Sunday Street Team: Nice Try, Jane Sinner

Before Reading:

“Hey look. Reality show in diary format. Cool, okay. Let’s pick this one up!”

That was basically my first instinct. I did not even read the rest of the synopsis and read it as soon as possible. I don’t know. I mean, the cover is really pretty, and it kinda sums up the book in a lot of ways. I have been wanting to read a really good book written in a diary format so maybe, please let this be the one for me.

(Spoiler alert: YES. FINALLY.)

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Title: Nice Try, Jane Sinner33413915

Author: Lianne Oelke

Genre: Contemporary

Date Published: 9th of January 2018

Series: None

Publisher: Clarion Books

Buy it on: Amazon-USBook Depository

Summary:

The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than failure is pity. After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, she’s going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out.

Jane tackles her housing problem by signing up for House of Orange, a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother, but for Elbow River Students. Living away from home, the chance to win a car (used, but whatever), and a campus full of people who don’t know what she did in high school… what more could she want? Okay, maybe a family that understands why she’d rather turn to Freud than Jesus to make sense of her life, but she’ll settle for fifteen minutes in the proverbial spotlight.

As House of Orange grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans and shoddy T-shirts, Jane finally has the chance to let her cynical, competitive nature thrive. She’ll use her growing fan base, and whatever Intro to Psychology can teach her, to prove to the world—or at least viewers of substandard TV—that she has what it takes to win.

After Reading:

Ah yay holy guacamole this book is awesome. Jane is awesome. House of Orange is awesome. Setting it in college is awesome. In short, Jane Sinner is AWESOME. What’s not to like about this book? Well, if I have to be honest, it will depend on you – the reader – whether you click with Jane or not. Know this though: she grows on you.

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Now before you get into this book, I should tell you that if you are triggered by the topic of depression and suicide, please reconsider before reading.

Simply put, I loved this character-driven story because of so many reasons. The cool diary-like format, the witty banter and dialogue, the college setting, and the guilty pleasure of reading about reality shows. But the center of those reasons all come back to the main lead: Jane (freakin) Sinner.

Her character development was spot on, but right from the start, Jane Sinner has a way of getting into your head immediately. With her magnetic sarcastic voice, it was easy to resonate with her. She was a spunky lady who set her goals with the second chance she was given. You can easily tell that you like a certain book if you don’t tire from reading in a certain perspective. Jane’s voice developed along with the story, but it retained that tone of defiance accompanied with a fighting spirit. For me personally, Jane’s sarcasm spoke to me naturally. It’s that inner teenager voice that we all had once, at the time where we wanted to do certain things independently while carrying doubts behind our backs. Sometimes, it comes on too strong. But honestly, the truth punches are better than the half-punches. I guess it also helped that it was easy to grasp Jane because of the unique dialogue format of the book. It’s written like a script; it can take a while to get used to it, but the flow of the conversations are easier to follow. It’s quicker and I find it refreshing to read especially if the banter is at a fast pace.

What I also loved about this book are the parts where Jane questions her beliefs. Personally, it made me feel that I was not alone in sharing the same questions. Don’t get me wrong though, I still believe in the same faith that I was raised in, but sometimes I ask questions about the mold that they want to fit me in. For me, it was a part that made this book real for me. It also got me thinking, and it made me feel represented aside from her sarcasm and sometimes “don’t think, just act” moments.

The story was mildly chaotic, it being in a reality show setting. Interesting enough, the House of Orange is still tame compared to majority of the TV shows that I have heard of. It is like the premise of Big Brother, but with HOO being less creepy. The unique thing about it is that while they all live in the same roof, they still have the liberty to roam around. Through Jane’s eyes, I was able to learn to live and love the rest of the cast. I find Mark, Chantel, and Robbie magnetic and equally entertaining. With Alexander Park (the creator of HOO) in the mix, you can anticipate hilarious antics from each task that they have to do. Since it’s a lowkey reality show, be ready for what they have to do to win a particular task. Trust me, it’s pure gold.

Random piece of advice: Don’t let 2018 pass without you reading this book. For me, it’s special and it easily latched to me. I hope it will be the same for you, albeit you’ll probably have a different reading experience. Nice Try, Jane Sinner is not only entertaining, but it delivers a beautiful coming-of-age story of finding oneself through taking risks and doing things that float your boat. A must-read for anyone who has had anyone doubt their future and has doubted their own self-worth. Let’s all prove them wrong and stand up strong.

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(Know more about my rating system here.)

Now, since I loved Jane Sinner too much, I decided to make a playlist of all the songs that I love and listened to gloriously these past few days. Some of the songs I imagine playing while they do something fun during an episode of House of Orange, while some of the songs I find perfect for the moment where Jane has her moments of soliloquy. Hope you enjoy listening!

Jane Sinner CD

 

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oelkelianne-1

Lianne Oelke holds a degree in philosophy and works in the film industry. She resides in Vancouver, and Nice Try, Jane Sinner is her first book.

Connect with Lianne!

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

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Forever thanking the Sunday Street Team and HMH Teen for giving me the chance to review this book, making sure that my 2017 ended with a bang. The review is from my personal perspective and opinion, and it does not reflect that of the tour host.

Have you read Nice Try, Jane Sinner?

What are your favorite releases of 2018 so far?

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Batman: Nightwalker || PH Blog Tour

Kudos to Bruce Wayne for making this post extra special. On January 2nd, readers are in for a special treat. The second book in the DC Icons series will be released to the world, and Batman will fill the headlines with Marie Lu. In retrospect, Batman: Nightwalker is a thrilling story about a young boy yearning to know what he wants to be in life. If you’re looking for an origin story, maybe this one’s not for you. But if you want some Bruce Wayne action, you’re in for a solid treat.

While I will not provide a full review for this book, I will be giving out extra contents for this leg of the tour.

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9780399549779

Title: Batman: Nightwalker

Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Action, Fantasy

Date Published: 2nd of January 2018

Series: DC Icons #2

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Summary:

Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.

The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.

One by one, the city’s elites are being executed as their mansions’ security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family’s fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he’s forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city’s most brutal criminals.

Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce’s only hope.

In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.

Blurb:

Marie Lu delivers a poignant story with the audacity and the chivalry that will make readers fall in love with Bruce Wayne. In a perfectly imperfect way, the bat is etched as he cries out for justice. Glimpses of characters in the canon universe will serve as a delight to fans, while the additional characters will put a spin on this tale. Though dark as portrayed, Gotham City shines with the visual representation presented within the pages of Batman: Nightwalker. The readers shall never fear, for each page contains jam-packed action that will leave them hooked and unsettled, wanting for more.

Bookmarks

Inspired by the canon and this DC Icon story, I have made bookmarks featuring quotes that will give readers a hint of what is in store for them whilst reading. I was feeling a little extra, so decided to name the bookmarks with the places significant to the story. These bookmarks are for personal use only.

– Arkham Asylum

– Gotham City

– Wayne Manor

Download [here]

Huge thanks to JM at Book Freak Revelations for letting me join the tour  and PRH International for providing copies in support of the tour.

Are you excited to read Batman: Nightwalker?

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Why So… Convenient? || Forest of A Thousand Lanterns Review

Before Reading:

There is always a thrill in reading something out of your comfort zone. When it comes to fantasies, I either extremely love it or hate it. In a way, I felt that Forest of A Thousand Lanterns seems like a fresh take, and me being the oh-so lazy synopsis reader that I am, was smitten by the highlighted words on every blurb that I read about it: East Asian setting and Evil Queen origin story. And above everything else, everyone was raving about it. So me being me, wanting not to pass up the opportunity to read, went in and I was expecting to be blown away. This is why expectations can disappoint us sometimes.

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Forest of A Thousand Lanterns CoverTitle: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

Author: Julie C. Dao

Genre: Fantasy, Retelling

Date Published: 10th of October 2017

Series: Rise of the Empress #1

Publisher: Philomel Books

Summary:

An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

After Reading:

Well, at least we can confirm that something was triggered inside me after finishing it. If I were to base it on the spur of my emotions alone due to the twists and turns that the book headed, Forests of A Thousand Lanterns would have received a near-perfect score from me. I found the story fantastic. But there was something off. There was this nagging voice inside of my head that kept on saying, “Did you really like it? Think about it. What would you say?”. So I reconsidered, since it is my duty as a book blogger to be honest and subjective with my reviews. In the end I decided to give in to the nagging voice, and I rated it as honestly as I could. Right there I realized: I had too much to complain about this book.

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I received an unsolicited digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Penguin Random House. This did not affect my opinions about the book and it’s characters in any way.

In perspective, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is an interesting take on the origins of the Evil Queen. Julie C. Dao has a pleasant writing style and I found the setting brilliant. Julie’s writing style is interesting in a way. Though it was a bit hard to get into at first, it becomes steady at a point. Once I found the rhythm, it was easy for my eyes to stay glued on the book. Meanwhile, the setting for this story became more extravagant as the story progressed, reflecting on our main character’s journey to become the Empress of Feng Lu. It started simple, then increasingly became more magical and stunning. The setting was rich, and imagining it can bring joy to the reader. The book also featured a colorful cast, coming and going as the beat of the story drummed to its climax.

I enjoyed the second part more, as it unraveled answers and mysteries that I had been questioning during the first act. It sparked a burning passion inside the head of our main anti heroine, to take the lead and do what she can to achieve the destiny that she is entitled to.

However, there are a few setbacks. I have some unpopular opinions about this book.

The array of characters felt like a double-edged sword. On one hand, you get to read about a whole cast revolving around our main character. But on the other, they also need to be handled properly. I felt like some of the characters had the potential to have an arc that could have been developed, yet they were not given the chance to do so. Due to this fact, they felt very flat and two-dimensional. This frustrates me because they were truly fascinating characters. I could feel them moving, animated to unfold a story. I was invested on seeing them grow alongside our main character. Instead, they remained under developed and eventually casually discarded. It was like they were just there for our main lead’s convenience. And speaking of our main lead, I thoroughly disliked Xifeng. Though the story was written in third-person perspective, her moral dilemma felt like it was just there to prolong the agony. I like that she took chances to unravel the fate that was destined for her, truly. Yet I felt that she was apathetic, only having concern when the situation is about herself, and her inner thoughts were never concerned with the people around her. Like the others, this is why she felt two dimensional and her actions predictable.

The plot, I could say, felt terribly convenient for Xifeng. There was no struggle, no nothing. A few bumps here and there, but that is just about it. Why not just hand everything to her in a silver platter? I also found the romance involved in this story to be cringe worthy. It lacked an emotional system and depth. There was no spark in the words uttered by our two lovers, and no matter how many times they said they cared for each other, the back of my head says “Really?”

This story actually caused an inner conflict in me. Since it is an anti heroine story, did Julie actually succeed with this story by making me loathe Xifeng? Or did she want me to root for her, but in the obvious sense I did not?

When it comes down to it, I wanted to like this book. It was met with such high praise, so I set the bar on top. In a way, I want more books like these, rich in folklore from cultures that I am fascinated by. There some aspects that I liked, and there were glaring aspects that I loathed very much. Would I read the second book of this series? Maybe, maybe not. We’ll see.

(Know more about my rating system here.)

*sigh*

So, penny for your thoughts?

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PH Blog Tour: It Only Happens In The Movies (Review, Playlist + Giveaway)

Before Reading:

This was me when I saw this book randomly popping out of timeline on Twitter. “A Holly Bourne book? WHERE? DUDE, GIVE ME THE BOOK ALREADY! WHAT DO I DO TO GET IT?” A mistake that my past self has made is to not prioritize Holly’s book. When she released her Normal series, there was probably something wrong with me. But when this one came out, there was a rush to it. You know, like that bit from It where Georgie hesitates first but then grabs the freakin boat anyway?

There was a bit of a drought between reading It Only Happens In The Movies and The Manifesto On How to Be Interesting, the latter I read back in 2015. Got sidetracked in 2016, because there was this monster in my head that felt that I was getting too old to relate to Holly’s books. Well, ladies and gents, that is all about to change. In a good world, romance is like the movies. *snorts* HAHAHAHA SURE. Whatever you say, buddy. Like that’s true. Like I can read 3 books a day. Sure.

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OnlyInTheMovies CoverTitle: It Only Happens In The Movies

Author: Holly Bourne

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Date Published: 1st of October 2017

Series: None

Publisher: Usborne Publishing

Buy it on: AmazonKobo | iBooks | Book Depository | Waterstones

Summary:

Audrey is over romance. Since her parents’ relationship imploded her mother’s been catatonic, so she takes a cinema job to get out of the house. But there she meets wannabe film-maker Harry. Nobody expects Audrey and Harry to fall in love as hard and fast as they do. But that doesn’t mean things are easy. Because real love isn’t like the movies…

The greatest love story ever told doesn’t feature kissing in the snow or racing to airports. It features pain and confusion and hope and wonder and a ban on cheesy clichés. Oh, and zombies… YA star Holly Bourne tackles real love in this hugely funny and poignant novel.

After Reading:

HOLD MY BEER. THIS BOOK IS LEGIT. Holly, I don’t know if you read reviews but just so you know, I love you. You broke my heart but thank you. I needed this book because it matched what I felt. Not physically, but emotionally. I may not be good at acting, involved with the drama club, or already had a love life for that matter. But Audrey speaks to my bitter soul. Girl has spunk, and she imperfectly gets me. Brb, crying like an idiot for a book that spoke to my soul.

final_thoughts

Great. Now I have to use coherent sentences. I will do my best. Wish me luck.

So dear reader, do you know what only happens in the movies? Actually, if I really think about it hard enough, it also happens in those super cheesy romance novels. I know you’re thinking of an example right now, and don’t worry because I am not judging you. I have my fair share of those. But back to the main point. The only thing that happens in the movies is the exaggeration of action, emotion, and impact to make it look human, when it’s actually not. So where does this book fit in the context, then? And where the heck am I going with this?

In hindsight, those qualities are also contained within the pages of It Only Happens In The Movies. You might be thinking that this will be your typical contemporary romance read. In a way, because it does give you the feels. But at the same time, it hits you right in the face with the reality. That is the reason why I love this book. It is blunt, it describes the proper emotions in the right tone, and I grew to love it as the story progressed. It suddenly clings to you, like an accidental perfume spray. (I don’t know why I went with this comparison but I hope it made sense.) And you get why things are like this and that, similar to romance movies and dramas where you just love the direction it went into. Add in a writing style that figuratively glues your eyes on each and every page, and you got yourself in for a ride. But is it the same thing as your regular contemporary romance? Of course not. And if you’re a film buff like me, all of the movie references can make you die and fly to geek heaven. A joke, but still, it’s just a delight.

It’s the same for Audrey, our main character. In every flip of the page, she grows and grows comfortable in her own train of thought. *For one, I didn’t hate Audrey when the book started and that already guarantees A++ points. She blossoms (literally) into a character that one can learn from. Personally speaking, I love how her character was handled. There were a lot of moments where I just want to scream “Girl, how am I relating to you so much? You get me! I wish you were real!” She’s imperfect. She makes the tough decisions. She loves, but she realizes what’s important. She challenged the norm of misogynistic standpoints. And she also has a thing for the media. I honestly was not expecting to find myself in the story, but I did. Honestly, you go, girl. Just… high praise for you and what you believe in. Make your voice loud because you deserve to be heard. PREACH TO THE HIGH HEAVENS.

*Bianca’s note: I have a history with reading dialogue lead by a female MC that makes me want to rip their heads off. I am only taking precautions. If I like how they talk, then I know it’s good. Sorry not sorry, but it’s true in some cases. Like I know, yeah you go girl. But sometimes, “No girl. You don’t go. Sit down because you need be lectured.” Carry on, child.

I love that the focus was on Audrey and Audrey alone, but it dabbled with situations that need to be challenged, such as consent, and literally everything that the movies have sugarcoated for us. Why can’t guys just love girls for what they are? Not the “you’re not like other girls” crap. And when picking top kisses, why are there no LGBTQIA+ kisses besides Brokeback Mountain? Plus, do why does the movie end after the kissy stuff?

So to sum it all up: Yes, I love this book. Yes, you should read it as well. Yes, of course I recommend it. It is a must-read, and the contemporary rage on this one is off the flipping charts. Just pick it up and thank me later. Oh, and Holly Bourne too because she is just the best. She also deserves a “You go, girl!” shout out more than anyone else for conjuring books that speak loud and clear, powerful to bend the constructed wall of ridiculousness that is sexism.

Oh, and zombies…

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(Know more about my rating system here.)

Surprise! I made a playlist in the spur of the moment. These songs honestly just remind me of Audrey. I hope you guys like it. It only has 10 tracks at the moment, so feel free to add more empowering songs that remind you of It Only Happens In The Movies.

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Holly Bourne

Holly Bourne writes YA novels and blogs about feminist issues. Her favourite things to complain loudly about are: the stigma of mental health, women’s rights, and the under-appreciation of Keanu Reeves’ acting ability.

Holly’s first two books, Soulmates and The Manifesto on How to be Interesting, have been critically acclaimed and translated into six languages. The first book in the ‘Normal’ series, Am I Normal Yet?, has been chosen as a World Book Night book for 2016 and has inspired the formation of Spinster Clubs around the country.

Before becoming a full-time author, Holly was editor and relationship advisor for a charity website.

Connect with Holly!

Blog | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads

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Up for grabs! Win a copy of It Only Happens In The Movies + Holly Bourne badges. PH only giveway though so sorry international peeps.

Huge thanks to Erika from The Nocturnal Fey for letting me join this tour and for Usborne Publishing in sponsoring the tour.

My review is an honest opinion, and I reviewed this book wholeheartedly and unbiased.

Question Time: What other books by Holly Bourne have you read? What books that tackle cinematic tropes have you read? Does your love story resemble a movie? Pray, do tell. 

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PH Blog Tour: Forest of A Thousand Lanterns (Excerpt + Giveaway)

Truth be told, I picked this book up on a whim to see what all the hype is about. I have not read a lot of retellings. The last one was probably Cinder, and I read that a year ago. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns offers a unique retelling of the Evil Queen. And truth be told, this book is something of it’s own. While I have decided to share an excerpt instead, this book has it’s share of twists and turns that will make you want to stay until it is finished.

Huge thanks to Erika from The Nocturnal Fey for letting me join this blog tour and Penguin Random House for sponsoring the tour.

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Forest of A Thousand Lanterns CoverTitle: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

Author: Julie C. Dao

Genre: Fantasy, Retelling

Date Published: 10th of October 2017

Series: Rise of the Empress #1

Publisher: Philomel Books

Buy it on: Amazon| Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks | Book Depository

Summary:

An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

Excerpt from Chapter 11:

“You do not sleep well.” That ancient voice, like leaves of autumn and snow in winter. The tengaru queen approached, her body so frail it seemed transparent. In the dark, with her horns and tail less defined, anyone might think her simply a small, old horse. But there was no mistaking the human awareness in those eyes.

“I’ve been dreaming, that’s all.”

“That’s all? Isn’t that everything?” The queen’s fathomless gaze took her in. “You interest me. You are divided. I knew it as soon as I saw you.”

“Divided?”

“Look at yourself in the water, and perhaps you will understand better.

”Slowly, Xifeng bent over her reflection in the pond, her hair spilling over one shoulder. In the moonlight, she could only see the right half of her face. The other half lay in shadow, the eye dark and wild as the night.

“You have two faces. Two beings live within you, struggling for control. One has a heart that thrives in darkness and feeds on the pain of weaker souls. The other longs to stretch a hand to the light, to live and love as others do. Have you never sensed this?”

Xifeng stared into the star-scattered water at her own face: one half bright, the other hidden, unknowable. Sweat bloomed on her forehead as she placed a hand below her heart. The creature was still and silent now, but she knew how it could come alive, writhing within the prison of her body.

“Warriors kill every day.” She pictured the bloodshed on the forest path: Shiro stabbing the scythe-wielder and Wei beheading him with one sweep of his arm. “Why are they not divided, as I am? Why is it my fate to have this creature? The cards tell me I have a destiny beyond all others, but . . .”

“It is not an honor,” the queen said sharply, and Xifeng turned to her, startled and chastened. “Your . . . aunt has done more harm than good in filling your head with this destiny. No, it is not a lie. You are indeed bound for the glory she foresees, if you choose that path. But isn’t it better not to know? Isn’t it better to wake up each day, living for the present rather than waiting for the future?”

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Julie C. Dao

Julie C. Dao is a proud Vietnamese-American who was born in upstate New York. She studied medicine in college, but came to realize blood and needles were her Kryptonite. By day, she worked in science news and research; by night, she wrote books about heroines unafraid to fight for their dreams, which inspired her to follow her passion of becoming a published author. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is her debut novel. Julie lives in New England.

Connect with Julie:

Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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Win a copy of Forest of A Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao (PH only)

Here are the bloggers participating in the tour (I will be updating this post once their respective posts are up.)

Erika from The Nocturnal Fey

Rafael from The Royal Polar Bear Reads

Nicay from The Nerdy Side of a Queen

Danielle from dmcireads

Cam from Camillea Reads

Carmel from Bookablereads Book Review

Abigail from Reading Flamingo

Imo from Amidst the Pages

Danica from The Hogsmeade Reader

Ella from The Purple Nightingale

Joel from Descendant of Poseidon Reads

Karina from Afire Pages

Elena from The Queen Reads

Hana from The Broke Bibliophile

Have you read Forest of a Thousand Lanterns yet? Tell me all about your thoughts in the comments below.

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Sunday Street Team: Gray Wolf Island (Interview + Giveaway)

One thing I love about 2017 is that it boasts a lot of diverse new releases. I once chatted with Tracey last year when I joined a chat featuring debut authors. Something about Gray Wolf Island caught my attention, which is probably the context of magical realism. Which is why when given the chance, I didn’t pass up the opportunity given to me by the Sunday Street Team to interview Tracey about her upcoming book.

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29906023Title: Gray Wolf Island

Author: Tracey Neithercott

Genre: Mystery, Magical Realism

Date Published: 10th of October 2017

Series: None

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Buy it on: Amazon – US /  Barnes & Noble TBD

Summary:

Right before Sadie died, she begged her sister, Ruby, to do the one thing she could never do herself: Find the treasure on Gray Wolf Island.

With just a mysterious treasure map as a guide, Ruby reluctantly allows some friends to join her on the hunt, each of whom is touched by magic: a boy allegedly born to a virgin, a girl who never sleeps, a boy who can foresee his own death, and a boy with deep ties to the island. Each of them is also keeping a secret—something they’ll have to reveal in order to reach the treasure.

As the secrets come to light, Ruby will have to decide: Can she make peace with her friends’ troubled pasts and continue to trust them? Can she forgive herself for doing the unspeakable? Deep in the wilderness of Gray Wolf Island, Ruby’s choices will determine if they make it out with the treasure—or merely with their lives.

From debut author Tracey Neithercott comes a darkly compelling tale of profound friendship, adventure, and finding the strength to tell the truth.

AN INTERVIEW WITH TRACEY NEITHERCOTT

Tell us a little something about yourself. What do you have in common with your story?

When I was in college, I spent a semester studying abroad. I arrived in New Zealand with a couple friends and a whole lot of strangers. Over the course of six months, I formed the kind of intense friendships that feel like they’re a part of who you are and who you’ve always been. There were a lot of things that made my friendship with these girls so intense—we were away from home, exploring one of the most beautiful countries in the world, doing things we hadn’t even dared to dream of: bungee jumping, skydiving, climbing glaciers, and exploring glow-worm caves. (And, yes, some studying.)

It was an adventure, and we were living it together. That’s what I wanted for Gray Wolf Island. I knew from the very beginning it would be about friendship, and it’s primarily told from the point of view of an introverted girl like me. Over the course of the book, she’s forced into some life-changing friendships, and it reminds me of the feeling I got when I was studying abroad all those years ago.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

I love this question. There are so many great novels out there that everybody knows about, so I’m always pushing lesser-known favorites on my friends. One I completely adored was These Vicious Masks by Kelly Zekas and Tarun Shanker. I’ve heard it described as Jane Austen meets X-Men, and as strange as that sounds, it fits. Imagine a historical setting with fun superpowers and a hilariously sassy and often snarky main character. I laughed throughout the entire thing—and fell in love with all of the characters.

While writing Gray Wolf Island, did you go for an outline ahead of time or did you have this eureka moment where you just wrote to your hearts content?

I aspire to be one of those writers who can conjure and idea and, from it, an entire novel. But I’m a heavy outliner. I like the sense of control it gives me. I like knowing where I’m going before I try to get there. And I really love the brainstorming process involved in plotting the story out. Even with all that planning, though, I still have moments that surprise me—a funny line here or a twist I didn’t see coming. I’m not sure how it happens, but it feels an awful lot like magic.

What do you love the most about the writing process for Gray Wolf Island?

Then end? I’m only 17 percent kidding. What I really, truly love are the brainstorming, plotting, and revising processes. I’m a very critical writer. I have a hard time turning off my inner editor, and so I spend most of my first draft thinking I’m the least talented author to have ever met a blank screen. In revising, though, I get to go into full-on perfectionist mode without slowing myself down. I love figuring out what’s not working and then puzzling out how to fix it. All of this was true for Gray Wolf Island. The drafting was slow and painful, at least twice as long as the revising. But as my critique partner likes to joke, “It’s your process. Get used to it.”

Gray Wolf Island has an interesting cast. But out of all the characters you have created, who is your favorite and why?

An impossible question! I thought about it for a while before deciding to just cheat. Truth is, I love them each for different reasons: Ruby, for her devotion to her sister; Charlie, for his fearlessness and love of adventure; Anne, for her ability to see the good in everyone; Gabe, for his decision to be better than himself; and Elliot because though he’s a prickly know-it- all, he has a good heart. But sometimes I think my favorite of all isn’t even one of the main characters. I pretty much laughed the entire time I was writing Doris Lansing, an old lady who’s instrumental in the lives of both of my narrators.

What will be the reader’s biggest takeaway after reading Gray Wolf Island?

The book deals with a lot of different themes—grief, identity, truth, trust—but in the end I think readers will really come away with a sense of the incredible power of friendship, how people can come into your life and transform it into something better. At least I think that’s the biggest takeaway. That, or the importance of packing plenty of underwear when setting off on a treasure-hunting adventure.

I have always wanted to ask an author about this. What were your thoughts when they showed you the final cover for your book?

I loved it! Gray Wolf Island (both the book and the island in the book) is filled with bits of magic, and I thought the thick fog and clouds perfectly conveys the mystery and the something other about the island.

Lastly, what item should we have with us at all times while reading your book?

How about brown butter oatmeal cookies filled with caramel and peanut butter? It’s not required, but … they’re brown butter oatmeal cookies filled with caramel and peanut butter. Gabe is something of a baker, and there’s a certain scene where the group eats these cookies (which he found on this blog). Each time I read the scene, I got a major craving.

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Tracey Neithercott’s first book was written by hand and illustrated with some really fancy colored pencils. It was highly acclaimed by her mother. Now, she writes YA stories of friendship, love, murder, and magic. (None of which she illustrates—you’re welcome.) She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, who suggests improving her novels by adding Star Wars characters.

Follow Tracey on social media!

Blog || Twitter || Goodreads || Instagram

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[INTL] Win a pre-order of Gray Wolf Island

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Thank you so much to SST for letting me interview Tracey before it’s release! I am very excited to read it once it is released, and it is only a few days away. Bless.

Are you excited to read Gray Wolf Island? Be sure to keep those brown butter oatmeal cookies ready!

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PH Blog Tour: Warcross by Marie Lu

(I came back from the dead for this.)

[null]

C: > Initiate Warcross review post

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User’s brain not found.

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Hello. It has been a while. I’m just giving you a glimpse of my system glitch before I wrote this review. The brain cells are a little bit rusty. Wait, I am making so many references right now and that is just plain weird. So to catch on, a moment of silence for a few fangirl noises:

DROP EVERYTHING. READ WARCROSS. RIGHT NOW. DON’T HESITATE.

Before Reading:

Despite starting the year off with a rocky 3 stars, I decided to give Marie Lu another shot. I have read The Young Elites from her, but my feelings were stuck in the ‘ in between ‘. But when it came to Warcross, the inner musings of my brain decided that it wants to ingest it like an eagle hungry for a monkey. I did not even think. I went for it head on. I have no idea why I’m word vomiting like this. (Probably due to the fact that I just rose from the grave.)

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29385546Title: Warcross

Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Science Fiction

Date Published: 12th of September 2017

Series: Warcross #1

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Buy it on: Amazon| National Bookstore | Fully Booked

Summary:

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

After Reading:

*sigh* Oh wait no, wrong emotion. Wait, I don’t even know what I want to feel because Marie Lu has finally won me over. Something else entirely, but still! I am trying to be as vague as possible, but plot twists can make anyone go nuts. Luckily, I braced myself for this kind of impact. So let’s go through with this.

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To be honest with you lot, I entered the world of Warcross without knowing anything about it. Despite the hype surrounding it online, I drowned everything out. I only knew three things before I started reading Warcross:

  • It is written by Marie Lu.
  • There’s a game involved.
  • 3D stuff?

Even the last part had a question mark because I had to assume that three dimensional objects were involved because of the multicolored cover. If I knew more, it would probably take me a lot more convincing to read it. But here we are. I went into it blind. And praise to the heavens, it was probably one of the best decisions that I have made in months. MONTHS. For blogging reasons, obviously.

And there is so much more to talk about. Since I have a background on animation and information technology, all the talk about virtual reality and the NeuroLink made me all giddy. With the technology we have today, it felt like Warcross can happen in the near future. If you ask me if Warcross is possible, I would not hesitate to say “bloody hell, yes.” Why? The vivid imagery that Warcross has presented captured my heart. It reminded me of Sword Art Online, but the only comparison that I could point out is the technology that they both possess. Both worlds deal with virtual reality, but in this case, Warcross is much more advanced. SAO requires its players to have the gear to experience the virtual world, much like the VR headsets made by Oculus and Samsung today. Warcross however, only requires a pair of glasses. It is so simple, yet realistically complex in many ways. There is so much to explore in the alternate reality that Marie Lu has created. The setting was brilliant and edgy, basically a science fiction enthusiast’s dream. (I mean, just setting it in Tokyo had me sold. Those who petition to not let Hollywood get this and make it an anime instead, say “aye”?) But anything powerful has its downside. The dark part of Warcross is sinister and twisted, but it also contains the most interesting parts of the tale.

And of course, it’s not just about the game. Warcross is filled with a colorful cast. An addition to the many badass ladies of young adult fiction is Emika Chen, a bounty hunter hailing from New York. I was immediately drawn to her, due to her impressive skills when it comes to coding. I have absolute respect for girls who code, and Emika is such a boss at what she does. Despite her grief and misfortunes, she faces the world head on. Her self-discovery in this book is delightful to read, and every task she accomplishes makes me want to scream like a proud mom. (Oh, the irony.) Did she really need a love interest? Maybe not. I also found myself fancying Hideo Tanaka, the elusive and dashing creator of Warcross in the first part of the book. But the more I knew about him, the more I drifted apart from his character. Not that it’s a bad thing, but he just felt off for me.

(Funny story: I actually thought that the main lead of the series will be a guy. And right now, you’re probably saying “THIS IS WHY WE READ SUMMARIES AT THE BACK FIRST, BIANCA.”)

While I was not a fan of the romance entangled within it’s pages, I definitely enjoyed the team dynamics and the thrill of the game itself. The foundation of the games lies on teamwork, with each player having a role vital to the team’s success. I will not spoil the placement of the teams but key players that has so much passion for Warcross managed to get their feelings across to me. I was hooked by each players’ dedication and determination to win. I easily rooted for the main team, and maybe I may have wished that there were more scenes concerning the games rather than the scenes filled with love. *pukes*

Warcross has reaffirmed me that I have a soft spot for the science fiction genre. It never ceases to amaze me, and it continues to baffle me on how writers come up with amazing alternate realities close to our current timeline. But the real winner here is Marie Lu. Her writing style literally never lets you take your eyes off each page. The fast-paced intensity of every single chapter can leave you on your tiptoes. Blink once and you might actually miss something. It is easy to submerge oneself into Warcross, and quite frankly, leaves you craving for more. Where’s the sequel already?

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(Know more about my rating system here.)

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Marie Lu is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling series The Young Elites, as well the blockbuster selling Legend series. She graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry as an artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing games, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with one husband, one Chihuahua mix, and one Pembroke Welsh corgi.


Thank you so much to Rafael from The Royal Polar Bear Reads for hosting this blog tour. I cannot emphasize my sincerest thanks to you for giving me the opportunity to join this tour despite my lack of presence here. I consider this as a power-up, and I will use it wisely starting today. Also, massive thanks to Penguin Random House for providing copies for the tour. You guys are more awesome than the glasses. *winks*

End scene. Now, how about that fangirls and fanboys? Consider picking up Warcross today. (Ughh, I sound like a commercial. This is what advertising does to you.)

Want to fangirl/fanboy about Warcross?

What other books by Marie Lu have you read?

Am I back from the dead for real?

Let’s chat! Talk Warcross with me!

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Sunday Street Team: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Before Reading:

The book gods have been very good to me this year despite my ridiculousness. I am not very consistent this year, I have to admit. But in terms of books, I feel very lucky because the selection that I do want to read is the only thing that I read. The moment they dropped the summary of this particular book that I will be talking about today, I was immediately hooked. I was sold in a heartbeat. It was a young adult historical fiction book that I never knew I needed. I did almost everything that I could to read it early, but those efforts failed. I almost gave up, and I accepted the fact that I will have to wait until the release date to read it. And then the opportunity came knocking in. Now, here I am to gush about this wonderful book. Hold on to your seats, because this will probably be a bumpy ride.

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29283884Title: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Author: Mackenzi Lee

Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Glbt, Fantasy

Date Published: 27th of June 2017

Series: None

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Buy it on: Amazon- US | Amazon – UK| Barnes & Nobles | TBD

Summary:

An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, romantic, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a sumptuous romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

After Reading:

Well, that was certainly… different. I mean it in a positive way as well. Though my expectations and what the book delivered somehow made a contrast, we were able to meet halfway. I adored the story in it’s entirety, and it was the historical fiction that I needed to read to satisfy my thirst for history. Monty, Percy, and Felicity were all such badass characters. And here I thought it was just Monty and Percy touring throughout the entire story… well they did tour. But in a much more adventurous way, if you know what I mean.

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is the 18th century LGBT novel that I never knew I needed. It tackled a lot, and it was quite a hefty book. But in a good sense, it still speaks out to relevant issues that we have today.

Plot-wise, GGTVAV had a zigzag pace. It was a bit slow at first, but the pace went up and down when the crew started encountering trouble. It was all in a zigzag pace from there, and the down pace felt like a calm before the storm. It was a solid plot, and it was filled with these teeny tidbits that are the best to imagine. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue had everything. Snogging, sassy viscounts, alchemy, pirates, and a few badass ladies. How Mackenzi Lee managed to cram all of that in to create the coolest tour ever blows my mind. To be honest, I did not expect the following factors to be present in the novel. But realization struck me that a lot can happen in a tour. The period where the story took place still had highwaymen present. What was I supposed to expect? Despite the book being one of my most anticipated reads of 2017, I kept my expectations low and I let the novel blow me away on its own. And it was a good decision to boot.

Character-wise, the book centered on Monty. This is where my love for male lead MCs came in. Despite being the epitomy of a privileged ass, Henry “Monty” Montague managed to capture my heart. I know that we don’t fit because he likes lads more than ladies, but he developed into this character that learned about his self-worth through the most twisted version of a European tour. He became a man who stood on dangerous grounds, driven by the people who mattered to him the most. And that is what I loved about him. Sure, he can be annoying and his actions are rather rash. But inside that smooth-talking bastard lies a true gentleman.

Percy and Felicity on the other hand, were amazing people to be with on a one-of-a-kind tour. If anyone would attempt to steal the spotlight from Monty in this book, it would have to be Felicity and Percy’s fiddle. She is such a badass lady, dowgraded by the system of the 18th century (yes ladies, be grateful that you were born in this century). But she defied people who made her sit still and look pretty. She read books that made her more knowledgeable, despite people frowning on her because it is not ladylike. Her defiance was my saving grace. I lived for her sass. (Percy’s fiddle on the other hand, was ridiculously present. That is all I have to say about that.)

So why did I only give it 4 stars?

While it was an entertaining story that kept me on my toes at best, this may not be the book for people who have a hard time imagining historical settings. While Monty is fascinating, I felt like Percy was just there. Sure, he raised certain issues that were prevalent during the given setting, but it was like he was just there. I wouldn’t want to spoil the story for everyone, but I felt like Percy as a character was underdeveloped.

But overall, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue has an amazing adventure underneath its pages. It is mesmerizing to read, and the sense of history within can really stick to you. It is filled with unexpected twists and turns, and a tour unlike any other. A proper gentleman was born, and with sass, grace, and a boot to your face, Monty will sweep you off your feet. I honestly recommend you read this when you feel like you are underestimating yourself. Because as Monty discovered, a person is more than the expectations placed on them. Prove them wrong, and surprise them with more than that.

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(Know more about my rating system here.)

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Mackenzi Lee is a bookseller, history nerd, and the author of THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE, THIS MONSTROUS THING (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins), and the forthcoming SEMPER AUGUSTUS (Flatiron Books, 2018). She holds an MFA from Simmons College in writing for children and young adults. She loves Diet Coke, sweater weather, and Star Wars. On a perfect day, she can be found enjoying all three. She currently calls Boston home.

Connect with Mackenzi!

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads| Pinterest

Huge thanks once again to the Sunday Street Team for letting me be a part of this amazing tour. As I said earlier, it is just amazing to read this book before it comes out to the world. I’m just so happy to be able to gush about it. Now my list is complete, as I have completed a certain goal. Thank you so much for making it happen.

If you want to know more about the Sunday Street Team, click on the image below.

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So are you excited to read The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue? I hope so. I cannot wait for you all to meet Monty and I have high hopes that you will enjoy the tour.

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Sunday Street Team: Internet Famous (Interview + Giveaway)

Last year, I was given the opportunity to read a fantastic book about a fangirl who lives to create content through her videos for her fandom. It was yet another book that expressed my thoughts as a fangirl, and it is now a book close to my heart because Liv was a fangirl that I never thought I would ever see manifested on a novel. The book was none other than All The Feels, and it was written by none other than Danika Stone. Through the same platform, I am now given the opportunity to interview the author herself. Internet Famous is her newest young adult novel that promises to speak to a lot of hearts once again. The Sunday Street Team has allowed me to interview Ms. Stone about her latest release. But before that, let’s get into more details about Internet Famous.

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31145123Title: Internet Famous

Author: Danika Stone

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Date Published: 6th of June 2017

Series: None

Publisher: Swoon Reads

Buy it on: Amazon – US / Amazon – UK / Barnes & NobleTBD

Summary:

High school senior and internet sensation Madison Nakama seems to have it all: a happy family, good grades, and a massive online following for her pop-culture blog. But when her mother suddenly abandons the family, Madi finds herself struggling to keep up with all of her commitments.

Fandom to the rescue! As her online fans band together to help, an online/offline flirtation sparks with Laurent, a French exchange student. Their internet romance—played out in the comments section of her MadLibs blog—attracts the attention of an internet troll who threatens the separation of Madi’s real and online personas. With her carefully constructed life unraveling, Madi must uncover the hacker’s identity before he can do any more damage, or risk losing the people she loves the most… Laurent included.

AN INTERVIEW WITH DANIKA STONE

Is All The Feels and Internet Famous set in the same universe?

Heck YES! In fact you might even notice a little bit of crossover between the two. (Keep an eye out for Starveil fandomly things in the memes and posts.)

Oh yay! Now that you mention it, are there any hidden Easter eggs in Internet Famous? Any clues for us?

I always do little crossovers between books. Starveilbrian1981 from All the Feels plays a relatively large role in Internet Famous but there are a few other characters that you might discover elsewhere too. Ava – the graffiti artist – for instance, has her own book: Intaglio.

Is there a particular person to whom you dedicate the characters to?

Internet Famous is dedicated to Mark Oshiro, the blogger behind “Mark Does Stuff” and the first person who I first noticed using the term “funemployed”. He’s an AMAZING person. I adore him!

I see. So who do you connect with more? Liv or Madison?

Hmmm… Personality-wise, I’m probably a mixture of both of them. I wish I was a bit more outgoing – as Madi is – but I’m also not as anxious and shy as Liv. I will certainly admit that I wove in elements of myself into them.


That is so cool! Do you have a writing ritual? Like something to get you in the mood or at peace to help you write?

My writing ritual is that I tell my family when I’m going to write a book and then I start it and I don’t stop until I’m done. That sounds really boring until you realize that the reason most authors have difficulty writing is that LIFE gets in the way. My children know that if I’m writing a book in the summer, they’re expected to entertain themselves for a lot of that time.

Oh wow. That is some dedication right there. What are some books by your favorite contemporary authors that inspired you to write contemporary as well?

I love EVERYTHING by Rainbow Rowell, though I think Eleanor and Park is probably my favorite. I also really love the In Death series by J.D. Robb and The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. And then (up on a pedestal) is Barbara Kingsolver The Poisonwood Bible and ANYTHING by Margaret Atwood. Seriously though. Atwood is a QUEEN!

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Follow Danika on:

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube | Tumblr | Pinterest

Danika Stone is an author, artist, and educator who discovered a passion for writing fiction while in the throes of her Masters thesis. A self-declared bibliophile, Danika now writes novels for both teens (All the Feels and Internet Famous) adults (Edge of Wild and Intaglio). When not writing, Danika can be found hiking in the Rockies, planning grand adventures, and spending far too much time online. She lives with her husband, three sons, and a houseful of imaginary characters in a windy corner of Alberta, Canada.

Ms. Stone is represented by Morty Mint of Mint Literary Agency.

Want to have your own copy of Internet Famous? Click the giveaway button below!

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Huge thanks to the Sunday Street Team for letting me be a part of this tour. I cannot wait for you all to meet Liv, because I know for sure that she is another MC that will take your heart. If you want to know more about the Sunday Street Team, click the button below.

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Now, do you know other books that features bloggers or a book that features someone that is Internet Famous?

Let’s chat!

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PH Blog Tour: The Upside of Unrequited

Hello everyone! Welcome to your first stop for The Upside of Unrequited PH Blog Tour hosted by Jasmine at Jasmine Pearl Reads. It is an honor to be the first one to review this book in all of its glory. So let’s start this tour with a bang.

The upside is that I believe that this book stood out as a book that matters, especially in the society we live in today. I want to stress that in this review. But first, a few fangirl moments.

Before Reading:

BLESSED BE THE BOOK GODS. The news is too good to be true! I get to read The Upside of Unrequited early. And why do I feel like it is the story of my unrequited life? Wait… should I prepare tissues? I’m not ready for this. But no… I AM. Let’s just get to reading.

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Cover-Reveal-The-Upside-Of-Unrequited-LargeTitle: The Upside of Unrequited

Author: Becky Albertalli

Genre:  Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Year Published: 11th of April 2017

Series: None

Publisher: Balzer & Bray / Harper Teen

Source: Paperback, provided for the tour

Rating:  4.5/5 stars

Buy it on: Amazon | TBD

Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

After Reading:

Yes, you can say there were tears. AND IT WAS BLOODY 3 AM. Do you know how hard it is to render 3D animation misty eyed? No, it’s not hard. It’s just that the progress bar is all blurry. BUT STILL. THIS BOOK. MOLLY, YOU ARE LOVELY. ALWAYS BELIEVE THAT.

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The Upside of Unrequited is a character-driven story that focuses on Molly. She is a big girl who is insecure and careful. But because of that factor, it makes her real.

Why does The Upside of Unrequited matter?

It matters because it lays pressing issues on the table. First, is the feeling of what it is like to have someone you admire returning your feelings back. (I know, I said feelings a lot.) Conveying the depth that lies within the unrequited is no easy task, but the beautiful prose within was enough to tug heartstrings. I can testify to that, since compared to Molly’s 27, I am probably in a predicament that is much worse. The emotions were swirling, and it felt human. I wanted to just jump in that universe and give Molly the biggest hug. Having the feeling of something unrequited is probably one of biggest pains anyone can feel. But yes, this book has the upside to it all.

It matters because it doesn’t shy away from presenting a modern family. The representation presented in Upside is natural. It felt like they were real people that did not have a single hindrance on living as themselves. The Peskin-Suso family is the sweetest. Nadine and Patty were the coolest moms who offer the most solid advice and support to Cassie and Molly’s troubles. They honestly deserve all of the happiness that was given to them in the latter part of the book. That being said, seeing Molly grow as her own person throughout the story may have been a bit of a pain especially if you know the feeling too well. But looking at the bright side, it will feel so good once you see how her actions affect her family as a whole.

It matters because it teaches the reader to love themselves. It conveys the message that through loving yourself, you can have the confidence that other people love you to the moon and back. That was the message that reached me, and as someone who is probably in the same department as Molly, it goes without saying that I felt that this book represented me. No more, no less.

*I loved the Easter eggs in the book. It can make any Oreo lover scream. 😉

What mattered to me is that The Upside of Unrequited made me feel that I was worthy to be a young adult heroine. Big girls like Molly get to be happy, and it gives a glimpse of hope to see a character like myself as happy. To be honest, nothing warmed my heart more than reading about Molly’s happiness. The way she grew out of her comfort zone and became her own person is one story that can put the biggest smile on your face.

Why read The Upside of Unrequited?

Like it’s older brother Simon VS. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, The Upside of Unrequited is a cute story about self-love and finding love. It also proves that seeing your family happy is the best. But what takes the cake (or rather, the cookie dough in the mason jar) is the love that you gain for another book that will make you want to love yourself. Highly recommended on a summer day while eating Cadbury Mini Eggs and in the mood where you just want something sweet.

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(Know more about my rating system here.)

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View More: http://thedecisivemoment.pass.us/becky-headshots

Becky Albertalli is a clinical psychologist who has had the privilege of conducting therapy with dozens of smart, weird, irresistible teenagers. She also served for seven years as co-leader of a support group for gender nonconforming children in Washington, DC. She now lives with her family in Atlanta.


To Becky Albertalli,

Since May is the month for moms, I want to thank you for the two lovely books that you have. It is truly lovely, and one can say that one them is like the story of my life. At one point, I almost wanted to just go ahead and call you “mom” on Twitter. The reason being is that you just shine and you’re so amazing.

Truly, no words can express how blessed I felt to have read your novels. The Upside of Unrequited really has a special place in my heart. You are a gem. I hope you are aware of that. Thank you for making me feel that I am represented. You are the best. 💙


Huge thanks to Jasmine at Jasmine Pearl Reads for letting me join this blog tour. Honestly, this gave me the boost that I needed to make myself believe that 2017 is better than 2016. All the love. 💙

Follow the rest of the tour:

Nicka at Read by Nicka [Review]

Inah at The Bibliophile Confessions [Review]

Fay at The Bibliophile Soprano [Review]

Josiah at The Bookish Fanboy [Review]

JM at Book Freak Revelations [Review]

Jasmine at Jasmine Pearl Reads [Review]

Now, have you read The Upside of Unrequited? How many crushes have you had? What body positive books can you recommend to me? Let’s chat! It’s been a while. 😉

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