Sunday, January 31, 2016

January Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

This month was one hectic month, despite me being on break. I applied to a few medical related things, am currently learning how to drive, and of course, the bane of my existence - orgo returned to my life a week earlier than expected. But even with all of this, I still had a fun break and I got to read a ton of books! Everyone asks - "How do I do it?" I honestly don't know. Most of this reading was done after everything else was done... past midnight. And most of the books I read were great!

This is my summary of how the books I read fitted into my 2016 reading challenges. Note, some of the books in these challenges overlapped.

Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge - 9/100 books
It's a strong start! I should finish reading a 10th book today or tomorrow... I'm really glad I read a ton of historical fiction
Truthwitch and Salt to the Sea I'm lending out, but my read pile for January!

[Review] SST Review: The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry

Hey guys! I'll be reviewing this book as part of Nori's SST. So, I received this book in exchange for an honest review, which doesn't impact my review in any way. 

The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry 
Version: Arc Paperback
Rating: 5 Stars

Published: January 26th 2016

Goodreads Synopsis:
Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.
Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start…until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.
Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

[Review] Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Rating: 4 stars

Version: ARC
Release Date: September 1st 2015

Goodreads Synopsis:
Revenge is worth its weight in gold.
When her father is murdered for a journal revealing the location of a hidden gold mine, eighteen-year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers—and justice. What she finds are untrustworthy strangers, endless dust and heat, and a surprising band of allies, among them a young Apache girl and a pair of stubborn brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, a startling truth becomes clear: some men will stop at nothing to get their hands on gold, and Kate’s quest for revenge may prove fatal.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday (11) - Freebie Week aka Top Ten Books on My Wishlist

Top Ten Tuesday is a an original feature/ weekly meme that was created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new topic is presented and this week's is: 

A Freebie! 
So you know what that means? I come up with something original, although I don't think I've read enough to make up a unique post. But my birthday is next month, and that got me to think - What are the top non-2016 books on my wishlist? This is totally not a hint to my friends or anything. But as much as I want a lot of 2016 books, there are other books I've been dying to read, as well. Granted, these are mostly books in series I still have to finish... whoops.

Top Ten non-2016 Books on My Wishlist/To-Be-Read List

[Review] Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Version: ARC Paperback
Rating: 5 stars
Published: February 2nd 2016

Goodreads Synopsis:
In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are  Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Spotlight on The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

Guard Banner

 The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye is one of my most anticipated debuts for 2016, so I am really excited to host today's spotlight stop in the Tsar's Guard Parade today! You can also enter to win an ARC of the book! :-)

About the Book:
Author: Evelyn Skye
Release Date: May 17th, 2016
Pages: 416
Publisher: Balzer+Bray
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear . . . the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

About Evelyn:
Evelyn Skye was once offered a job by the C.I.A., she not-so-secretly wishes she was on "So You Think You Can Dance," and if you challenge her to a pizza-eating contest, she guarantees she will win. When she isn't writing, Evelyn can be found chasing her daughter on the playground or sitting on the couch, immersed in a good book and eating way too many cookies. THE CROWN'S GAME is her first novel. Evelyn can be found online at and on Twitter @EvelynSkyeYA.

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive an ARC of THE CROWN’S GAME. International.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 22, 2016

[Review] Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard 
Rating: 3.5 stars

Series: The Witchlands #1
Version: Hardcover
Release Date: January 5th 2016

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

[Review] Newt's Emerald by Garth Nix

24737347Newt's Emerald by Garth Nix

Rating: 3 Stars
Series: N/A
Version: ARC
Release Date:  January 26, 2016

Goodreads synopsis:
On her eighteenth birthday, Lady Truthful, nicknamed “Newt,” will inherit her family’s treasure: the Newington Emerald. A dazzling heart-shaped gem, the Emerald also bestows its wearer with magical powers.

When the Emerald disappears one stormy night, Newt sets off to recover it. Her plan entails dressing up as a man, mustache included, as no well-bred young lady should be seen out and about on her own. While in disguise, Newt encounters the handsome but shrewd Major Harnett, who volunteers to help find the missing Emerald under the assumption that she is a man. Once she and her unsuspecting ally are caught up in a dangerous adventure that includes an evil sorceress, Newt realizes that something else is afoot: the beating of her heart.

In Newt’s Emerald, the bestselling author of Sabriel, Garth Nix, takes a waggish approach to the forever popular Regency romance and presents a charmed world where everyone has something to hide.
Newt's Emerald combines two of my favorite genres: fantasy and historical fiction. It takes place during the regency era, and modifies certain aspects in order to add a touch of fantasy. Newt's Emerald was a nice, quick read that keeps the reader engrossed whilst reading it but not much beyond.

One of the reasons why I didn't enjoy it as much as I could have is because of the protagonist, Lady Truthful/"Newt". She just does so many dumb things and I just didn't "get" her at all. Like when she hears that Major Harnett accused her of being spoiled and haughty, she claims she is none of these things but then acts like the most annoying and haughty person ever in front of him. And don't forget when Major Harnett tells her to go back home because it's dangerous and instead she walks straight into trouble and screams for Harnett to save her.

Other than Newt, most of the other characters were pretty tolerable and/or interesting. I really liked Lady Badgery; she's probably the most multi-dimensional character in this story.

I'm indifferent about Garth Nix's writing, and I just wished he'd made the glossary of terms more exhaustive because a good amount of the archaic words weren't in it and googling them proved to be just a bit annoying. I did enjoy the good amount of details and imagery, though.

THE PLOT. I'm not sure how I feel about it. It's one of the best parts of the book but was ultimately a let down. I was really anticipating how they planned to get the emerald back and was ready for the BIG plan at the end but I was so disappointed. It felt like the ending was so rushed and all the build-up was for nothing. 

Newt's Emerald definitely has it's flaws, but if you're a fan of historical fiction and fantasy, it doesn't hurt to give it a try.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Raisa's Recap - Launch Party for Passenger and Truthwitch at Books of Wonder

It's been a long week full of applications and other college related things, but last week I went to Books of Wonder in NYC for the Launch Party for Passenger and Truthwitch! Books of Wonder itself is a great bookstore, because a lot of their books are signed copies. They have many events that you can check out on their page over here, and I most likely will be going to The Girl From Everywhere/These Vicious Masks Launch Party next. 
All these signed copies are amazing!
But the main point is, I got to meet three awesome authors and hear them discuss their books. Erin Bowman, author of Vengeance Road, moderated the event and asked Susan Dennard (author of Truthwitch) and Alexandra Bracken (author of Passenger) questions in a cool Q&A. Audience members got to ask questions too! 
Left to Right - Alexandra Bracken, Susan Dennard, Erin Bowman
Finally, the moment we've all been waiting for... the book signing itself! I got my copies Passenger, Truthwitch, and my ARC of Vengeance Road signed. And... I got swag along with each book too. 

Vengeance Road bookmark and sticker! 
Erin Bowman
Susan Dennard
Truthwitch map and charm
Alexandra Bracken
Passenger bookmark and swag

I don't have any pictures, but I also met some blogger buddies for the first time today! Mariam, Alexandra, Brittany, and anyone else I missed, it was nice to meet you and I hope we see each each other soon. 

I also read Truthwitch and Vengeance Road, so expect my reviews sometime this month. This book signing/launch party was awesome, and I can't wait to go to more soon.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Bookish Craft Project - Swag Binders

Everyone has some bookish swag laying around the house (or at least, you probably do if you're one of the people reading this). Maybe you display them on your bookshelves, or you have a swag board where you hang all your book swag, or maybe you should leave them in a box - that's what I did.

Recently, Aila of One Way Or An Author gave me an idea - swag binders! She posted beautiful pictures of her swag binder filled with pages of bookmarks, posters, pins, and more. I thought this was an absolutely wonderful and fun way to organize and display my swag. That way, I can flip through it whenever I want instead of having to dig through my little box.

Now, I am probably one of the least artsy people I know, so mine doesn't look quite as amazing, but I am definitely happy with the results. It's also easily adjustable... my binder currently has a lot more room, but if I ever run out, I can just get a bigger one and transfer everything over really easily.

Here are a few of the pages from mine!

It now sits on my bookshelf. :-)

I used:
Target up & up 1" Binder in White
Staples Better Moveable Dividers in Black
Regular Clear Tape

How do you organize your book swag? (Or don't you? :P)

Friday, January 15, 2016

[Review] Night Study by Maria V. Snyder

16130759Night Study by Maria V. Snyder

Rating: 4.5 Stars
Series: Study #5/Soulfinders #2
Version: eARC
Release Date:  January 26, 2016

Goodreads synopsis:
Ever since being kidnapped from the Illiais Jungle as a child, Yelena Zaltana's has been fraught with peril. But the recent loss of her Soulfinding abilities has endangered her more than ever before. As she desperately searches for a way to reclaim her magic, her enemies are closing in, and neither Ixia nor Sitia are safe for her anymore. Especially since the growing discord between the two countries and the possibility of a war threatens everything Yelena holds dear.

Valek is determined to protect Yelena, but he's quickly running out of options. The Commander suspects that his loyalties are divided, and he's been keeping secrets from Valek...secrets that put him, Yelena and all their friends in terrible danger. As they uncover the various layers of the Commander's mysterious plans, they realize it's far more sinister that they could have ever imagined.
I waited an entire year since finishing Shadow Study last December for this and it was well worth the wait. I always have high expectations for Maria's books, and they always meet or exceed those expectations; Night Study is no exception.

There is no dull moment in this book - it's all action and adventure. The POVs alternate just like in Shadow Study, and many times we're left on a cliffhanger as it moves on to another character. It's evil but also makes the story go by extremely fast since you just need to know what happens; you tell yourself you're only going to read a few more chapters but you end up almost finishing it.

We get so much more of Valek compared to some of the earlier Study books, which is obviously a huge plus ;). He was by far my favorite POV to read from since he definitely has the most interesting (and surprising) story arc. Valek also goes through some major character development and we see him slowly evolve throughout the series. At first, I thought I would like the original Poison Study Valek better, but Night Study made me like him even more, if that's even possible.

Basically every second with Valek:

I would have liked to see more of Onora or the Commander and the Ixia side of things since that is where most of the unanswered questions lie; wouldn't it be fun to have on of them with their own chapters? I enjoyed reading about both our old friends and the new characters and Janco was a wonderful comedic relief, as always.

Some of the many questions left unanswered in Shadow Study are answered in Night Study, but with those answers new questions arise, which left me kind of confused at a few parts, so I am definitely looking forward to Dawn Study.

If you're a longtime fan of the Study series, you probably don't need me to tell you to pick this one up after that Shadow Study ending, but go read it. If you're new to the series or to Maria V. Snyder, start reading. There's a lot of catch up to do.

Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

[Review] Fire Falling by Elise Kova

Fire Falling by Elise Kova 
Series: Air Awakens #2 
Version: Paperpack
Rating: 5 stars 

Published: November 15th 2015

Goodreads Synopsis: 
Soldier… Sorcerer… Savior… Who is Vhalla Yarl?
Vhalla Yarl marches to war as property of the Solaris Empire. The Emperor counts on her to bring victory, the Senate counts on her death, and the only thing Vhalla can count on is the fight of her life. As she grapples with the ghosts of her past, new challenges in the present threaten to shatter the remnants of her fragile sanity. Will she maintain her humanity? Or will she truly become the Empire’s monster?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Alice's 2016 Book Challenges

Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge 2016 banner Alexa Loves Books Hello Chelly

Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge 
This one is pretty simple - challenge yourself to read a certain number of fantasy books.
My Goal: 15 Fantasy Books
Since I mainly read YA fantasy, this challenge probably won't be an issue for me!
I will be writing a wrap up post on the last week of each month.


TBR Pile Reading Challenge
Read books that have been sitting on my shelf for a while, including novellas. The book must have been released in 2015 or earlier. 
My Goal: 11-20 A Friendly Hug
I like reading back list books and have quite a few of them, so this shouldn't be too hard.
I will be writing a wrap-up post on the last Monday of every other month,

The books will probably cross list from the two challenges.

[Review] Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Version: Netgalley E-ARC
Rating: 4 stars

Published: January 5th 2016

Goodreads Synopsis:Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.
Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.
When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Twelve Books of Christmas - Summary/Wrap-Up


I completed my first reading challenge, with only a few hours left to spare! How's that for a close call? Given all the time I was focusing on reading, and not reviewing, guess what I'll be doing this weekend?

Without further ado, here are the twelve books I read for #12forxmas! And even though I said I would read certain books, things changed, and those I didn't read will be for my next two challenges, #rockmytbr and #sixsquaredchallenge, so look out for those soon.

Friday, January 1, 2016

#RockMyTBR - Introductory Post

Happy New Year guys! As the saying goes, "New Year, new me," right? This year, I pledge to read 100 books on Goodreads, and while it would be ideal for me to read 8-9 books a month, with school in the way, I'm going to try to read 6 books/month during the school year (for 48 books), and 12 during my break months (also 48 books), and more books here and there! Maybe I'll even surpass my challenge, like I did this year.

I usually read whatever I'm feeling up to, but here are some books I wanted to read in December/2015 that I didn't get to, and I'll be reading this month. Let's aim for 12 books this Winter break!