These Things I’ve Done: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I will be reviewing These Things I’ve Done by Rebecca Phillips which published August 2017 from Harper Teen. I received this title from Eric Smith, (thanks so much again!) as a review copy. There will be no spoilers so don’t click away. Though I will warn you that:

  1. This book surrounds the theme of death. Please take caution while reading.
  2. There is an incident of sexual harassment and it is talked about through some parts of the story.

These Things I’ve Done will punch you in the gut as it deals heavily with grief and its different stages: anger, guilt, understanding, etc. It has been on my list to read for the longest time and it did not disappoint.

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It is told in two alternating time periods, before and after the death of Dara’s best friend, Aubrey. These tales do eventually weave together in order to create a cohesive past as well as help the reader understand Dara’s relationship with Aubrey, and who Dara was before the incident. After reading both the first chapter of before and the first chapter of after, it broke my heart to see the stark contrast in Dara’s personality. Phillips did an amazing job at depicting a believable stage of grief, but it didn’t stop there. She dug into the layers of Dara’s psyche to show a teenage girl who was suffering, who didn’t know how to find forgiveness within herself.

The main premise is Dara returns to her hometown over a year after the death of Aubrey. She believes it is time to face the consequences of her horrible action and drown in the suffering she thinks she deserves. Her parents are unsteady around her and her little brother who she was once so close with is afraid of her. All of her former friends want nothing to do with her.  None of this compares to seeing Aubrey’s little brother, Ethan, someone who had been a huge part of her life prior to Aubrey’s death. Reacquainting with him leads to a roller coaster of emotions, unresolved problems, and finding acceptance. It also allows us as readers to gain a better sense of who Audrey was, both as a friend, and as a sister.

The story doesn’t leave you with a bleak outlook on life. It does have some sad bits and a lot of lines that will cling to your heart and not let you go, but it offers hope. It shows a way out of the darkness especially when you believe choices and actions cannot be undone. It shows that there will always be people to accept you and pick you up during the most difficult moments of your life.

Overall, it gets 4/5 stars from me and I will definitely be keeping an eye on whatever Rebecca Phillips has in store next.

Xx

Megan

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SST Blog Tour: This Mortal Coil

This Mortal Coil

Hi Readers & Writers,

In case you couldn’t tell by the banner above, I am a part of the Sunday Street Team This Mortal Coil Blog Tour! If you haven’t read or heard of This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada, it’s time to change that. The dystopian world was one of the most unique I ever read and I loved the blend of science and technology that Emily weaved into the pages. You will find twist after twist as the novel progresses to the end, but of course, I won’t spoil anything. You’ll have to read it yourself.

In the meantime, you can enjoy the synopsis, an interview with Emily, a giveaway, and where the Sunday Street Team is heading next!

Synopsis: 

Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.

That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.

When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.

Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?

Goodreads Link:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33876440-this-mortal-coil

Preorder Links:
Amazon- US: This Mortal Coil
Barnes & Nobles: This Mortal Coil
Book Depository:This Mortal Coil

Before I proceed, I want to give a huge thank you to Emily for answering my questions!

1: Part of what sucked me into This Mortal Coil was the science involved, or rather the idea of being able to hack and change genes. Did you always want to write a story like this or did it unravel as you were brainstorming?

I’ve always been a science nerd, ever since I was a kid – so it’s natural that I’d include a lot of science in my writing. However, the first book I wrote (which will never see the light of day) didn’t really involve any science. It was a few years ago, and there wasn’t as much interest in STEM then, so I didn’t think readers would be interested. However, it was hard to keep my nerdiness out of my writing, so I started working on This Mortal Coil as a passion project. I didn’t know if anyone would be interested in so much wild future science, and honestly didn’t know if it would get published – but since then I’ve found so many readers who’ve loved the science aspects of the book, which fills my heart with so much joy!

2:  Would you have a genkit if they were real and if so, what app would want to have on there? I would totally go for one that allowed my hair to be all kinds of bright colors.

I would definitely have a genkit! I think I’d delve into amateur genehacking. I’d really like a skullnet and the ability to write and work without typing. I’d also like super-human eyesight and magnetoreception. I hate being cold, so the ability to grow a little fur in the winter doesn’t sound bad, either.

3: What do you hope readers take away from your story?

I really hope that readers will be intrigued by the moral questions about genetic technology that the book raises. We’re already able to edit DNA, and though the process is complex, specific and expensive, it’s almost a guarantee that one day it will be cheaper, flexible and easy. We as a society have a lot of conversations ahead of us about how to approach that frontier, and a lot of today’s teens will grow up to become the scientists who’ll shape our future. Starting to ask these questions now isn’t just fun and interesting – it’s important.

Also I hope they take away the fact that they really, really need book 2 (mwahahaha…)

4: Describe This Mortal Coil in three words.

Scientific, convoluted, and explosive!

5: What’s one scientific discovery you’d like to see happen in your lifetime?

I really, really hope to see robust solutions to antimicrobial resistance – which is when bacteria evolve and antibiotics stop working on them. The problem of fast-evolving ‘superbugs’ is a very real one, and it poses a serious threat to society. There’s a lot of cool work going on with CRISPR-based drugs and modified bacteriophage (real-world genehacking is happening right now!) so I’d love to see these treatments become mainstream before simple things like infections from a graze or cut become life-threatening, as they once were, back in pre-penicillin days.


6: Can you tell us one thing you worked on in regards to coding that you particularly enjoyed?

I love everything about coding! I’ve enjoyed every coding project I’ve tackled – but my favorite thing has to be playing around in a language I’ve never used before. When I’m getting familiar with a new language, I like choosing small, fun projects to teach myself how to use it. I’ll spend hours looking at other people’s work in that language, googling how to do specific things, and generally messing around. It’s so much fun. I particularly enjoy projects that create a visual or interactive experience – like a button that shows you a picture, or plots a chart of data – those are really rewarding once they’re working!


7: Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

When I was kid, I used to get in trouble in class for reading books under my desk. I’d sit back in my chair and lay a book across my lap and read it surreptitiously. I didn’t get caught often 😀

About the Author:

Emily Suvada was born and raised in Australia, where she went on to study mathematics and astrophysics. She previously worked as a data scientist, and still spends hours writing algorithms to perform tasks which would only take minutes to complete on her own. When not writing, she can be found hiking, cycling, and conducting chemistry experiments in her kitchen. She currently lives in Portland, OR, with her husband.

Author’s Social Media:

Blog: http://emilysuvada.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/emilysuvada
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16320871.Emily_Suvada
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/emilysuvada
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/emily.suvada/

GIVEAWAY: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/c3165933117/

 

Tour Schedule:

11/5 Tour Stops

Interview – Megan Manzano

Review  – Books N Calm

Review – Dani Reviews Things

Interview – Fly Leaf Chronicles

Unique Post – Book Stacks Amber

11/12  Tour Stops

Guest Post – Mikayla’s Bookshelf

Interview –Reading is Dreaming with Eyes Wide Open

Review – Sarcasm and Lemons

Unique Post – Downright Dystopian

Review – Here’s To Happy Endings

11/19  Tour Stops

Interview – Books, Boys, and Blogs

Review – Emily Reads Everything

Review – The Book Corps

Unique Post – Life of a Literary Nerd

Review – Bay in Wonderland

11/26 Tour Stops

Review – A Gingerly Review

Review –  Pretty Deadly Blog

Interview – Library of a Book Witch

Guest Post – The Hermit Librarian

Chapter x Chapter Tour: 27 Hours

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Hi Readers & Writers,

In case you couldn’t tell by the banner above, I’m part of the Chapter by Chapter Tour for 27 Hours by Tristina Wright. This book sucked me in from the very beginning with its wide range of queer representation and its luscious prose. Not to mention you want to hug every character which is one of the best parts about reading. In case you haven’t heard of this book, all you need to know is below!

27 hours cover


27 Hours by Tristina Wright

Publication Date:  October 3, 2017

Publisher:  Entangled Teen

Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.

But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.

Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother’s shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon’s darkest secret.

They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.

During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.

27 Hours is a sweeping, thrilling story featuring a stellar cast of queer teenagers battling to save their homes and possibly every human on Sahara as the clock ticks down to zero.

Link to Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28526192-27-hours

Purchase Links:

Amazon | Amazon Australia | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Entangled

For my guest post, Tristina has been kind enough to provide me a link to the playlist all about 27 Hours. There are some great songs on here that I think really add to the atmosphere, action, and character development. To check that out, which I highly recommend, you can click this link.


About the Author:

Tristina Wright.jpgTristina Wright is a blue-haired bisexual with anxiety and opinions. She’s also possibly a mermaid, but no one can get confirmation. She fell in love with science fiction and fantasy at a young age and frequently got caught writing in class instead of paying attention. She enjoys worlds with monsters and kissing and monsters kissing. She married a nerd who can build computers and make the sun shine with his smile. Most days, she can be found drinking coffee from her favorite chipped mug and making up more stories for her wombfruit, who keep life exciting and unpredictable.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

If you want to find more guest posts, book reviews, and interviews, be sure to check out the tour schedule which can be found here: http://www.chapter-by-chapter.com/tour-schedule-27-hours-by-tristina-wright/

Giveaway Details:

* A 27 Hours Prize Pack, including:

* A 27 Hours Candle

* A set of 27 Hours Character Cards

* AND a copy of an October release *

*Open internationally wherever The Book Depository ships

Rafflecopter Link: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1cb554951171/

Stay tuned for more guest posts soon and of course, a big thank you to Chapter by Chapter, Entangled Publishing, and Tristina Wright.

Xx

Megan 

My Comic Con 2017 Roundup!

This year was my first ever Comic Con and honestly I was blown away. There was so much to see on the convention floor, between the costumes, vendors, and activities hosted for people to participate in. I couldn’t even anticipate the crowd, but the energy bouncing off everyone was addicting.

I arrived about an hour early, reading a book in typical fashion as I waited for the doors to open. I was let in ten minutes prior to the show opening and of course made my way to the Macmillan booth in order to get Renegades by Melissa Myer. I was successful and that became the first book of the day that I acquired!

The rest of the day was spent navigating through the book booths, waiting for ARCs to drop, trying not to spend a ton of money on Pop Figures, and taking pictures with tons of A+ cosplayers. Some notable costumes were:

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  1. Rick and Morty, but not just dressed like them. Rather, two people had crafted papier-mâché heads.
  2. The Queen of Hearts and the Mad Hatter. Seriously, these costumes were gorgeous and so on point.
  3. A scarily accurate costume of Twisty the Clown from American Horror Story. The weirdest thing about the photo I took with this person was their chipper voice underneath.
  4. An amazingly well done Demogorgan from Strangers Things! I squealed at happiness about this. In tandem, there were also tons of Elevens with eggos!
  5. Really elaborate Wonder Woman Costumes. I mean, how can you not go for this option?
  6. Anime characters galore – Naruto, Dragon Ball Z, Pokémon. The list goes on and on. I have to mention the fact people were screaming randomly throughout the hall I think as a promotion for Dragon Ball Z.

Now, onto the books! I walked away from Comic Con with about fifteen books and a good set of swag. I probably should have picked up more swag, but my shoulders were going to break from what I already had. Some books I took with me and need to read immediately are:

  1. Renegades as I already mentioned. I was super shocked to get this one as I thought I would not make it in time once the venue opened.
  2. Children of Blood and Bone. I found out last minute they were giving fLi4XBWp_400x400these away and rushed over to the booth. I now hold this amazing book in my hands and I cannot wait to read it.
  3. Reign of the Fallen. LGBT characters, fantasy, and a stunning cover. SIGN. ME. UP.
  4. Dread Nation. I didn’t know these were going to be at Comic Con, but you bet I freaked the heck out once I lined up for Epic Reads and it was one of the options.
  5. Beasts Made of Night. I’ve heard such interesting things about the book and I was lucky to meet the author and have him sign my copy! There was so much joy on Tochi’s face to be at a con promoting his debut novel. It warmed my heart.
  6. Defy the Worlds. Nearly screamed about this one. It was a total surprise to find ARCs of the second book by Claudia Gray. If you love AI, space travel, and A+ sci-fi, pick up the first book and then get this one too.

So what you can take away from this post is I geeked out and now have to hibernate for the winter in order to finish my TBR pile, which will likely never happen. Oh well, at least I’m trying to be optimistic about it!

Xx

Megan

Girl Made of Stars: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

I had the wonderful honor of receiving a copy of Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Blake from HMH Teen. This book is due out in May 2018.

Before I start this review, there are two things to note:

  • This review will contain minimal spoilers so no need to click away.
  • If you are triggered by sexual assault, please take caution reading this book. Sexual Assault is the plot and deals not only with this, but with consent, slut-shaming, victim blaming, and how sexual assault is handled by the criminal justice system.

With that being said, let’s dive in.

Girl Made of Stars is one of the most powerful, heartbreaking, and hopeful books I’ve ever read. I will not say it is an easy read, because the subject matter is heavy and an overwhelming problem in society, but this book puts it all on the table. Ashley Blake challenges the notion of choosing the easy way out, of being complacent, of what happens when trust is obliterated.

31351689The story opens up with a glimpse into Mara and Owen’s lives. They are twins and they are as close as expected, a pair that has always found comfort in storytelling and constellations. You immediately feel their genuine bond and their unwavering security in one another. You also get a glimpse into their family and social circles. For being teenagers, their lives have a solid foundation.

But all of this unravels quickly as Hannah, one of Mara’s closest friends, doesn’t show up to school and a phone call to her parents reveals Hannah’s family wants to sue for what Owen did to her. It doesn’t click in Mara’s head at first. Her brother wouldn’t rape anybody, let alone Hannah. On the opposite end, Hannah wouldn’t lie about being raped. Quickly, Mara is thrown into a whirlwind of not only deciphering what’s real and what’s not, but memories of her own past she hasn’t allowed herself to discuss. She is also dealing with breaking up with her girlfriend Charlie, as she doesn’t want their friendship ruined by dating.

Throughout the story, we see Mara break apart and the strings connecting her to her family and to her twin snap. We see her trying to deal with a past that has been weighing her down for so long. We see her trying to reconcile with Hannah, if there is anything she can say that will fix what her brother has done. We see her trying to figure out if she is immediately a bad person because of her brother’s actions and if there is any way to mend that relationship. We see her trying to understand love. Ashley Blake tosses us into a whirlwind as Mara breaks apart and it is up to her how she chooses to piece herself back together.  There is no easy way to deal with rape, to have the image of someone you’ve known all your life be destroyed. She is pulled in two directions: needing to be what her family wants her to be and doing what she knows is right.

This book made me angry for all the stories that get swept under the rug, for everyone this happens to without any justice.

This book made me sad because my heart broke for Mara and for Hannah and for anyone who has suffered this.

This book made me hope because Ashley Blake doesn’t leave her readers drowning in darkness and confusion and pain. She offers stepping stones, small bits of light to cling to, to pull yourself up.  She in no way makes it sound as if dealing with sexual assault is easy.

You will not forget this book. I know I won’t. It is thought provoking, emotionally challenging, and leaves you speechless. It takes a close look at sexual assault and how many people it truly affects.  It pulls at your heart strings and it is so well done.

When this book comes out – if you’re able to – pick it up and prepare yourself for a powerful narrative that needs to be read.

Xx

Megan

The Hazel Wood: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I will be reviewing The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, publishing late January 2018. I received this title from Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review. There will be no spoilers so don’t click away.

I heard so much going into this read and I can say this book did not disappoint. As children, fairy-tales are supposed to be comforting stories that we read, that are passed down from generation to generation. It is usually when we’re older we discover the truth behind the stories and how not everything is as perfect as we thought. Reading The Hazel Wood was very similar to this experience. It took traditional fairy-tale elements, spun them on their head, and spat out creepy, alternative versions. Needless to say, that is no reason to not read it. If anything, that is the reason you should.

35390838The book follows a teenager named Alice who hasn’t had the most stable life. Her and her mother, Ella, constantly move locations when bad luck shows itself. Alice has never known the feeling of a permanent home, but she has accepted this lifestyle. If anything, she is simply happy to have her mother around.

We learn that Alice is the granddaughter of Althea Proserpine, a woman who wrote a successful collection of fairytales, and received a cult like fame. Alice however has never met or seen the woman before. So when Alice receives news that Althea is dead, it is both a shocking and unexpected realization. She’ll never get to meet her grandmother, but she also has to wonder if her grandmother ever cared about her in the first place. Ella’s reaction is entirely different, one of relief almost. Alice doesn’t understand why, but she is given little time to process her mom’s reaction for she goes missing. Her only clue is a note that says to stay away from Hazel Wood.

It is after Alice receives the note that we plunge into a world of fantasy, darkness, and mystery. I found myself wanting to know more about Althea, but also the fairy-tales she created that took on such a following. We are given two major ones in the novel and I wanted to know them all after reading. They stick with you and you understand how Althea derived the following that she did. You can see where the seeds of obsession can grow. 

Aside from the tales, we get vivid descriptions of scenery, delicious prose, and an overall haunting vibe that paints every word you read. You also get a teenager who wants to fight for the only person she has ever had. The motivations made me sympathize greatly with Alice as well as made me root for her to succeed no matter the obstacle, no matter what awaited her.

The biggest selling point of this book is the world that Melissa Albert creates and the subversion of a typical fairy-tale. She doesn’t guarantee a happy ending nor does she guarantee a predictable read from start to finish. What she does guarantee is stepping into a world very different from our own and one that plays on how much we can trust our reality. The noise you heard, the shadow you saw, the person that looks just the slightest bit odd – are they real or are they your imagination or are they something else entirely? Overall, I could barely put this book down and if you’re into a dark fantasy read with tropes that get squashed and moved around, this is it.

The Hazel Wood gets 5/5 icicles from me. You’ll understand this reference once you dive in and read.

Do it. Do it now.

Xx
Megan

 

 

Starfish: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I will be reviewing Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman. I received this book from Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review. This will be mostly spoiler free so there is no need to click away.

There are many things I loved about Starfish; it was not afraid to tackle issues such as social anxiety, biracial identity, and unstable family life. I will point out the trigger of sexual abuse as it is a prevalent theme throughout the novel.

The story follows the main protagonist Kiko who is of half-Japanese heritage and is on the verge of finishing high school. She has a plan for herself: get into a New York City art school called Prism and follow her dreams of becoming a painter. Not only that but she will be able to escape her small town life in Nebraska where being Japanese makes her “exotic” and different than those around her.

She lives with her mother and two brothers, her relationships with each of them rather complex. Kiko’s mother constantly criticizes her and puts her desires and dreams at the bottom of her priority list. Kiko and her brothers cohabitate the same space without getting to know each other beyond the surface. Her father divorced her mother and lives with his new wife and recently born twin girls.

When Kiko’s plans for art school fall through, she at the same time reconnects with her old best friend, Jamie, who moved away during childhood. He offers her an escape from her overwhelming, emotionally manipulative mother and the grief of not getting into her dream school.

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This contemporary novel is heavily focused on self-discovery and what it means to grow up, cope with plans that do not always work out, and toys with the idea that blood does not always mean family. What drew me in originally to Starfish was Kiko having social anxiety, something I struggled with for most of my life and still do. I found Kiko’s descriptions were insanely accurate, to the point I had to stop and show them to my friends. Kiko lends a voice to readers who deal with this and not in a way that undermines it. No, this book is very much about accepting social anxiety and realizing it does not make you a bad friend or a bad person. It is just a part of you that you will learn to handle and if you have good friends, they too will put in the effort. You have to do what makes you feel comfortable.

The next topic that drew me in was biracial identity, but more specifically how it impacts Kiko’s self-worth and identity. Kiko’s mother is white and has physical features associated with said identity: blonde hair, light skin, and light eyes. When Kiko looks at her mother, she doesn’t see any of those traits in herself, having taken after her dad who is Japanese. She grapples with the concept of beauty and if it is an agreed upon concept by society, or one that is subjective and ever changing. For teens who struggle with finding themselves and beauty in their features, Kiko offers the perfect narrative for it isn’t a journey that automatically happens. It takes time, tears, and breaking away from negative influences. The journey reads naturally and I found myself rooting for Kiko all throughout the story. I wanted her to radiate self-confidence and I wanted her to understand how beautiful she was. Tying into this idea was cultural identity and how Kiko didn’t have much of a Japanese culture due to her parent’s divorce and her mother’s view on not favoring an Asian lifestyle. In case you didn’t know, you’re going to hate Kiko’s mother, but unfortunately, her ignorant and narcissistic outlook on life is not unique. Other people have it too. However, it is through Kiko’s interactions with her mother that a reader is able to realize certain behaviors are not okay and should never be okay.

Starfish is beautifully written. The prose flows naturally and I love how each chapter ends with a work of art Kiko creates to reflect the events that have happened. Every character feels like a fleshed out, real person and you can’t help getting sucked into this world. I’m not going to forget about Starfish and the impact it had on me. I hugged the book to my chest after finishing it because the ending was such a heartwarming consolation that Kiko deserved. Aside from my perspective, I think this book can be an outlet for teens and offer the message that no one should tear you down or stop you from being who you need to be. If they’re doing that, chances are, you don’t need them in your life. You need to live for yourself and your dreams.

Overall, this book gets 5/5 stars from me and I would highly recommend it. I may wind up throwing it at everyone so it can be read asap!

Xx

Megan