Top Ten…New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2014

You guys…only SIXTEEN days until Christmas and only ONE WEEK until Hanukkah! After that it’s like a minute until New Year’s Eve. Where has the time gone? I’m hoping that you’re all enjoying your holiday season and that where ever you may be, that you’re staying safe, happy and warm! My husband and I are currently preparing for a big storm to hit our area which always seems to happen this time of year! When the weather gets like this, all I want to do is get my wood stove roaring and curl up with a good book by an amazing author, like the ones in my top ten list today.

Source: The Broke and The Bookish

Source: The Broke and The Bookish

As some of you may know, I’m new to Young Adult books as of this year, so pretty much every author is a new author to me. I’ve read so many fantastic books in 2014 by so many fantastic authors, so it was pretty difficult for me to narrow it down to just ten! I buckled down though and managed to come up with a list of ten ridiculously talented women who are also suppppper kind to their readers! Needless to say, they’re all the perfect package…beauty, brains and sass for days!

source: goodreads

source: goodreads

Sarah J. MaasAC GaughenEmery LordHeather DemetriosLeigh Bardugo
Cora CarmackHuntley Fitzpatrick / Stephanie PerkinsLaini TaylorRae Carson

Pretty epic list of female authors right? This is just a small list of authors I fell in love with this year. If given free rein I could have easily come up with ten more! Did I list one of your faves?

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Fangirl Friday: Leigh Bardugo Book Tour & EPIC Giveaway

I read the Grisha Trilogy earlier this year and as you can tell from my review of Ruin & Rising (one of my very first in fact), I absolutely loved it! I adored how Bardugo strung together the most exquisite sentences to create an amazing story set in the most gorgeous world. The characters she created for this trilogy are some of my very favorite literary characters, each and every one of them brings something so unique and special to the books.

When I heard that she would be going on a book tour for Ruin and Rising, and that one of the stops would be in my neck of the woods, I knew I had to go! So, this past Tuesday I made the 90 minute drive down to the “big city” to see one of my very favorite authors in person! It was a good day!

Because I left straight from work, I was about 20 minutes late for the 6pm start, but thankfully I was JUST in time for Leigh’s reading from her upcoming novel, Six of Crows, releasing October 2015. You guys, this book is going to be so amazing! The excerpt she read was just perfect and it was so cool to hear Leigh’s own tone and inflection when reading her work. I was mesmerized!

She then took some questions from the small (but very enthusiastic) crowd. It was so great to see so many excited, young readers there. You could tell how much they loved the books and how inspiring it was for them to be there. So many great questions were asked, and some fun facts that stand out in my mind are…

  • Leigh wrote the opening line of Shadow and Bone several times to get it just right!
  • The inspiration for the locations on her Six of Crows novel is vast and varied! Amsterdam, NYC, Vegas and many more. I think she may have even mentioned Venice! So cool!
  • One super fan (it was his birthday that night…so fun!) told Leigh that her books inspired him to learn Russian, which I thought was super cool!
  • A lot of times she gets inspirations for characters from people she knows in real life. How cool would it be to be one of those people!?

After a quick Q&A round it was time for the signing! The line moved pretty quickly and next thing I knew I was standing face-to-face with Leigh. I always get suuuuper nervous when meeting authors, but I think I handled myself pretty well and kept my fangirling in check.

I’d like to give my amazing husband a shout out because not only did he make the drive down with me to keep me company, but he also took some photos while I was in line.
What a guy!

Leigh was so kind and appreciative, and super funny as well! She signed all three of my books and even included some amazing quotes from each as inscriptions on the opposite page. I’m so excited to add these lovelies to my ever-growing author signed shelves. These look so gorg next to my signed Throne of Glass series! I get googly eyes every time I look at them all together.

Before I knew it, our visit was over and it was time to go home! So sad! BUT…not before I grabbed some of the amazing swag that Leigh was giving away, including that amazing Six of Crows dice game that everyone is obsessing over! Here’s a sneak peek…

Pretty amazing swag, right? Well…GUESS WHAT!! All of the items pictured above, plus one other super-secret goodie, could be yours!!
That’s right! I’m giving it all away!
Just click on the image below to enter – US only!

grishagiveaway

Top Ten Tuesday: Deserted Island Roll Call

toptentuesday Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created at The Broke and the Bookish as a way to share our book-related lists with other bookish folks! This weeks topic is the ten characters I would want with me on a deserted island. I thought long and hard about this one, but so many of the people who kept popping into my head really come as part of a duo or team. I decided to cheat just a little bit and make my list a solid twelve people. Thankfully, my deserted island is pretty big (and has running water and electricity of course) so we’d all be happy and comfortable together on our tropical home away from home.

AriaPerryFINAL

banner created by me | cover image source: goodreads

Do I really need to explain? I mean, these two are hard-core outdoor survivalists! Between the two of them we’d have all the basic necessities covered! Fire, food and shelter…check, check, check!
Under the Never Sky series by Veronica Rossi

AmyRogerFINAL

banner created by me | cover image source: goodreads

Amy and Roger know how to make the best of a bad situation, so I’d rely on them to be in charge of island development. Before long they’d be arranging expeditions and we’d all be exploring hidden corners of the island.
Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

CelaenaChaolFINAL

banner created by me | cover image source: goodreads

I’d have the island on LOCK DOWN with Celaena and Chaol on security duty. Restless natives or dangerous animals wouldn’t stand a chance against these two bad-asses!
Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas

banner created by me | original photo source: goodreads

banner created by me | cover image source: goodreads

Emily and Sloane would make sure everyone is having a great time and if people started getting bored they’d just whip out their deserted island to-do list! Oh…and I wouldn’t be mad if they decided to bring along Frank!
Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

AlinaMalSturmhondFINAL

banner created by me | cover image source: goodreads

The trio of Alina, Mal and Sturmhond would be the team I’d rely on to get us OFF the island. Between the three of them you’ve got the brains, the brawn and the charm you’d need to find an escape.
The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

PicMonkey Collage

banner created by me | cover image source: goodreads

What? You really thought I’d get through a top 10 list without mentioning Fangirl! You KNOW I’d be bringing along my book boyfriend Levi. I’d need a snuggle buddy to keep me warm at night and someone to tell my how pretty I am even after two solid weeks without a shower.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Honorable mentions*:

  • Dee and Reagan from Open Road Summer: they’d keep the music coming all day and night. Again…wouldn’t be mad if Matt Finch tagged along.
  • Scarlet from the Scarlet Series: you can never have too many deadly ladies on hand to keep things under control.

* Because my first boat got too crowded and they had to wait for the next one

I have to say, I think my deserted island is shaping up pretty nicely and I’m not sure I’d want to leave! How about you? Who would your top choices be for island neighbors? Do you think I made the right choices or would you make some substitutions? I’m open to suggestions…except Levi, he’s not going anywhere!

Fangirl Friday: Book Boyfriend Edition

Waaa-hoooo it’s Friday ya’ll!! There’s nothing better than the end of the week and a whole two days of freedom ahead of you. I had a ton of fun with today’s Fangirl post. I’m thinking I was a little inspired by how much fun I had with my first ever Top 10 Tuesday post, so I decided to put together another Top 10 list for you today. THIS list is filled with pretty boys so hopefully it will put a smile on your face.

I couldn’t call myself a YA book blogger if I didn’t have a list of my favorite book boyfriends, and I certainly couldn’t call myself a fangirl if I didn’t imagine what these guys would look like. The list below reflects MY vision of my all-time favorite book boyfriends. Now, I know we all have our ideas of what these guys may look like, so I’m sure you might disagree with some of my picks but I hope you have as much fun reading as I did writing!

eye-candy-hunter-parrish-22

original photo source

I think by now, we all know how much I adore Levi from Fangirl. I actually casted him as Ryan Gosling for YA Prom, but when I saw this photo of Hunter Parish I immediately saw Levi. I’m thinking Ryan is too old anyways, so I’m officially declaring Hunter as my Levi! Can’t you just see him snuggling up and reading with you in bed? Orrr….is that just me? Wishful thinking?

“I like your glasses,” he said. “I like your Simon Snow T-shirts. I like that you don’t smile at everyone, because then, when you smile at me.… Cather.” He kissed her mouth. “Look at me.” She did. “I choose you over everyone.” 
― Rainbow RowellFangirl

***

Gaspard-Ulliel-gaspard-ulliel-10804113-413-500

original photo source

Ohhhh Mal….I loved you from the very beginning. You’re quite and brooding, but still waters run deep and when you let yourself open up it made me love you even more. I’d never heard of Gaspard Ulliel before but when I saw this photo it felt like I was seeing the Mal I envisioned in my mind come to life!

“I’ve risked my life for you. I’ve walked half the length of Ravka for you, and I’d do it again and again and again just to be with you, just to starve with you and freeze with you and hear you complain about hard cheese every day. So don’t tell me why we don’t belong together,” he said fiercely.”
Leigh Bardugo, Shadow and Bone

***

tom-mison-1024

original photo source

From the moment I met Chaol in the opening pages of Throne of Glass, I immediately pictured Tom Mison from Sleepy Hollow. Choal is a natural leader who focuses intensely on his duties, but we also find out that he is a sensitive man, fiercely protective of Celaena. Tom Minson captures this dual personality perfectly; a dude who looks like he means business but behind those eyes is a big old softie.

“I worry because I care. Gods help me, I know I shouldn’t, but I do. So I willalways tell you to be careful, because I will always care what happens.” 
― Sarah J. MaasCrown of Midnight

***

f5f85b4d2f5cea2f60a79d325d459be6

original photo source

OK….so I TOTALLY cheated on this one. As I was doing my research for this post, I came across a blog post in which Emery Lord mentioned that she would cast Matt Lauria as Matt Finch. I don’t watch Parenthood so I had to go ahead and Google him, and when I did I was SOLD! Why have I never heard of this hottie before? Thank you Emery for introducing me to this fine specimen of a man.

“When his eyes land on me, something about his expression changes—like he recognizes me from somewhere, too. I look back, appraising him quickly. He’s kind of beautiful, in an understated, comfortable-looking way—the kind of guy who doesn’t mind seeing a rom-com with you and gives you his hoodie when you’re cold.” 
― Emery LordOpen Road Summer

***

diane-kruger-jake-abel-the-host-cast-portraits-exclusive-03

original photo source

Ohhhh Jase Garrett, how you make me swoon! You’re a family man, you take care of those you love and you know exactly what to say and do to make everything better. Seriously, your sexy one-liners (as seen below) are made of awesome! Jake Abel totally fits the bill for me, tall, brownish-blonde hair and always with sexy little smirk on his face.

“Um. So … Are we going to study?” Jase slides his thumbs behind my ears, rubbing the hollow at their base. He’s only inches from my face, still looking into my eyes. “You bet. I’m studying you.” 

― Huntley FitzpatrickMy Life Next Door

***

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original photo source

OK, this one made me a little sad because I was so devastated when he passed, but the moment I saw this picture all I could think of was Patrick Sheldon. As Heather Demetrios would say, “He looks like the kind of boy who would jump trains, strum a guitar, and pass a joint.”  Ummmm yup, River is the perfect not so bad boy….looks like he could get you in a lot of trouble but he’s really just a sweet and thoughtful guy underneath it all.

“That boy has forever written all over his face when he looks at you.”
― Heather Demetrios, Something Real

***

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original photo source

For some reason, this pick makes me the most nervous. I know Etienne fangirls are HARD CORE and I don’t want to piss anyone off. But looking at this photo of Aaron Johnson, I totally see Etienne. He’s got that messy hair, the big brown eyes and all I want to do is stroll the banks of The Seine at night with him.

“Because I was right. For the two of us, home isn’t a place. It’s a person.
And we’re finally home.” 
― Stephanie Perkins, Anna and the French Kiss

***

USE

original photo source

This is another one I can’t really explain why but when we first meet Willem in Just One Day, I pictured Dave Franco right away. I know he doesn’t have the blonde hair of Willem, but he definitely has the look of a guy who’s been around the world and seen a lot of things. He’s got those intense eyes that tells me he’s got a few good stories to tell.

“He looks at one of the pictures for a long time. Then he looks at me. “I’ll keep you up here.” He taps his temple. “Where you can’t get lost.”
― Gayle FormanJust One Day

***

AlmanzoLrg

original photo source

This one is pretty cool, so I had to sneak it in here! The photo above is the real life Almanzo Wilder from the Little House series. Kind of easy to see why Laura Ingalls fell madly in love with him! Dude is smoking hot right?!

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original photo source

Last but not least we have the ultimate book boyfriend, Gilbert Blythe. He was the one that started it all for me! From the book to the movies…I couldn’t get enough of Gil. I would like to commend whoever cast Jonathan Crombie as Gilbert Blythe because that person KILLED it! He’s absolutely perfect in the role! Gil is everything you want in a book boyfriend, confident but quiet, patient, romantic and selfless. I mean, the guy gave up his teaching job in Avonlea so Anne could stay close to home with Marilla. What a stud!

Anne, I’ve loved you as long as I can remember. I need you. 
Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

***

Now it’s your turn! Who’s your ultimate book boyfriend? What do you think of my picks? Is there one I got totally right or totally wrong. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Book Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

First Thoughts: Quick…somebody get a me a dictionary, a thesaurus or SOMETHING! I need to find ALL the words to describe this book. Because right now…I got nothing! This book ruined me in the best possible way. It broke my heart, put it back together again, and by the end I was a big heap of snotty tissues and feelings curled up in bed. It’s been a long time since a book has left me feeling this way…and I LOVED it!

Personal photo…look guys, my book is levitating!

***

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Published June 17th 2014 by Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 417
Format: Hard cover
Source: Purchased
Purchase this book

Publisher Summary

The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

***

Since I’m having such a hard time stringing together coherent thoughts on this book, I figured I would take the easy way out and just give you some high-level bullet points. I know, I’m totally cheating but I figured bullet points are better than just a page full of…

I don't know how to form complete sentences...

I don’t know how to form complete sentences…

So here we go, in no particular order:

  • Bardugo is a straight-up boss when it comes to writing mesmerizing characters. I was invested in each and every person that was on those pages, and they each broke my heart in one way or another. I mean…these people have been through some dark days. I hated seeing characters I loved so much suffer. BUT, just as painful as it was to see them suffer, it was sooooo uplifting to see them rise above the suffering and fight for the light. Let’s be real though, there were some casualties in this book that I was NOT happy about. I guess it just goes to illustrate Bardugo’s immense talent for creating so many fully-developed characters each with their own strengths and their own weaknesses.
  • Ya’ll…I had a really tough time deciding. Team Mal or Team Sturmhond? Let’s be real, I was never on Team Darkling! I like my boys shiny and sweet and swoon-worthy. The Darkling was just a little too evil and well….dark. I’ve never been the bad boy type. I DO however like a self-confident, sarcastic man who knows what he wants and makes no apologies for doing everything he can to get it. So Sturmhond should have been a natural choice for me. BUT…in the end, actually pretty much from page 1 of Ruin and Rising, I had made my final decision. I was firmly in the camp of TEAM MAL! I just couldn’t deny the history he and Alina shared, and even though it took them a while to get there, once he realized his feelings for her I wanted nothing more than to see them live happily ever after. Since this is a SPOILER FREE review I’m not going to reveal what happens in the end but let’s just say…it’s complicated.
  • Can we talk for a minute about the epic world building? Now, I love me some escapism, so when I find an author that can create a completely new world for me to immerse myself in, all I want to do is read ALL THE THINGS! From Shadow and Bone I was hooked, totally drawn into the world Bardugo imagined for her readers. For each and every castle she built and vista she created, I fell more and more in love with Ravka and its surrounding areas. Except maybe The Fold…that placed freaked me the hell out. Actually, let’s forget that I just mentioned it. Let’s just bask in the glory that is…THE MAP!
WARNING: MAP PORN!!

WARNING: MAP PORN!!

  • The feels…ohhhhh the feels this book gave me. I alternated between about ten different emotions at any given time and the end left me with the BIGGEST book hangover I think I’ve ever had. Only to be remedied by starting Something Real by Heather Demetrios…shout out to Something Real for being just what I needed!! Back to the Ruin and Rising feels…like I said I found myself going from swooning to biting my nails to crying to laughing and back to crying and finally some kind of emotion that can’t really be put into words. I’ll let Ron Burgundy explain…
For real though

For real though…

I think my husband heard the sniffling (sobbing) from downstairs because no sooner had I closed the book and he appeared in the bedroom doorway wondering if everything was ok. I must have been quite a sight…tissues in hand, tears streaming down my face and clutching the book to my chest. He asked me how I liked it and all I could mumble was “It was perfect…amazing…no words!”

Final Thoughts: If you haven’t read this book I highly suggest you move it to the top of your list. It’s a sweeping and epic conclusion to the Grisha Trilogy that left me breathless! Oh yeah…GO TEAM MAL!!!

PS – I just noticed that my “bullet points” tuned into to straight-up paragraphs! I guess I was able to string together coherent thoughts after all. Didn’t know it had it in me!

PPS – GO TEAM MAL!!!

Fangirl Friday: YALit Fan Art

I had a few fun ideas rattling around in my head for this installment of Fangirl Friday, but when I came up with the idea of featuring fan art based on some of my favorite books I knew I had a winner! It was so much fun pulling this post together…there are some seriously talented people out there. For someone who can barely draw a straight line I was freaking amazed at how gorgeous some of the fan art that’s out there is. For each book I’m featuring my four favorite pieces of fan art but I could have chosen soooo many more. If you’re looking to kill some time and want to be blown away just google your favorite book(s) along with “fan art” and prepare to be amazed! Fair warning: there’s some pretty bad (and weird) fan art out there too. Very amusing!

I’m kicking off with Grisha Trilogy fan art to celebrate the release of the final book in  Leigh Bardugo’s epic adventure! Enjoy…oh and be sure to click on the source link to see the original full-size image.

The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

Grisha Collage

Clockwise from top left: FrozenAntlers / Fictograph / Bottom two images: The Fandom’s GeekGirl

Publisher Summary

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance

Visit Goodreads for more information

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl Collage

 Clockwise from top left: Esquisse / Simini Blocker Illustration / Yasminwithane / Andiree

Publisher Summary

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park.

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love. 

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Visit Goodreads for more information

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

DoSaB Collage

  Clockwise from top left:  leahbharlann / Calivel / Simini Blocker Illustration / Lelu’s Garden

Publisher Summary

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Visit Goodreads for more information

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna Collage

All images but bottom left: leabharlann /  Bottom left: Simini Blocker Illustration

Publisher Summary

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming,beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend. 

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

Visit Goodreads for more information

 Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

TOG Collage

Clockwise from top left: Fan art by Susan Dennard / 143believeme / walkingnorth / leafette

Publisher Summary

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. 

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. 

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. 

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Visit Goodreads for more information