Mini ARC Review: Replica by Lauren Oliver

Title: Replica
Author: Lauren Oliver
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Romance
My Rating: 3/5
Source: ARC via publisher

This was my third time reading Lauren Oliver and it was my third time being disappointed. I still rated this book a three, but it’s a shakey three for me at best.

Overall, this book has an absolutely fascinating plot and the action is pretty well paced. I was very drawn in to both Gemma and Lyra’s stories and the potential for conflict that they each face, but ultimately that conflict isn’t super well executed for me. I found myself getting bored in the middle of what I knew in my gut was a really awesome set of characters, trauma, and plot.

I’m not really sure what lost me. I think Lauren Oliver is a brilliant writer, no doubt about her skills. But perhaps it’s just that she isn’t the best story-teller? I did end wanting to know what happens next. I think the two sets of ships and the tension with Gemma’s parents were saviors, but both those aspects came right at the end.

If you like creepy sci-fi narratives and dramatic chase scenes, this may be a good one for you. There is a lot of intelligent social commentary going on as well as philosophizing about science and its ethics. The romance is pretty cute too! Just know that most of the book creeps along at a slowly despite the action moments.

Also, while this book can be read in three different ways, I would recommend reading it the way I read it: by alternating chapters. The stories have little overlapping scenes, so it wouldn’t be terrible to read Gemma and Lyra separately, but knowing what I know now, I feel like a lot of the tension would deflate reading one after having read the other and knowing all the secrets.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Characters to Name My Cats For

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish every week, challenging readers to generate top ten lists about anything and everything bookish. Check it out

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This Week’s Prompt: “Ten Characters I’d Name A Child/Dog/Cat/Car/Etc. After — we did this topic back in 2011 and thought it might be fun to revisit it…feel free to spin it how you need!”

I’m going to speak very generally about this one because a list format just doesn’t feel quite right.

My dream for a long time has been to get a trio of cats – one jet black, one tabby ginger, and one brown. Then I can name them each Harry, Ron, and Hermione, hunt down a calico to name McGonagall and call it a day.

Beyond that, I don’t really have this hope of naming animals or people or cars after characters. I am rather obsessed with finding a man named Azriel or Rhysand to love because A Court of Mist and Fury has taken over my life. But beyond that, I don’t know that I have any strong name desires.

My car’s license plate has AUROR in it. Does that count?

It probably doesn’t help that I don’t want kids either. I suppose if I did, I would be more eager to pick out Gansey and Blue and set them aside, but alas, the desire is not there.

So I’m sorry to be hopelessly boring this week, but perhaps your list can pick mine up by being more awesome? Send me a link so I can check it out!

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Discussion Post: Books that Heal Your Soul

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Hello world! You’ll probably be seeing a few discussion posts from me in the coming weeks as I have a few planned. This one sort of cropped up unexpectedly on me, but I was reading a book this week that doesn’t come out for several months and I didn’t want to wait so long to talk about it, so I’m doing this instead.

Let me tell you about a little book called The Island by S. Usher Evans. Heard of it?

Well you have now.

Due to a cover change debacle, I was fortunate enough to secure an early copy, I guess you could say, of the final book in the series, The Union, which isn’t due out until February 2017. The author – SUSH! – and I have become Twitter friends and I’ve really just fallen in love with this little romance trilogy of hers. The books are light and fluffy and they give me all the romantic feels, but they’re also tense and action packed and you really feel for the push and pull between Theo and Galian, who are the main characters in love against all odds.

Well, I read The Union over the weekend and it sort of saved me. I was having the absolute worst weekend I’ve had in a long time. I’ve become a sort of miserable being the last couple of years and I find that some days I just slip worse than others and am left wondering where my limit is and what happens if/when I reach it. That was this last weekend for me. I was miserable and felt absolutely alone and just didn’t want to leave my bed or speak with another human being for anything. Maybe it sounds melodramatic and it’s hard to describe in a post like this, but I felt so horribly lost in my life.

And then I picked up The Union and within pages, Theo and Galian and all their crazy cohort made me forget that I was even upset. I mean, literally, within about twenty pages I realized that my stomach felt empty. You know when you’re nervous or dreading something and then it’s over and you have that zen moment where relief drains your stomach until nothing is left but a grateful peaceful feeling? That was me reading this.

It’s just a good book.

Their love story is just so wonderful and Sush writes in a way that is really easy to read and forget everything else going on. I was so happy to just sink in to this story and feel life leave me behind for a few hours. And the conclusion to this trilogy was immensely satisfying, it made it that much better!

Maybe it’s because I’ve been going through some things for a while now that I continually find certain books saving my soul piece by piece along the way, but this isn’t the first time I’ve had a book pull me out of a funk. A Court of Mist and Fury did it back in May; February it was Remembrance (Mediator 7) by Meg Cabot; the year prior another Cabot book in the form of Princess Diaries 11 did it for me.

So I’m curious! Has this happened to you? Have you ever been so thoroughly ruined by struggles in life that a book seemed to somehow miraculously pull you out? And if so, which books? Tell me all about it! I’d love to hear. <3

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ARC Review: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

Title: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Necromancy, Romeo & Juliet Retelling
My Rating: 4/5
Source: ARC via publisher

Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads Summary

When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched. The heirs of the city’s most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die.

Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong—killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy . . . and perhaps turn against his own clan.

Mahyanai Runajo just wants to protect her city—but she’s the only one who believes it’s in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara.

Both pairs will find friendship where they least expect it. Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting. . . .

My Review


I was so super duper excited to crack this book open. When I got it at Comic Con, it took every ounce of strength in me to not flail and freak out in front of the publishers because I was so over the moon! This book was probably in my top three most anticipated reads for the year. I read Rosamund’s other two books when they were released and was so bewitched with her writing, I knew I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Bright Smoke, Cold Fire.


From the very first pages, I was hooked. I adored the fact that the love story of Romeo and Juliet was already well underway so we didn’t have to sit through them falling fickily in love with each other and the language of their romance is exquisite. EXQUISITE. Even the very first snippet to kick the book off – oh my gosh, the way Juliet speaks to him at the point of death of sin and love is soul-shattering to me.

Plus, the twists Rosamund places on the romance were refreshing! It was just as sorrowful and haunting a story of the original play, but there was no knowing where the relationship might end because from the get-go it takes a new path.


I mean, right?? It’s awesome on so many levels, particularly with the dangerous creatures that Runajo and Juliet must face. CREEPY GOOD TIMES. I was so unnerved reading those chapters and I really hope we see more of those ugly, terrifying things in subsequent books because they made the hair on my arms stand up.

And finally, I loved the depth of all the characters present. Runajo and Juliet and then, Paris and Romeo, are each such good foil pairings of each other. They bring a very critical discourse to light on what duty, honor, and loyalty means and it was lovely to see the banter back and forth open their minds and change the course of the narrative. They are endlessly loyal characters and they have so much courage and unfailing love for what they believe it, be it a person or an idea, and I was entranced by each of them!

This book was crazy good for me and I just ate it up every second. I know this review is probably a bit all over the place, but from the unique duel perspectives of two side characters, to the intense pain and emotion felt by the lovers, the action, the pacing, the dangers of death and sacrifice – everything was astounding! I wished that the ending had been a little more climactic as I wasn’t super surprised by where both sets of characters ended up, but I can’t wait to see what happens in the stellar sequel that has been set up!


My Rating: 4/5

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Top Ten Tuesday: Fall TBR!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish every week, challenging readers to generate top ten lists about anything and everything bookish. Check it out!

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SO MANY GOOD BOOKS TO READ THIS FALL! Including finally starting in on the Throne of Glass series. I need to make this happen at long last…

  1. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
    2. Gemina by Jay Kristoff & Amy Kauffman
    3. Replica by Lauren Oliver
    4. Heartless by Marissa Meyer
    5. Glitter by Aprilynne Pike
    6. Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh
    7. Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot
    8. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
    9. Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
    10. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

That’s my list! I’ve got my work cut out for me! If you have a list, drop a link for me in the comments so I can check it out. 🙂

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Sunday Street Team Interview + Giveaway: A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess!

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I feel like it’s been ages since I’ve hosted a SST post on my blog, so I’m so happy to be back at it and with a book that I particularly enjoyed reading! If you’re new to SST and want more info about it and how to join, check out our hostess with the mostest, Nori, for all the DETAILS!

This month, we’re featuring A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess, a story about a young woman in Victorian England fighting for an equal spot among the boys to become the next great Sorcerer! I recently read this book and thought it was absolutely killer, so I’m stoked to be sharing an interview with Jessica today as well a fantastic giveaway. Read on, friends, to discover the magic of Henrietta’s world!

Goodreads Summary

I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she’s brought to London to train with Her Majesty’s sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she’s the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

Author Interview

Welcome to the blog, Jessica! For those of you following along at home, my questions are bolded while Jessica’s responses appear normal. Let’s go!

A Shadow Bright and Burning is getting such amazing buzz already! How are you feeling as your novel becomes one of fall’s most anticipated new releases?

Thank you! I really hope people like it. These days, I alternate between insane excitement and pure existential dread. I hear that once the book comes out it’s just simple excitement, so I’m really looking forward to that.

It sounds like Henrietta is going to stand as the lone woman in what seems to be a man’s world. Will she face challenges because of that?

Definitely. I wanted to walk a fine line on this. On the one hand, the Victorian era had issues with women’s rights, their social mobility, etc., and I wanted to be true to that. On the other hand, I didn’t want to create a situation where every single person is a misogynistic bully. That becomes heavy-handed and not really true to life. I wanted Henrietta to have to deal with a kind of sexism that is pervasive, but not blunt and obvious. So some of the people really don’t like her because she’s a girl, some have reservations about her being a girl but mostly just hope she can help, and some don’t care at all. Henrietta has to face obstacles because of sexism, yes, but since there’s a war on and she is (presumably) the Chosen One, she also gets a bit more leeway with what she can and can’t do.

I love that Henrietta can burst into flames! Will we see other forms of elemental magic in the series?

Definitely! The sorcerers’ system of magic is all element based, so you’ll see earth, wind, and water powers as well.

I can never not ask this question, so I hope you’re a Harry Potter fan. Where would your characters be sorted at Hogwarts?

I have been hoping for this question, you have no idea. Okay. The four main characters:

Henrietta is a Ravenclaw with strong Gryffindor tendencies. She’s a Ravenclaw because, given the choice, she’d rather be nestled in a library gaining knowledge than fighting battles and yelling at people—though she can yell and fight quite well when she has to. It’s just a preference, but yes, she’s a Ravenclaw.

Blackwood is a Slytherin. Full stop. Though his secondary house would be distant Ravenclaw.

Rook and Magnus ended up switching. I originally thought Magnus was the Gryffindor and Rook the Hufflepuff, but swapped them. Rook shows a lot of courage in the face of his illness, the changes happening to him, and he’s always ready to soldier on in the face of certain doom. Magnus, even though he’s the best warrior in the house, is effortlessly cheerful, loves creature comforts, and is loyal to the bone. Plus, he’d probably look great in yellow.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

Stretched out on a very comfortable sofa with cushions and a cup of coffee on the table. I cannot sit at desks. I don’t know how people do it. I like to have the computer on my lap; it makes me feel connected to the story in a weird way.

Cats or dogs? No pressure. 😉

Dogs, all the way. I really do like cats, but dogs have a piece of my soul. I am the person who, if I see a puppy walking down the street, will fall to my knees and start speaking gibberish with tears in my eyes while my friend pretends not to know me.

Do you NaNoWriMo?

I tried once, but I just couldn’t do it. NaNo requires a certain amount of pantsing, and I need to have a decent story structure and series of character arcs outlined in my head before I start. Anyone who NaNos is a braver person than I am.

Thank you for joining us on SST in this interview, Jessica!

My pleasure. Thank you for having me!

About the Author

JESSICA CLUESS is a writer, a graduate of Northwestern University, and an unapologetic nerd. After college, she moved to Los Angeles, where she served coffee to the rich and famous while working on her first novel. When she’s not writing books, she’s an instructor at Writopia Lab, helping kids and teens tell their own stories.

That’s it for us this time, folks! Be sure to check out the amazing giveaway going on below and drop Jessica some comment love to tell her how excited you are for her new book!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Stacking the Shelves [37]

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Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews – be sure to check them out!


A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray – Borrowed
The Way to Game the Walk of Shame ARC by Jenn Nguyen – #booksfortrade (thanks, Em!)
Crazy Love by Francis Chan – Purchased

That’s my latest haul. Pretty simple overall! Drop me a comment with a link to your STS this week so I can check it out!

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ARC Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

Title: A Shadow Bright and Burning
Author: Jessica Cluess
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fantasy, Sorcery, Romance
My Rating: 4/5
Source: ARC Copy via Publisher

Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads Summary

I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty’s sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she’s the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city–and the one she loves?

My Review

Let me start off with what will inevitably be the elephant in the room if you pick up this book: it’s not just a love triangle, it’s a love square.

I’m pretty neutral when it comes to love triangles, but in this case, I had this horrible feeling it was going to drive me nuts for Henrietta’s love life. Thankfully, it didn’t! There are three main love interests and I think if you’re upfront about each of them, you can see clearly who Henrietta will ultimately wind up with, though the book doesn’t give a definitive choice by the end.

But don’t let the open ending distract you because I think Henrietta’s eventual choice that I’m betting on is obvious and stellar and the chemistry – oh my gosh, it’s intensely good! They have a good pull between them that challenges one another to think and open their minds especially about social topics like gender roles and equality in relationships. I think if given the chance, these two could have a shot at a very deep, intimate relationship that is so much more than physical attraction and I can’t wait to see it happen! They have so much potential and my brain was roaring at me the entire time I read, “NEW SHIP NEW SHIP ALL ABOARD!!”

And yes, I’m being purposefully vague not naming the suitor in question so as not to spoil the book.

Now, there are two other major elements of this book that I was really feeling. The first is that the writing flows. This is one of those books that is incredibly easy to sink in to. Though the story is fantasy, there isn’t a lot of technobabble jargon to bog the story down and Henrietta thinks fairly concisely. So it’s a super easy read to get behind. It only took me a couple of hours to get through the book, a little faster than normal.

Additionally, the plot is simple, yet still exciting. I like books that have a riveting antagonist or problem, but don’t drum up the suspense to the point that you’re dying through every page. This book was excellently paced and given the backdrop of Victorian London, I felt like I was watching some weird semi-steampunk form of the ghost busters come to life!

My hopes for Book 2 are that Henrietta doesn’t allow the love square to fester and that she doesn’t make some naive choices where Rook is concerned. Their relationship is beyond endearing and steadfast, but it’s obvious to me where it’s heading and that could royally screw Henrietta over if she hangs on for too long.

If you like historical anything and want an easy fantasy series about magic and mayhem to sink your teeth into, I highly recommend A Shadow Bright and Burning. It’s enchanting writing and Henrietta’s strong social critiques as she falls in love and fights off the baddies will charm the socks off ya!

My Rating: 4/5

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Top Ten Tuesday: Sophomore Shiners

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish every week, challenging readers to generate top ten lists about anything and everything bookish. Check it out!

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This week’s topic: All About Audio freebie —  aka top ten audiobooks you should listen to, 10 books I want to listen to on audio,10 bands you should check out, 10 podcasts you should be listening to, 10 of my all time favorite albums, 10 songs I love, really whatever you can come up with.

It has been AGES since I did any regular blogging thanks entirely to the massive book hangover that A Court of Mist and Fury left in its wake and rightfully so. But now I’ve gotten most of the fanfic reading/writing out of my system, I am back and ready to go!

I generally can’t stand audiobooks, so for this week I’m going to cover five of my favorite sophomore albums. I have this theory that the strongest and/or best album of any musical artist is their second, so that’s where this comes from.

The Young and the Hopeless by Good Charlotte

Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge by My Chemical Romance

From Under the Cork Tree by Fall Out Boy

Oops!… I Did it Again
by Britney Spears

In Love and Death
by The Used

Probably seems random having Brit Brit thrown onto this list, but she’s too awesome not to include. If you have a TTT this week, please feel free to share it with me! I’d love to check it out. 🙂

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