#ReadADessen & Giveaway: Someone Like You–Character-Inspired Popsicle Pairings

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Hey guys, I’ve joined with Penguin for the #ReadADessen campaign, which leads up to the release of Sarah Dessen’s new book ONCE AND FOR ALL (release date: June 6, 2017). This week, I’m aiming the spotlight on Dessen’s amazing story about love and friendship: Someone Like You.

Someone Like You was my first Sarah Dessen book I had read. I remember being on summer break from high school, soaking up the sun, eating a cherry-flavored Popsicle, and not putting the book down. Dessen adds a lot of character development in each of her books, and what I love most about her writing is the friendships that she creates and allows to grow throughout the pages. This book has and will always feel like summer and freedom to me.

When I first read Someone Like You, I instantly became attached to these characters and easily melted into each of their stories and personalities. And during my most recent reread of it, I was inspired to create a tasty post. So instead of doing a typical “Rants and Raves” review of Someone Like You, I thought I would creatively pair the characters to Popsicle flavors based on their personalities. Enjoy!

About the Book popsicle

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Title:
Someone Like You
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publication date: (Reprint) June 1, 2012
Publisher:  Penguin
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Synopsis:

The world is a terrible place not to have a best friend.

Scarlett was always the strong one.

Halley was always content to follow in her wake.

Then Scarlett’s boyfriend died, and Scarlett learned that she was pregnant.

Now Halley has to find the strength to take the lead and help Scarlett get through it.

Because true friendship is a promise you keep forever.

GoodreadsAmazon |Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

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Halley Popsicle

At sixteen years old, Halley is still establishing who she is. Like an Orangesicle, Halley has two main layers. She is quiet and introverted, but she’s also a teenager that gives herself the opportunity to challenge herself and her beliefs. Halley is a trusting and dedicated friend, and deep down she always tries to do what is right.

Scarlett popsicle

Scarlett is Halley’s best friend. Just like watermelon she is sweet on the inside, but tough on the outside. Even with a broken heart and the challenges life throws at her, Scarlett remains determined and confident in herself and her decisions.

Macon Popsicle

Macon is like summer: he’s hot and he’s fun to be around. In his typical bad-boy fashion, Macon is wild and rebellious, but he also has a sweet and mysterious side. But even with his “Firecracker” and carefree attitude, Macon falls short of being responsible and notices that his choices have consequences. 

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Enter for a chance to win one (1) set of Sarah Dessen’s books in paperback (ARV: $132.00).  NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on April 17, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 1, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

About the Book Sarah Dessen
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Sarah Dessen is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen novels for teens, which have received numerous awards and rave reviews. Her books have been published in over thirty countries and have sold millions of copies worldwide. She is the recipient of the 2017 Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American Library Association for outstanding contribution to young adult literature for her novels: Keeping the Moon, Dreamland, This Lullaby, The Truth about Forever, Just Listen, Along for the Ride, and What Happened to Goodbye. Her newest novel, Once and for All, will be released in June 2017. An NC native, she currently lives in Chapel Hill with her family.

About once and for all

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Title:
Once and For All
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publication date: June 7, 2017
Publisher: 
Viking Books for Young Readers (Penguin)
Genres:
Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Synopsis:

As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen’s thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.

GoodreadsAmazon |Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

Note: A big thank you to Penguin for a finished copy of Someone Like You, and for allowing me to be a part of the #ReadADessen campaign. All statements and opinions are my own. 

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

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Title: Traitor to the Throne
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Publication date: March 7, 2017
Publisher:  Viking Books for Young Readers
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, 
Format: Signed Hardcover, purchased

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Gunslinger Amani al’Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she’s fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne.

When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan’s palace—she’s determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan’s secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she’s a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she’s been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.

Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about Djinn and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


My Rants and Raves of Traitor to the Throne

I loved Rebel in the Sands, so I was so happy to dive back into this world. One of my favorite things about Traitor to the Throne is that it quickly picked up where we left off in the previous book. I was so afraid that I would forget the characters and the whole plot, but this was not the case. Alywn Hamilton writes with such great description and drops great hints of the backstory, so I was happily engulfed and surrounded in Amani’s world, thoughts, and motives all over again. 

What I loved most about Traitor to the Throne is that even though I am in love with the old band of characters, I also started fangirling over the introduction of new characters. As I was reading the book, I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure out who the “traitor” might be, but you guys, there were a lot of revealing twists and turns that I honestly did not see coming. I love how action packed the story is, which honestly allowed the story to quickly flow. I could not put the book down. 

Additionally, Amani continues to be one of my favorite heroines to root for in young adult literature. I love how independent and quick thinking she is. Her motives and actions are always selfless, which usually puts her…uhhh…in not so good situations. And in Traitor to the Throne, she once again proves that she is fierce and badass. 

The only rant I have about Traitor to the Throne is that I wish there were more scenes between Amani and Jin. I love the chemistry and dynamics between these two characters. Their relationship makes my heart ache, in a good way though, and I think they are dynamite on the page. Although the plot rarely portrayed these two on the same page, I was always yearning for them when they were separated and overly excited when they were in a scene together. 

As a second book to the series, Traitor to the Throne did not disappoint. I am definitely excited for Book 3, because OHMYGOD what is going to happen next?

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NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds and reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

Book Review: Gilt by Katherine Longshore

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Title: Gilt
Author: Katherine Longshore
Publication date: May 15, 2012
Publisher:  Viking Juvenile
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Format: Hardcover, purchased

ABOUT THE BOOK:

When Kitty Tylney’s best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII’s heart and brings Kitty to court, she’s thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat’s shadow, Kitty’s now caught between two men–the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat’s meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


My Rants and Raves of (14)

This month, the book club that I am part of picked Gilt as our March read. And even though I didn’t love the book, I still enjoyed it. I love historical novels, but when it comes to King Henry VIII’s life being fictionalized, I usually cringe. He’s not my favorite king to read about, but there’s always something about his selfish choices and his numerous wives that lead to fascinating stories. Gilt was a great book to jump in and focus on the life of his teenage wife, Catherine Howard.

The author, Katherine Longshore, did a great job with sticking to a lot of the historical facts that took place during this time period. I’m one of those people that believes that history affects literature and literature affects history; so of course, this book focuses on the shenanigans that took place during Henry’s reign. Although the book highlights the marriage of young Catherine Howard and Henry, the main focus is wrapped around Catherine’s humble friend Kitty, who I adored. 

I’m not a big fan of Catherine Howard in the first place, so focusing on her marriage to Henry was probably my biggest complaint in the book. Catherine is so young and immature when she marries Henry, so it didn’t phase me that I found her annoying and infuriating in this book. However, her advancement to marrying Henry allows the character Kitty, Catherine’s childhood friend, to shine. I really enjoyed Kitty as a character. I think she is well-developed, and Longshore pays close attention to capturing Kitty as a vulnerable bystander that has a lot of spark and positive qualities, which only made me feel for Kitty’s situation and root for her success in the book. The ending is left open-ended, but I really do wish and pray that Kitty got her happy ending, especially in regards to one of her love interests. 

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NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds and reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Starfall by Melissa Landers

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Title: Starfall 
Author: Melissa Landers
Publication date: February 7, 2017
Publisher:  Disney-Hyperion
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Sci-Fi 
Format: Hardcover, purchased

ABOUT THE BOOK:

When Princess Cassia Rose fled her home world of Eturia to escape an arranged marriage, she had no idea her sudden departure would spark a war. Now after two years hiding as a ship hand, she is finally returning to her beloved home, but not in the way she imagined. Shackled by bounty hunters, she is violently dragged back to account for her crimes. Her only solace is that the Banshee crew managed to evade capture, including Kane Arric, her best friend…with occasional benefits.

Meanwhile, Kane and the rest of the crew of the Banshee plan a desperate rescue mission. But when they arrive on Eturia, Cassia isn’t exactly in need of heroics—she’s claimed her birthright as Eturia’s queen, but has inherited a war-torn planet simmering with rebellion. Cassia must make alliances, and Kane, the bastard son of a merchant, isn’t a choice that will earn her any friends. Kane knows he will never find someone to replace Cassia—and is certain she returns his feelings—but how can he throw away his own promising future waiting on a queen?

When the outer realm is threatened by the dangerous Zhang mafia, Cassia, Kane and the rest of the Banshee crew uncover a horrifying conspiracy that endangers the entire universe. In the face of unspeakable evil, Cassia must confront her own family’s complicated legacy on Eturia and decide once and for all who her real family is.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


My Rants and Raves of Starfall

I swear Melissa Landers should write for a TV show. Her gift for storytelling is so engaging, and Starfall had me on the edge of my seat from chapter 1. There were so many twists and turns that I did not see coming, and I could not have asked for a better story to unfold in the Starflight series. UGH, WILL THERE BE MORE IN THIS SERIES?! PLEASE TELL ME THERE WILL BE MORE!

I love the chemistry between Cassia and Kane. Their dialogue, actions, and feelings toward each other is sizzling, swoony, and oftentimes frustrating (but so, so good). Their friendship, teasing on-and-off-again relationship, and sacrifices that they make for one another throughout the book fueled me to the very end. Their relationship is so imperfect, yet swoony, which made me root for them throughout the entire novel. 

Starfall is so quick-paced and action-packed, but it’s the development of the roguish Kane and the smart, cunning, and fierce princess Cassia that strengthened my love for this book. And I loved that behind Cassia is a gang of misfits who would sacrifice anything to keep her, and each other, from becoming a victim of their enemies. The friendships in this book (and series) are true squad goals, and allow the story to unfold with excitement and adoration. If you’re a fan of television shows like Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and even The Magicians, this book is for you! You will fall in love with the strong friendships, wild escapades, snarky attitudes, and witty dialogue that meshes this novel into a one of a kind sci-fi adventure.

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NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds and reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

Book Review: Get it Together, Delilah by Erin Gough

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Title: Get It Together, Delilah
Author: Erin Gough
Publication date: April 4, 2017
Publisher:  Chronicle Books
Genres: Young Adult, Contempoary, Romance, GLBT+
Format: e-arc from Netgalley

ABOUT THE BOOK:

A story about falling in love, literally.

Seventeen-year-old Delilah Green wouldn’t have chosen to do her last year of school this way, but she figures it’s working fine. Her dad is on a trip to fix his broken heart after her mom left him for another man, so Del’s managing the family café in his absence. Easy, she thinks. But what about:
– homework and the nasty posse of mean girls making her life hell
– or how one of Del’s best friends won’t stop guilt-tripping her
– and her other best friend is so in love with his tutor he might go to jail for her if Del doesn’t do something

But who cares about any of that really, because above all else, she can’t stop thinking about beautiful Rosa who dances every night across the street until one day Rosa comes in the café door . . .

And if Rosa starts thinking about Del, too, then how in the name of caramel milkshakes will Del get the rest of it together?

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


My Rants and Raves of Delilah

***Please note that this review contains some spoilers.*** 

At the very beginning, I found Get It Together, Delilah to be a constant page-turner. Plus I was instantly in love with the cute and creative cover. I really enjoyed how Erin Gough’s storytelling wraps you up in the aroma of coffee, but in the end, I had hard time connecting with the main character and rationalizing some of her actions. 

Get It Together, Delilah spans over about four months, in which the main character, Delilah, takes on an overwhelming amount of responsibilities. For me there were some missing pieces in this book, and some situations that did not add up. For example, while her dad was off on “vacation,” I kept wondering, where is the adult that Delilah’s dad thinks is running the café with Delilah’s help? Is her dad even communicating with him? Did I miss something? Did I read over the explanation? My mind was always screaming, where is the parental responsibility in this book?!

In regards to the main character, I was a fan of Delilah’s confidence and her straight-forward attitude. But as the story progressed, Delilah started irritating me. She began taking on too much and everything started slipping through the cracks for her. In the second half of the novel, I felt that she was overbearing at times, inconsiderate of other people’s opinions and feelings, and she never rationalized situations too well. 

Delilah also makes too many assumptions when it comes to her friends and their actions, and often fails to communicate with them to know the actual truth. At times, Delilah frustrated me, and then I wanted to scream the book’s title, and say “OMG, GET IT TOGETHER, DELILAH!” When it comes to the girls she has crushes on, she is often inconsiderate of their feelings, and sadly only focuses on her own needs and wants. I’m not too sure if it’s my age showing (i.e. I’m not a teenager), but I at least think Delilah was smart enough to use common sense. 

One of my favorite things about the novel was the relationship that starts between Delilah and Rosa. Their interactions are so awkward and cute. I was cheering on their relationship the entire time. In all honesty, I think it was their realistic and adorable relationship that saved this book for me. 

Get It Together, Delilah contains a cast of memorable characters who become Delilah’s support group. I loved the quirky friendships in this novel, and how much love and support they give to each other. Although Delilah was not my favorite person in the last half of the book, I think Get It Together, Delilah realistically portrays the hardships and harassment that young adults face in and outside of school; especially those who have found themselves but society fails to accept them for who they are. This is definitely a book I would share with high school and middle grade students; I feel like they would relate to Delilah’s struggles and frustrations more than I could. 

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My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

 

 

 

NOTE: Thank you to Netgalley and Chronicle Books  for providing me an e-galley/e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

Character-Inspired Tea Pairings: Hunted by Meagan Spooner

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Title: Hunted 
Author: Meagan Spooner
Publication date: March 14, 2017
Publisher:  HarperTeen
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Format: Physical ARC

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


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I wrote my review on Hunted last week (check it out HERE), and was deeply inspired to write another post, pairing characters with tea blends. In Hunted, tea plays a small role as the remedy for comfort, because it warms the soul, calms the nerves, and steadies the mind. Below I have picked my three favorite characters in Hunted and paired them with what I think are the perfect tea flavors based on their personalities and traits. Enjoy!

Yeva tea

RUBY SPICE CIDER TEA BLEND: Yeva is one of my favorite heroines in YA literature, because like this spice cider tea, Yeva’s personality is vibrant. She is a fighter and a survivor. I love how badass, daring, and determined is she throughout Hunted. And in comparison to this noted tea, Yeva is sweet and fierce. 

Beast tea

LAPSANG SOUCHONG TEA: The tea blend of Lapsang Souchong tastes rich and earthly, with a strange aroma that is wild like Beast. Just as Beast has two competing personalities (the wolf and man), this tea blend has the dual taste of sweet and smokey.  Beast’s mannerisms often hint to a helpful and playful personality, but like a majority of black teas, he is also strong and bold.  

Doe Eyes Tea

NIRVANA GREEN TEA: Yeva (“Beauty”) is a hunter, and like any hunter, she has her most loyal friend and canine companion, Doe-Eyes. Doe-Eyes is always happy to see Yeva, and with every tail-wag, she brings content to Yeva’s life. In comparison to the Nirvana Green tea blend, Doe-Eyes is also sweet, fun, and energetic. 

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I cannot wait for everyone to read Hunted. Once you have read it, please feel free to stop by and comment what tea flavors you would match to your favorite characters. I would love to see what you come up with and maybe even try out some new tea blends. 

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Hunted by Meagan Spooner

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Title: Hunted 
Author: Meagan Spooner
Publication date: March 14, 2017
Publisher:  HarperTeen
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Format: Physical ARC

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


My Rants and Raves of hunted

Hunted is the fairy tale that I want to read to my future children. It is the retelling that I want every girl to read, and realize, “when the world pushes me down, I can lift myself up.” The author, Meagan Spooner, has molded a beloved classic story, “Beauty and the Beast,” and has shaped it into a book where Beauty (Yeva), a beloved sister and a devoted daughter, sets out into a wilderness where only beasts are guaranteed to survive. And as the heroine of the tale, Beauty is a fighter: a fierce, fearless, and determined woman with a good heart and a quick reflex to persevere. 

One of my favorite aspects of Hunted is the pacing. The story does not move too quickly, with one action domino-ing into a quick reaction. But the story also does not linger with the slow steady steps to a happily ever after ending. Instead, Spooner’s “Beauty and the Beast” retelling, purposely chimes like a steady hand playing Claude Debussy’s “Clair De Lune.” Spooner’s words hit all the high and low notes at the precise duration and location. The book reads like a sheet of music with a steady and heart-lifting tone. 

I also enjoyed how Hunted bridges the reader between reality and the enchanted unknown. As snow hides and blankets the pawed-footprints of a predator, the wind whispers the sad melodies of cursed beasts and creatures who yearn to be saved even if the risk of death lingers in between the whirlwind of snowflakes. Spooner creates a fantastical world that is both pleasing and awe-inspiring to the senses. The world of Hunted smells of musky fur, tastes of crisp air, and crunches with the sound of dried pine needles, all while the sharp bitter frost aches your bones. And although the Beast’s forest is wild and his castle is crumbling, I loved that it is Beauty’s presence that tames his surroundings into a eyeopening world of loyalty, understanding, and compassion.  

This novel will make you believe that magic and fairy stories are real. Hunted is assorted with a dynamic cast of characters; characters who are vulnerable, feral, bewitched, haunted, or even tricksters. The world-building is lush and the characters are so sharp and primitive. I loved every aspect of Hunted, and I cannot wait for readers and dreamers to experience it. 

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NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I received this physical ARC copy through a blogger exchange. I reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.