Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Release Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Rated: YA 14+
Format: eGalley
Source: NetGalley
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository

Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret.

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she's ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there's strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she's done. If only she can forgive herself.

After reading Hannah Harrington's Saving June, I've fallen in love with her writing. She manages to make an absolutely gorgeous story, while still making it so easy to read and relatable to teens. I always manage to connect with her stories and her characters, and that's something I find that comes up with each book (well, the two I've read so far) that she writes.

I was slightly reminded of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, because of the silence that Chelsea lapses into, after the big secret she blurted out to everyone. Melinda and Chelsea both have similar characters, and I'm pretty sure this is part of the reason I ended up loving her character. 
At first, for like probably the first couple of pages, I absolutely hated Chelsea. She was the most superficial person and I just loathed her character. However, I started to change my opinion– and pretty quickly at that. I loved that she had a conscience, and stood up for what was right. As she was silent throughout the whole novel, it was funny to read her thoughts and her reactions towards the different people she interacts with. She's super sarcastic, and such a great main character. Her emotions came through so clearly, and like I said before, it was just a fabulous experience to connect with her character.

The other characters were fantastic as well. There was the super sweet Asha– I love how Indian girls are becoming apart of YA now days  It's still a small majority, but with this book and Smart Girls Get What They Want by Sarah Strohmeyer... I hope this trend continues, because they seriously (and I'm not being biased, being Indian and all) add that extra special sauce to the story. And of course there's the absolutely scrum-dilly-dilly-dumpcious SAM. *Swoon* I fell in love with him from the moment his name was mentioned. He's so kind and adorable and loveable and I could probably go on and on and on, but seriously– AMAZING.
I really loved Chelsea's parents as well. That's kind of strange, because generally in YA fiction the parents are usually the ones that the reader ends up hating. In Speechless, Chelsea's parents just so adorable. Her dad's just hilarious and loveable, and while her mom was a bit hard on her at first, she became extremely nice and understanding. I just in general enjoyed the contrast between the two of them.

I also thought the setting was really significant in this novel as well. I loved the sound of Rosie's. It reminded me of Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald. The whole atmosphere of the restaurant and how Chelsea's character grows, and the relationship between her and Sam deepen– it was such a central part to the story.
I was also really thankful when reading this book, because reading about the high school in this book made me appreciate how safe and tolerant the school I currently attend is. Speaking out for LGBT, especially for what happens to Noah and Andy. I think that books like these are really important, because it practically gives a voice to those who are always the victims.

With a fabulous conclusion, Speechless was funny, sweet, powerful and moving. I enjoyed reading Hannah Harrington's sophomore book, and I'm sure every book that's to come by her will be as engrossing. Loved it!

If you like this, try...

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A Wounded Name by Dot Hutchison

A Wounded Name by Dot Hutchison

Release Date: September 1, 2013
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Rated: YA 14+
Format: eGalley
Source: NetGalley
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository

There's a girl who could throw herself head first into life and forge an unbreakable name, an identity that stands on its own without fathers or brothers or lovers who devour and shatter.
Sixteen-year-old Ophelia Castellan will never be just another girl at Elsinore Academy. Seeing ghosts is not a skill prized in future society wives. Even when she takes her pills, the bean sidhe beckon, reminding her of a promise to her dead mother.

Now, in the wake of the Headmaster's sudden death, the whole academy is in turmoil, and Ophelia can no longer ignore the fae. Especially once she starts seeing the Headmaster's ghosts- two of them- on the school grounds.

At the center of her crumbling world is Dane, the Headmaster's grieving son. He, too, understands the power of a promise to a parent- even a dead one. To him, Ophelia is the only person not tainted by deceit and hypocrisy, a mirror of his own broken soul. And to Ophelia, Dane quickly becomes everything. Yet even as she gives more of herself to him, Dane slips away. Consumed by suspicion, rage, and madness, he spirals towards his tragic fate- dragging Ophelia, and the rest of Elsinore, with him.

Yet even in the face of certain death, Ophelia has a choice to make- and a promise to keep. She is not the girl others want her to be. But in Dot Hutchison's dark and sensuous debut novel, the name "Ophelia" is as deeply, painfully, tragically real as "Hamlet".

Wow. I was totally BLOWN AWAY by this book! I studied Hamlet in school last year, and I honestly thought it was one of the best of Shakespeare's plays that I've read. He's brilliant with his works and every single word practically leads to something else. That's why I must admit I was in total English-analyzation mode when it came to A Wounded Name.
First off, I was completely drawn to that cover. GORGEOUS. I could gaze at it for hours and hours and never be bored with it. I think it really represents Ophelia physically as well as her character's traits. Anyway, as I was saying, I was captured by the cover, and I knew no matter what, I had to read this book... for the sake of the cover. Later on after I got approved to read this one, I found out that it was a Hamlet retelling. I was so pumped! I love, love, LOVE Hamlet and I thought this would be a brilliant take on it. Turns out, I was totally right.

This book actually took me a while to get through because it was a pretty long book, and also at times I found myself drawn into and lingering on the gorgeous language that Dot Hutchison uses. I felt that this book was really accurate when it came to a retelling. The underlying meaning which is apparent in Hamlet after many hours of reading and re-reading and reading it over again, studying endlessly and looking at Shakespeare's choices, came through in this book. For example, the character of Reynaldo in this book was completely the same as the character in the original. I freaked out with glee when it says he "pawed" through Ophelia's contents. This could seriously be taken as a literary text to study for further reading for Hamlet just because Dot Hutchison makes all the choices that embody the original play whole-heartedly.
There was only one tiny part of the book that I didn't like which was the fact that a lot of the lines are practically straight out of Hamlet, just slightly modernized. Since this is a contemporary retelling, I thought it was weird that characters would actually say lines like that, because I mean, come on– which teenager talks Shakespearean English in this day and age? I just thought that it took a little away from the whole concept of a modern retelling, even though it did bring out a more literal meaning of the original text. It was almost as if the lines were completely translated into a language that we today could read with ease and understanding. Maybe it's just me, but oh well. This was the only thing I didn't enjoy from the text.

Ophelia's character in the original play text, to be frank, is pretty sad. I feel really sorry for her because she's always having to obey the commands of her father Polonius and her brother Laertes. Her character in this book is pretty much the same, except we do see her growing and maturing into someone who can't be pushed around as much as before. She still has that position of being more in the background, even so in this book where she's the main character. However, the fact that Dot Hutchison is able to turn that around and make her a character who can easily blend into the background, missed by almost everyone and hear everything that happens around Elsinore Academy, is absolutely fantastic. I really enjoyed looking at the events that come across from her perspective, as it gives us her take on what happens between the first and second family, as well as her unraveling the mystery of how Hamlet died and that Claudius is to blame.
I'm a sucker for Hamlet's character (the younger) in the main text, and Dane was a perfect embodiment of his character. Wild, reckless and the bad boy, he's got the passion to play the character that the original Hamlet was. I also loved Horatio's character–and loved the slight twist on his character in this book–because he was always there for Dane and Ophelia, headstrong, and truly "the best of them". The fact that all the characters (apart from Dane) keep their original names really helped me to connect A Wounded Name to Hamlet.

A Wounded Name was gorgeous, seductively enthralling, and dark. It's clearly a book that all fans of the original will enjoy, as well as people who want something other than a happy ending. Breathless and mesmerizing, Dot Hutchison's debut has undoubtedly nailed it spot-on.

If you like this, try...

Waiting on Wednesday – Week 85

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's to spotlight on upcoming reads which I'm DYING to get my hands on!

This week's WoW is:
The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.

Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how. 

One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.

December 31, 2013 ● Goodreads

This one sounds SO CUTE. Ohmygosh. I have the eGalley from Edelweiss and can't wait to get to it! Sounds like one of those cutesy contemporaries which you could totally read over and over again :) Can't wait!

What are you waiting on?

Below by Meg McKinlay

Below by Meg McKinlay

Release Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Rated: MG 12+
Format: eGalley
Source: NetGalley
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository

Secrets have a way of floating to the surface... Mystery, compelling characters, and an abandoned town beneath a lake make for a must-read adventure.

On the day Cassie was born, they drowned her town. The mayor flipped a lever and everyone cheered as Old Lower Grange was submerged beneath five thousand swimming pools’ worth of water. Now, twelve years later, Cassie feels drawn to the manmade lake and the mysteries it hides — and she’s not the only one. Her classmate Liam, who wears oversized swim trunks to cover the scars on his legs, joins Cassie in her daily swims across the off-limits side of the lake. As the summer heats up, the water drops lower and lower, offering them glimpses of the ghostly town and uncovering secrets one prominent town figure seems anxious to keep submerged. But like a swimmer who ventures too far from shore, Cassie realizes she can’t turn back. Can she bring their suspicions to light before it’s too late — and does she dare?

I will be honest– it was the cover that caught my attention. Reading the blurb, I thought this was a dystopian of some sort (cause I mean come on, who drowns a town?), but that totally wasn't the case when I came about to reading it. It's actually a contemporary, but it had a touch of magical realism to it. I found myself drawn to the mysteries that the lake holds and it's past.
Below was a quick read, but I found that there were a couple things here and there which I didn't get (and still don't). The band-aids for instance... what was the whole significance of that? I just thought that there was still bits that needed explanations, because I found myself just confused whenever things came up that I had no idea what they stood for or meant.

Cassie was a really great main character, and so was Liam. They're younger characters, so I didn't feel that connection to them a whole lot, but I did enjoy their story, and how determined the both of them are to get to the bottom of the mystery. I liked the progression of friendship that bloomed between them. Both of them have had pasts that made them stand out from everyone, and it was cool that they found that to link themselves together.
Like I mentioned previously, I really loved the mystery beneath the surface (literally!). I thought the author very effectively used a selective detail technique, so little by little the clues came and in and left a shocking conclusion. The supporting cast was fantastic as well– we see through interactions between all the characters how they all come about to be apart of the mystery, and it's just such a great climax that the book reaches to.

Below was a fast-paced read, one that young readers as well as older readers will enjoy. I'm looking forward to reading more from Meg McKinlay... she definitely knows how to tell a unique story!

If you like this, try...

Interview with Shandy Lawson

Shandy Lawson

Shandy Lawson's "day jobs" have ranged from making wine recommendations to being a machinist, a dispatcher in an auto repair garage, a philosophy tutor at a local college and a stone mason. Creatively, he put most of his energy into a career as a performing song writer before turning his focus to writing fiction. Shandy lives and works in New York City. The Loop is his first novel.


The Loop (2013)
GoodreadsAmazonThe Book Depository
My ReviewCity of Book's Review

Find Shandy


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Thank you so much for stopping by the Books That Glow: YA & MG 2013 event hosted by Richa at City of Books and I to answer some questions about yourself and your book!
If your book had a WARNING! label on it, what would it say?

HARMFUL OR FATAL IF SWALLOWED. And there'd be a pictogram of a little stick-figure guy with a book halfway down his throat and he's making that mime-sign for "I'm choking." I think it's important that people read, and not eat, my book. You could choke.

What gave you the inspiration to write THE LOOP?

Hard to say, really. I was just trying to come up with something new, and I didn't want to write about monsters, or vampires or zombies or anything else that was already out there. Not saying that the time loop concept is all that original, but it seemed pretty fresh at the time.

How did you come up with the characters? Do you see yourself in any of them?

I suppose I see some of myself in Benjamin, and maybe some in Maggie, too. It's difficult to imagine how a character will react in a given situation without first putting yourself in there and seeing how it plays out in your head. So Ben and Maggie make a lot of the same decisions (and mistakes) that I would.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? What was the journey like with publishing your book?

I always wanted to be a writer, yes. But it took me a long time to actually get serious about it and write.I think I was 34 when I started writing The Loop. And the journey has been amazing– Two agents, six years, and uncountable drafts of the manuscript before it found its way onto store shelves. I'm still learning the process as I go, and I'm finding the business of publishing fascinating.

In your opinion, what's the best thing about writing YA?

I love that readers are so active, and I mean in terms of blogging, swapping ARCs, reviewing, etc. I want to be connected to my audience and interact with my readers, and the YA set is great for that. I'd love to get to a point where I have a busy community on my website's message boards, and we can discuss our favorite books and talk about writing.

You have a time machine! You travel to the past and meet you in your teens. What advice do you give to the past you?

I'd tell myself to be extra careful and not get hit by a bus or anything, because if I make it to forty they're going to give me a TIME MACHINE. Time machines are AWESOME.

What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?

GREAT question. A hard question, too. I find that as I get older, and as I travel more, my idea of what's weird changes quite a bit. I mean, when I was a kid, the idea of eating raw fish and seaweed creeped me out, but these days sushi is one of my favorite foods. I suppose chicken feet is kind of a weird one, though in Chinatown (very close to my apartment) it's a pretty common menu item. They have them at my corner grocery store, in fact. Anyway, the texture can be a little off-putting but the flavor is pretty great.


Last book read? 
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn

TC show you're OBSESSED with? 
Three-way tie: Breaking Bad, Southland, and LOST.

The three closest things to you? 
My phone, a bottle of water and my cat, Sputnik.

Movie you can't wait for? 
Well, there's not much on the horizon, but Gatsby looks pretty good. Then again, Leonardo DiCaprio could stand there doing nothing for three hours and I'd still think it was a great movie. 
[NOTE: this interview was done a while before, so that's why Gatsby was "upcoming" then...]

What can we expect from you next?

I can't really say much about it, unfortunately. I have one project pretty much outlines and I'm about ready to start writing a draft, but I think I'm supposed to keep it under wraps for now. I suppose I can get away with giving you one little clue:


Not much to go on, I know.

When you're not writing, what can you be found doing?

I like to cook a lot, and living in New York City means exploring– so I'm usually out wandering the neighbourhood. And of course I read any time I happen to be sitting still. Unless the TV is on.

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Thank you so much to Shandy Lawson for answering questions about himself and his fabulous novel, The Loop! I loved the book so much, so you should definitely check it out. Here's a little bit about it:

Ben and Maggie have met, fallen in love, and died together countless times. Over the course of two pivotal days—both the best and worst of their lives—they struggle again and again to resist the pull of fate and the force of time itself. With each failure, they return to the beginning of their end, a wild road trip that brings them to the scene of their own murders and into the hands of the man destined to kill them.

As time circles back on itself, events become more deeply ingrained, more inescapable for the two kids trapped inside the loop. The closer they come to breaking out, the tighter fate’s clutches seem to grip them. They devise a desperate plan to break free and survive the days ahead, but what if Ben and Maggie’s only shot at not dying is surviving apart?

YA Book Cover Dress Designs #1

Hi there!

You're probably wondering what the heck this is.

This is a new meme I'm starting. I've been inspired several times by YA book covers into making dress designs, so I thought that it would be cool to feature one every now and then. I've been into designing dresses ever since we had a costume unit in theatre, where we actually had to design and make our own costumes. I haven't stopped drawing since, and thus I got onto book-ier things to design for :)

Anyway, here's the first dress!

(sorry for the dark lighting...)

This one I designed for Incarnate by Jodi Meadows. I haven't unfortunately read the book yet, but I won the book and so it's sitting on my shelf. Anyway, one day I just picked up the book to admire the cover (as I always do) and I got a total brainwave for a dress that would totally fit the cover.
I used a butterfly wing for the torso, and used some of the red. I put black for the stomach area because I didn't want the background to take too much away from the butterfly wing! It was a little hard to color in because I couldn't get the lovely gradient that the book cover has, so I tried my best to make-do with what colors I had and got a slightly darker colored-in wing. The purple skirt you ask? Well it's from the spine of the book and the hardcover of the book under the flap! I loved the color, saw that I had something fairly close to it and decided to color in the skirt with it. The whole fading to white thing wasn't on purpose by the way– the marker just started to get a little dry and out of colour! But I love the effect, and decided to leave it as is :)

Here's a little bit about the book:

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows


Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

Even Ana's own mother thinks she's a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she'll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

Sam believes Ana's new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana's enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else's life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.

I seriously don't get how I haven't read this one yet *shakes head*. I guess I must be waiting for the third one, Infinite to come out so I can read all three books in one go :P

Anyway, that's all for today, thank you for reading a little bit about another hobby of mine. I'd love for you all to take part as well– you don't necessarily have to draw a dress, you can use clippings of photos to create one overall look, or just find a dress that would work for XXX book! Let me know in the comments if you'd be interested, so next time I can put up a linky so you can share.

Thanks everyone!

Waiting on Wednesday – Week 84

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's to spotlight on upcoming reads which I'm DYING to get my hands on.

This week's WoW is:
Great by Sara Benincasa

In Sara Benincasa's contemporary retelling of The Great Gatsby, a teenage girl becomes entangled in the drama of a Hamptons social circle, only to be implicated in a tragedy that shakes the summer community.

Everyone loves a good scandal.

Naomi Rye usually dreads spending the summer with her socialite mother in East Hampton. This year is no different. She sticks out like a sore thumb among the teenagers who have been summering (a verb only the very rich use) together for years. But Naomi finds herself captivated by her mysterious next-door neighbor, Jacinta. Jacinta has her own reason for drawing close to Naomi-to meet the beautiful and untouchable Delilah Fairweather. But Jacinta's carefully constructed world is hiding something huge, a secret that could undo everything. And Naomi must decide how far she is willing to be pulled into this web of lies and deception before she is unable to escape.

Based on a beloved classic and steeped in Sara Benincasa's darkly comic voice, Great has all the drama, glitz, and romance with a terrific modern (and scandalous) twist to enthrall readers.

April 8, 2014 ● Goodreads

A re-telling of The Great Gatsby?! I'M SO READING THIS ONE. Hmm... it's on Edelweiss and I do have eGalley, but it's a tad bit too far away– but I'm sure that won't stop me ;D

What are you waiting on?

The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White

The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White

Release Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rated: YA 14+
Format: eGalley
Source: Edelweiss
Buy: Amazon ● The Book Depository

Isadora’s family is seriously screwed up.

Of course, as the human daughter of Egyptian gods, that pretty much comes with the territory. She’s also stuck with parents who barely notice her, and a house full of relatives who can’t be bothered to remember her name. After all, they are going to be around forever—and she’s a mere mortal.

Isadora’s sick of living a life where she’s only worthy of a passing glance, and when she has the chance to move to San Diego with her brother, she jumps on it. But Isadora’s quickly finding that a “normal” life comes with plenty of its own epic complications—and that there’s no such thing as a clean break when it comes to family. Much as she wants to leave her past behind, she can’t shake the ominous dreams that foretell destruction for her entire family. When it turns out there may be truth in her nightmares, Isadora has to decide whether she can abandon her divine heritage after all.

Kiersten White is on a role! She seems to be popping out with so many books lately... and I love it! I adored The Chaos of Stars. I stayed up till 3 am to finish this one, because once I started I found that I just couldn't stop.
Some people don't like the way that White writes, but I really enjoy it because it always sounds super sarcastic and snarky, funny, and pretty much how a teen would talk and act, filled with eye-rolls to the nth degree. Many people didn't like this book and I'll admit: I got a little scared before reading it. However, I found that I really enjoyed this as a book itself and thought that the concept was fabulous.

I found myself smiling at Isadora's  commentary as she acts like it's the end of the world for her– everything seems super dramatic for her, but I loved that. It reminded me similarly of White's other main characters, such as Evie in Paranormalcy and Fia from Mind Games. They all have such similar qualities, yet posses certain aspects to their characters that set them apart. What I didn't like however was Isadora pushing away Ry constantly.
RY! *SWOON* I was taken from the mention of olive-toned skin. I seriously would have wanted this book to be apart of a series to make sure there was more Ry in it. He was so charming. I really didn't understand how our main character could stay away from him. Extremely hot, with a killer bod? Check. Sweet personality? Check. Am I swooning just typing up about him? You betcha. CHECK.

Egyptian mythology was one of my favorite topics to learn about in elementary school. Once upon a time I would have actually been able to tell you who was the god or goddess of what, and little bits and pieces of myths and legends. As time went by though, I ended up forgetting a lot of it, because I've been taken over by the slightly overpowering-to-other-myths Greek mythology. There are many, many books about Greek mythology. You don't actually find too many about Egyptian myths, with the exception of Rick Riordan's The Red Pyramid and the rest of the Kane Chronicles.
I really loved the way that the author managed to get in some of the myths and information about the gods and goddesses into the book without making it sound completely overloaded. Every chapter would feature a snippet of a story, with an Isadora-twist to it, so it sounded like a teen was telling it. I enjoyed learning about it again and even though some of it didn't have too much to do with the actual storyline (although some clearly did have a connection to it), I just found it a nice touch to the novel.

In the end, I relished the uniqueness of the story and how White was able to bring about such an original premise. The Chaos of Stars had the right amount of everything, especially the overdose of teen drama and hilarity. With a headstrong main character and a swoon-worthy guy, my eyes were glued to this book. Kiersten White has made me fall in love with yet another book, and I hope she will again, and again... and again.

If you like this, try...

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

Release Date: April 2, 2013
Publisher: Amulet Books
Rated: YA 14+
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository

In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds ended up taking me by surprise. Sure I was interested when I heard of the book because I hadn't actually heard too much about the Spanish Influenza's impact on the United States, and the cover was so hauntingly captivating that I just knew that this book would be different. However, when I started reading this book I found myself a little lost and a tad bit unexcited until fifty or so pages. I just thought the pace at the start could have been a little better, but later I found myself flipping pages and intrigued by the mystery, the history and the chilling suspense.

❝She was right. If I could figure out why I was still able to see Stephen, it would be no different than Thomas Edison discovering how to create electric light out of carbon filaments and dreams. Or the Wright brothers proving humans could fly.
The impossible often turned possible.
Scientific detectives and Spiritualists could be one and the same.❞
–p. 144 (ARC* copy)
*text is subject to change in the final copy

I really enjoyed the addition of photographs to the book. It reminded me of Ransom Rigg's Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children with the black and white, eerie pictures.  I also really liked how the author managed to combine two big "events" in the US during the time period. The Spanish Influenza being one, of course, but also a hint of the supernatural– séances. As this book is set in the early 20th century, I know that séances were quite popular then. I've only seen hints of them (most of them fake anyway) in movies such as Ghost, but it was interesting to see the procedure and what was often expected of the people, what would occur during one, and so on. I found this really great and had the right amount of information so that I would still be interested in the story, not taking in a boat-load of information that would make me confused.

Mary Shelley was a great character. I knew I would like her instantly– I'm studying Frankenstein, so I could definitely see the link between her character and her namesake. I love how much she isn't pulled in by the craze of ghosts and contacting the dead as everyone else seems to fall for it, but only waits until she has concrete evidence to go by. Reading this book through her perspective really allowed me to see the world during the early 1900's and learn more about it, as well as feel just as creeped out by the mystery and the race to the thrilling climax. I love how brave she is as well, I surely wouldn't have the guts to do some of the things she does, so that shows how determined and headstrong her character is as well.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds was riveting, hauntingly powerful, and a fabulous historical fiction novel which has an original storyline, that held onto me from start to finish. Cat Winters has written a strong debut, and I definitely am looking forward to what comes from her next. That being said, I'm hungry for more... I can't wait for The Cure for Dreaming!

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Tina from Abrams & Chronicle Books for sending me a copy for review and BTG2013! ▪ ▪ ▪

If you like this, try...

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Waiting on Wednesday – Week 83

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's to spotlight on upcoming reads which I'm DYING to get my hands on!

This week's WoW is:
Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts

A novel about the end of days full of surprising beginnings 

The world is living in the shadow of oncoming disaster. An asteroid is set to strike the earth in just one week’s time; catastrophe is unavoidable. The question isn’t how to save the world—the question is, what to do with the time that's left? Against this stark backdrop, three island teens wrestle with intertwining stories of love, friendship and family—all with the ultimate stakes at hand. 

Alexandra Coutts's TUMBLE & FALL is a powerful story of courage, love, and hope at the end of the world.

September 17, 2013 ● Goodreads

Thank the heavens above there isn't too much time till this book comes out! My friend Richa at City of Books read it and loved it... I feel really stupid because I actually had the eGalley for review, but then it unfortunately expired :( GAHHHH. Anyway, love the cover, love the premise and I definitely can't wait!

What are you waiting on?

Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth Kiem

Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth Kiem

Release Date: August 13, 2013
Publisher: Soho Teen
Rated: YA 14+
Format: eGalley
Source: Edelweiss – for Blog Tour
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository

They thought they had run far enough...

Marina Dukovskaya is poised to make her debut as the Bolshoi's prima ballerina, an Artist of the People hand chosen by Leonid Brezhnev's regime, just as her mother Sveta was years ago. But that was then. Now, Sveta spends her time loudly claiming knowledge of a sinister government secret (that she acquired through "visions," no less). When she disappears, institutionalized by the government, they tell Marina "It's for her own good."

Fearing arrest as Sveta's sympathizers, Marina and her father defect to Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. But it seems the worst of old Russia's crooks and con men have followed, and Marina finds herself suddenly alone when her father's entanglement in the burgeoning Russian mob ends in tragedy. Tragedy Marina foresaw. Maybe Sveta's visions weren't all in her head after all.

Either way Marina has a deadly mystery on her hands.

The extent of history that I know associated with Russia and the Soviet Union would include Anastasia, George Orwell's Animal Farm, and now this book. Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy had a ton of history in it– people, places, events. I loved the journey from the Soviet Union to Brooklyn, the effect of a new culture and new home on Marina.
This novel took me a while to complete. Nearly 300 pages, it surprised me that it took me so long to read, but in the end, I guess it was because of the addition of Russian words and the thoughts that took a while for Marina to sink in and reveal to the reader. I found myself a little confused along the way, wondering who was good and who was bad, but it all tied up in a thrilling climax and conclusion.

Marina was such a great character. I thought that the emotions that came across in her perspective really shows the skill of Elizabeth Kiem as an author. I feel that I would have had the same feelings in the same situation (which I have had before) when coming to a new place. English is a whole new language for Marina and her constant struggle to understand and speak the language was done very neatly in the book, so I applaud Kiem for that! However, I felt that the whole dance aspect kind of died down into the book and it distanced itself quite far from what it was in the beginning to just before the middle of the book. Nonetheless, I still thought she was a great main character.
Benjamin Frame! I'm glad there was a cute boy thrown in this book. The only problem I had was that he kind of disappeared and reappeared many times, and I felt that his character was a little inconsistent in appearances throughout the plot line. Sure, he was there, but his input seemed a little unnecessary at times for the story. However, he was still such a fabulous contribution to the plot, and I especially love the twist at the end, where it all comes together and creates a heck of a climax. Ben is a huge part of it, and I found myself shocked and gaping at the turn of events.

I also thought that the addition of the whole mafia and spy thriller thing put me off a little bit when reading this book. Sometimes it was total kick-ass action, which I enjoyed. Other times though it would be like, what in heck are they going on about? The supernatural element I also felt was unnecessary in this book. The visions? Completely made me confused and didn't really add much to the plot, even though the visions truly could have made the book much more suspenseful and thrilling if they could have been used consistently.
In the end I thought the novel tied up nicely. There was prospects of what could possibly come next, there was nothing really left hanging, and at least some is up to the reader's imagination.

Overall, I really enjoyed Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy and found it to be engrossing and delightfully gripping. Elizabeth Kiem truly is a story-teller– her words bring the past to the present, and create a fantastic clash of cultures, and a plot that thickens with every twist. You will not regret picking this one up!

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Meredith Barnes of Soho Press for making me apart of this blog tour and the eGalley for review! ▪ ▪ 

If you liked this, try...

  • What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell ● Goodreads
  • Violins of Autumn by Amy McAuley Goodreads

Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy Blog Tour: Guest Post by Elizabeth Kiem

Elizabeth Kiem

Elizabeth Kiem studied Russian language and literature at Columbia University and writes novels, essays, reports, reviews, grocery lists and more. She has lived in Brooklyn for more than 15 years, and before that she lived in Moscow as it entered a new era, immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Besides Brooklyn and Moscow, her favorite places are Alaska (where she was born), Istanbul (where she understood that all great cities straddle the water), and Haiti (where life itself straddles the water). In Russian, she is Elizaveta Ivanovna. Dancer Daughter Traitor Spy is her first novel.

Find Elizabeth: Tumblr WebsiteBook WebsiteGoodreads Twitter

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Who would Elizabeth cast for Benjamin?

Oh dear. All the perfect Benjamins have gotten too old since 1982! Sorry Benedict. No chance, Cillian. Paolo Nutini – you're still too dreamy, my dear.

To cast Benjamin Frame I've gone fishing among musicians. After all, that's where I found my silver screen Marina.

I needed impeccable diction, good breeding, sophistication that belies its youth, and most of all, a tousled head of hair. I found Robin Ticciati. He will need to lose his posh British accent and keep his euphoric sweet smile in reserve but as the principal conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra who has not yet turned 30, I think he has great promise.

Can he act? We'll see. I'm satisfied knowing that he translates music with passion.

Learn more about Elizabeth's ideal Benjamin, Robin Ticciati, HERE!

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Curse time, 'cause Benedict could have been amazing in this role, but nonetheless I think Robin Ticciati fits the bill perfectly. And it doesn't hurt that he's really sweet-looking :D Thank you so much to Elizabeth Kiem for the dream cast post and Meredith Barnes for making me apart of the blog tour! Here's a little bit about Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy:

Goodreads Amazon The Book Depository

They thought they had run far enough...

Marina Dukovskaya is poised to make her debut as the Bolshoi's prima ballerina, an Artist of the People hand chosen by Leonid Brezhnev's regime, just as her mother Sveta was years ago. But that was then. Now, Sveta spends her time loudly claiming knowledge of a sinister government secret (that she acquired through "visions," no less). When she disappears, institutionalized by the government, they tell Marina "It's for her own good."

Fearing arrest as Sveta's sympathizers, Marina and her father defect to Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. But it seems the worst of old Russia's crooks and con men have followed, and Marina finds herself suddenly alone when her father's entanglement in the burgeoning Russian mob ends in tragedy. Tragedy Marina foresaw. Maybe Sveta's visions weren't all in her head after all.

Either way Marina has a deadly mystery on her hands.

News for The Transfer by Veronica Roth!

Hi everyone!

Some of you may have seen the exciting Divergent news about the upcoming short story, The Transfer. This is the first part of four short stories and will be released on September 3, 2013 and the rest of the stories will be released between that date and February 11, 2014.  All of these will be first published in electronic form and then a final paperback will be released on February 11, 2014 with all the five short stories in it, including "Free Four" which was published previously. And did I mention all of these will be told from Four's perspective? :D

ANYWAY, just recently, Hypable.com released the cover for the first of these four short stories! Here it is, le cover for The Transfer!

Read more about it HERE.

Well, that's the news for now! I still have to read Divergent (don't kill me) but oh my goodness, I seriously can't wait for the movie! I mean after I saw this:

I pretty much was sold ;P