Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I am Dying to Read

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by the ladies over at The Broke and The Bookish. Each week we get a new topic for a top ten list. This week’s theme was a Freebie so I choose to do mine based on the Top Ten Books I am Dying to Read.

Caraval 

by Stephanie Garber

I have entered every contest and tried so hard to get my hands on the ARC of this book because everyone has been raving about how great it is. I love books with carnivals and circuses in them….so clearly I would want to read this one. Already per-ordered it on Amazon.

bunny carnival

 

The Winds of Winter (Book 6)

by George R.R. Martin

 Because now that I have watched HBO’s season 6 finale…I need to know how close they kept it to the book, and what other details and information HBO’s show left out. Plus….Jon Snow….

jon snow

 

Doors of Stone (Book 3) 

by Patrick Rothfuss

I seriously need this book in my life ASAP. It’s been years since book 2, and I NEED to know what happens to my red-headed Kvothe, and the enchanting Bast and all my beloved characters from this series.

 

FoxHeart

by Claire Legrand

Because I just finished reading Some Kind of Happiness and absolutely loved how Claire writes…plus there are beautiful illustrations and a fox…how could I refuse?

fox

 

The Last Harvest

by Kim Liggett

Kim writes some pretty creepy stuff, and she is a fabulous individual. I can’t wait to read her latest novel, and I am also eagerly waiting for book 2 in the Blood and Salt series.

Kim writes some pretty creepy stuff, and she is a fabulous individual. I can’t wait to read her latest novel, and I am also eagerly waiting for book 2 in the Blood and Salt series.

 

Garden of Blood and Dust

by K.K. Perez

Because how could I not want to read it after reading this description on GoodReads? ‘A YA fantasy inspired by the legend of Elizabeth Bathory, the world’s first female serial killer, pitched as a cross between Maleficent and American Horror Story.” Plus I have always been very interested in the story of Countess Bathory.

 

A Crown of Wishes

by Roshani Chokshi

While reading The Star-Touched Queen I fell completely under the mystical spell of Roshani’s writing. Absolutely stunning from start to finish and I am so eager to read this next one.

swoon

 

Lizzie

by Dawn Ius

My friend Elizabeth from BookYabber brought this one to my attention because we have a mutual interest in all things horror and horror related books. We also live in Massachusetts, and not too far away from where the real Lizzie Borden took an ax to both her parents (we hope to visit the actual house someday soon). I really hope Dawn Ius does an amazing job with this story, and I simply can’t wait to devour it.

 

Beast

by Lise Jensen

I love the story of Beauty and the Beast and this is an upcoming retelling of this very old fairy tale. I know there are plenty of books out there that claim to be a retelling, but haven’t done too great of a job with this story. I hope the author does the story justice and gives it a special new twist too.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

by J.K. Rowling

I can’t wait to read this next chapter of the Harry Potter story. I am so looking forward to seeing how they have grown as adults and what the new generation is like. Thank goodness July is just around the corner.

 

Special Mention

“Untitled”

by Erin Morgenstern

I have no idea when this next book will be out, but a girl can dream. I have been patiently waiting ever since I finished reading The Night Circus (my all time favorite book…EVER). I will literally throw a party when the happy news of the release date of her second book is finally announced.

dream

 

What are some of the books you are dying to read? Will they be released this year still or are they like some of my books with release dates unknown or even into 2018? Leave me your comments below and if you participate in Top Ten Tuesday leave me your links too.  Let’s chat!

Signature

The Marauders: BFestBuzz Teen Festival at Barnes and Noble

TheMarauders

 

Welcome to The Marauders a monthly feature hosted by three bookish friends: Scales aka Elizabeth from BookYABBER, Pooka aka Marci at The Plot Bunny and Embers aka Nicole from Nicole’s Novel Reads. We seek to share with you, our unique outings, bookish exploits,  and favorite haunts. Together we aspire to always live by our motto:  “Mischief Managed”.

This month due to busy schedules and upcoming summer madness we decided to keep things a bit simple. Kerri Maniscalco announced on Twitter that ARCs of her debut gothic YA thriller Stalking Jack the Ripper was going to be at 30 select Barnes and Noble stores during their B-Fest Teen Book Festival on Saturday, June 11th, 2016. Since both Nicole and Elizabeth borrowed the copy of my ARC and LOVED it, we decided to attend the event and do a mini recap of it through tweets and a little bit on this post too.

IMG_8246
The Precious! So pretty! (Photo credit Nicole)

I met up with Elizabeth at her home and we headed over together to the Burlington Barnes and Noble, which was one of the lucky 30 stores that would have ARC copies of Stalking Jack The Ripper. We arrived super early because we had no idea what type of turn out this event was going to have. Once arrived we made sure to head straight to the information desk to find out where things were going to be setup. After obtaining the crucial information, Elizabeth and I wandered through the store and got coffee while we waited for Nicole to arrive. We perused the YA section of the store going over our latest reads and favorite books read so far this year, and eagerly watched out for signs of Barnes and Noble staff “setting-up” around us. Nicole arrived around 10:30am and as we caught up with her, we started to see the staff putting together the table where all types of samplers, ARCs and other swag would be. Once we saw them pulling out copies of Stalking Jack The Ripper from a large box we all got really excited. Obviously, Nicole and Elizabeth wanted their own copies and being part of the official street team we felt we had to be there for support and to send pictures to Kerri on Twitter.

IMG_7998Along with Kerri’s Stalking Jack the Ripper, there was also arcs of Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland and The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti. There were also chapter samplers for The Call, Tales of the Peculiar, Carve the Mark, The Diabolic, Something in Between, It’s Not Me, It’s You, The Fever Code, The Amateurs and some swag postcards, pins, hot chocolate mix, and coloring book from Fierce Reads.

After making our choices, we decided it was time to grab some lunch and try to come back for the activities that were happening later in the afternoon (scavenger hunt, spelling bee, etc). We headed off to The Cheesecake factory because we needed to somehow incorporate cake into this outing. We had a nice lunch ( and even better dessert) and a fun time just catching up and chatting about books, and about Stalking Jack The Ripper since we had all finished reading it.

When we got up to leave we looked outside and apparently a rainstorm decided to invade what had been a pretty sunny day. We decided to wait for it to pass and ventured into the mall to see what fun things we could occupy ourselves with until the storm passed. We came upon the Disney store which of course is such a happy place. It was like being 10 again and wanting to be a princess, or in our case just wanting to be everything from a princess to a storm trooper. We played with all our favorite StarWars/Zootopia characters, hugged our favorite stuffed animal characters, took the find the hidden characters amongst the tree displays throughout the store, and of course, we had to visit all the pretty princess dolls. We managed to not buy anything but we sure did have a blast.

20160611_140144-COLLAGE
OMG the cuteness of these stuffies! (Photo Credit; Elizabeth)
20160611_135155-COLLAGE
One is never too old to play make-believe (Photo Credit: Elizabeth)

IMG_8240

We bid the Disney store farewell and walked over to Claire’s (a store that sells accessories, makeup and stuff for Tweens/Teens). We decided to be teenagers again for a bit and just be silly. We tried on flower crowns and looked at all the fun cell phone cases, and random items. Being the eldest, I clearly acted the youngest and silliest of them all, because mischief is my middle name.

IMG_8239
It’s SOOOOO SQUUUUIIISSSSHHHHY!
IMG_8244 (1)
Flower Power….(Photo Credit: Elizabeth)
 

Realizing that the rain had passed, we decided we needed to head back to Barnes and Nobles but first, a stop at Starbucks for Elizabeth to finally try out “The Pink Drink”…aka Acai refresher with coconut milk instead of water. I think I might have hooked her on it because she loved it.

IMG_8251

When we got back to the store it seemed like we had missed all the 2pm activities so we decided to chat about books and rummage through the shelves this time with Nicole present. We thought it would be a cool idea to present to our readers our favorite summer reading picks for contemporary YA books. (See the links for our reviews)

Elizabeth’s Picks:  When We Collided, Summer of Sloane and To All The Boys I Loved Before.

Nicole’s Picks:  Love & Gelato, All The Feels and Fangirl.

and I picked: The Museum of Heartbreak, Love Charms and Other Catastrophes, and Wink Poppy Midnight.

IMG_8241We hope that you enjoyed our mini adventure this month, and keep tuned for next month’s (early August) when we’ll be sharing with you a certain end of July magical book release adventure. We can’t wait!

Have you heard or read any of the books mentioned in my post? Did your Barnes and Noble have a Bfest Teen Festival event? What are some of the books you plan to read this summer? Let’s chat!

Signature

Middle Grade Book Review: Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand

Middle Grade Book Review: Some Kind of Happiness by Claire LegrandSome Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 17th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Magical Realism, Middle Grade
Pages: 374
Goodreads

THINGS FINLEY HART DOESN’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT
• Her parents, who are having problems. (But they pretend like they’re not.)• Being sent to her grandparents’ house for the summer.• Never having met said grandparents.• Her blue days—when life feels overwhelming, and it’s hard to keep her head up. (This happens a lot.)
Finley’s only retreat is the Everwood, a forest kingdom that exists in the pages of her notebook. Until she discovers the endless woods behind her grandparents’ house and realizes the Everwood is real--and holds more mysteries than she'd ever imagined, including a family of pirates that she isn’t allowed to talk to, trees covered in ash, and a strange old wizard living in a house made of bones.
With the help of her cousins, Finley sets out on a mission to save the dying Everwood and uncover its secrets. But as the mysteries pile up and the frightening sadness inside her grows, Finley realizes that if she wants to save the Everwood, she’ll first have to save herself.
Reality and fantasy collide in this powerful, heartfelt novel about family, depression, and the power of imagination.

Some Kind of Happiness is the story of Finley, she is eleven years old, has a vivid imagination and is dealing with some major things in her life. Anxiety, depression and the ever nearing truth that her parents are getting a divorce. Finley is spending the summer at her grandparents’ home so that her parents can have some time together to figure out how they will move on with their relationship. Finley has never met her dad’s side of the family because something very serious and secret severed their relationship a long time ago. Finley is not happy about being there, she doesn’t want to be among strangers and she is worried that they will discover her own secrets, her “blue days”. Thankfully, to combat her anxiety and to deal with the days when she feels like she is underwater unable to move or breath, Finley has the magical world of The Everwood. The Everwood lives inside the stories in Finley’s notebook, it is a special place she created to help her feel safe, and to express her herself freely. To Finley, The Everwood is only real upon the many pages of her stories, but once she starts to explore the woods behind her grandparents’ home, she realizes that The Everwood is very much real. Along with her cousins, they set off on an adventure that will forge friendships, uncover long-buried family secrets and help Finley face her fears.

I would first like to say that I LOVED Finley. She made my heartache with how broken she is and how unable to handle her feelings of anxiety and depression she is. Claire Legrand did a masterful job in capturing how torturous it can be for anyone to deal with depression and anxiety, especially someone as young as Finley. It is one of the reasons I  applaud this book and feel like everyone should read it no matter their age. These are real issues that are affecting many people, young and old. Books that dealt with these types of mental illness where nowhere when I was growing up, and I wish they had been around. Young readers suffering from similar afflictions as Finley need stories like these to be written. They need to know that they are not alone, they are not being judged and that there are ways to obtain help. I loved that Finley made lists, I love that she loved words. I love that even though Finley was clearly struggling she still had fight in her and was able to create stunning stories. I was glad that Claire Legrand chose to have Finley coop with her afflictions by writing and using her imagination. In many cases of anxiety and depression, those suffering from these ailments don’t often cope in a healthy manner, so I am glad that Claire pushed a creative outlet as a way to help with coping.

One of the things I loved the most about Some Kind of Happiness is how the book is divided into chapters that take place in the whimsical Everwood, and then in Finley’s real world. I think these excerpts from Finley’s notebook about the Everwood are absolutely exquisite (they reminded me of when I was a child and spoke to the trees in my backyard). These passages also were a very clever way to let us know what was going on inside Finley’s mind. Though these passages seem like “make-believe” you come to find out that they are actually how Finley is describing the world around her and how she “sees” things.

I also enjoyed Finley’s family (mainly the cousins), it reminded me of how I grew up surrounded by my grandmother, aunts, and cousins. My family wasn’t as formal as the Harts, or as neat, but I do understand what it’s like to have a strong bond with my cousins growing up. I think it was very important for Finley to connect with her cousins and find acceptance among them. I think their support and love helped her in her journey to understanding herself and her feelings. The Bailey boys/pirates were also characters that I really enjoyed. They were wild and free and reminded me of the neighborhood kids my cousins and I would sometimes be allowed to play with (but that my grandmother never really trusted…just like Finley’s grandmother). The way the Baileys and her cousins willingly went along with Finley’s make-believe world of The Everwood really touched my heart. It’s tough to find friends that will “humor” you in what others might find eccentric and their desire to play along with Finley’s fantasy carved a little place in my heart for all of them.

The plot revolves around Finley and her desire to uncover the truth about why her grandparents and father have an estranged relationship with the help of her cousins and the Bailey boys. In getting closer and closer to the truth, Finley must come to terms with her own secrets and that she will have to face them head on. The writing really is lovely and though melancholy I think the tone is just right. Claire Legrand does an amazing job capturing the voice and thoughts of an eleven-year-old girl, and I love how “reality” and “fantasy” mixed together to create this story. Some Kind of Happiness is a bit sad and I cried at various parts but it is also full of hope and beautifully written. The book is marketed for middle graders but I would highly recommend it to readers of all ages.

Thank you, Simon & Schuster for approving my request to read Some Kind of Happiness in return for an honest review.

You can also read my recap of the middle-grade panel and book signing for Some Kind of Happiness at The Blue Bunny Books and Toy shop  here.

IMG_7951
Claire and I during her signing of Some Kind of Happiness at The Blue Bunny Books and Toys shop.

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite 2016 Book Releases so far this year

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by the ladies over at The Broke and The Bookish. Each week we get a new topic for a top ten list. This week’s theme is Top Ten Favorite 2016 Releases So Far This Year.

2016 has had so many fantastic books already released, and there are so many still due to come out before the year is up. I have read some amazing books so far (some which are still due to be published), but for this list, I wanted to share my absolute LOVES…and that is why I am limiting my list to only 7 books. Here are my top 7 books of 2016 so far…

 

stalking jack

Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Set in Victorian England, with a sassy and independent heroine on a mission to unveil the identity of Jack the Ripper and stop his brutal murders. The research for this book was spot on and the descriptions of the butchery of the Ripper made this gothic tale a chilling read.

 

Museum Cover

The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder

A story about all the many different types of heartbreak one goes through while growing up, and how they also help us grow and find ourselves. Plus lots of dinosaurs…and other fun little quirky things throughout the story. I loved every page of this book.

 

star

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

One of the most gorgeously written books I have read. Drenched in luscious descriptions this book is about Princess Maya finding her true destiny, her freedom, and magic.

 

some

Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand

This middle-grade gem is the story of a young girl dealing with anxiety and depression. To help her conquer her “blue days” she writes in her notebook about her special place The Everwood. The writing in this book was fantastic. I was so impressed with how seamlessly the author was able to transition from world of The Everwood to the “real” world.

 

www

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

This story was heartbreaking and beautiful. A young boy and his pet fox are forced to part ways due to an impending war, and though miles apart they both start their journey back to each other. I cried so much while reading this book, especially because my husband’s family and I were still grieving from losing our beloved doggie Sophie. I was in pieces after reading this one, but it was very well done and definitely worth the read.

 

lady

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

I am still in the process of finishing up this book, but it is HILARIOUS and I LOVE it. I was laughing (out loud and in public) from the very beginning of this story. Not quite the historical tale you might remember from the history book, but definitely far more entertaining.

 

three crowns

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

My very first book by Kendare and it has convinced me to read all her other books. This dark tale is about triplet sisters all with different magical gifts, all destined to be queen but first, they must survive each other and be the last left alive.

What have been some of your favorite 2016 book releases? Have we read any of the same books so far this year? What are some of the books you  are looking forward to in the second half of 2016? 

Signature

Fantasy Book Review: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Fantasy Book Review: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani ChokshiThe Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on April 26th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology, Young Adult
Pages: 342
Goodreads
five-stars

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…
But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

The Star-Touched Queen completely captivated me. To say that this debut from author Roshani Chokshi was beautifully written is simply not enough. Every single sentence was soaked in dreamy poetry and every scene intricately created. The story was a lavish feast to be devoured slowly and savored to the last drop. The mixture of Indian mythology with YA fantasy was superbly done and left me completely in awe.

The Star-Touched Queen is a story about Princess Mayavati of Bharata, who is cursed at birth by a horoscope that predicts her marriage will bring only death and destruction. Everyone at court pretty much avoids her and thinks she is evil incarnate. Maya doesn’t give much thought to them, but instead enjoys her time studying or sneaking around the castle to try and hear her father’s many political meetings. Maya thinks that she is safe from being married off because no suitor would want a bride with such a prediction upon her head, however war is looming and her father has decided that to avoid it she must be married to one of the opposing kingdoms in order to obtain peace. This is where things in the story really start to take a turn and Maya’s life will be changed forever.

I don’t want to say much more because SPOILERS but believe me when I say this is a MUST READ book. I don’t think I have felt this way about a story since The Night Circus and for those who follow me on social media or know me personally, you know how much that book means to me. The Star-Touched Queen charmed me with its vivid imagery and sultry atmosphere. I usually am wary of books that everyone starts to rave and hype up but this book is worthy of every single wonderful piece of praise it has received. I even put aside my hatred of “insta-love” because it just felt right to me. I enjoyed watching Maya’s journey to finding herself. Even when we first meet her, we can see she is a bit naïve but she is still determined to find herself happiness and freedom. How can you not admire a character like that? As for Amar, he intrigued me. It must be the air of mystery around him, plus he is complex and there is definitely lots of secrets he is keeping.

There are so many lovely scenes in this book, but one of my favorites has to be the scene when Amar and Maya are in the forest eating the jewel-like fruit. I kept trying to imagine what these fruits would taste like, what the texture would be like inside them and why it was that these fruits were all make believe and not real because the whole scene made me hungry. Another favorite thing about the book were the descriptions of the many different sarees and adornments Maya wore. (I love costumes and clothing so this made me happy).

I am really glad I took my time reading this book, and I am thrilled that another book is already in the works. I highly recommend the Star-Touched Queen to anyone who loves fantasy, YA, and beautifully written books. You will not be disappointed. Go READ it ASAP!

Signature

five-stars