, but OMG so much this book!! I had all the Wesley feels and I just love Bianca and the amazingly strong message that this book sends and the body image positivity and the friendship and just too many things to mention. LOVE.

Jamie's Picks

9. Truthwitch by Susan Dennard: Okaaaay this is a 2016 release but our list isn't 2015 release specific but best books we read in 2015 so I'm going to take the time to talk about this AMAZING book. Seriously one of my top 5 books that I read this year!!! If you like fantasy, this book MUST be on your list for January!

10. The Start of You and Me by Emery Lord: SUCH CONTEMPORARY GOODNESS. It made me so happy and solidified Emery as a fave --even though I predicted after Open Road Summer she would be!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Lauren Reviews Lifer by Beck Nicholas

Lifer by Beck Nicholas
Published: December 2014 by Month9Books, LLC
Source: eARC
Rating: 5+ Stars

Asher is a Lifer, a slave aboard the spaceship Pelican. A member of the lowest rung of society, she must serve the ship’s Officials and Astronauts as punishment for her grandparents' crimes back on Earth. The one thing that made life bearable was her illicit relationship with Samuai, a Fishie boy, but he died alongside her brother in a freak training accident. 

Still grieving for the loss of her loved ones, Asher is summoned to the upper levels to wait on Lady, the head Official’s wife and Samuai’s mother. It is the perfect opportunity to gather intel for the Lifer’s brewing rebellion. There’s just one problem - the last girl who went to the upper levels never came back.

On the other side of the universe, an alien attack has left Earth in shambles and a group called The Company has taken control. Blank wakes up in a pond completely naked and with no memory, not even his real name. So when a hot girl named Megs invites him to a black-market gaming warehouse where winning means information, he doesn’t think twice about playing. 

But sometimes the past is better left buried. As Asher and Blank’s worlds collide, the truth comes out - everyone has been lied to...

This was a novel that crushed the depths of my soul and I'm still trying to glue it back together. Asher is our main character, a strong young woman who is in a forbidden love affair with Samuai, a boy born of a higher social class. Samuai loves Asher despite her social status and even wants to help bring down the walls of oppression that the Lifers have lived behind for many years. Everything changes when Asher's brother and Samuai are pronounced dead. Asher is quickly summoned to be the Lady's servant. Lady is the equivalent of say... the first lady of the United States, power-wise anyway. Lady also just happens to be Samuai's mother. While trying her best to do as she's told without sarcasm (which still slips every once in a while), Asher mentally maps out every detail she can remember to relay back to her mother, who is in charge of an upcoming rebellion against the upper class, AKA the Fishies. 

Then there's Blank. He's named Blank because he woke up on a planet and has no recollection of who he is. He quickly learns about The Company, an organization who recruits and brainwashes people to join their cause. Blank may be well... literally blank when it comes to the details of his past, but he still knows the difference between good and evil. He rather quickly sides with the people who are against The Company and does whatever he can to help the cause. 

Asher and Blank's worlds collide in way that leaves you dizzy. I truly cannot wait to read the next novel in this series. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Top Ten New-To-Us Authors In 2015

*Edi: Sorry if you tried to come over here and link up your post at midnight. The post was scheduled but somehow Blogger malfunctioned or something and it didn't post*

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

This Week's Topic
Top Ten New-To-Us Favorite Authors We Read For The First Time in 2015

Jana's Pick

I LOVED The Devil You Know, and am now a huge fangirl of Trish's. I want to read all her other books!

Lauren's Picks

Oh Nick... how you make me squirm.. in HORROR AT YOUR SCARY BOOKS. I love them. And possibly you. 

I discovered you in 2015 and you will be with me always.

And Deb, Debbie, Deborah... how you have made me swoon over your characters and indulge my fantasies. 

Why didn't anyone tell me about her sooner? Where were you guys when I needed you? ;)

Daisy's Picks

THE DUFF!! I cannot with this book, it was everything and now I need to read everything by this lovely lady. I have all the Wesley feelings.

So basically everyone is raving about this lady and her books and I just jumped on the band wagon, but holy batman, she knows how to bring the awesome and the feels! I loved how she described the friendship in Since You Been Gone, it was SO GOOD!

I cannot begin to even with The Wrath and the Dawn, the writing was so, SO beautiful and I just YES! GIVE ME MORE!

Julia's Pick

9 -- David Levithan
I read Every Day and really thought the story was good and would have not as been as good if David Levithan wasn't as talented an author as he is.

Jamie's Pick
10 -- Alex Bracken
I read her debut novel Brightly Woven and then I read her upcoming time travel novel, Passenger, and I just cannot wait to go back and read her Darkest Minds trilogy! 

Tell us what new-to-you authors you discovered this year!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Our November Favorites & December TBR

It's that time to share our favorite of the past month and what we hope to read this month!

November Favorites


Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler
This book was so delightful! If you like contemporary YA, get on it!!


The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May
 This sequel was amazing and heartbreaking and just everything I wanted. You can read my review here.


I loved so many aspects of this book that I don't have enough time to list them all. Don't worry... review to come!

December TBR


Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom
I've been excited for this one ever since Little Brown was kind enough to give it to me at BEA. The main character is blind and I feel like I so rarely see that in YA.


Maid-sama! Vol 2 by Hiro Fujiwara
I totally adored the first volume, so I'm excited for this one!


Don't call me a cheater, BUT I already started reading this one on November 30th. I couldn't wait! Don't judge!


How the hell did I forget how much I loved this series? This has been out almost a month and I have not read it yet! Thank goodness for lending out Cinder (book 1) to my friend and him telling me how good it was. It reminded me that I need this book. Yesterday.

What about you all? What have been your faves of November and what do you plan to read this month?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Top Ten 2016 Debut Novels We're Looking Forward To

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

This Week's Topic
Top Ten 2016 Debut Novels We're Looking Forward To

Jana's Picks

Give me a book set in/about Italy and I'll love you until the end of time. PLUS... road trips and swoons. I can't wait for this one!

As if the title weren't enough to make you squeal with delight, the heroine loves YA books so much that she goes to them for love life advice. Who hasn't done that?
Seconded by Daisy!

Lauren's Pick

This book just sounds so interesting. I can't wait to get my hands on it!

Daisy's Picks

I cannot resist a tale about assassin families combined with a fantasy setting. 

Literacy is a capital offense. I just need this because it sounds epic and oppression and rebels!

Jane Austen meets X-men. I really need no other reason than this.

Sounds like it's filled with a very interesting magic system and lots of intrigue :)

It has people magically jumping to libraries in it! I will read this!

Jamie's Picks

9 -- Into The Dim
 More time travel, yo! EEEEEP. Scotland and time travel and a main character trying to save her mother (in 72 hours) who is trapped in the 12th century. *empties wallet*:

10 -- The Girl From Everywhere
TIME TRAVEL (omg so many time travel books in 2016 and I’m pumped). I am already loving the locations and the time periods referenced in the summary — modern day NYC, Honolulu in 1868 and mythic Scandinavia


Oh! And while you're here... You should totally sign up to participate in Jana's (That Artsy Reader Girl) 2016 Debut Author Challenge! If you're excited about 2016 debuts, this is the perfect reading challenge for you! There's author interviews, author and publisher-sponsored giveaways, and monthly swag pack giveaways to participating reviewers! Read about the challenge and sign up by clicking on the button below!

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