Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Hello everyone,
I am so excited to take part in the special Countdown to Heartless blog tour put together by the wonderful ladies at Fierce Reads. Heartless was one of my most anticipated books of 2016 and after reading it I just have to say: it was worth the wait.

Actually, I have more words to say about Heartless because I'll be sharing my thoughts about it, and if you scroll all the way to the bottom, I'll have some info about all the exciting things that are happening as we countdown to Heartless. You guys, 20 MORE DAYS!!!

Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: November 8, 2016
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: standalone
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king's marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.

Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

I finished this book a couple of days ago and I'm still not over it.
First off, I'm not an Alice fan. Alice in Wonderland is one my least favorite of the Disney films (I only saw parts of the animated version and none of the live action movies) and everything I know about Alice I learned from the Disney movies. The whole thing was too quirky, too whimsical, too strange, too nonsensical for my tastes. But, because Heartless is written by Marissa Meyer, of course I had to pick it up. I'm so, so glad I did because I ended up loving it!

Since I tend to avoid anything Alice, I knew very little going into Heartless. I can list maybe five Alice characters at the top of my head and the only two things I know about the Queen of Hearts is her catchphrase "off with their heads!" and the fact that she crazy

Even if you share my indifference for Lewis Carroll's quirky tale, do not let Heartless pass you by. Yes, Meyer did stay close to the source material in terms of the world and the characters, but at the same time reading about them, getting to know them (especially the future Queen of Hearts), and learning what or who influenced them to become their familiar future selves gives me a whole new appreciation for Alice in Wonderland I didn't have before. I was also surprised to find that I really enjoyed the Wonderland world in Heartless. Yes, it was quirky and whimsical, but I found it kinda fun instead of weird. Then again I wasn't picturing as a weirdly psychedelic world like it was in the Disney animated movie.

We follow 17-year-old Lady Catherine "Cath" Pinkerton, the future Queen of Hearts, and we learn that she loves to bake pastries and confections, and her greatest dream is to open a shop with her best friend and maid Mary Anne. Her mother, however, had another plan for her: marrying the King of Hearts and becoming queen. But, Cath doesn't want to marry a man she does not love--she dreams of owning a bakery and maybe romance with someone of her choosing, but mostly owning a bakery and creating the most delectable sweets, which was her passion. She found the king a silly buffoon and the last thing she wanted was to be queen of Hearts. Then, she meets the mysterious new court joker, Jest, and finds herself falling in love for the first time. 

I liked Cath's character and felt for her right away, but I tried to distance myself (unsuccessfully!) because we all know she eventually becomes the holy terror of Wonderland--this is what we're moving towards, not the typical happily ever after. I kept reading on with trepidation and it eventually things do come to a head. Although I hoped there was going to be some twist that will turn things around and Cath will get the happily ever after that I wanted so badly for her, it was not to be. Heartless is the Queen of Hearts's origin story, and my heart broke for Catherine. 

I have to say though that initially I was a little disappointed because I was expecting something similar to the Lunar Chronicles where the author takes certain elements from the source material and she twists them to make them her own. It wasn't like that with Heartless. Unlike the Lunar Chronicles series, this book stuck really close to the source material--since I'm not familiar with the source material, I did have to do some googling--and Heartless could be an actual prequel to Alice in Wonderland. And, if you're a fan of Alice, you'll appreciate all the source material references, quotes, and easter eggs more than I did--most really just flew over my head. However, if you're like me, not knowing the original Alice in Wonderland story won't deter your enjoyment of the novel. It didn't mine--I really loved this book!

Whether you're a fan of Alice or not, I really think it's best to just pick up Heartless without knowing much of its plot and just discover how all the things unravel on your own. Although this was not an issue for me, the pacing is slower here than in Meyer's previous books and there are not as many action scenes until the very end. However, do expect an excellently written book that will grip you and tear you apart all at once. Highly recommended!

Part of the Countdown to Heartless tour is the daily challenges. Today's challenge is: Who do you think would be the perfect Jest? Share for today's #HeartlessCountdown!

Jest is the mysterious new court joker who Cath dreamed about even before meeting him. He's described as having unruly curly hair and yellow eyes. Of course, the first person that came to mind is my current favorite curly haired hottie: Aidan Turner (because I'm obsessed with Poldark!)

Okay, so maybe Aidan Turner is too old to be Jest. So, my other pick is Robert Sheehan.
Robert has light green eyes and if you kind of squint they're almost yellow. He also has that mischievous elfin-ish face that I picture Jest having. Imagine Robert Sheehan, dressed in black with a 3-point hat on his head and Raven on his shoulder. He's Jest, am I right?

If you've had a chance to read Heartless, let me know who your fancast is for Jest.

Friday, October 14, 2016

E-ARC: 400 pages
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Eleanor Ames #1
At Holden Prep, the rich and powerful rule the school—and they’ll do just about anything to keep their dirty little secrets hidden.

When former con artist Eleanor Ames’s homecoming date commits suicide, she’s positive there’s something more going on. The more questions she asks, though, the more she crosses paths with Miles Beckett. He’s sexy, mysterious, arrogant…and he’s asking all the same questions.

Eleanor might not trust him—she doesn’t even like him—but they can’t keep their hands off of each other. Fighting the infuriating attraction is almost as hard as ignoring the fact that Miles isn’t telling her the truth…and that there’s a good chance he thinks she’s the killer.

Chasing Truth is my first read by Julie Cross and it's one of those books where it was a little hard going getting through it, but in the end I'm glad I finished it. I'm definitely keeping book 2 under my radar.
Our main character Eleanor "Ellie" Ames is a former con artist, and because of this her mindset sometimes goes to there--trying to find ways to deceive or dupe someone first. This makes her feel like a freak and she's trying to leave that far behind her to live like a normal person. She's living with her older sister Harper and her boyfriend Aidan in Washington, D.C. 

Thanks to Aidan's connections, she's enrolled at an elite prep school. She hasn't really connected with any of the rich kids except for one, Simon, who was an awkward nerd and an outsider. Simon and Ellie went to homecoming together as friends, when after dropping her off at home, Simon supposedly commits suicide at his house.

Fast forward to a new school year, and Ellie sees a new neighbor move in at their apartment complex. He is Miles Beckett and he is a sexy, if arrogant and, at first, a tad awkward. But, it wasn't long before he is hanging out with the most popular kids at school, who Ellie also befriends (she cons her way into their circle) them because she's suspicious of them and believes one or more of them may be connected to Simon's death. But, Miles seem to be asking the same questions as Ellie--are they on the same side?

With a premise like that, I was excited to read Chasing Truth. Unfortunately, I found the beginning to be really slow. We are getting all of this information about Ellie and her past with her family and how they conned people, as well as information about what happened last spring with Simon. Then, we are also introduced to a lot characters like Ellie's sister Harper and her boyfriend Aidan, as well as Miles Beckett, and all the group of popular rich kids at the prep school. All of these characters do all play a role later on in the story so it was important we establish their backgrounds and such, but it was a lot and most didn't read new and refreshing. Like, I've read most of these characters before in similar books, so reading the first 30% felt really slow going. After details about Miles were revealed things did get more interesting and the pacing speed up and I found myself reading faster. Just had to get over the hump in the beginning.

My favorite characters were Ellie, her sister Harper, and Harper's boyfriend, Aidan, who is part of the secret service. Harper and Aidan become surrogate parents of sorts to Ellie--the kind of parents she never had before. I really enjoyed Ellie's relationship with both of them. As for Miles's character, I had him pegged early on as to who he might be. But, I'm not going to say anymore to avoid spoilers. I did like the tension/attraction between he and Ellie--I was shipping them from the start.

Chasing Truth is described as Veronica Mars meets Pretty Little Liars, and I see that. My biggest issue with it is the slow pacing in the beginning and there were times I felt like the story dragged when it shouldn't. It wasn't that I was bored or anything, but I wished there was more action in the beginning. Also, the story almost felt a little too long. However, if you are a fan of Julie Cross and you like mysteries set in a prep school, definitely pick this book up.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

ARC: 392 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: none
Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

 Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. . . . Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

Jennifer Niven delivers another poignant, exhilarating love story about finding that person who sees you for who you are—and seeing them right back.

Holding Up the Universe was a very refreshing and inspiring read for me. It came to me at a time when I was thinking a lot about beauty and imperfections and how society defines both, particularly in the physical sense, and I really wanted to read a book that reminded me, "You are not alone." Now I can't say that Holding Up the Universe is my favorite read for the year thus far, but I can say that I like it a lot for its honesty, sincerity, and good timing. I'm giving it

What attracted me the most to Holding Up the Universe was its heroine Libby Strout, a girl who is not stereotypically beautiful and has a viral YouTube video to show how fat she is. For a while, before coming upon Holding Up the Universe, I'd noticed that I've read a lot of books with heroines who are so beautiful with their curvy bodies, soft hair, and soulful eyes, and although I know that they too have their share of insecurities and fears that make them not nearly so beautiful and perfect as they may look, the trend still bothered me. I started to hold bitterness against these characters I've always known and loved, and I knew it wasn't right. So when I met Libby Strout, overweight, friend-less, fierce Libby Strout, I was...glad, for lack of a better word. I've read very few books with heroines, let alone main characters, who were described as fat, really fat, and here was one who was very fat and yet carried herself with the confidence of a supermodel on a runway. I loved Libby. I loved her to bits. She had the kind of spunk I wish I had and the kind of strength I envied. As she wrote on bathroom mirrors mean comments about her own self, chased down a guy for teasing a girl whom she had just met, and tried out for the dance team by dancing to "The Warrior" by Scandal, I applauded her, rooted for her, and beamed with pride for her. Her every action to rise above those who strived to bring her down was impressive and moving. I will never forget Libby and the hope she gave me.

I also liked Jack Masselin from Holding Up the Universe, although he didn't leave much of an impression on me. I found it refreshing that Jack had a mental condition that not many hear about, and it was interesting to learn more about it and how Jack has dealt with it on his own so secretly all his life. With that kind of premise about him, he was a complex character; however, while reading, I was rather indifferent to him. Maybe I was so focused on Libby and her awesome-ness that I overlooked Jack and his cool-ness, but still, I think the only thing that makes Jack stand out among all YA heroes is his prosopagnosia; otherwise, he is just the typical high school guy who's trying to fit in and be cool by rolling with the frankly-overrated popular crowd. I will say that I liked Jack's protectiveness toward his family and his care for Libby, but I can't say that I swooned over him. He's neither my favorite nor my least favorite hero; Jack just didn't do it for me.

Yet, despite my differing views of Libby and Jack, I thought their relationship was well-developed and well-portrayed. What with the characters befriending each other to better their individual selves, Libby and Jack's relationship did not take the forefront of the story. They weren't attached at the hip; they each had their own goals and own agendas to accomplish, and they only got together when it was necessary or when they really needed each other. I really liked that Libby and Jack, no matter how close they got, did not become dependable on one another and that their relationship merely grew from genuine respect and admiration for each other's strengths and weaknesses. I swooned at all their cute moments, and I rooted for them always. I was happy for them when I reached the end.

The plot, which was alternately narrated by Libby and Jack, was, overall, compelling. I liked the alternating narration as well as the flashbacks of Libby and Jack because both elements really helped me better get to know and understand the characters. I also liked that it wasn't some kind of homily on beauty and compassion for others. It didn't have any of its characters get on their soap box and spout out their sob story; it merely showed all them acting and reacting as they thought they should, and their actions were what told the story and gave it meaning. I was never bored while reading Holding Up the Universe and that's not only because of its dynamic characters but also because of its interesting plot.

I'd also like to touch on the writing style of Jennifer Niven in Holding Up the Universe. This is the first book I've read by her, so I don't know if her utilization of italics and, on occasion, block lettering is typical of her writing, but having been exposed to it in Holding Up the Universe, I found it really...different. It wasn't bad--the italics and block lettering emphasized for me some specific lines that were telling of Libby and Jack's characters--but I thought it, at times, to be unnecessary, such as when emphasis is put on some words when such is already implied in context. The entire time I was reading Holding Up the Universe, I tried to predict the pattern of Niven's writing style, but since I couldn't really, I felt bothered, and that hindered my enjoyment of the book. However, again, Niven is a new-to-me author, and my bother is most likely just personal.

All in all, Holding Up the Universe was a great read with unique main characters, a sweet romance, and a moving plot. Despite my issues with the hero Jack and the writing style, I enjoyed this book that came to me at a perfect time. I recommend it to anyone who loves their contemporary YA and who is in for something refreshing and different. I also highly recommend it to anyone who is like me and needs--wants--a reminder that beauty isn't all physical and flaws are not all ugly and that there is so much wonder in you than you will ever know. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Spotlight: Four Letter Word by J. Daniels

Thursday, October 6, 2016 with

Hello everyone,
J. Daniels is a new-to-me author and Four Letter Word have such a great premise.

Fate. Hate. Love. Lies.

Which four letter word will change their lives forever?

Sydney Paige was never so mortified to hear the words "wrong number" in her life. She meant to tell off the guy who broke her best friend's heart but unleashed her anger on a perfect stranger instead. And now her world is turned upside down by the captivating man who wants to keep her on the line.

Brian Savage is living a life he's quickly come to hate-until Sydney's wild rant has him hooked and hungry for more. Soon the sexy woman on the phone becomes the lover in his bed. But Brian has secrets, and the closer he lets Syd get, the harder it is to shield her from the devastating mistakes of his past . . .

Here is an audio clip of Sydney's phone call to Brian so you can get a little taste.

Here is author J. Daniels's top 5 favorite four letter words:

Cake- Thought I was going to start with the f-bomb, right? Nah. Who doesn’t love cake? It’s not just for birthdays, people! I created an entire series around a baker. My top favorites are red velvet and German chocolate. I love a good pound cake, too.

And anything with bacon. I’m sure someone out there has created a cake with bacon on it. That would probably rank way up there with me.

NSFW- Does this count? I’m counting it. NSFW posts are my favorite. Why? Um, because they’re not suitable for work, meaning they are most likely dirty or completely inappropriate in some way or another. And I live for inappropriateness.

Babe- This reminds me of Trouble. I love when he first calls Sydney 'babe,' back at the beginning of their relationship when they only spoke on the phone. He just throws it out there, maybe not thinking anything of it, but she totally gets butterflies and that rollercoaster ride feeling you get in the pit of your stomach. I love this term of endearment. And I especially love it when Sydney uses it on Brian.

Wild- My crazy girl! Sydney was such a blast to write. Her dialogue killed me. Her attitude toward life and love was inspiring. She never kept a thought in her head. If she was thinking it, she shared it, and I loved that about her. She lived wild. No one else could pull off that phonecall the way she did.

Rachel McAdams was my muse for Syd.

Love- We want it. We need it. Songs are written about it. Books are written about it. Oxygen, water, food, shelter, and sleep are basic survival needs of human beings. I like to think love is also something essential. Who doesn’t love love?

Four Letter Word is now available in your favorite bookstores.

For more info about Four Letter Word, visit J. Daniels's website or chat with J. Daniels on

Hit the Spot is the next book in the series!
Happy reading,
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Harpercollins
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Disruption #1
What if a microchip could identify your perfect match?

What if it could be used against you and the ones you love?

Eight years ago, Mercer Corporation's M-Bands became mandatory. An evolution of the smartphone, the bracelets promised an easier life. Instead, they have come to control it.

Two years ago, Maggie Stevens watched helplessly as one of the people she loved most was taken from her, shattering her world as she knew it. Now, Maggie is ready. And Quentin Mercer - heir to the M-Corp empire - has become key to Maggie's plan.

But as the pieces of her dangerous design fall into place, could Quentin's involvement destroy everything she's fought for?

In a world full of broken promises, the ones Maggie must keep could be the most heartbreaking.

Disruption is the first book in a duology by author Jessica Shirvington, who wrote the Violet Eden Chapters series. I read the first two Violet Eden books when they first came out in the US years ago and I remember enjoying them, but somehow I didn't end up picking up the rest of the books in the series. It might've been another case of "too many books, too little time" but while I barely remember the plot details from Violet Eden books (it's been more than four years according to Goodreads) I do remember how fast-paced and well-written they were. Well, fast-paced and well-written are two exact words I would use to describe Disruption, which was such a rush to read.

Disruption was published in Australia first before making its debut in the US. However, despite Disruption's origins in Australia, the story is set in Washington, D.C. in a future world where all citizens are required to wear M-Bands--I saw them in my mind like an Apple Watch--and the government used these micro-chipped accessories to keep track of people the people. Soon, the technology evolved and Phera-tech were introduced. The Phera-tech upgrade does uses the wearer's pheromones to analyze the compatibility percentage of any person the wearer meets. If a person's percentage dips in the negative four or more times, they are labeled a "neg" and it's assumed there must be something wrong with them and they are taken away by the government.

Maggie Stevens is our main character and two years ago before the story began her dad was taken away for being a neg. Since then Maggie had been doing everything she can to figure out where they took her dad, if he's even still alive, and some way to rescue him. She basically blackmails and bribes all of these people into helping her put her plan into motion to find her dad. A big part of Maggie's plan involves Quentin Mercer who is one of the heirs of the M-Corp empire (the company that developed and produces the M-Bands). And of course romance and non-stop action ensues.

Disruption was a pretty quick read--it's one of those books where you're so absorbed by the story that you don't realize how many pages you're read already. There was never a dull moment--there was always something going on--which I really appreciated because it made me read faster and I was glued to the page.

I really enjoyed Maggie's character. She was really bad-ass and take-charge. She knows what she wants to accomplish and she does not let anyone or anything stop her. But, she also has her vulnerable side. I also enjoyed Gus's character I really enjoyed the romance in the novel as well. After reading the first two books in the Embrace series, I knew Ms. Shirvington can write an angst-y romance. Well, the romance in Disruption is not as angst-y as the one with Violet, Lincoln, and Phoenix, which I really appreciated and preferred. Anywho, Disruption definitely delivered in the romance department.

I went into this book pretty blind, knowing only the synopsis, and I think it's best to go into this book only knowing the basic premise. I know many readers are not picking up dystopian books these days, but don't let the "dystopian" label keep you from reading this book. Yes, there were some parts that were typical dystopian genre, but this is a very entertaining, edge-of-your-seat kind of read. You won't be bored, promise! Book 2 cannot come soon enough--really looking forward to how everything will conclude in this duology!

**I did a fun Kiss, Marry, Kill with the author, which will be posted next week. Happy reading!