Friday, June 27, 2014

Megan Rambles About City of Heavenly Fire

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
From GoodreadsIn this dazzling and long-awaited conclusion to the acclaimed Mortal Instruments series, Clary and her friends fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary's own brother.

Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the Infernal Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures out of nightmare, tearing apart families and lovers as the ranks of his Endarkened army swell.

The embattled Shadowhunters withdraw to Idris - but not even the famed demon towers of Alicante can keep Sebastian at bay. And with the Nephilim trapped in Idris, who will guard the world against demons?

When one of the greatest betrayals the Nephilim have ever known is revealed, Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon, and Alec must flee - even if their journey takes them deep into the demon realms, where no Shadowhunter has set foot before, and from which no human being has ever returned...

Love will be sacrificed and lives lost in the terrible battle for the fate of the word in the thrilling final installment of the classic urban fantasy series The Mortal Instruments!

So at about 2 am this morning I finished City of Heavenly Fire. I know, I know it's been a month so what the heck was I waiting on? Basically I dragged my feet reading this because I was so desperate for this series not to end. Now I'm going to try my best to explain my feelings about this book while it is still fresh in my mind. This review will be spoiler free for CoHF, but no promises about Cassie's other books.

City of Heavenly Fire had everything that I've come to expect from a Cassandra Clare book and of course I absolutely LOVED IT. In case you haven't heard or seen pictures, the book is gigantic, over 700 pages, so anyone who was worried about there not being an adequate ending, don't worry. Cassie definitely had enough space to tie up everything I was looking for and resolve the conflicts left over from the other books in the series.

The entire book was so high stakes, emotionally painful, and frustrating that there were several times where I actually screamed out loud. Seriously, if you thought the adults were a bunch of incompetent morons in City of Glass just wait until you read City of Heavenly Fire! The Clave is the most screwed up, hypocritical, self-serving government in existence. To quote a lovely gem of a conversation, Me: "THE CLAVE SUCKS OMFG", Rachel: "YES. Seriously this whole book is 'How Not to Run a Government by The Clave".

Cassie made sure to expertly (and sometimes evilly) jump between characters so that one moment you are reading about a SUPER INTENSE conflict that is a life or death situation and then the next second, you're in a happy little Jace and Clary moment or chilling with the werewolves in New York. While this could at times be CRAZY FRUSTRATING it did create suspense and it gave me a break from all of the intensity and sadness. Then I could get some happiness thrown in too. 

And there was plenty of happiness! (That ONE SCENE in the cave anyone? Hmmmm?) The characters were just as snarky, sarcastic, and hysterical as they have always been. Seriously, only these characters could be literally walking into hell and be cracking jokes the entire time. One of my favorite things about this series has been Cassie's ability to make the gravity of a situation present, but also to lighten the mood with her signature hysterical one-liners and banter. 

One of the characters that stood out to me in this book in particular was Alec. Since somewhere between City of Ashes and City of Glass Alec Lightwood has wormed his way into my heart and quickly become one of my favorites. In this book he was amazing! His sass was out of control and he was slinging one-liners left and right. Not to mention his totally bad-ass fighting skills were on full display. We've been really used to Jace and seeing how great he is and how far he has come since the first book; so I really liked seeing Alec get the same treatment. His transformation since book one is amazing and I love, love, love, love Alec. (*cough* and Malec *cough*)

There was also that thing that Cassie did. If you've read the book, you know exactly what I'm talking about. JUST WHY CASSIE WHY? If you haven't read the book, I'm sorry for frightening you, but seriously have some tissues ready. It's Cassie Clare ending a series people! What did you expect?

I could really go on and on forever about all of the great references to The Infernal Devices that were in here, along with an excellent setup for The Dark Artifices, which is shaping up to be another amazing series, but this ramble is already getting ridiculously long. So instead, I'm going to wrap this up by getting a little nostalgic on all of you.

When I finished Harry Potter I was in such a reading rut and didn't want to pick anything up. City of Bones was thrown at me by some family friends and I so grateful for it. These characters have meant so much to me since I was in middle school. Cassandra Clare was the first author that I followed on Twitter, which led to me discovering book blogs, and eventually, Rachel and I deciding to try to run one ourselves. 

Cassie's books have been such a big part of my life for the past few years and it feels strange that there won't be another book in The Mortal Instruments. Of course I know that I have so many other excellent series from Cassie that are coming soon, but for now the story is over and that's a really sad thing for me.

I honestly don't know if I would be sitting here writing this blog post if it wasn't for Cassandra Clare and The Mortal Instruments. This series gave me so much more than characters and a story to love. It opened me up to the possibility of running a blog, being involved in the publishing community, and maybe even if I'm lucky someday, working in publishing.

So a million thanks to Cassandra Clare for writing such amazing books that make me feel all of the feels. Without her, I don't know what the heck I would be doing with my life right now.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Books We Got at BEA

Hello everyone! As I'm sure you've gathered by now, Read Write Ramble attended BEA and had an awesome time. We met so many cool/nice/funny/talented/wonderful authors, publishers, bloggers, booksellers, librarians, and more. We also picked up a lot of books. Like...A LOT of books. Like....SO MANY BOOKS we don't even know what to do with ourselves!

We do intend on reading them all, and since the school year is officially over, we'll have plenty of time to read lots of books this summer. However, rather than show you each and every book we picked up at BEA, we thought it would be a much better idea to just show you the highlights. The following books are some of the books we're most excited to read, and they'll probably be some of the ones we pick up first.

We have organized the books into four categories. The first one is the overall top five BEA books that all three of us are excited for.

Top Five BEA Books

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld- This book is about a teenage girl's experience with writing and the publishing industry, topics that we here at Read Write Ramble are interested in, because  hello! we're teenage girls who like to write, and since we got this book at BEA, we're obviously involved in the publishing industry! Everything about this book sounds awesome, so needless to say, Afterworlds was our most anticipated book of BEA.

Rooms by Lauren Oliver- We're all big fans of Lauren Oliver, and when we got our copies of Rooms signed at BEA, Lauren actually recognized us! This was the fourth time we've been to one of her signings, so clearly, we love her. This is her first adult novel, and we're all curious to see what she brings to this genre.

Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid- Road trip books are pretty much our favorite kind of books ever, so we we'll read anything that promises a good road trip story. This book is about a girl who goes on a road trip, and along the way, she meets four different characters. The main character changes the lives of the people she meets, and Let's Get Lost is about each character's story and how they all relate to each other. Luckily, we got this book just in time for summer, so we can read this fun, summery book while relaxing poolside. :)

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare- Holly Black and Cassandra Clare are two of our favorite authors, so we're ecstatic about the fact that they decided to write a new book together! They are both talented writers and they have such a great friendship, so I can't imagine how a book written by the two of them could be anything but amazing. The Iron Trial is the first book in a middle grade fantasy series, and we all feel so lucky that we were able to get our hands on early copies of this book.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black- As I just mentioned, Holly Black is one of our favorite authors. This book is Holly Black's first book about faeries since her Modern Faerie Tales series, which I believe all three of us have read and loved (Rachel definitely has!). Holly Black writes faeries so well, and while we're not normally fans of books about faeries, we all make an exception for Holly Black because she's such a talented writer.

The next three categories are the top five books that each one of us is personally excited for.

Rachel's Top Five BEA Books

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang- I've heard so many positive things about this book. It has been described as a haunting and emotional book that will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher (aka three of my favorite authors). It's about suicide/a suicide attempt, and I'm looking forward to getting into this story about such a heavy topic.

Get Even by Gretchen McNeil- I'm getting some Pretty Little Liars vibes from this book, and I mean that in the best way possible! Get Even sounds like a fun, dramatic, mysterious story about teenage girls, high school, and revenge. I think it's going to be a great summer read!

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley- This book takes place in 1959 Virginia, during segregation/integration/the Civil Rights Movement. It's about two teenagers--a black girl integrating into an all-white high school, and a white girl who already attends that high school. I expect this book to be really powerful, and I'm interested in exploring this topic in the context of a Young Adult book.

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer- This book is about a boarding school, and since I love boarding school stories, I'm already sold on this book! The summary seems a bit vague and mysterious to me, so I'm excited to dive into this story without really knowing what to expect.

Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts- This book seems like a cross between Eleanor & Park and The Fault in Our Stars. I have no idea if that description I've come up with is at all accurate to the book, but I'm just going to stick with that for now.* This book is about friendship and cancer, and I've heard some amazing things about it!

*Right after I wrote this, I looked the book up on Goodreads and the first sentence in the summary is literally: "The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this tough and tender young adult novel that's a lot about love (and a little about cancer)." NAILED IT.

Megan's Top Five BEA Books

Blackbird by Anna Carey- I loved Anna Carey's other books and when I saw that Blackbird is a suspense thriller I was already excited. Then when you add in the fact that it's written in second person about a girl with amnesia who has people trying to kill her, you can definitely SIGN ME UP.

Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini- I have always found Salem Massachusetts and the witch trials to be so interesting so I'm super excited to read the start of Josephine Angelini's new series! Plus a main character who suffers from really bad allergies? As an asthmatic who insists on playing soccer and running track, I feel ya girl. This sounds like the perfect Halloween read to me and I can't wait to pick it up!

Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot- I've heard some really great things about this book so far and I've seen it compared to The Great Gatsby on many occasions. If this is a modern contemporary that is full of summer partying and interesting characters that captures the fun, nostalgic feeling of Gatsby then I am sure that I will love every second of it! This book sounds like a perfect summer read and I can't wait to pick it up!

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick- This book is basically about a girl who is held hostage and forced to help lead two escaped criminals down a mountain in the middle of winter. And of course one of them is attractive. It's sure to be a dose of some major Stockholm syndrome but I'm unabashedly excited to read it! I can't imagine that Becca Fitzpatrick won't write another amazingly attractive guy because we all know I loved me some fangirling over Patch.

Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle- This book is about a girl who gets cast in the next big book to movie adaptation of a YA novel. Soon the love triangle she is supposed to be acting out onscreen starts becoming a little too real off-screen. This book sounds absolutely adorable and I can't wait to read it this summer! It's like an inside look on all of the crazy shipping that always goes on while movies are filming and my inner fangirl is SO READY for this book!

Katherine's Top Five BEA Books

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson- This book focuses on sibling relationships while growing up with a little romance thrown in. Her previous book was also focused on similar things, so I have high expectations. Also the cover is one the prettiest things I have ever seen.  

 Landline by Rainbow Rowell- This book is a contemporary sort of time travel-not time travel story. It's like It's Wonderful Life with the idea of what if? What if we didn't get married, what would each life be like? I love Rainbow's books, and all three of us have been anticipating Landline and can't wait to read it. 

by Katie Coyle- Okay, it's the apocalypse and then the characters go on a road trip to find their parents who may be a part of a religious cult. I am super excited to start reading this.

Damsel Distressed  by Kelsey Macke- This book is not your everyday fairy tale. The main character is the stepsister to the evil Ella. I feel like Imogen is going to be a character that I can relate to. I'm excited for this twist in the original Cinderella story. (Also another amazing cover!)

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall- Stories that have little intertwining stories within are my favorite. This being something of the sort and a romance remind me of Love Actually and make me happy. I am excited to read about the quirky romance between two students that baristas, a bus driver, and even a squirrel want to see come true. 

(Wow all these covers are amazing!)

As you can see, we picked up some really exciting books at BEA! We're so lucky that we had the opportunity to attend BEA, and we're all looking forward to reading these books this summer!

If you attended BEA: what are the most exciting books you picked up? If you did not attend BEA: which of the above books are you eagerly anticipating? Let us know down in the comments!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Rachel Rambles: Video Edition!

Hi everyone! So lately I've been reviewing books in a different format than usual...I've been filming video reviews!

I consider myself to be a newbie to the whole video-reviewing thing, and it's taking some time to get used to this new format, but so far I'm really enjoying it! I still prefer writing reviews on the blog, but I like that video reviews give me the opportunity to use tools like facial expressions, tone of voice, hand gestures, etc. to express my thoughts.

So I just thought I'd let you guys know what I've been up to lately. I've done some video reviews on my YouTube channel, and if you're interested in what I think about these books and are wondering why I haven't reviewed them on the blog yet, it's because I already reviewed them in videos. (All the video reviews are totally spoiler-free, by the way!)

This is my video of mini-reviews. I talk about Fifteen Minutes of Fame by Julie Young, Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor, and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

This next one isn't exactly a review. It's what I like to call a "I HAVE SOME FEELINGS ABOUT A BOOK" video. In these types of videos, I basically just fangirl over books and gush about them and talk about why I love them, instead of actually reviewing the books. This particular video is about We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. (Btw, this is the weirdest thumbnail ever. I don't know what was going through my head when I made this video! :P)

And finally, my most recent video review is of Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson and To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han.

So those are all the video reviews I've been doing lately! What do you guys think of this format? Do you prefer reading or watching book reviews? Let me know down in the comments!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Random Ramble: I Just Finished City of Heavenly Fire... (Rachel)

Right after I finished reading City of Heavenly Fire, I realized that I had a lot of thoughts jumbling around in my head that I wanted to write down. In an attempt to organize these thoughts and to capture this emotional moment in my life, I decided to share them in a blog post. This is a quick and candid post about my experience with City of Heavenly Fire that does not include any spoilers for this book or any others in the series. I did a hasty read-through of this post, but for the most part, there is no editing or proofreading. I just typed it all out, and I'm about to hit publish now. I like the idea of documenting such an important experience for me, so here goes nothing.

About three minutes ago, I finished reading City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare. I am very emotional right now. It's hard to believe that this is it. The Mortal Instruments series has come to an end. Sure, there are Cassandra Clare's other Shadowhunter books... I have The Dark Artifices to look forward to, but it's not the same.

It took me a long time to read City of Heavenly Fire. After purchasing my copy at the midnight launch party in NYC, I ended up taking almost three weeks to finally read this book. Three weeks may not seem like a long time, especially for such a ginormous book, but three weeks is like an eternity for me. In the past, I've devoured all of Cassandra Clare's new releases in just days, ignoring sleep and responsibilities and all that in favor of reading the newest installment of the story of my favorite characters. Sure, this time around I was busy with things like BEA, but I don't think being busy was my only problem.

I think a part of me wanted to stretch out my experience reading this book for as long as possible. I didn't want it to be over. I couldn't handle it being over. For years, this series has been a huge part of my life. It's hard to accept that the last book is finally here, because what happens after that? There are no more books to wait for. It's over.

I started reading The Mortal Instruments series back in middle school. While I had a bit of a rocky start with them (not because of the books' quality, but because I hadn't quite fallen in love with reading yet... that didn't come until the very end of middle school), I grew to love this series. The first author signing or book event I ever attended was for Cassandra Clare with City of Fallen Angels. The Mortal Instruments is the first series I've ever truly fallen in love with and developed a strong emotional connection with.

Before I read The Mortal Instruments, I was a Twilight fangirl. What 12-year-old girl wasn't? But, while I did love those books, reading all four in the span of two weeks did not allow for the years of emotional attachment that I had with The Mortal Instruments. And Harry Potter came after The Mortal Instruments for me. I know, I know, what was I thinking, not reading Harry Potter until age 14? But I didn't, so that makes The Mortal Instruments series the only series I've truly been able to "grow up" with over the years.

The Mortal Instruments series has changed my life in a lot of ways. Not only did I develop strong connections with the characters, I developed strong connections with people in real life, outside of the books. This series resulted in new friendships, as well as the strengthening of old friendships. It's what made me finally accept that I loved reading and wanted to be part of the book community. After I read these books, I went online and found Cassandra Clare's blog and twitter, which led me to other authors' social media, which led me to bloggers and BookTubers and all of the wonderful people I've interacted with, or even just followed, online.

I'm so grateful to Cassandra Clare for giving me the gift of The Mortal Instruments series. These books have affected me in countless ways. They've made me see the world differently, they've made me more comfortable with myself, they've made me laugh and cry and throw things at the wall in frustration. I care more about the characters in this series than I do any other characters in any other series, simply because I've been with them the longest. While my love for things like Twilight and the Jonas Brothers has faded since I've left middle school and moved on with my life, my love for Cassandra Clare's novels burns brighter with each sentence I read.

It is impossible to untangle my emotional and meaningful experience with this series from my critique of the quality of the books, so while I do plan on rambling about City of Heavenly Fire soon, I admit that it will be a completely biased ramble that will not point out any criticism whatsoever. To me, these books are flawless. I know people will try to tell me that they're not, and I totally get that, but my experience with this series is so personal and so important to me that I simply cannot accept any kind of criticism. I respect other people's opinions, of course, but nothing will sway my opinion or stop me from loving this series with all of my heart.

Thank you so much, Cassandra Clare, for creating this story and this world, and for allowing me to be a part of it for the past few years. I'll be a Cassandra Clare fan for the rest of my life, and I can't wait to fall in love with more Shadowhunter books in the future.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

BLOG TOUR: Rachel Rambles About I Become Shadow

Hey everyone! Welcome to my stop on the I Become Shadow blog tour! 


Joe Shine grew up in Austin, TX (the greatest city ever), and is a graduate of Texas A&M University. He has an MFA from the Peter Stark Producing Program at the University of Southern California, and after brief stints in Los Angeles and Washington, DC, Joe returned home to Austin (repeat: the greatest city ever). Joe has a normal human job like most everyone else but hopes to become a full-time writer one day, and this is where you, the reader, must do him a really big solid and love I Become Shadow, his first novel.

Joe Shine's Twitter | Joe Shine's Goodreads

ABOUT THE BOOK (from Goodreads):

Ren Sharpe was abducted at fourteen and chosen by the mysterious F.A.T.E. Center to become a Shadow: the fearless and unstoppable guardian of a future leader. Everything she held dear—her family, her home, her former life—is gone forever. 

Ren survives four years of training, torture, and misery, in large part thanks to Junie, a fellow F.A.T.E. abductee who started out as lost and confused as she did. She wouldn’t admit it was possible to find love in a prison beyond imagining, but what she feels for Junie may just be the closest thing to it. 

At eighteen they part ways when Ren receives her assignment: find and protect college science student Gareth Young, or die trying. Life following a college nerd is uneventful, until an attack on Gareth forces Ren to track down the only person she can trust. When she and Junie discover that the F.A.T.E. itself might be behind the attacks, even certain knowledge of the future may not be enough to save their kidnappers from the killing machines they created.


I love a good secret-government-organization story, and I Become Shadow is everything I want out of the genre. It's an excellent balance of fun/humorous moments and frightening/suspenseful moments, which makes this book a fast and entertaining read.

My favorite thing about I Become Shadow is the narration style. The narration is fresh, unique, and entertaining. The main character, Ren, has a very distinct voice in comparison to a lot of her counterparts in other Young Adult books. Ren is sarcastic and hilarious, and I love the way she talks to the reader. This type of narration is a risk, but Joe Shine executed it wonderfully, and it resulted in a lovable, funny main character.

The concept of I Become Shadow is incredibly intriguing. It is, after all, what convinced me to pick up the book. Because the story is so detailed and complex, it makes this book a little hard to explain, but I'll do my best.

Since F.A.T.E. has knowledge of the future, the organization is able to determine what important figures must be protected in their younger years so that they can eventually impact the world. The F.A.T.E. trainees, like Ren, are turned into soldiers to protect the lives of future presidents, scientists, and anyone else who is meant to make significant changes in the world. The idea of watching these people and ensuring that they stay on their paths to greatness is fascinating, and it explores the age-old themes of destiny and whether or not people with knowledge of the future/the ability to time-travel/etc. should mess with the lives of others. These themes have always interested me (hence my love of all things time-travel) so I was delighted to find these elements in I Become Shadow.

The suspense and action in I Become Shadow is fantastic. Joe Shine knows how to keep the reader hooked and completely immersed in the story. This is the kind of book that makes you lose track of time and ignore all your responsibilities so you can just keep reading. You assume that you've only read a few pages, but really you've read 100 pages in one sitting and oh no is that the smoke alarm going off?! Yes, what I'm saying is that this book is so good you might forget you're cooking something and burn the house down. (Not that this happened to me. Pshh, like I'd ever cook anything that can't be made in a microwave!) If that doesn't make you want to read it, I don't know what will.

Overall, I Become Shadow is a fun, exciting, and action-packed read that I found myself unable to put down. This book is a good choice for anyone looking for a fast and entertaining read, but I'd especially recommend it to fans of the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson. I Become Shadow has a somewhat similar narration style to Maximum Ride, and the actions of F.A.T.E. are reminiscent of the scientists' actions in Maximum Ride. While the two books are quite different, I think they are geared toward similar audiences. So if you enjoyed Maximum Ride, I think you'll enjoy I Become Shadow too. And if you're like me, you'll like I Become Shadow even more than Maximum Ride!

Thanks for stopping by on the I Become Shadow Blog Tour! If you haven't read this book yet, DO IT. And be sure to check out the other stops on this tour!

P.S. I really hope this book turns into a series because I want more! GIVE ME A SEQUEL NOW PLEASE. :D

Friday, June 13, 2014

Rachel Rambles About P.A.W.S.

P.A.W.S. by Debbie Manber Kupfer
From Goodreads:
When Miri's grandmother dies, she takes with her the family secret. Miri finds herself alone and abandoned in a St. Louis boarding school. But she is about to discover the secret isn't dead. Taunted by bullies, Miri is shocked to learn she possesses a secret power. It can save her... but can it save those she loves? After she is befriended by others with the same strange, magical powers, her history comes alive. And with it, Miri's fate becomes more dangerous. Join Miri on a mysterious and supernatural journey with her new friends, members of an underground St. Louis society known as the Partnership for Animagi, Werewolves, and Shapeshifters, better known as P.A.W.S.

P.A.W.S. has all the whimsical, fantastical, and heartwarming qualities of the Harry Potter series. The main character is a young girl who finds out about the world of Animagi, Werewolves, and Shapeshifters, aka people who can transform into animals. The magic/fantasy elements are reminiscent of the Harry Potter books, not because P.A.W.S. is about a school for wizards and witches, but because it's about a close-knit community of people with magical qualities. I've been longing for a Harry Potter-esque story for awhile now, and I found that P.A.W.S. satisfied my need for this kind of story.

P.A.W.S. has many of my favorite elements of Young Adult novels. First of all, it has lots of histroy. While it's not strictly historical fiction, parts of the book do take place in the past (the World War II era to be exact), and the main character's family history plays a large role in the story, so she finds herself delving into historical topics and themes. Also, since Miri's family is Jewish, this story has rich Jewish culture. As someone who is very much unfamiliar with Jewish culture, I found it interesting, not to mention unusual, to be able to read about it in this Young Adult novel. Another thing I love about this book is the emphasis on family, specifically Miri's relationships with her grandmother and mother. I love stories that center around family, so I was delighted to find such strong familial themes in this book.

Rather than having only one narrator, P.A.W.S. is told from the points-of-view of multiple characters. This format reminds me a bit of Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments series, so if you're familiar with those books, you'll know the kind of point-of-view shifts I'm talking about. The reader gets to experience the story through the eyes of a variety of characters, ranging from children to adults to the innocent to the villains. I really liked getting to read about so many different characters. It made the book far more interesting than it would have been if it had just been told through Miri's point-of-view, although Miri does get the most "screen-time" in comparison to the other characters. I appreciated the sheer variety in the characters. It's not often that a book tells the same story from so many wildly different perspectives, and Debbie Manber Kupfer writes multiple points-of-view really well.

I'd describe the writing style in P.A.W.S. as simplistic and even a bit young. Based on the writing style and language used, I would classify this book as being right on the border of Middle Grade and Young Adult. I don't mean this as a bad thing! In fact, I consider this to be a positive thing. The writing is simple and easy to read, making this a fun, fast book that can be devoured in one sitting. While the writing is simple and I think could be appreciated by a younger audience, the actual story is another matter entirely. The subject matter is heavier than I expected it to be. I don't want to tell you too much about it, but this book has some violence, kidnapping, abusive relationships, etc. involving werewolves and other "monsters." (Of course, Harry Potter is a Middle Grade book with heavy topics, so I guess P.A.W.S. can be read by a younger audience as well.) I personally found some parts of this book surprisingly gruesome, so just be aware of that if you're thinking of sharing this book with a younger reader.

The world-building and magical elements in P.A.W.S. are fantastic. Like I said, I think this book gives off some Harry Potter vibes. I'm not saying this book is the next Harry Potter or anything, but the fantasy and magic in P.A.W.S. are done really well, and I think this book will appeal to people looking for a fantasy story to fill the Harry Potter-sized void in their life. 

P.A.W.S. is a fun, action-packed story with elements of fantasy and magic that are reminiscent of the Harry Potter series. It features several of my favorite things to find in Young Adult books, so I was delighted to discover this book. I recommend P.A.W.S. to anyone looking for a fun and fast fantasy read.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (45)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.

In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken (The Darkest Minds #3)
From Goodreads:
Ruby can't look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government's attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers--someone so dangerous that Ruby alone has any power over him.

Like everyone else in the world, I LOVED the first two books in this series, so I'm dying to know what happens next!

What are you waiting on this week? Leave links to your WoW posts below so I can check them out!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Rachel Rambles About The Geography of You and Me

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
From Goodreads:
Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they're rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen's relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and -- finally -- a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith's new novel shows that the center of the world isn't necessarily a place. It can be a person, too

The Geography of You and Me is another Jennifer E. Smith that I enjoyed, but didn't fall in love with like I thought I would. Reading the summary of this book, I was ridiculously excited to get my hands on a copy. It sounded cute and fun and perfect for me. But then, once I started reading it, I realized that perhaps my expectations were a little bit too high. The same thing happened with This is What Happy Looks Like, so I guess I should have learned my lesson, shouldn't I?

To clarify, I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy The Geography of You and Me. I did enjoy it. This book is a fun and fast read, and I definitely don't hate it. However, I was expecting this book to blow my mind with its awesomeness, and that did not happen.

This book has a strong beginning. The story starts off with a bang, when Lucy and Owen find themselves stuck in an elevator together. It's cliche and kinda cheesy, but it totally works. This encounter leads to them spending more time together, and the reader can see the beginnings of a relationship between the two of them.

However, after this strong beginning, the story seems to go a bit downhill. This book is supposed to be about a long-distance relationship, but there really isn't much of a relationship to go long-distance. The characters go their separate ways and move on with their lives, and it gets a bit boring for the entire middle of the book.

The Geography of You and Me picks up again towards the end of the book. Obviously, I won't tell you how it ends or anything, but I will say that it ended very strongly, much like it started. I just wish the journey to get to the ending had been more interesting.

One thing I really love about this book is the writing style. The Geography of You and Me is split into different parts, and I particularly liked the format of Part 3. There are certain parts of this book that read almost like poetry, and I think Jennifer E. Smith has such a unique way with words. The setting is also fantastic. The Geography of You and Me takes place in several locations all over the world, and I love that this book has the classic charm of New York right alongside the glamour of Europe, in addition to a few other places.

I also like the way the relationships between Lucy and Owen and their parents are explored in this book. Each character struggles to connect with their parents, but throughout the book, the parent-child relationships grow stronger and become an important part of the story. The parents start off as background characters that don't play big roles in the book, but by the end, their relationships to their children become important factors in the story.

The Geography of You and Me was fun to read, but it's not as fantastic as I'd hoped it would be. The beginning and ending are strong, but the middle leaves something to be desired. I love the writing style, setting, and familial relationships in this book. If you enjoyed Jennifer E. Smiths books The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and/or This is What Happy Looks Like, I'm positive you'll enjoy this book as well.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

BEA Videos (Rachel)

Hi everyone! Instead of doing a written recap of BEA, I decided to film some videos about my experience. I still might end up doing a written recap in the next few days (I'm still so exhausted from BEA that I can't even come up with any concrete plans), but for now, you can watch these videos:

This first video has all the footage I got at BEA. I made a point of trying to film as much as possible, so whenever I wasn't completely weighed down by a gazillion tote bags full of books, I tried to get my camera out and recording. This is a montage-style video with all my BEA footage:

The other two videos are parts one and two of my BEA discussion. Basically, I sat down (er, stood?) in front of my camera and talked about my BEA experience. For a really long time. Hence the two parts. :)

Part One is specifically about my experience on Saturday of BEA, aka BookCon, and Part Two is about my (much more positive!) experience at BEA on Thursday and Friday. I talk about what it was like, the authors I met, the other cool people I met, some of the books/swag/products I got, and what I liked and disliked about the experience. You can watch one video or both, depending on what you're interested in. :)

Rather than embedding these videos and clogging up this post, I'm just going to direct you to YouTube to watch them: BEA Discussion: Part One (BookCon) & BEA Discussion: Part Two (Thursday/Friday)

I'm in the process of getting my crap together in order to film a BEA Book Haul, so keep an eye out for that! I'm excited to show off all the interesting books I picked up at BEA, in the hopes that maybe you guys can also get excited about these books!

Side-note: I know there's a lot of drama surrounding BEA book hauls because some people think it comes across as "braggy" and they get jealous, etc. but honestly, I love watching book conference hauls because 1) I like seeing people get excited about books! Their happiness usually makes me happy, too :D, and 2) I think talking about the books that you picked up at a conference is a great way to spread the word about the books and get more people interested in them. The book hauls can act as a great marketing technique, which I assume is what the publishers want, so aren't we just helping them out? Anyway, this was supposed to be a tiny little side-note but it could easily turn into an entire blog post, so I'll leave it at that. Expect a book haul in the near future, and if you don't want to watch it, don't watch it! End of story. :)

So, those are the videos I made. Again, I still might do a written recap, but I enjoy telling stories like this verbally, so for now I'll stick with the videos. In the meantime, give me a chance to recover from the chaos of BEA (I am seriously so tired omg) and get settled into my normal blogging/reading/living schedule.

Thanks so much for reading, if you read this, and watching, if you watched the videos. If you went to BEA and/or BookCon please let me know what you thought down in the comments! I'd love to know what your favorite part was, what books you're most excited about, and whatever else you'd like to tell me! I love hearing other people's BEA stories (good or bad), so please don't hesitate to let it all out down in the comments. :)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (44)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
From Goodreads:
Every Day meets Cloud Atlas in this heart-racing, space- and time-bending, epic new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

I've been a huge fan of Claudia Gray since I read Evernight way back in sixth grade. I'm always excited to hear about a new book of hers, and this one sounds freaking amazing. Plus, the cover is STUNNING. I have high expectations for A Thousand Pieces of You!

What are you waiting on this week? Leave links to your WoW posts below so I can check them out!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Branded Blog Tour & Review (Megan)

Today I'm participating in the blog tour for Branded by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki. 

Branded by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki 
From GoodreadsFifty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best. 
Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home. 

Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain. 

Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.

The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me. 
I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter. 
My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.

I'm going to start off this review by saying that I like this cover a lot. I'm not usually a big fan of the whole face of a girl thing on book covers, but I think this is pretty and gives the reader a good indication of what Lexi looks like. 

Now, on to the actual story. I wasn't sure what exactly to expect from Branded, but the book throws you right into the story from the very first sentence. There was no long rambling back-story that takes awhile to get through or a dramatic buildup. The readers were thrown right into the world immediately and it was effective in building the suspense. Lexi's name wasn't even mentioned in the first few chapters because it was all intense, heart-pounding action. I thought it was a different approach to starting a novel and I really enjoyed it. 

Once things calmed down a bit and Lexi was in the Hole there was time for a bit more world development and explanations about Lexi's family and prior experiences. It very quickly becomes prominent that she isn't prepared for the physical requirements of living in such a brutal place. Not that I can blame her. Sitting on my couch reading books doesn't exactly prepare me to fight off grown men who are trying to kill me. I admired Lexi's determination even though her situation was bleak and the fact that she didn't totally rely on Cole, her guard, to protect her even though that was his job. He did his fair share of saving her life, but she saved herself just as much.

The Hole itself was gut-wrenching. I applaud the authors for creating a world that was able to turn my stomach so easily. There weren't that many graphic descriptions of the violence, but the little bit that was there was enough to gross me out. The world in this book reminded me of the one in The Chemical Garden Trilogy by Lauren DeStefano. A lot of the people in the Hole have lost a lot of the compassion and emotions that make them human. They've hardened themselves and resorted to violence and cruelty in order to survive. I knew that the Hole would be a prison like miserable place going into it but I was unprepared for just how messed up it was. The dynamics between characters and the way the Hole functioned was fascinating and I loved reading it even though it was disturbing.

Branded was a quick, fast-paced read with action always happening. I liked the characters and the way they interacted with each other. While there were a few minor things with the romance that I found awkward and a little forced, I really enjoyed this read for the most part. I would recommend Branded to anyone who liked Wither by Lauren DeStefano or Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi because they both have similar worlds and a similar narrations style. 

Make sure you check out the rest of the Branded blog tour! There are a lot of great blogs that have been participating not just today, but all week! Stop by their posts as well and let me know what you think of this book in the comments!