Books

5th Anniversary Giveaway

February 18, 2015

Giveaway

On Friday, February 6, my blog turned five. Can you believe it’s been five years already? I sure can’t. I still remember stumbling across The Story Siren and thinking, “I want to do this!” So, I did, with the support of my friends and family, and now, five years later, I’m still here.

And it sure has been a wild ride.

So, to celebrate, I’m giving away a bundle of books! Hooray! One lucky winner will win the following:

(1) Advance reader copy of Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

(1) Advance reader copy of All Fall Down by Ally Carter

(1) Hardcover copy of All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

(1) Paperback of Half Bad by Sally Green

All you have to do is enter using the widget below. Please note that this giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on Tuesday, March 3, at 12:00 AM EST. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Books, Review, Writing

Review: Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova

January 7, 2015

Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova

Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova
William Morrow
Finished: 10/25/2014

Krassi Zourkova’s Wildalone is an intoxicating debut. Zourkova weaves an intriguing tale that blends Bulgarian and Greek mythology in a unique way. At times, the writing falters, yet it possesses an ethereal quality that keeps the plot, pacing, and descriptions in tact. Thea is a bit too naïve at times, but she remains a likeable heroine and narrator with an admirable passion for music and determination to hunt for answers. The mystery surrounding her family and the mythology are the novel’s strongest elements, while the romance is a bit lackluster. Rhys comes across as too demanding and manipulative, though slightly redeems himself once the grand reveal occurs. His brother, Jake, is more likeable, and I wish his relationship with Thea was explored a little more. Overall, Wildalone is a dark and sensual novel that will enthrall readers from beginning to end.

IndieBound | GoodReads | Barnes and Noble

Books, Review

Review: Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

January 6, 2015

Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente
Tor Books
Read/Finished: 12/31/2014—1/1/2015

Catherynne M. Valente’s Deathless is a sprawling and visceral tale that expertly weaves Russian mythology and history together in a seamless manner. Valente’s writing is, quite simply, captivating and lush, and she evokes a perfectly grim and almost suffocating atmosphere. Marya Morevna’s transformation from a wild-eyed girl to the bride of Koschei the Deathless is fascinating to watch, if a little confusing at times. And while the romance is light, I still enjoyed seeing how Marya and Koschei start as strangers and grow into something more. Overall, while readers might want to brush up on their history to better understand the novel’s backdrop, Deathless is an imaginative must-read.

IndieBound | GoodReads | Barnes & Noble

Books, Life, Writing

Day 5: The First Monday and Other Thoughts About 2015

January 6, 2015

We’re now five days into 2015 and here I am, back at work, finishing up a simple lunch—though, the Pringles to-go cup was a nice touch—and trying to wrap my head around the fact that it’s not longer 2014. Seriously, where did the time go? Did last year even get a chance to happen, to learn to breathe and walk and live? Looking back, 2014 was rather eventful, even if it feels like it lasted no more than a moment. In 2014, I moved into my first apartment, celebrated a year at RT Book Reviews, made new friends, read lots of books, ad saw Wicked for the eleventh time, among other things.

And over the past few days I’ve looked back on these events to help shape my view on the new year. I have a feeling 2015 is going to be a year of change, more so than usual, and in an effort to keep myself prepared for whatever the Universe wants to throw at me, I’m come up with a list of goals that will hopefully keep me inspired and driven over the next twelve months. Here they are:

  • EXERCISE MORE: I’ve already joined the local rec center and have been running 2-3 times a week in addition to my at-home work-out. Go me!
  • READ MORE: I know, I know. I read a lot, it’s true, but there’s always room for more books.
  • WRITE MORE: As most of you know, I’ve been struggling with severe writer’s block the last few years and I’m finally crawling out of the rut, so it’s time to get down to business. But this also refers to blogging. I’ve tried to keep my blog centered around books, but I like other things besides books, so you’ll (hopefully) be seeing some other types of content.
  • WORRY LESS: I’m a worrier and an over-thinker, which makes life pretty hard sometimes. So I’m hoping to become better at “going with the flow”. After all, as Idina Menzel’s character in IF/THEN says, “We get one life…and we let the rest go.” No more “what if”s for me. Nope, none.
  • GO ON AT LEAST THREE DATES: I’m painfully single and painfully aware of it, so fingers crossed one of these three dates leads to something more.
  • TRAVEL: Wanderlust and I are quickly becoming best friends. I’d love to visit some friends in London this year, but that doesn’t look too feasible. So I might have to think more locally. I have a two friends in Portland and one in Houston, so those are both lovely options. I’d also like to visit Princeton, NJ again, as it’s perfectly picturesque. Oh, and Salem, because witches.
  • BE ACTIVE: Be active…in life. I’m one of those people who doesn’t always initiate outcomes and often waits for something big to happen. This year, I’m hoping to gain a little more confidence and be proactive. Be the change you wish to see! Ha.

What I love most about these goals is how vague and open they are. There’s room for interpretation and room for growth. There’s nothing concrete or damaging about them, nothing telling me I have to accomplish and succeed or else. So while I many not have an overly optimistic view on 2015, I feel pretty good about these goals.

In book-related news, I’m currently reading a few upcoming young adult novels for work—I can’t talk about which ones yet—and am hoping to pick up Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns) soon. I also started re-reading parts of Katie Heaney’s Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date, which is a ridiculously magical memoir about being a single twenty-something-year-old.

Writing-wise, I have started work on a new novel, but that’s all I’ll say for now. At any rate, there’ll be lots of kissing and a hot guy.

Oh, you might have noticed the website has a new look! Over the weekend, I migrated from Squarespace to WordPress, a move that has been in the making for a few years now, but I’ve been mysteriously reluctant to actually do it, until now! I’m planning on talking about the different platforms I’ve used in a future post for anyone looking to jump into blogging.

Well, that’s all for now. I hope you all had a fantastic holiday season and that 2015 treats you well!

~DJHappy New Year

Books

Cover Gallery: YA Fifteeners

October 28, 2014

Cover Gallery

Anything Could Happen by Will Walton (5/26/15): What I love most about this cover is how simple it is. The dark and faded blue palette works really well with the burst of light from the flare and the lights in the background. I also love how contemplative and hopeful the model seems and the way he’s been posed. He’s also cute, so, you know, yay.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes (6/9/15): This image is an excellent example of the style of photography I admire and emulate. I’m always a fan of close-ups and I love that we can see everything from the frayed edges of the book to the slight wrinkles on her fingers, and even the folds of her dress. Gorgeous. And perfect title treatment.

Fig by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz (4/7/15): There’s a magical quality to this image—in part because of the stylized bird flying away with spools of thread trailing behind it and the fancy title font. The purple background really stands out as purple is an underused color on book covers, and the dark color really brings out the details of the objects.

The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent (6/9/15): First of all, it’s a new Rachel Vincent YA book/series, so let’s take a moment to celebrate that. *happy dance* There’s a sort of metallic texture to this cover that I just love, and the deep blue/purple and red accents contrast and compliment each other really well. The title font is simple and bold enough to read clearly, yet has enough flare—mostly thanks to the color treatment—to make it just as appealing as the gorgeous butterfly.

Books

Waiting on Wednesday: Forest of Whispers by Jennifer Murgia

August 20, 2014

Forest of Whispers

FOREST OF WHISPERS by Jennifer Murgia

September 9, 2014 | Spencer Hill Press

I first fell in love with Jennifer Murgia with her debut, Angel Star. And now she’s coming back in full force with Forest of Whispers, a historical tale featuring witches. I’ve always loved witch stories and Jennifer has a unique knack of putting a fresh spin on familiar subjects, so I’m excited to see what she has in store for us. — DJ

Raised by an old fortune-teller within the dark veil of the Bavarian Black Forest, Rune has learned two valuable lessons: only take from the forest that which you can use, and never, never look anyone in the eye in the village. For something terrible happened in the forest long ago… and now, the whispers of a long-dead mother with a vengeful secret have come haunting.

Forced to flee all she has ever known, Rune soon learns of a legacy she is bound to–one that is drenched in fear, witchcraft and murder–a birthright that stretches beyond the grave to the trees where Rune is no longer safe.

GoodReads | Barnes and Noble | Amazon

And enter below for a particularly spellbinding giveaway!

Music

Music Monday: July Playlist

July 20, 2014

Like books, music has always been an integral part of my life and I’m constantly inspired by the songs I hear and the artists I find. So, going forward, I’m going to try and share monthly playlists of songs that I’m currently in love with in the hope that they inspire you, too. July’s playlist features some of my favorites like Sia, Florence & the Machine, and Lana del Rey, but there are also some new finds like Wrabel and Broods. Take a listen and let me know which songs you love, who you’re listening to, and what you think I need to hear.

Happy listening!

Books, Review

Review: Some Unquiet Place by Kelsey Sutton

July 18, 2014

Some Quiet Place

Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton
Publisher: Flux
Release Date: 7/8/2013
Read/Finished: 7/12/2014

I first heard of Kelsey Sutton’s Some Quiet Place last year in the months leading up to BEA. I was fortunate enough to meet Kelsey and have her sign a copy of the book at the convention, but it was only recently that I finally read it. I had picked it up last summer, but it didn’t hook me. This time, however, I was immediately drawn in and finished it in a day.

With smooth and poetic writing, Kelsey demonstrates a clear skill for storytelling and her mythology is brilliant. She does a great job personifying the Emotions and Elements so that they’re three-dimensional characters that balance well with the rest of the cast. The pacing slows a bit in the middle, but it quickly picks back up as the mystery surrounding Elizabeth’s inability to feel emotions starts to unravel.

Speaking of Elizabeth, she’s a bit too passive and somewhat submissive for my tastes, but she still proves to be a compelling heroine given her circumstances. Her tense relationships with the people around her are rather fascinating to read about, and I particularly enjoyed her interactions with Fear and the other Emotions and Elements.

Overall, Some Quiet Place is a refreshingly inventive novel with elegant prose, unexpected twists, and intriguing characters. The romance might be a too light for some, but there’s enough to keep romance readers wholly invested. With its perfect blend of fantasy and suspense, this is a must-read!

Books, Review

Throwback Thursday: Sea by Heidi R. Kling

July 17, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Sea

Sea by Heidi R. Kling
Putnam Juvenile | June 10, 2010
Original Review

Sea is one of those rare books that struck more than one chord with me. With gorgeous writing, an expertly woven plot, and endearing characters that teach each other and the reader important life lessons, it’s not hard to fall in love with this book. It’s clear that Heidi poured a lot of love and thoughtfulness into this story, and I will never be able to thank her enough for writing such a mesmerizing story that has stayed with me all these years. Sea opened my eyes and mind in ways I didn’t expect and I will always, always be grateful for that. – DJ

Still haunted by nightmares of her mother’s death, fifteen-year-old Sienna Jones reluctantly travels to Indonesia with her father’s relief team to help tsunami orphans with their post traumatic stress disorder-something Sienna knows a lot about. Since her mother’s plane went missing over the Indian Ocean three years before, Sienna doesn’t do anything if it involves the ocean or planes, so this trip is a big step forward.

But the last thing she expects is to fall for Deni, a brooding Indonesian boy who lives at the orphanage, and just so happens to be HOT. When Deni hears a rumor that his father may be alive, Sienna doesn’t think twice about running away with him to the epicenter of the disaster. Unfortunately, what they find there could break both their hearts.

GoodReads | Barnes and Noble | Indiebound
Twitter | Author Website

Books

Waiting on Wednesday: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

July 16, 2014

A Wicked Thing

A WICKED THING by Rhiannon Thomas
February 24, 2015 | Harper Teen

Like many of you, I love fairy tales, especially when they’re given the YA retelling treatment. So when I stumbled across Rhiannon Thomas’s A Wicked Thing on GoodReads, I went into full booknerd mode. A Sleeping Beauty retelling that focuses on what happens after Aurora wakes up? Count. Me. In. Too bad I have to wait until February of next year. *sobs* Though, I have a feeling the book will be well worth the wait. – DJ

A spinning wheel. A prick of a finger. A terrible curse.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairytale.

Her family is long dead. Her “true love” is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept. Everyone expects Aurora to marry her betrothed and restore magic and peace to the kingdom before revolution tears it apart. But after a lifetime spent locked in a tower for her own safety, Aurora longs for the freedom to make her own choices. When she meets a handsome rebel, he tempts her to abandon everything for a different kind of life.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her.

With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

GoodReads | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo
Author Website | Twitter