Thursday, September 29, 2016

Journey Across the USA Through Modern-Day YA Literature, and WIN a Copy of LIKE A RIVER GLORIOUS by Rae Carson!

Tour Schedule:

Week 1:

Week 2:

I adore, adore, ADORE Rae Carson. I've reviewed pretty much everything she's ever done:
(Okay, I somehow missed ONE novella. I'll have to fix that!),

LIKE A RIVER GLORIOUS has been one of my most anticipated novels of 2016, and when I heard about a blog tour to promote the book during release week, I was pretty much like, "I will do anything!! I will even put together an awesome modern day Oregon Trail map!"

...Because I am insane.

(And apparently like time-consuming tasks. ^.~)

It's harder than it sounds, too!!

For one, I had to go back and re-read WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER (not a hardship!!!) and list out every. single. place. that Leah mentions as she heads West to California to escape her murderous uncle and claim her own place in the world.

Then, I looked at the super-duper handy map included in the front of the book.

THEN I decided that, rather than grab pictures of random places along the way and how they look NOW versus THEN, like I originally thought to do, I'd be even more creative...and find YA novels that encompass each of these places!!!

Because of the way territories have changed and divided into States, this is by no means perfect.

But take a look at the books you'd pass through if you duplicated Leah's journey West!!!

Not the best job at throwing a map together, but it works, right? ^^;;;

Dahlonega, Georgia

Leah Westfall was born and raised here. We meet her in WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER by Rae Carson (LIKE A RIVER GLORIOUS is the sequel to this book!). Leah is forced to disguise herself as a boy and flee to California after she discovers that her uncle has murdered her parents and wants to use her ability to sense gold to make a fortune out West.

But that's also a give-me answer, right?

Here's another book that takes place in Georgia:

HEX HALL by Rachel Hawkins!

This is such a FUN series. I didn't think I'd enjoy it nearly as much as I have because paranormal isn't really my thing, but when it came out, I DEVOURED the first book and was so glad I didn't have to wait to read the second book!

When Sophie's magical abilities manifest and harm the people around her, she's sent to Hex Hall, a boarding school for paranormal beings hidden away in Georgia!

The other big Georgia book I think about is PEACHES by Jodi Lynn Anderson, because seriously, who DOESN'T think about delicious Georgia peaches when they think about Georgia!? ^.~

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Okay, so this isn't actually a teen novel. A lot of teens read Neil Gaiman, though, so I feel comfortable recommending AMERICAN GODS for this category.

Plus, it's going to be a TV series soon, so everyone will be picking this one up!!!

While AMERICAN GODS takes place across the USA, the big, epic showdown takes place very close to Chattanooga, so I couldn't resist choosing this book for this category!

Cairo, Illinois

Next, Leah takes a steamer from Chattanooga headed toward Missouri. She mentions arriving in Cairo, where the Mississippi River and the Ohio River merge at the confluence.

THE RIVER BETWEEN US by Richard Peck has won a TON of awards--and was even a prestigious National Book Award Finalist!!! It's a staple in a lot of schools and studied by many students.

Ironically, THE RIVER BETWEEN US takes place about twelve years AFTER the events of WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER!

THE RIVER BETWEEN US takes place on the blood-soaked battlefield of Cairo during the Civil War....not a fun place to be, and definitely a harrowing read!

Independence, Mississippi

From Cairo, Leah makes her way to Independence, Mississippi. Independence is where she's supposed to meet up with her friend Jefferson, who ran away from home to make his own fortune just ahead of her.

I can't think of any books that take place in Independence, but I can think of a couple other books showcasing Mississippi Pride that I'll showcase instead!

Since we're on a roll with historical fiction, I'd be remiss not to mention MUDBOUND by Hillary Jordan. This is technically an adult book, but it won the Alex Award when it debuted (An award for adult novels with crossover YA appeal), AND it takes place in the 1940s--three years BEFORE Leah's journey begins! The book shows the ugly underbelly of racism, and features a fight for land also shown a little in WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER. This can be a hard book to read because our history is so horrible, but it's also a great read.

Want something a little more modern?

How about MAGNOLIA by Kristi Cook?

This one is a romance, about two families who have lived side-by-side ever since the Civil War. They'd love to finally "merge" their families into one and have their hopes pinned on Jemma and Ryder, who are the same age. The only problem? Neither teen wants to date the other just because their parents want this relationship to happen....especially because they can't STAND one another.........

Cape Girardeau, Missouri

DEFINITELY not a YA novel, but a lot of teens have probably watched the R-rated movie anyway, so....

Did you know that the runaway best selling psychological thriller GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn takes place in North Carthage, Missouri?

The setting doesn't play a huge role in the novel that way it does in some of these other books, but,'s what I've got! Let me know if you know of any other good books set in Missouri!

Big Blue River, Kansas

Okay, okay, I am going to play up the stereotype, because, REALLY, what is the FIRST book you think about when you hear "Kansas?" If you don't say THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ by L. Frank Baum, then you're not a book--or movie--nerd!!! ^.~

Platte River Valley (Nebraska)

Nebraska wasn't a territory, let alone a state, when Leah passed through. The area was a somber one, full of graves from people who never made it West.

Looking forward in time, I had to choose one of this decade's most popular contemporary YA novels, ELEANOR AND PARK by Rainbow Rowell to feature! The book is set in Omaha, which is where Rowell herself lives. You can really feel the flavor of the town in this novel!

Fort Laramie (Wyoming)

and also

South Pass Rocky Mountains (Wyoming)

Wyoming also didn't exist when Leah passed through, but Fort Laramie certainly did! It was one of the biggest trading posts of its time, too.

A book I absolutely ADORE is set in Wyoming, UNEARTHLY by Cynthia Hand! It's actually a reverse journey to Leah's--
Leah is heading to California, and Clara's family is moving from California to Wyoming.

UNEARTHLY was a book I didn't think I'd enjoy, but wound up loving SO much!

Fort Hall (Idaho)

Idaho was--yep!!--another non-existent territory/state during Leah's journey West.

I can't think of many books set in Idaho, so I'm going to go with a not-as-well-known title, DEADLINE by Chris Crutcher, which is set in Trout, Idaho.

I first had to read Crutcher in class (STAYING FAT FOR SARAH BURNS), and the title really turned me on to this author! I went on to read several other novels by him. I love how he incorporates sports into his novels--especially swimming!

I feel that with the trend toward "serious/sad" novels in YA contemporary, DEADLINE would do so well right now if it was re-issued!

Humboldt Sink (Nevada)

Nevada ALSO wasn't yet a territory/state in 1849!

Crossing the Humboldt Sink was absolutely the most treacherous part of Leah's journey West.  They began crossing on Monday evening and arrived on the other side Friday morning. The perilous trek destroyed so much and tore the group apart, but FINALLY the end is in sight as they pass into California Territory!

The second book I ever read by Ellen Hopkins was BURNED. It is about a girl from a very religious Mormon household. When she steps out of line, her family ships her off to Nevada to spend time with her aunt. Pattyn winds up finding herself in Nevada and discovering that there is SO much more to life than she ever dreamed possible! She's finally found a place where she belongs, but her overbearing father threatens to destroy not just her own happiness, but her sister's as well...

Sierra Nevada, California 


Sutter's Fort, California

FINALLY!!!! Leah's long journey across the country is at an end and she is at her destination. Blood, sweat, and tears have brought her here, but she's ready to embrace her future.

While WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER is very much about the journey and getting TO California, the rest of the series will be about what Leah does once she's THERE. Usually, the journey comes so much later in the series and bogs it down, but it IS the story from the get-go here!

And, whoo, California....SO MANY books take place in California. SO MANY!!!!

Plus, the California we think of today is so glitzy and elegant and DIFFERENT...even though it's one small piece of the State our minds are thinking of!

I didn't want to do anything too modern, and I didn't want to do anything else from the Gold Rush Era, either.

I decided to go with a nice in-between and feature the beloved juvenile award-winning novel ESPERANZA RISING by Pam Muñoz Ryan.

It takes place during the Great Depression, and is about a girl forced to flee Mexico with her mother and make her way to California. Their new situation isn't great, as they go from being wealthy landownes to poor immigrants being worked to the bone.

An inspirational book about overcoming hardships, and also a great diverse option!

What books would you have chosen to track Leah's journey across the country!?

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Rae Carson
Release Date: Sept. 27, 2016
Publisher: Greenwillow // HarperTeen

After a harrowing journey across the country, Leah Westfall and her friends have finally arrived in California and are ready to make their fortunes in the Gold Rush. Lee has a special advantage over the other new arrivals in California—she has the ability to sense gold, a secret known only by her handsome best friend Jefferson and her murdering uncle Hiram. 

Lee and her friends have the chance to be the most prosperous settlers in California, but Hiram hasn’t given up trying to control Lee and her power. Sabotage and kidnapping are the least of what he’ll do to make sure Lee is his own. His mine is the deepest and darkest in the territory, and there Lee learns the full extent of her magical gift, the worst of her uncle, and the true strength of her friendships. To save everyone, she vows to destroy her uncle and the empire he is building—even at the cost of her own freedom. 

The second epic historical fantasy in the Gold Seer trilogy by Rae Carson, the acclaimed author of The Girl of Fire and Thorns.



About Rae Carson:

I write books about teens who must do brave things. I'm originally from California, but I now live in Arizona with my husband, who is the smartest and therefore sexiest man I know. My books tend to contain lots of adventure, a little magic and romance, and smart girls who make (mostly) smart choices. I especially love to write about questions I don't know the answers to.


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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

{Review/Giveaway} FALL OF THRONES AND THORNS by Jennifer Ellision

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

    THE WATER IS DARKENED WITH my spilled lies and the blood's still slick against my palms when the Nereid soldiers seize us, along with anyone else who made it safely to land. 

(Page 7, US e-ARC edition)

“The Makers have their hands on you. On all of you. Ordinary people, each extraordinary in your own way.” 


OKAY. I am going to do my best to be as spoiler-free as possible, you guys! Because BIG THINGS have happened in this world--which you already know if you read that pow-wow cliffhanger in RIOT OF STORM AND SMOKE.  So...we're not going to talk about those things. BECAUSE NEWCOMERS AND SPOILERS! Okay? Okay!

If you ARE a newcomer, you may want to read my review of the first book in the series, THREATS OF SKY AND SEA, or its sequel, RIOT OF STORM AND SMOKE, instead. FALL OF THRONES AND THORNS is the final book in the if you've been waiting to dive in, now's your chance!!! (AND the first book is on sale digitally for 99¢...worth an impulse buy, don't you think?) [The author has also stopped by to do a guest post on Elementals and the Elements as well as given a great interview if you want more great bonus features to whet your appetite!]

If you love ELEMENTAL MAGIC and/or books featuring KINGDOMS WITH POLITICAL STRUGGLES, you should REALLY be reading this trilogy if you aren't already.

Jennifer Ellision packs it all into the series: Action, adventure, secrets, romance, family, friendship...all the usual suspects, yet in a compelling, hard-to-put-down way.

When I finished reading RIOT OF STORM AND SMOKE--even though I'd known what was coming--I wanted the final book sooooo badly. I HAD to know how it all ends! A lot of the book focuses on Bree learning to harness her newfound elemental abilities and embrace the path destiny has created for her. But she can't do it without the allies she's come to rely on over the course of the series--and she'll need new ones, too, if she wants to overthrow the king and restore Egria to its glory.

I was sad to see Bree separated from her friends for so much of the first chunk of the book. A LOT of time passed, and I thought it was crazy that nobody even attempted to see one another!! They were just so accepting of everything, even though weeks and weeks passed. It was the only thing I wasn't a huge fan of, because it just wasn't totally believable to me. Once everyone is together again, the book really takes off. Who can you trust, and who might betray you?

I loved all the of the battle scenes featuring elemental magic. One, in particular, while gross, was also really unique and interesting! Ellision actually made a point to stay away from anything with elemental magic while she wrote this series so she wouldn't be influenced by anyone's magical ideas save her own, and I love the ideas she's added to this genre!

Another really aspect of the final book, to me, was how, in some ways, it paralleled THE BEAUTY OF DARKNESS by Mary E. Pearson, which came out last month. Both books are final books in a series. I've been heavily anticipating both finales. Both books have romantic entanglements that cross kingdoms, creating more open-ended finales. Which is all well and good, but I also am nosy and I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS! That, plus I'm not ready to say goodbye to these characters. I want novellas or a future novel, or a companion series with new characters that has overlap, or a "history book style wrap-up" or something to come out as a bonus so that I can return to these characters and these worlds for just a little bit longer. Both books left me with these seem emotional hang-ups upon finishing the series because I adore both worlds so much and can't let go yet. (So what do you say? Write more? For me because you LOVE me? ^.~)

If you're a fan of elemental magic, this is really one series that you just can't miss out on picking up!


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG  ( Kissing, there's a bit of over-the-top-read-into-it innuendo, but nothing a lot of people will pick up on )
Language: PG 13 ( Pretty much the terms "bastard" and "damn," but multiple uses of both )
Violence:  PG13 ( Some battle scenes, but nothing graphic ; a semi-graphic elemental fight that is has a gross outcome )
Other:  ( Mention of a secondary character's drunk father )
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

Not my favorite cover, but I love everything it is attempting. 

That throne is super important in the series! I also love the use of color--but I'm ALWAYS a sucker for purple things, so!!! 

I'm still in love with the series emblem treatment, too!
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Jennifer Ellision
Release Date: Sept. 27, 2016
Publisher: Jennifer Ellision
Received: For Review
Purchase Links:

Amazon | B&N  

War hurtles in, a typhoon over the sea. 

After Bree’s life was torn apart, Nereidium had represented a haven to her. A place that—if she could save it—was beyond the King’s reach. 

And, at last, she’s arrived upon its shores. But things in Nereidium are not what they should be. 

The land is plagued by a rash of mysterious earthquakes, the likes of which it’s never known. The governors are distracted by old traditions, while Bree and her friends grapple with changing identities and the sense that the longer they wait to take action… the greater the danger from Egria grows. 

Bree is tired of living under the shadow of King Langdon’s power. And she’s tired of waiting for him to be the first to act. 

In this final chapter of the Threats of Sky and Sea series, it all comes down to Nereidium or Egria. To Bree or the King. It’s kill… or be killed. 

And not everyone will escape the battle unscathed.

About the Author

Jennifer Ellision spent a great deal of her childhood staying up past her bedtime with a book and a flashlight. When she couldn’t find the stories she wanted to read, she started writing them. She loves words, has a soft spot for fanfiction, and is a master of the fangirl flail. She lives in South Florida with her family, where she lives in fear of temperatures below 60 Fahrenheit. 

THREATS OF SKY AND SEA, a young adult fantasy, is her first novel.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.
Every once in a while I participate in this one when I either
1) Like the theme, and/or 2) Have the time!

This week's topic:
Top Ten Books on our Fall TBR!

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is one of my FAVORITES. Every season, I LOVE picking out the top books I'm excited to read coming up!!!!

I can't wait to see what you guys are excited to read for in case I overlooked it, so make sure to share your links this week, okay!?

In no particular order...


Yeeeeeees. FINAL BOOK IN THE SERIES!!!!!!! I've been waiting and waiting to see how this series wraps up. I LOVED both THE YOUNG ELITES and THE ROSE SOCIETY and am counting down the days until this book is in my grubby paws. ONLY TWO WEEKS TO GO!!!

2) CROOKED KINGDOM by Leigh Bardugo

I REALLY wanted to read SIX OF CROWS last year. By the time I had time, everyone was freaking out about the wait. So....I decided to wait and read the duology back to back. So, um...guess what I'm planning to do next week? ^^;;;

3) EMPIRE OF STORMS by Sarah J. Maas

TRUTH: Actually, I don't really want to read this until NEXT fall. I think QUEEN OF SHADOWS ended in a way that didn't leave me reeling. I fear the cliffhanger that will be in the penultimate book in the series. I'm planning a big series read-a-thon next year, and would rather read it then....but I am more afraid that social media will spoil this book for me, SO!!!


I LOVE Rae Carson and have been anticipating a new book by her! I snagged the e-ARC of this one the moment I could, but never had time to read it. *hides* Now the book is out (today!!!!!) and I'm doing a fun blog tour post on Thursday. So I need to squeeze it in this fall!!

5) HEARTLESS by Marissa Meyer

I'm super excited that Marissa Meyer has a new book out in the world, and I can't wait to feature it in November during my week-long A Week of Wonderland event!

6) TIMEKEEPER by Tara Sim

This book is so DIFFERENT and just sounds AWESOME. In takes place in an alternative Victorian era where clocks can change time and life as we know it. It just sounds so AWESOME!!!

7) REBEL GENIUS by Michael Dante DiMartino

Ahhh, this author is the co-creator of the awesome Avatar: The Last Airbender TV Series and now he's writing novels? MUST READ!!!


If a book is compared to Tamora Pierce AND sounds awesome, I will read it, no questions asked!!!


I will ALSO read any book compared to the great Robin McKinley. Plus, this cover!!!!

10) SACRIFICE by Cindy Pon

I ADORE Cindy Pon, and I'm so excited to pick up this sequel to SERPENTINE!!!!!! If you've never read her books before, you're missing something wonderful!

What books are you most excited to read???