Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Top Ten Books Read SO FAR in 2015!

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 Read SO FAR in 2015!


This is always one of my FAVORITE topics.

In 2012, I discovered one of my all-time favorite fairy tale retellings, KILL ME SOFTLY by Sarah Cross, because another blogger listed it in this topic. I never would have known this book was a fairy tale based on the cover/title if it hadn't been for this TTT. 

It's a super-special topic for me, and I love discovering great new books every year based on everyone's lists!

I hope that this year, you find a great book you haven't read but will love off of my list! ^___^

In No Particular Order...


1) A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES by Sarah J. Maas


Beauty and the Beast retellings are always favorites of mine. This book battles HEART'S BLOOD by Juliet Marillier for the spot of all-time favorite B&B retelling. I really loved it! I felt so blessed to attend Sarah's book launch for this title!

My Review


2) ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr


This book is in the gray area between 2014 and 2015, since I started reading it at the end of December and didn't finish until January. It was on my Best of 2014 list, but it also counts for 2015. Wow, what a lucky book!!! Anthony Doerr spent 10 years writing this novel, and it hit almost every Best Seller and Best of 2014 List imaginable, as well as won major awards such as the Pulitzer Prize, an ALA Alex, and a National Book Award Finalist award! This isn't my normal type of fare at all. The book is set during World War II. It's not a typical WWII book, however, and doesn't even focus on the Holocaust, which was a refreshing change. It focuses on the bombings and evacuations in Paris from the POV of a blind girl who escapes with her father, who may or may not have a replica of a very expensive jewel that people would go to great lengths to achieve. It also focuses on a brilliant boy who doesn't want to die in the mines like his father did, but isn't allowed to learn math and science...until he helps out a higher-up in the army and is enrolled in school...with the catch that he will grow up to be one of Hitler's Youth. The book is just...AMAZING. I can't say enough good things about it!

My Review
 


3) ONCE UPON A CLOUD by Claire Keane


This is my favorite picture book of 2015 so far. Claire Keane did illustrations for Disney's Tangled and Frozen. Those pictures that Rapunzel draws all over her tower? Thank Claire Keane for that! Her father was Glen Keane, who created iconic Disney characters such as Beast, Ariel, and Aladdin. If that isn't enough of a pedigree, her grandfather was Bil Keane, the creator of the Sunday comic strip Family Circus. Talk about a talented family!!! I'm super-obsessed with Claire Keane's artwork. This book is SO PRETTY. Plus, I love the story about going off on an amazing adventure and having tea with the sun and dancing with the stars, all while trying to find the perfect gift for your mother!

Don't believe me about how pretty this one is? Check out my YouTube Design Vlog:

 My Review


4) THE ORPHAN QUEEN by Jodi Meadows


In had such HIGH expectations for THE ORPHAN QUEEN because I loved Jodi Meadows' NewSoul trilogy so much. I wasn't disappointed!! If you love fantasy, runaway princesses, masked crusaders, romance, and kingdom politics, then, oooohhhh, you're missing out if you don't pick this one up! I was super lucky to travel to NYC for the launch party of this one, and it was wonderful!
(Um, and unless miracles happen and other amazing books come along, this has one of my Top 3 Favorite YA Kissing Scenes of 2015 so far!)

My Review



5) INTERSTELLAR CINDERELLA by Deborah Underwood, 
with illustrations by Meg Hunt


I cannot WAIT to talk about this book with you next Thursday. I am so obsessed and in love with this picture book. I don't care if you're "too old" for picture books. Read it to a kid. Or heck, just read it because you love fairy tales. This is NOT a rip-off of CINDER by Marissa Meyer like some people feared, oh, not at all!! It is an amazing story of GIRL POWER. Why CAN'T a girl be awesome with tools? Why CAN'T a girl save a prince? This picture book turns old ideals about what girls can and can't do and turns them all upside down in a way that creates a strong empowering message for children!

My Review is Coming NEXT WEEK on A Twist in the Tail Thursday!!! (And will include a Vlog! ^_^)
 

6) TRACKED by Jenny Martin


I read TRACKED this month and fell instantly in love. It reminded me in small ways of STITCHING SNOW by R.C. Lewis, which I absolutely loved last year. I'm not a huge sci-fi person, but the intergalactic setting helps make this book so intriguing. There's a prince, sci-fi-style Nascar racing, and a deadly plot to conquer a world. It was so hard to put down! This book got some great early buzz on social media by bloggers I trust, so I was excited to read it, but I haven't heard much about it since then. So you should all read it so we can create some buzz together because it's awesome, mmm'kay? ^.~

My Review is Coming This Summer! ^_^ (I only just read this, sorry!!)


7) THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS by Marieke Nijkamp

Out January 5, 2016

This book doesn't come out until early January, so it probably shouldn't count for 2015, but it WAS one of the best books I read so far this year, so it still counts. This book is chilling and haunting and absolutely captivating. It's also a horrifying living nightmare. A disillusioned student locks the entire student and educator body into the auditorium after a school-wide assembly and opens fire. It's told from multiple perspectives, including those of a few students outside the doors, and it's just...so good. And so hard to read. But so good!!!

 You're Gonna Love Me Spotlight Post (A full review will come closer to the book's launch!)


8) TRUTHWITCH by Susan Dennard

Out January 5, 2016
I can't wait to whisper secrets about this book You're Gonna Love Me style next week! Nothing spoilery, just FUN!!! If you're a fan of shows or books such as Avatar: The Last Airbender that deal with elemental magic, you're going to be completely hooked on this action-packed new series!

You're Gonna Love Me Spotlight Post Coming Next Week!!! (Again, I only read this one recently, so I need to catch up to myself!)


9) THE HEART OF BETRAYAL by Mary E. Pearson

Out July 7, 2015

This book comes out NEXT WEEK!!!! Ahhhhhhh! I read this one way back in January, and am SO EXCITED to finally be talking about it with you! Last year, THE KISS OF DECEPTION was one of my favorite YA novels of the year, and I was sooooooo anxious for the sequel! I cannot WAIT to talk about it. If you're a fan of fantasy, you're going to love the world-building in this series. There are princes, assassins, runaway princesses, kingdoms at war, and so much more! Plus, the first book has an awesome double-blind!
(Um, and unless miracles happen and other amazing books come along, this has one of my Top 3 Favorite YA Kissing Scenes of 2015 so far!)

My Review is Coming in July During My Blog Tour Stop!!!


10) AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir


Everyone is buzzing about this debut novel--and for good reason!! For one thing, it's GORGEOUS. For another, DIVERSITY. For a third, WORLD-BUILDING. Oh my goodness, the power struggles at play in this book!! There is a rebellion, and the stakes are SO high. The book alternates between two worlds, and you get so invested in both characters, that you don't want to see the POV flip back to the other because you want to keep reading the current storyline. Only, you also DO because you can't wait to get back to the other storyline!! This one is unputdownable!

 My Review+Design Vlog



    
What were your favorites of 2015?
Please link me to your posts, or comment with your favorites if you don't do TTT, because I want to read ALL THE BOOKS!!! ^_^


Monday, June 29, 2015

{Blind Unboxing Vlog} A Surprise Package of Macmillan Books!!!

I have a special present for all of you today, bookworms!!!

Because y'all seemed to enjoy the way I opened my Leigh Bardugo SIX OF CROWS package alongside you and let you peek over my shoulder, I decided to do it again with huuuuge package of ARCs that arrived last week from Macmillan!


If you guys continue to love doing this alongside me, I'll continue filming like this, even if it's a package of purchased books! ^.~ Let me tell you, it's ALWAYS fun to get a package...especially if you requested or pre-ordered so long ago that you forget everything that's inside!!!

So what was in that awesome envelope???

Wellllllll, I'm so glad you asked!!!



With these videos, I want you to be as excited as I am and have some of this anticipation as well!!!

For those of you who don't want to watch the video, I'll show you a picture of everything that came in that overstuffed package of goodness...and it's still worth seeing if you watch the video because the titles are all linked to Goodreads!

Ready to see?

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The following list of titles are linked to Goodreads. Check out their summaries for more information!
I've also included the exact release date for each book in parentheses!

*MIXED ME by Taye Diggs with illustrations by Shane W. Evans
(Out 10/6/15)
*LITTLE ELLIOT, BIG CITY written and illustrated by Mike Curato
(OUT NOW. When I opened the package, I didn't notice that it was the first book. The one I was telling you about that I read is from the second book, LITTLE ELLIOT, BIG FAMILY, which comes out 10/6/15!)
*CALVIN by Martine Leavitt
(Out 11/17/15)
(Out 11/24/15)
*THE BOY WHO KNEW EVERYTHING by Victoria Forester
(Out 10/27/15)
(Out 9/15/15)
*FIRE WALKER by Josephine Angelini
(Out 9/1/15)
*LOSERS TAKE ALL by David Klass
(Out 10/20/15)
*CRENSHAW by Katherine Applegate
(Out 9/22/15)

Which books are you the most excited to read!?

Are you enjoying this new series of videos? ^.~


Sunday, June 28, 2015

{Review/Annotated Giveaway} UNDER THE LIGHTS by Dahlia Adler

I've previously reviewed companion novel BEHIND THE SCENES
and interviewed author Dahlia Adler
during A Week of Shooting Stars!

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

   Either my best friend or my assistant is about to punch me in the face. As usual, the fact that they're dating really isn't doing me any favors.
   "You barely even looked any of them," Ally Duncan complains through gritted teeth. She's been working for me for over a year, but her patience hasn't grown any in that time.

(pg. 6, US E-ARC edition)

Today, of all days, I'm very honored to be on tour with UNDER THE LIGHTS! Friday marked a historic day in US History when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriages, and to be reading and reviewing a novel dealing with a main character coming to terms with the fact that she may be gay is an extremely fitting way to celebrate. Vanessa would be proud! I also like to think that her and her friends had a huuuuge celebration this past weekend! (In fact, they may still be hung-over!)

Last year when I finished reading BEHIND THE SCENES, I wasn't quite ready to say goodbye to Ally and Liam. I was so excited when I heard that author Dahlia Adler was working on a companion novel entitled UNDER THE LIGHTS starring Liam's best friend Josh and Ally's best friend Vanessa. Reading UNDER THE LIGHTS, I definitely got to see more of both Ally and Liam. We get to see them together, and to see the new struggles that come with growing up. We also get to explore the psyches of both Josh and Vanessa, who were secondary characters on the last go-round. Now the tables have turned and Ally and Liam are secondary, and that's okay!

UNDER THE LIGHTS is mostly Vanessa's story. It was supposed to be Josh's book, but Vanessa stole the show and took off running. Even though she has the leading role on Daylight Falls, she still worries about her future. What kind of roles will be available to her as a Korean actress after the show comes to an end? The best friend? A character in a horror movie? There's not much out there. Top that off with the fact that Vanessa is falling for her publicist's assistant, Bri--another girl. So now she might be Asian and gay in Hollywood. Can Vanessa embrace this new view of herself...and does she want to? What will it mean for her career or her future happiness? 

Josh, on the other hand, is seemingly as carefree as always. Lavish parties and girls, always spinning wildly out of control. When his mother's soap is cancelled, she books a reality show to stay "relevant" in the media. The reality show, of course, only wants her if Josh comes with it, and Josh is fighting that decision tooth and nail. But if he says no, he'll be kicked out of home and Mommy and Daddy will stop bank-rolling him. Josh hasn't done much acting in a while, and he doesn't really want any new projects, either. Is he being too picky, or just becoming too jaded with the industry? When Liam is offered an amazing movie role, Josh steps in at Daylight Falls as a guest actor, a decision that will change the way he views things more than ever.

What's great about Dahlia Adler's books is how flawed all of the characters are. No one is perfect. There will be elements about the main characters that are extremely dislikable, and yet overall, they are still likable as characters. That's human nature, and Adler captured that very well. She also did a good job exploring Vanessa, who is coming to terms with the fact that she might be gay. You can feel her struggle and understand the different implications her choices will have on her future career. And Josh! He's one of those guys that would just be UGH in real life, but he has a lot more depth than anyone gives him credit for. He doesn't change a lot over the course of the novel, but the change has begun. I wouldn't be surprised if Adler returns to the world of Daylight Falls in the future. Maybe four years later, when Ally and Liam are engaged and about to get married or some such. By then, Josh could experience full character grown and it would be time for a full story with him. It would also be great to see what Vanessa may pioneer in the future and if she can take Hollywood by storm! Josh didn't get enough due in UNDER THE LIGHTS. It's supposed to be his novel, but it's really not. For a long time, I didn't understand why Adler had Josh and Vanessa rotating perspectives because, though they are interconnected, so much of their lives don't connect. I still don't know if it was the best decision because Vanessa's story stands alone and Josh's doesn't have a huge amount of meat to chomp through, but I can see the ties and why those decisions were made.

If you like books about Hollywood actors or envision yourself living the glam life, check out UNDER THE LIGHTS by Dahlia Adler. It isn't as frou-frou and on-the-surface as many other books in the genre, and delves into serious, hard-hitting issues that are prominent in the media. It's an excellent staple in the We Need Diverse Books Campaign, and is especially great if you're looking for a book to celebrate US History being made.

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I'm an Associate Editor of Mathematics by day, a Copy Editor by night, and I blog at The Daily Dahlia, YA Misfits, and the Barnes & Noble book blog. I also write contemporary YA (The Daylight Falls duology) and NA (The Radleigh University series). Rec-ing books is approximately my favorite thing in the universe, with macarons being a close second. Come say hi on Twitter, where I'm @MissDahlELama!

Follow Dahlia on her website, Twitter,  
Pinterest, and Facebook!
 



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Friday, June 26, 2015

{Mad About Nails} "Crushed Candy" By JulieG // Jesse's Girl


I've had quite a few people comment on my nails in the past ask what I was using or wish I'd done a close-up so they could see better, etc., etc., and had a realization: Why not do a feature on nail polish? It's not book-related (Unless you're wearing the new HUNGER GAMES-inspired line from China Glaze, but I'm not even going into how wrong that is...), but it's fun. Plus, if I do this feature, I'll be more likely to re-paint my nails this week and less likely to let them chip their way to the bare bones (which would mean that I could see my nails...and if I see them, I want to bite them!).

Welcome back to another edition of Mad About Nails! 

It's been a while since I posted about nails!

(And I STILL have to post about my Sarah J. Maas nails from the May launch party...oops? ^^;;)

Buuuuuuuut I have worn pretty much ONE nail polish all month!!!

Wearing "Crushed Candy" by JulieG // Jesse's Girl from the Frosted Gum Drops Collection!
(Sorry, this is not-very-good night-time lighting. It's much brighter and more sparkly!
The texture is also fading b/c this manicure is a few days old. Sorry about that!!)


For the last three weeks, rather than take off my polish, I've been touching up with the same one, "Crushed Candy" by JulieG (An imprint of Jesse's Girl and sold exclusively at Rite-Aid or the Jesse's Girl website).

As some of you know, June has been SUPER busy for me. I don't often have a lot of free time on my days off--especially not for something as time-consuming as painting my nails! It takes a while for nails to dry, and I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THAT if I'm cleaning out the attic/doing massive laundry/going out/etc.

THANK GOODNESS FOR TEXTURED NAIL POLISH. When you're on the run, you can throw on some textured polish, no base OR top coat required, and you're good to go in 5-10 minutes. SUPER EASY, SUPER FAST, SUPER CLEAN. It's pretty much all I had time for!
And THEN I was lazy and just kept redoing the chipped nails with the same color and leaving the other nails alone...

BUT!!!

I have gotten SO MANY compliments about "Crushed Candy." Everyone LOVES this color!!!! So I also haven't wanted to take it off, even as I HAVE wanted to wear some of my brand-new polishes. It's just so simple and easy!

When I first grabbed "Crushed Candy," I actually thought I was grabbing my non-textured metallic pink from Julie G entitled "Pink Tiara." I always get a lot of compliments on that color, too. It wasn't until I took a bottle shot to show you guys that I realized I was wearing something else! ^^;;;

I actually wish I had bought more than one color in the Frosted Gum Drop Collection! Especially "Blueberry Fizz" and "Tangerine Dream." Unless it was added to the core collection, making it readily available at my local Rite-Aid, I may have to place an online order soon!! Thank goodness they're still online! And, ooh, new core colors....I might be able to get free shipping!
*Someone stop me...*

 Is anyone else obsessed with nail polish? What are you wearing right now?