Where reading is a way of life

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Get Real--Strings by David Estes Launch Party!



Monday, February 15th, I am throwing a party to celebrate the launch of David Estes's new YA SciFi Pinocchio Retelling, STRINGS! Join ton of awesome authors, including bestsellers Rysa Walker and Caragh O'Brien, for a night of giveaways, games and fun! The party runs from 6pm-Midnight EST time.

One of the prizes given away will be this handmade Pinocchio themed Mini Album! 






I hope you can join us! See you at the party :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Instagram Pics and Updates--Week of February 8th

Random Books and Bookshelves



Currently Reading








Book Hauls



I love sharing my Instagram pics with you all! So fun. You can also follow me on Instagram, my user name is @juliababyjen










Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Lunar Chronicles Readalong


One of my goals this year is to work on finishing series I've already started. I've decided to focus on a series a month and do a readalong to reread the first books in the series, and finish up with the remaining books.

February is The Lunar Chronicles! I'm doing a fun readalong on my Instagram, feel free to join me if you want, using hashtag #TheLunarChroniclesReadalong My Instagram is @Juliababyjen

I've just finished Cinder, it was wonderful to reread it! Next week I'll be rereading Scarlet. I'm so excited to finally get to Winter!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Girl Who Never Was by Skylar Dorset


GoodReads
YA Paranormal
Otherworld #1
My Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis

THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS is the story of Selkie Stewart, who thinks she’s a totally normal teenager growing up in Boston. Sure, her father is in an insane asylum, her mother left her on his doorstep—literally—when she was a baby, and she’s being raised by two ancient aunts who spend their time hunting gnomes in their Beacon Hill townhouse. But other than that her life is totally normal! She’s got an adventurous best friend who’s always got her back and an unrequited crush on an older boy named Ben. Just like any other teenager, right?

When Selkie goes in search of the mother she’s never known, she gets more than she bargained for. It turns out that her mother is faerie royalty, which would make Selkie a faerie princess—except for the part where her father is an ogre, which makes her only half of anything. Even more confusing, there’s a prophecy that Selkie is going to destroy the tyrannical Seelie Court, which is why her mother actually wants to kill her. Selkie has been kept hidden all her life by her adoring aunts, with the help of a Salem wizard named Will. And Ben. Because the boy she thinks she’s in love with turns out to be a faerie whose enchantment has kept her alive, but also kept her in the dark about her own life.

Now, with enchantments dissolved and prophecies swinging into action, Selkie finds herself on a series of mad quests to save the people she’s always loved and a life she’s learning to love. But in a supernatural world of increasingly complex alliances and distressingly complicated deceptions, it’s so hard to know who to trust. Does her mother really wish to kill her? Would Will sacrifice her for the sake of the prophecy? And does Ben really love her or is it all an elaborate ruse? In order to survive, Selkie realizes that the key is learning—and accepting—who she really is.
 


My Quickie Thoughts


I love fairy stories in general, and I just loved this one! This was a nice, quick, fun read. It reminded me a bit of the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa. Very strange world within our own, and very interesting characters!


Worst Thing About the Book: The hinted at romance was not that believable


Best Thing About the Book: Originality of the plot and world


Books It Reminded Me Of: The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa, The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

Friday, February 5, 2016

Quick update on 2016!


Hey everyone! Its been a really long time since I've done a blog post! I've sort of been doing most of my "blogging" on my Facebook Page and my Instragram...honestly its a lot faster, and I like the picture format. But, I don't want to let my blog die, so I'm going to try to get a post up at least once a week for 2016!

I also haven't been writing too many full book reviews, mainly because of time issues. I've really gotten back into my art over the last 2 years, and that takes up a lot of my free time. What's left is reading time, and I actually want to use that time for reading! You'll see lots of artsy things in the picture above--that's what my favorite bookshelf looked like at Christmas! I lot of those are papercrafts I received from other artists. Fun!

Anyways, I thought I'd do a quick update on what I read in January. I read a total of 18 books: 12 YA books, 2 nonfiction, 3 adult, and 1 children's book.

The Opal by Jennifer L Armentrout          4 stars
The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin        5 stars
Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray          4 stars
Erased by Jennifer Rush                                                    4 stars
The Human by Keary Taylor (reread)                             4 stars
The Sketchbook Project                                                     4 stars
Rogue by Julie Kagawa                                                      4 stars
Nikki Powergloves and the Power Trappers by David Estes  4 stars
Wildflower by Drew Barrymore                                        4 stars
The Iron Warrior by Julie Kagawa                                   4 stars
Erebos by Ursula Poznaski                                                 4 stars
House of Pawns by Keary Taylor                                       4 stars
After Alice by Gregory Maguire                                         3.5 stars
Origin by Jennifer L Armentrout                                       4 stars
Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young                                           4 stars
The Conjurer's Riddle by Andrea Cremer                        4 stars
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)  5 stars
Soulless by Gail Carriger                                                      4 stars

Not bad for January! These are my yearly goals, and my progress so far:

Read 20 adult books

1. After Alice
2. The Cuckoo's Calling
3. Soulless

Read 10 Nonfiction reads

1. The Sketchbook Project
2. Wildflower

Finish 30 series I've already started

1. Mara Dyer
2. The Iron Fey

Read 80 books off my bookshelves

1. The Retribution of Mara Dyer
2. Ten Thousand Skies Above You
3. Erebos
4. Origin

My yearly goal is 200 books total read


So as you can see, not doing too bad so far! Wish me luck the rest of the year :)
                   

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Flip by David Estes




YA Sci-Fi/Dystopian
Slip #3
My Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis

In a scared and broken world where someone must die before another can be born, one family has been torn apart by fate and a ruthless government, only to find themselves suddenly thrust back together with one chance to save their struggling nation.

Benson and Harrison Kelly and their newfound allies within the rebel consortium are finally fighting back, but the Department of Population Control and its ultimate weapon, known as the Destroyer, won't rest until they're all dead. The task will take them into the belly of the beast and force them to face a secret about their past that will change everything.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Lifers, Jarrod, has a new weapon, in the form of an angry, desperate twelve-year-old boy, and he won't hesitate to use him to destroy an entire city as part of a hidden agenda only just starting to be revealed.

The fate of humanity hinges on a series of impossible choices made by those with nothing to lose. One family. One chance to flip everything they know on its head. One action-packed finale that will leave you breathless.

My 2 cents

"Don't cry because its over, smile because it happened." --Dr. Suess

And that's exactly how I feel as I am now at the end of this fantastic story. The Kelly family's journey through this trilogy was just amazing, moving from one extreme to the other. Although I'm sad its over, I'm thrilled I got to experience it!

Flip was all I wanted and then some. Everything that was good about the first two books continues here in the finale. The stakes have been upped, and the read was even more intense, with even better action sequences. But Flip stays true to the basic story of a family trying to be together and free in a terrible world.

**I should mention now that there might be spoilers for Slip and Grip, but none for Flip. **

Things I love about Flip:

The Kelly Family My absolute favorite thing about this trilogy, from beginning to end has been the theme throughout about family. This is such an important theme, and one that is missing a lot in YA. My family is the most important thing in the world to me, and I'm sure is the same with most people. How great to see a series touching on this in such a relevant and realistic way. This family is not perfect. They love each other and drive each other crazy at times. But in the end, it is their loyalty to each other that makes all the difference. 

"“Family doesn’t go one way. It goes every way. We help each other, we protect each other, and we die for each other, if that’s what it takes.” 

The Characters I'm not going to touch on each one, as they are all really good in this book. I feel that any character development that was lacking in the previous books (especially the first one) all comes together here. These characters are all complex, with moments of both highs and lows. And all of the main characters had a complete story arc that made sense and fit into the story perfectly.

The World Building One of my absolute favorite things in any series is when the world building just builds and builds with each book. The world building in Flip jumps leaps and bounds from the first two books. We get to see a lot more of this crazy world, and most of it is done through the ads and articles in between each chapter. Like before, it really gives us an insight to the public's viewpoint, as most of our characters are in hiding and almost in the dark themselves. Just really brilliantly done.

Comedy Hour Despite this being a very dark, intense story, I was LOLing through a lot of it! I love the humor throughout, and think its a perfect balance with action and suspense. A few of my favorite lines:

"Eventually, Simon shifts his position, grunting lightly, and then says, “Nice makeover.”
“Are you hitting on me?” Harrison jokes.
“All I want is to be your frienemy,” Simon jokes back.
“I’m not ready for commitment,” Harrison says. “Too young for that. "

"Minda says, “Yeah. Just do what Janice does and you’ll be fine.”
“You want us to all wear tiger-striped dresses?” Harrison asks.
“Sure. So long as you laser your legs first,” Minda says." 


The Twists Again, lots more of them happening in the finale! I'm not sure I've ever seen a twist written as well as the big one in Slip, but the ones in here I think have topped it! MIND BLOWN!

The Writing Loved it. Just beautiful writing. I'll give you a few examples:

"“Words can split logs and start fires and break stones, but they can also hug you and warm you and fight the wars you don’t have the strength to fight.”

"But then I realized that life is a gift that can’t be replaced. Life is the purpose. Life is always worth it, no matter how terrible you feel, no matter what mistakes you've made, or others have made. This world isn’t for running. It’s for standing. It’s for fighting."


Need I say more?

The Action I mentioned it before, but these were AWESOME action scenes! They went on for pages, were very detailed, and the pacing was perfect. Really made the pages fly!

The Ending One of the best endings to a trilogy EVER. Everything tied together nicely, it all made sense, and we got a wonderful epilogue that tells us what's up with our favorite characters a year after the story. Really loved that! 

Flip was an EPIC finale and I loved every minute of this book! After the last page, I was in a book fog, and it took me a bit to come back to the real world. These characters were just so real to me. Slip is one of the best trilogies I have ever read. I will be thinking about it for a long while.

And I'll leave you with another favorite quote:

"It’s not the power of the universe rallying against him, but humans. Just men and women full of hate and evil and ignorance. Nothing more, nothing less. And humans can be defeated, no matter the odds. In the end, good has a chance to prevail if those who wield its mighty sword do not lose hope."

You can buy Flip here:
Amazon

And don't miss the first two books in the series!







Author Photo - David Estes


About the Author:
Author of popular YA dystopian series, the Dwellers Saga and the Country Saga. Voted books to read if you enjoyed the Hunger Games on Buzzfeed and Listopia.

Join 2,700+ David Estes Fans and YA Book Lovers Unite in David Estes' official fan group at:
http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/70863-david-estes-fans-and-ya-book-lovers-unite

David Estes was born in El Paso, Texas but moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when he was very young. David grew up in Pittsburgh and then went to Penn State for college. Eventually he moved to Sydney, Australia where he met his wife. They now live together in their dream location, Hawaii. A reader all his life, he began writing novels for the children's and YA markets in 2010, and started writing full time in June 2012. Now he travels the world writing with his wife, Adele. David's a writer with OCD, a love of dancing and singing (but only when no one is looking or listening), a mad-skilled ping-pong player, and prefers writing at the swimming pool to writing at a table.

You can find and contact David here:
- Website
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Goodreads


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Burn by David Estes



YA Sci-Fi/Apocalyptic, Paranormal
Brew #3
My Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis

When Rhett Carter finally manages to communicate with his cursed father, he wants nothing more than to discover a way to save him. The only problem: The closer he gets to Martin Carter, the faster he'll die. To help, Laney secretly seeks out Rhett's father, embarking on a dangerous mission. Unbeknownst to her, she's followed by Bil Nez, Hex, and Grogg. Separated from Rhett, their lives sit on a knife's edge.

Meanwhile, with bloodthirsty packs of Shifters prowling around New Washington, the only hope for survival is Rhett's ability to unite the humans and magic-born. A tenuous alliance is formed: the Reaper and his Necros; the Clairvoyants; Floss and her witch hunters; and the humans. But will it be enough to defeat their enemies and restore order to a world in chaos? And will Rhett and Laney ever have the chance for a normal life, a life they both desperately want?

Or will the world BURN?

My 2 cents

**There will be spoilers for both Brew and Boil in this review, but none for Burn**

"A nightmare awakens,
Opening one bruised eye.
Although they scream, it doesn’t listen,
Doesn’t care,
Doesn’t feel,
Doesn’t hate nor love.
Only takes.
And because it breathes fire, the world will burn.

Burn, Rhett Carter"


And so starts the conclusion to this epic trilogy! The Necros and the Clares have joined in with the few remaining humans to defeat Flora and the Shifters. But neither humans nor the magic born in their camp are happy with the truce, forcing Rhett to choose sides. Meanwhile, Flora is planning the attack of the century.

I absolutely LOVED this book! It was an epic conclusion and I loved every minute of it! I also thought the story had a perfect balance of action and suspense, comedy and silliness, snarkiness, and tear-jerker moments. The story flowed so easily, with never a dull moment, and I was completely hooked from beginning to end.

The thing I love the most, though, is the characters. This is an insane cast of dynamic characters, and made the story very entertaining. This really is a dark story with lots of horrible things happening and death everywhere, but it still has these moments of complete hilarity that had me laughing out loud while I was reading!

First of all: Tillman Huckle The underground arms dealer and fanatic gamer who always tells Rhett like it is. I especially loved this exchange between them:

"He makes a good point, even if changing the name of New Washington seems like the least of our worries. Even still, we need something to give the people hope. Something to help us start over. Something to make us all feel connected to each other. A new name might just do that.
“How about Unity?” I say.
Huckle laughs, and at first I think it’s because he’s just used a grenade launcher to blow up a pocket of the walking dead. “What about Peaceville? Or Harmonytown? Or did you consider The Land of Butterflies and Kittens?” Huckle says. "
 

LOL

Then there's Mr. Jackson, THE REAPER as he's known by almost everyone. A very creepy dude, with lots of secrets, even more than we thought. Something about him just intrigues me. Rhett wonders about him a lot as well. 

"Is he seriously joking with me? The master of the dark art of raising the dead has become a standup comedian? Surely this is the end of the world."

XAVE! He grew and grew on me all through the series, and the final book gave him a few well deserved highlights. Xave is incredibly smart, brave, and wise.

"“Everyone deserves help when they need it,” Xave says, “even if they think they don’t want it.” 

And then there's Grogg, the huge troll made of mud, and Hex, the wonderdog! Their adventures throughout the story are PRICELESS! We even get several chapters from their POV! These were huge highlights of the book for me!

"As his legs once more gain hold on the earth, Hex tries to remember why he’s here, what he’s doing.
Protect…um…protect someone…protect…
Chipmunk!

Flowers are sniffable.
Weeds are scratchable.
Grass is munchable and usually full of lots of curious creatures.
And yet, despite the abundance of all three of these plants in his immediately vicinity, Hex finds himself on the roof, chasing after Grogg, who’s more fun than all three put together. "


And then we have Bil. Bil really grew on me in this book. In the previous one, I was really not happy with his character, but he really redeems himself in this installment! Even better are his exchanges with Laney!

"“Life is but a random echo,” Bil Nez says. Apparently I woke him up when I was trying to calm myself down.
“Thanks for that,” I say, desperately wishing Normal Bil was back. I might not like Normal Bil that much, but compared to Crazy Bil, Normal Bil feels like an old friend.
He ignores my sarcasm. “Life reverberates off the walls of a cave, searching for a way out, but it always fades away.”
“You should write these things down and publish a coffee table book,” I say."


LANEY!! My fave character of the story still had me laughing and chuckling throughout the adventure! I just love Laney, her sarcasm, snarky, bravery, and fierceness. She. is. AWESOME!

"Laney practically chokes on her laugh. “Woo her? You couldn’t woo a cocker spaniel. Just the thought of you ‘wooing’ anyone makes me want to woo my pants.” 

And finally, there's Rhett, our MC full of contradictions. He seems like a simple character, but there's a lot more going on to him underneath. Definitely one of the most interesting MCs ever!

"All I know is that my life feels like a giant April Fool’s Joke most of the time. Either that or a mysterious box that has something different in it every time you open it."

The twists in this book...I can't even! HOLY CRAP BEANS, the twists were completely surprising, and they just kept on coming! (Although I will admit I did figure out a smallish one near the end ;) ) David Estes is quickly becoming the master of twists, and is magic at pulling them out of his hat!

The last thing I want to talk about is the ending. This ending was one of the best endings I've ever read, for a book, and a trilogy. I LOVED every single word on that last page. It tied everything up neatly and had definite feels. It made perfect sense and gave me what I wanted as a reader.

This trilogy is truly a gem, and I am sad to say goodbye to these amazing characters. Maybe the author will surprise us with some more stories about them in the future (hint, hint).

And now I'll leave you with a few of my favorite quotes.

"Double negative,” Rhett says.
“Doesn’t that make a positive?”
“Damn,” Rhett says. “I thought I was being clever."

“Don’t kill the humans, the zombies, the guys in the dark cloaks or the girls that glow like the sun. Oh, or the crazy old woman with the fingernails growing out of her head.”

"Time is the great devourer, taking days, months, and eventually years from us all. It doesn’t discriminate, doesn’t differentiate, shows no mercy."


You can buy Burn here:
Amazon

And don't miss the first two books in the series!


Amazon  Goodreads

My Review

Salem’s Revenge strikes without warning or mercy, ravaging the powerless human race under the forces of united gangs of witches, wizards, and warlocks. During the slaughter, Rhett Carter's foster parents and sister are killed, and his best friend and girlfriend are abducted by a gang of witches calling themselves the Necromancers, who deal in the dark magic of raising the dead. Rhett’s sword-wielding neighbor with a mysterious past saves Rhett from becoming another casualty of the massacre and teaches him the skills he needs to survive in this new world.

Rhett is broken, his normal high school life of book blogging and football playing shoved in a witch-apocalyptic blender. The only thing he has left is his burning desire for revenge. Armed with his new witch hunting skills and a loyal, magic powered dog named Hex, he sets out into the unknown with one mission: hunt and destroy those who took away everyone he ever loved. 

But Rhett isn’t just a witch hunter; he has secrets of his own that he has yet to discover, secrets that his enemies will stop at nothing to keep him from.

And discovering the truth about himself is the human race’s only hope.

                                                                                Amazon    Goodreads

                                                                                                   My Review

Revenge. That’s all that’s left for witch hunter Rhett Carter. The magic-born have stripped everything from him—killed his friends, cursed his warlock father, shattered his future—leaving him bare and broken, but not dead. Their mistake.

When Rhett and Laney are suddenly thrust in different directions, Rhett must decide who to trust and who to kill. Backed by his trusty canine sidekick Hex, Rhett will embark on his deadliest mission yet, one that will lead him directly toward those who want him dead, pushing his unique resistance to magic to the edge and back again as he tries to remove his father’s curse.

Separated from Rhett, Laney seeks to understand the strange changes to her sister, Trish, who’s believed to be the last living Clairvoyant, and what role she’s destined to play in the future of humankind.

Wrapped around everything are four major groups: the Necromancers, the Changelings, the witch hunters, and New America, the remnants of humanity. When the major forces are brought together for an epic battle, the fate of the world hangs in the balance.
 




Author Photo - David Estes


About the Author:
Author of popular YA dystopian series, the Dwellers Saga and the Country Saga. Voted books to read if you enjoyed the Hunger Games on Buzzfeed and Listopia.

Join 2,700+ David Estes Fans and YA Book Lovers Unite in David Estes' official fan group at:
http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/70863-david-estes-fans-and-ya-book-lovers-unite

David Estes was born in El Paso, Texas but moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when he was very young. David grew up in Pittsburgh and then went to Penn State for college. Eventually he moved to Sydney, Australia where he met his wife. They now live together in their dream location, Hawaii. A reader all his life, he began writing novels for the children's and YA markets in 2010, and started writing full time in June 2012. Now he travels the world writing with his wife, Adele. David's a writer with OCD, a love of dancing and singing (but only when no one is looking or listening), a mad-skilled ping-pong player, and prefers writing at the swimming pool to writing at a table.

You can find and contact David here:
- Website
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Goodreads