365 Days of YA Challenge: Favorite Snowy Day Reads

Happy Monday friends, and welcome to the first in a year-long series of  themed posts as part of the 365 Days of YA Reading Challenge. A couple of times each month, Kate and I will share some fun bookish posts that will be perfectly timed for the season to inspire your challenge reading lists!

Hint: Make sure you read to the end of this post for a fun annoucement!

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This week, I’m sharing some of my favorite snowy day reads, and if you head to Kate’s blog you can see books she’s paired with candles!

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When I think of snowy days, I think of sitting by the fire, all bundled in blankets and reading a book! This time of year I typically gravitate towards fantasy YA, so todays post features a whole lot of fantasy, which is perfect for escaping the winter blues!

These first two series have books that were released in the winter months, and lucky for us, each happens to have a book coming out THIS year as well!

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The Lunar ChroniclesFairest releases January 27th

 The Scarlet Series – Lion Heart releases May 19th

The next three series I selected are all favorites of mine and are a perfect way to escape into a different world. They also all feature some pretty pivotal scenes that took place in a snowy landscape, so it’s easy to get sucked right in when the snow is blowing and the wind is howling outside your window. If you live in an area that doesn’t get cold this time of year, then even better! You’ll get your dose of winter for sure.

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Girl of Fire and Thorns series
The Grisha Trilogy
Throne of Glass series

Finally, my last group of books are all new releases this winter that I’m eagerly anticipating! I’ll be reading all of these very soon, so stay tuned for reviews!

SnowyDays3The Conspiracy of Us / The Sin Eater’s Daughter / The Winner’s Crime
A Wicked Thing / Red Queen / The Orphan Queen

Here’s hoping my snowy day list inspires you to add some to your Winter reading list! If you haven’t already, we’d love to have you join us for the 365 Days of YA Reading Challenge!

Sign up here and join in the fun!

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Each week Kate and I will be hosting a photo challenge on Twitter and Instagram that will earn you more entries into the monthly giveaways (US only) and seasonal giveaways (open internationally)! This week’s challenge runs until 11:59pm on Sunday, January 18th.

Theme for week of January 12th: Your January TBR

Just post a photo of all the books you plan to read in January, and make sure you tag it with the official #365DaysofYA hashtag to earn extra entries. In order to earn these extra entries into the giveaways, you must be signed up as an official challenge participant. Sign up here!

Mini Reviews: These Broken Stars and This Shattered World

Rather than writing up two separate reviews for the first two books in The Starbound Trilogy, I thought I’d combine them and do mini-reviews for each. I’m probably doing you a favor because if I tried to do anything more than a short review for each then they’d probably turn into long-winded, incoherent ramblings filled with phrases like “OMG! You guys!” or “It was so amazing” or “ZOMG YASSS!”

The Starbound Trilogy is the brain child of two fabulous ladies, Aime Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, and that probably explains why this series is soooo ridiculously good. I mean, how could it not be with TWO great literary minds behind it.

The first book in the series, These Broken Stars, kicks off the trilogy and introduces us to the world in which this story takes place. I should actually say the universe in which this story takes place, because we’re taken on quite a ride that spans a galaxy. It’s one of the things I loved most actually; the world-building is epic and I was so enthralled by all of the details and back story the authors put into the environment. From the very start, I was plunged into an amazing world, and as the book goes on, I couldn’t help but get sucked deeper and deeper into it. I know I’m loving a book when I can’t stop thinking about it and counting down the time until I can pick it back up again.

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These Broken Stars is the story of Tarver and Lilac, two people from two different worlds who are thrown together into a pretty intense tragedy. They learn pretty quickly that they need to rely on each other to make sense of what happened to them, to find a way back to normal, and also to uncover a mystery that could have serious consequences for the rest of the universe.

I appreciated the fact that there were so many layers to both Tarver and Lilac, and I loved the path they took not only as individuals but also as a pair. I was so invested in their journey, even when the story took some pretty strange and sometimes creepy turns. I won’t go into details because I don’t want to spoil anything, but there was a point in which I realized the story may involve a plot point that I normally wouldn’t be a fan of, but for some reason, it worked for me here. As a matter of fact, I thought the plot twist was amazing and totally made the story.

These Broken Stars is a thrilling ride and a heart-breaking journey for two fantastic characters.

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This Shattered World was a bit of a surprise for me, since it doesn’t feature the main characters of the first book. Instead we’re introduced to Jubilee (Lee) and Flynn. Another unlikely pair thrust together due to circumstances beyond their control but find that they need to work together to make sense of everything. For as much as Flynn and Lee butt heads and disagree, they also discover that they have more in common than they initially realize. Their tragic pasts have formed who they’ve become and they’re both still trying to find a way to make sense of and move on from their losses.

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I really liked the story arc between Lee and Flynn. It was the typical hate at first sight and honestly, you never quite know where these two are going to end up. They have SO much going against them, and that creates a real and present tension between them that they constantly struggle with. Throughout the course of the book, they both do things that put them in danger and which also bring their loyalties into question by their respective groups. But what’s tearing them apart could ultimately be what’s bringing them together.

This Shattered World was just as fabulous as it’s predecessor and just as wild a ride. This book left me even more invested in the story and eager to read more.

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I loved the first two books in the Starbound Trilogy and I’m not quite sure how I’m supposed to wait for the conclusion to this epic story.

365 Days of YA Challenge: My January TBR

I’m happy to report that the 365 Days of YA Reading Challenge is up to more than 30 participants! Kate and I are thrilled with all of the excitement and involvement we’ve seen already, and can’t wait to see where this challenge takes us. We have a lot of fun stuff planned…

  • Weekly photo challenges that will earn you extra entries in the monthly book giveaways & random surprise giveaways (both are US only and hosted by Epic Reads). Stay tuned….first one starts THIS Monday!
  • Seasonal giveaways hosted by Kate and I that are open internationally!
  • Monthly Twitter chats!
  • Monthly link-ups where you can share your reviews or progress reports for how you did that month!

So, if you haven’t already signed up, make sure you go here and join in the fun!

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January is only the beginning of this year-long challenge…
so let’s get started and dominate!

Now that I say that though, I’m here to report that I’ll only be reading ONE book as part of the challenge for the month of January. My reading schedule is pretty jam-packed this month, BUT I did manage to make some time to read the much-anticipated debut novel from Victoria Aveyard, RED QUEEN!

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source: goodreads

But…you guys….LOOK at the infographic below and see all of the amazing books YOU can read for January! Now remember, the great part about this challenge is that you can use this infographic to pick and choose what you want to do! So, for January, I decided to only focus on the SEASONAL challenge. But as you’ll find out next month, I’ll start to kick it up a notch and read some weekly series challenges and some of the suggested daily reads, although not in ONE day! I’m not THAT good!

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click for larger view

 Now, after all that, don’t you want to join?! You know you do! Well, what are you waiting for? CLICK HERE and sign up now!

Waiting on…A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

By now you should know that I love me a good fairy tale re-telling, and A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas SPEAKS to me you guys! This is a debut novel for Thomas, and upon reading the summary below, I immediately ran right over Goodreads and added it to my TBR! You know what…you should totally do the same!

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I’m lucky enough to be getting my eager little fantasy fangirl hands on this book soon, so I can’t wait to read it and share my thoughts with you! Until then, let me know what some of your favorite fantasy re-tellings are in the comments below so I can add them to my ever-growing TBR! Cause you know, you can never have too many books!

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22535481A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas
Publication: February 24th 2015 by HarperTeen
Pre-order this book

Rhiannon Thomas’s dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her “true love” is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.

 

Top Ten…Most Anticipated Debut Novels For 2015

Happy New Year friends! Here we are at the beginning of a fresh new year with so many amazing things on the horizon. I, for one, am super excited for this year and all of the possibilities it has in store for me. So today I’m wishing all of you all the best in 2015 and that it’s filled with lots of wonderful bookish things!

Source: The Broke and The Bookish

Source: The Broke and The Bookish

Speaking of books and new possibilities, this is an exciting year for so many debut authors. There are a ton of books coming out this year that sound absolutely fantastic, and today I’m sharing some of them with you here.

So, for my first Top Ten Tuesday of the year, I give you my most anticipated debut novels of 2015!

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Anne and Henry / Becoming Jinn / An Ember in the Ashes
When Reason BreaksRed Queen / Tiny Pretty Things
The Night We Said YesMagonia / Dead To Me / The Witch Hunter

Book Feels: The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

I’ve never read a book quite like The Ghosts of Heaven and I definitely went outside of my comfort zone when I decided to pick this one up. The cover art and book summary were intriguing though, and I decided to give it a shot. As I’m writing this review it’s been a couple of weeks since I finished this book, and I still can’t say for certain what my thoughts and feelings are about it. All I know is that I still think about it from time to time and wonder what exactly it was all about. Which I suppose is the sign of a well-written book.

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The Ghosts of Heaven is broken up into four separate short stories, that are distinct in tone and style from one another, but when put together as a collection, you can see the thread of commonality that runs through them all. In the introduction of the book the author explains that you can read the collection in order, or you can read in whatever order you’d like. I chose to read them in order because that’s just the kind of person I am. Even before I got into the first story, I was sucked in by the introduction. It was a beautifully written account of the beginning of the universe, and being the science geek that I am, I totally loved it. As a matter of fact, I would say it was my favorite part of the entire book.

As I mentioned, the book is broken into four very different sections. Part one is set during pre-historic times and focuses on a young girl trying to become a larger presence in her tribe. She knew there was something more to her existence. Along her journey she likely discovers the first form of written communication but because of certain circumstances she never gets the chance to share her knowledge. This portion of the book was written in verse and I really enjoyed how the writing really conveyed not only what, but also exactly how the character was thinking.

The second section focuses on a young woman who is trying to tap into the power passed down to her through her lineage. She’s faced with an extremely bleak set of circumstances and is continually trying to determine the source of the mysteries that surround her. This story was really depressing for me and I just couldn’t shake the bleakness of the main character’s situation.

The third story takes part during the turn of the 20th century and is set in an insane asylum. I found this story pretty creepy and there were times I felt so haunted by some of the characters. It’s the story of a doctor and his daughter who come to live in the building with its patients, and how they adjust to that life. As you get further in, you start to learn about one of the patients there who has an inexplicable knowledge of the doctor and his past. By the end the story takes on a little bit of a twist and I was actually pretty pleased with where it left me.

The last story is set some time in the distant future on a space station travelling to the far reaches of the galaxy in search of a new home for the human race. We follow one of the people on the ship and as the story progresses we learn along with him that things are not exactly what they seem to be on board. Out of all the stories in this book, the ending of this one really confused me. I’m still not certain I understand exactly what happened.

I did find the fact that each story had a common thread to be extremely compelling and intriguing. I liked how the author found ways to introduce that theme in each story in a distinct but cohesive way. Each time the theme popped up it was a lightbulb moment for me.

This book is beautifully written and the imagery and symbolism was amazing. Although I do have to admit that sometimes I didn’t quite get the symbolism and that frustrated me. Overall, I had a hard time connecting to this book, and that was my major disappointment with it. In my mind, you can have the most beautifully written words but if I can’t connect to them I’m left feeling like something fell short.

This book is certainly not going to appeal to everyone, but when all is said and done I decided to give it three stars. While I didn’t find a connection to any of the stories, I can still appreciate how well it was written and the value of the book as a whole. I would suggest giving it a try to see for yourself if it’s a book you enjoy. Then come back here and let me know what you think, as this book is sure to spark some lively discussions.

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Many thanks to Brittany at Book Addicts Guide for allowing me to borrow her ARC! Her fabulous generosity in no way affected my review.

TMYK21469108The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick
Publication: 1/6/15 by Roaring Brook Press – Macmillan
Pages: 366 | Format: ARC | Source: Borrowed
Purchase this book

A bold, genre-bending epic that chronicles madness, obsession, and creation, from the Paleolithic era through the Witch Hunts and into the space-bound future.

Four linked stories boldly chronicle madness, obsession, and creation through the ages. Beginning with the cave-drawings of a young girl on the brink of creating the earliest form of writing, Sedgwick traverses history, plunging into the seventeenth century witch hunts and a 1920s insane asylum where a mad poet’s obsession with spirals seems to be about to unhinge the world of the doctor trying to save him. Sedgwick moves beyond the boundaries of historical fiction and into the future in the book’s final section, set upon a spaceship voyaging to settle another world for the first time. Merging Sedgwick’s gift for suspense with science- and historical-fiction, Ghosts of Heaven is a tale is worthy of intense obsession.

 

 

Book Feels: Inspire by Cora Carmack

2014 was many things for me. It’s the year I discovered that I loved Young Adult and New Adult, as well as fantasy novels. It was also the year I discovered Cora Carmack. I started reading her books pretty late in the year but I made up for lost time and devoured all of them over the course of two months…between other books of course. I was hooked from the moment I read All Lined Up, Carmack has a way of making the most complicated of characters totally relatable and compelling. I was thrilled when I heard she was releasing a fantasy/paranormal New Adult novel because I love those types of books in YA, so it seemed like a natural fit for me. Good thing I’m a genius and my hunch turned out to be right. I absolutely adored this book!

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Inspire, the first book in Carmack’s new Muse series, is the story of Kalliope and Wilder, two people who meet under some pretty random circumstances and we quickly learn that they both come with a lot of baggage. I’m talking a full, five-piece set of Louis Vuitton leather luggage type baggage! Granted their set of issues are VERY different from each other, what with Kalli being a centuries old, immortal muse and all. Regardless of her powers, all she wants is to be a normal woman, with a normal life and normal responsibilities…meeting Wilder Bell only amplifies that feeling. He’s a super fine and also super complicated man who wants nothing more than to be the man Kalli needs, but also to lose himself in the happiness he finds with her.

I really enjoyed the push and pull between Kalli and Wilder, I loved how perfect they were for each other, but I also loved the fact that it wasn’t as easy as “Hey! We like each other, let’s do this”. Even though this book is classified as paranormal, the characters dealt with very real road blocks to happiness. I mean, Kalli  has powers that can be unpredictable and that dictate pretty much every aspect of her life, and even though I don’t have any experience with immortality and strange powers (shocker I know!), I still totally connected with her feelings and the reasoning behind her actions. Wilder is exactly what you want in a swoony book boyfriend and the way he fought for Kalli and their relationship was so amazing and heart-warming. Poor guy deals with a LOT in this book and there were so many times I just wanted to reach into the book and give him a big hug.

Both Kalli and Wilder meet at very vulnerable parts of their lives and it’s such a rollercoaster watching them trying to figure out what they mean to each other. Not to mention, the totally steamy scenes between these two. The chemistry they have together is off the charts and there are some amazing passages where they, ummmm, get to know each other. I mean, they realllllly get to know each other, and it’s awesome! Carmack is a high priestess of steamy scenes and swoony boys and sh totally delivers with this novel.

Another really intriguing aspect of this book was the way in which Carmack built on the stories from existing mythology to create Kalli’s character and her powers. I loved how her abilities manifested themselves and as well as how she struggled with trying to live an inconspicuous life with such a heavy burden. It just added a whole other layer of complication and creativity to the story.

The end features a pretty intense cliffhanger and I can’t wait to see what the next book has in store for Kalli and Wilder. We’re left in a very precarious spot with these two, and I just want to know what happens. If you’re already a fan of Carmack’s previous novels, then you definitely need to get yourself a copy of Inspire. It’s everything you love about her books, but with a brand new twist!

Five Stars

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22824819Inspire by Cora Carmack
Published: December 15th 2014
Pages: 284 | Format: eBook | Source: Purchased
Purchase this book

Kalliope lives with one purpose.

To inspire.

As an immortal muse, she doesn’t have any other choice. It’s part of how she was made. Musicians, artists, actors—they use her to advance their art, and she uses them to survive. She moves from one artist to the next, never staying long enough to get attached. But all she wants is a different life— a normal one. She’s spent thousands of years living lie after lie, and now she’s ready for something real.

Sweet, sexy, and steady, Wilder Bell feels more real than anything else in her long existence. And most importantly… he’s not an artist. He doesn’t want her for her ability. But she can’t turn off the way she influences people, not even to save a man she might love. Because in small doses, she can help make something beautiful, but her ability has just as much capacity to destroy as it does to create. The longer she stays, the more obsessed Wilder will become. It’s happened before, and it never turns out well for the mortal.

Her presence may inspire genius.

But it breeds madness, too.