Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #96

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Cassie's Waiting On: 

Brave New Girl by Rachel Vincent
Brave New GirlPublication Date: May 9, 2017

Synopsis:

In a world where everyone is the same, one girl is the unthinkable: unique. A high-stakes fast-paced series launch from New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent.

We have brown hair. Brown eyes. Fair skin.
We are healthy and strong and smart.
But only one of us has ever had a secret.


Dahlia 16 sees her face in every crowd. She's nothing special—just one of five thousand girls created from a single genome to work for the greater good of the city.
Meeting Trigger 17 changes everything. He thinks she’s interesting. Beautiful. Unique. Which means he must be flawed. When Dahlia can't stop thinking about him—when she can't resist looking for him, even though that means breaking the rules—she realizes she's flawed, too. But if she’s flawed, then so are all her identicals. And any genome found to be flawed will be recalled.
Destroyed.
Getting caught with Trigger would seal not only Dahlia's fate, but that of all five thousand girls who share her face. But what if Trigger is right? What if Dahlia is different?
Suddenly the girl who always follows the rules is breaking them, one by one by one. . . .
 

I'm always interested when Rachel Vincent writes a new story, so I added this to me TBR without even reading the description. But after reading the synopsis I knew I wanted to read it more than ever. This is the first time Rachel Vincent is writing a sci-fi novel, so I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Jocelyn's Waiting On: 

Roar (Stormheart, #1) by Cora Carmack 
Publication Date: June 13th, 2017


Synopsis:

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage. 

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough. 

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.


Has Cora Carmack ever published a fantasy book? I'm not really sure, but I know her contemporaries are great. I know it sounds weird, but I love books about arranged marriages. I think because most times it doesn't work out and the girl ends up being a huge badass. It seems like Aurora is going to be such a great character in this book and I can't wait to for it to come out!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Book Blitz: How We Fall

About the Book:
Title: How We Fall
Author: Melissa Toppen
Publication date: April 21, 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Synopsis: 
It’s not always about how we fall- it’s about where we end up once we land.
I remember the very first time I laid eyes on Cole Lincoln. It still feels like yesterday when he stumbled into my life with his messy brown hair and dark eyes. Even though I was only ten years old at the time, I knew right then and there that he was going to change everything.
From that point on Cole and I were always together—inseparable—and I naively believed we’d be best friends forever. But forever didn’t last nearly as long as I expected.
We grew up and grew apart, life driving the distance between us, but my love for Cole never faltered. Even long after he moved away, leaving me and our little town behind, I still carried a piece of him with me every single day. Because Cole wasn’t just my childhood best friend- the boy who knew me better than anyone else in the whole world. He was also my first love- a part of my very core.
When a tragic death brings us face to face again after six years, every single memory comes rushing to the surface. Only this is not the boy I fell in love with all those years ago. The man before me is hardened, intimidating, and so damn sexy I practically melt when those dark eyes meet mine for the first time in six years.
And like the first time he walked into my life, I know with complete certainty that everything is about to change.
How We Fall is a STANDALONE Contemporary Romance.


Author Bio:
Melissa Toppen is a Reader's Choice Award Winning and Bestselling Romance Author of New Adult, Contemporary, Erotic and Romantic Suspense. She is a lover of books and enjoys nothing more than losing herself in a good novel. She has a soft spot for Romance and focuses her writing in that direction; writing what she loves to read.
Melissa was born and raised in a small town in Ohio and now resides in Cincinnati with her husband and two children, where she writes full time.
In addition to spending time with family and friends, Melissa loves going to concerts and is obsessed with the T.V. shows Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time and Outlander.

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~Cassie

Monday, April 24, 2017

Discussion: Why Thirteen Reasons Why is Not OK

I'm sure you've heard the buzz surrounding the book/tv show Thirteen Reasons Why. As book bloggers, we may know Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher was published in 2007 by Razorbill. Since the debut of the TV show on Netflix, book sales skyrocketed on numerous bestseller lists including NYT and Audible. Was it a good book? When I read it, I was in middle school and I hated it. I didn't feel the need to re-read it before watching the TV show, so these opinions are solely based on my opinion of the TV-show adaptation. As a school psychologist, I watched this show critically from a mental health standpoint and cringed during many of the parts. I am writing this blog post to share with you the main problems I have with this show and how it portrayed suicide.

If you are unaware of what this book is about: here is a short summary

You can't stop the future.
You can't rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.


Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker--his classmate and crush--who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why. 

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah's pain, and as he follows Hannah's recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.



#1) Hannah blamed everybody for her suicide 
Not just Hannah, EVERYONE pointed fingers. It was his fault, her fault, the schools fault, the parents fault. These tapes were the blame game, and it finally put the power of voice back in her hands. I am aware that many of the individuals on the tapes were in the wrong for bullying and engaging in other illegal actions. However, this gives the illusion that someone is to blame in the case of suicide, which is not the case. This is dangerous and can perpetuate the idea of revenge suicide being the only way to get someones point across. 

#2) There was no mention of mental health/depression 
90% of those who commit or attempt to commit suicide have depression or another mental illness such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc. Isn't that worth bringing up? Suicide is an important topic, but so is mental health. Everyone always talks about the "stigma" of mental illnesses, but how can the stigma disappear if it's pushed away and superficial causes are brought to the surface?

#3) No School Support 
Why was this demonstrating that schools react like this when students reach out for help? INACCURATE! That is illegal. Threat assessment would have been performed, mental health professionals and parents would have been notified. This is extremely upsetting given that if adolescents who might be depressed are watching, they may be discouraged from seeking help because they think that nobody will listen to them.

#4) It shows that there is a point to suicide 
Hannah's point was to make other people think about their actions. Is it good to reflect on bullying and realizing that you made a wrong decision? Of course! However, killing oneself doesn't "teach anyone a lesson". Suicide never has a positive outcome and this TV show is demonstrating that this was the only solution to seeing a change in anyones actions. Basically, it seemed like Hannah was a martyr whose death finally allowed people to see the problems of their actions. Say it with me, suicide is never the answer. 

#5) "Research shows that exposure to another person's suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of death, can be one of the many risk factors that youth struggling with mental health conditions cite as a reason they contemplate or attempt suicide."
Where does this come from? NASP (National Association of School Psychologists) issued a cautionary article regarding the TV show "13 Reasons Why" and this was included in the article. This show portrayed graphic rape and suicide scenes which correlates with "graphic or sensationalized accounts of death". If you'd like to read the article, I have a link for you right here:
NASP Article


I'd just like to know - who is this helping? I'd love to know your opinions of this show or the book. Now I realize that on the surface that the "moral of the story" is to be nice because you don't know how your actions are really affecting people. However, I feel like this TV show does NOT accurately depict suicide or mental illnesses, as a lot of books about mental health actually don't. I didn't mean to offend anyone with this post, they are simply my opinions and I'd also love to hear yours in the comments below!


- Jocelyn

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Book Review: The Girl in the Picture

The Girl in the PictureAbout the Book:
Title: The Girl in the Picture
Author: Alexandra Monir
Pub. Date: Nov. 15, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press/Random House
Pages: 272 
Rating: 3/5 stars




Synopsis:

Nicole Morgan has been labeled many things — the geeky music girl, the shy sidekick to Miss Popularity, and the girl with the scar. Now only one name haunts her through the halls of Oyster Bay Prep.

The Girl in the Picture.

After high school heartthrob Chace Porter is found dead in the woods near the school, the police are in search of the girl whose picture with Chace is the only clue found amongst his personal belongings. A girl who no one knew was even close to Chace–and whose dormmate, Lana Rivera, was Chace's girlfriend.

Nicole is that girl and now she's the primary suspect in his murder.

But what really happened that night? Were Nicole and Chace dating behind Lana’s back; were he and Lana over? Could either of them have killed him?

Told in alternating points of view, that of our suspect, Nicole Morgan, and her former best friend and roommate, Lana Rivera, readers will piece together the story of a starcrossed love, a fractured friendship–and what really happened the night Chace was killed.

Review:

This is a tough review to write because on one hand I really liked the story, but also it was a bit predictable and cliche which ended up taking away from the entire book. I loved the mystery part of the novel and I thought it was very well done. It kept me interested until the very end, and while the person behind the murder wasn't a big surprise to me (I did figure it out before the person was ultimately revealed), it still was a jaw dropper when everything comes to light. Alexandra Monir has always known how to weave a good mystery and this book is certainly no exception. I love her writing, and her novels are the perfect length. The story is fast-paced and extremely well written (especially since it's dual POV). If you're already a fan of Alexandra, then this book is for definitely for you! 

The story is told for 2 perspectives, Nicole, the shy girl who is a brilliant musician, and Lana, the queen-bee who's not so nice and gets everything she wants. I thought that Alexandra wrote the dual POV very well, and the stark contrast in their personalities really drove the story forward. When secrets come out, and Nicole becomes "The Girl in the Picture" everyone turns against her. However, it was nice to see that her mom played a major role in supporting Nicole. It's refreshing when the parent actually plays a role in the story, and helped her avoid making mistakes that could have irrevocably changed her life. Both characters are extremely well-developed, and I felt that we knew both girls very well by the end of the story. 

The one thing that I didn't like though was the love triangle. I didn't think it served a purpose at all and wasn't really needed. I thought it was going to play a much bigger role in the murder in the end, but it didn't. I would have been perfectly fine with how much focus was placed on the love triangle if it did actually end up being the answer to everything. Another thing that slightly bothered me was the ending. I thought it was a bit rushed and it was a bit too easy for the truth to be revealed. 

Overall, The Girl in the Picture was a solid story that had well-developed characters and an intriguing mystery that keeps the reader interested. There is a paranormal element (just like all of her books) which added a thrill to the story but it didn't distract from the plot in any way. While it wasn't everything I wanted, I would still recommend checking it out especially for fans of psychological thrillers and suspense novels.



Happy reading :)

~Cassie

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #95

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Cassie's Waiting On: 
The Battlemage (The Summoner, #3)

The Battlemage (The Summoner #3) by Taran Matharu
Publication Date: May 9, 2017

Synopsis:

One boy's ability to summon demons will change the fate of an empire ... The epic conclusion to the fantasy trilogy described as 'Harry Potter meets Lord of the Rings meets Pokemon'.

After the thrilling cliffhanger at the end of book two, we rejoin Fletcher and his friends in the ether, where they must undertake a mortally dangerous quest, all the while avoiding capture by enemies and facing foes more terrifying than anything they have yet encountered.

But this is nothing compared to what truly lies ahead for Fletcher, as his nemesis, albino orc Khan, is on a mission to destroy Hominum and everything and everyone that Fletcher loves.

Epic battles, dramatic revelations and breathtaking drama await in the third and final book in the New York Times bestselling Summoner series.


Words can't even describe how excited I am for this finale in The Summoner series!! Taran Matharu has consistently delivered an epic story that has swept me away in an amazing adventure, and I know this one will be no different.  It's sad that this will be the end of the series, but I'm excited to see what happens to Fletcher and his friends!


Jocelyn's Waiting On: 

Dark Breaks the Dawn by Sara B. Larson 
Publication Date: May 30th, 2017 


Synopsis:

On her eighteenth birthday, Princess Evelayn of Eadrolan, the Light Kingdom, can finally access the full range of her magical powers. The light looks brighter, the air is sharper, and the energy she can draw when fighting feels almost limitless.

But while her mother, the queen, remains busy at the war front, in the Dark Kingdom of Dorjhalon, the corrupt king is plotting. King Bain wants control of both kingdoms, and his plan will fling Evelayn onto the throne much sooner than she expected.

In order to defeat Bain and his sons, Evelayn will quickly have to come into her ability to shapeshift, and rely on the alluring Lord Tanvir. But not everyone is what they seem, and the balance between the Light and Dark comes at a steep price.


I absolutely love fantasy and books about the paranormal. Since Evelayn has the ability to shape shift, it seems like this is an awesome cross between the two. I feel like I haven't read a good book that features shapeshifting in quite some time so I can't wait to dive into this!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Book Review: What Light

What LightAbout the Book:
Title: What Light
Author: Jay Asher
Pub. Date: Oct. 18, 2016
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 251 
Rating: 4/5 stars




Synopsis:

From Jay Asher, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why, comes a romance that will break your heart, but soon have you believing again. . . .
Sierra's family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it's a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other. 

Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.

By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb's past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.

Review:

I was actually really surprised by the low rating that this book has received on Goodreads when I first started reading it (and I still am), but I didn't let this sway me while I was reading. I also tried to go into this book with a clear mind, and not compare it to Jay Asher's brilliant work (Thirteen Reasons Why, which if you haven't checked out yet, I highly recommend that you do). So with those 2 things in mind, I ventured into reading his newest novel, and was extremely impressed. Did it blow me away, no, but this was a cute, quick story that was the perfect Christmas-time read. I read this literally 2 days before Christmas, and it had everything that I wanted at that time...Christmas trees, pretty lights, hot cocoa, ugly sweaters, candy canes...I could go on and on! Honestly, I could easily see this being a Hallmark Christmas movie (and I'm a sucker for those things). The story was incredibly heartwarming and just a feel-good, light romance, and exactly what I needed. 

Jay Asher delivered another book with characters that you easily begin to care about as soon as the story begins. Sierra was a caring, kind person that just wanted the best for everyone. She was down-to-earth, and a great MC to read about. Caleb made me swoon multiple several hundred times, and despite his secret (which wasn't as dark as the synopsis made it out to be), he more than made up for his "mistake." I honestly loved his character, and how selfless he was. Every girl deserves a Caleb in her life. But most importantly, I loved how mature they were in their relationship. When they got into an argument, they actually used their words and didn't just make those snap judgments that every other couple in books these days tends to do. It made their relationship more believable to me because it showed that 2 people can actually be adults and handle an argument maturely. Also, despite how quickly they "fell" for each other, their relationship seemed extremely natural and progressed at a normal pace. Again, this was refreshing to read since this isn't common in books anymore. Caleb and Sierra's relationship is very clean, and it focused more on them getting to know each other than trying to get in each other's pants. 

I will say that I flew through this book and easily read it in one sitting. In some ways it actually felt more like a novella rather than a full length novel. I'm not necessarily saying that I wanted more pages in the book, but the book just seemed incredibly short to me. Nothing particularly exciting or dramatic happened in the story, which in my opinion would have felt out of place if it did. And those are my only complaints (which really aren't complaints more just observations). 

Overall, Jay Asher's, What Light is a lighthearted, fun Christmas romance. Sure, you could easily write this one off as "just another holiday inspired story," but it truly is a great novel that takes you into a winter wonderland for a couple hours. It's not as gripping or thought-provoking as 13 Reasons Why, but I never expected it to be. So grab some hot chocolate, cookies, and this book, and read this book now! 



Happy reading :)

~Cassie

Friday, April 14, 2017

Blitz: April Book Fair

April’s Freebie Fair! 46 FREE Books for a LIMITED TIME!
If you’re looking for free books and a way to connect with new and exciting authors, you’ve come to the right place! Visit this link and you’ll be able to select up to 50 FREE BOOKS! Definitely take advantage of this while you have the chance! We also have a Guest Post about one of my favorite genres...STEAMPUNK! I 100% agree with all of this, and steampunk is just so much fun to read!
GUEST POST

5 Elements of Steampunk & Why You Should Add it to Your TBR List

1. Beautiful World-Building 

 howls moving castle GIF


Steampunk is science fiction which takes place in the past. An alternate history where inventions, gadgets, and personal conveniences do not belong, and yet, are there. Often these inventions are powered by steam, hydraulics, clockwork, gyroscopic action, or pretty much anything but gasoline. The author has to create a beautiful Victorian setting where mechanical items exist that shouldn’t in Victorian history.

2. Strong Female Characters – 

HULU GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY


It was in the Victorian era that feminism grew by leaps and bounds and the suffrage movement gained major traction. Because of the strong influences of women in the time period in which steampunk has its roots, they tend to take centerstage in the interpretation of this genre. Who doesn’t like a woman who steals the show or takes charge?


3. Action and Adventure – 

                      

What would inventive fiction be without an inventive plotline? In Steampunk you will find a bit of drama, a bit of fantasy, a tad of mystery, but generally, you’ll find adventure that expands the horizons of your imagination… often viewed from an airship or mechanical animal.

4. Fun Fashion and Costumes – 

 stardust robert de niro charlie cox michelle pfeiffer neil gaiman GIF

Not many genres can boast an entire theme of Cosplay. People love to dress in steampunk fashions for Comic Cons, book conventions, Halloween, and parties. Even the high fashion world has runway shows dedicated to this style of dressing. Go to Etsy and search “steampunk” you’ll find all sorts of fun things to wear while you read.

5. It’s More Familiar Than You Think


The gifs in this post are all from movies or shows you may have watched: Wild Wild West with Will Smith, Stardust with Claire Danes, the animated film, Howl’s Moving Castle, and episodes of Dr. Who. If you’ve loved any of these shows, you’ve already gotten a taste of Steampunk. Don’t pass up the chance to read a book or watch a movie just because of the clever combination of past and present themes. Give it a try and you may find yourself a new fan of the genre!

By Pauline Creeden
http://paulinecreeden.com
http://facebook.com/PaulineCreeden


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~Cassie