Monday, August 31, 2015

Title: Walk on Earth a Stranger
Author: Rae Carson
Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy, book #1
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: September 22, 2015
Source: ARC received for review from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Add to Goodreads
The first book in a new trilogy from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Rae Carson. A young woman with the magical ability to sense the presence of gold must flee her home, taking her on a sweeping and dangerous journey across Gold Rush–era America.

Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety?

Rae Carson, author of the acclaimed Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, dazzles with this new fantasy that subverts both our own history and familiar fantasy tropes. Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first book in this new trilogy, introduces—as only Rae Carson can—a strong heroine, a perilous road, a fantastical twist, and a slow-burning romance. Includes a map and author’s note on historical research.

You guys, I didn't think I could love Rae Carson's writing any more than I did after finishing the Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, but then I read Walk on Earth a Stranger. Admittedly, the last time I read a summary for this book was back in May 2013 when I added it to my TBR on Goodreads. All I remembered was that it was historical fiction focusing on the California Gold Rush. Not necessarily my kind of story, but Rae Carson penned it so I knew I'd at least be giving it the old college try. But it was so amazing and brilliant and brought back memories of playing Oregon Trail in elementary and middle school. So, of course, while I was searching for the game online, I had to take a break from writing this review and play for a bit. =)

Lee is the exact opposite of Elisa from Carson's first series, at least in the beginning, and yet I loved her tremendously. Whereas Elisa initially shrunk away from her future and duties, Lee embraces what she has to do when her world is turned upside-down. Still, there are a lot of similarities between the two protagonists, too, because when push comes to shove, both of these girls let the fire burning within them reign supreme and they get the job done. And both are harboring secrets that could mean the difference between life and death.

When I said that this story reminded me of playing Oregon Trail while reading, I wasn't kidding. There are covered wagons. Yokes of oxen to pull them. Hunting and trading and river crossings that can turn disastrous. And disease that can take out a wagon train lickety-split like. (I'm still playing the game in another tab while I'm writing this, so I can vouch for all those things. :P) But while the game was fun and somewhat entertaining, this story was sad and heartfelt and a little bit hopeful. It tugged at my heartstrings and kept me on the edge of my seat because just like with that game, you never knew what the trail would throw at you next.

Walk on Earth a Stranger isn't just about what happens on the trail, though. We get to see a little of Lee's home life before she sets out on her own -- and what put her on that course -- and there's a smidge of a romance thrown in, too. I honestly wasn't expecting much on that front, since Lee has to dress as a boy the minute she decides on this quest of hers, but it worked and it was rather sweet. But the hard-earned friendships and trials and tribulations of the trail were definitely the driving force of the story.

The book also goes a long way toward encouraging acceptance in a time where there was little to be had: of African Americans, of gays, of foreigners...even of women as equals. I loved every aspect and found it entirely too difficult to put this book aside for any length of time. Lee's story just kept calling to me, the way the Oregon Trail is calling to me as we speak, and even though I have a multitude of other things to do right now. I never once found Manifest Destiny as intriguing while learning about it in school as I did while reading this story. It's well-researched, and it felt like reading the gritty journal of one who actually traveled across the continent to get to California.

Like I mentioned, I hadn't read the summary prior to picking this one up, and I was actually kind of hoping for a stand-alone, what with all of the other series I have yet to finish. But once I got to the end, I was pretty stoked to realize that there was more of the story to come. I can't imagine the hardships Lee and her wagon train faced, but I also can't get enough of them. Also, I want so badly to see some of the characters get the comeuppance they so richly deserve.

I highly recommend this story for my fellow thirty-somethings who got to play this game while waiting for others to finish up their tests or for anyone who just loves a good historical fiction that's not afraid to get its hands dirty. I will definitely be in line for the next book in this saga.

GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

I write books about teens who must do brave things. I'm originally from California, but I moved to Ohio to marry my husband, who is the smartest and therefore sexiest man I know. We live in Columbus with my teenaged stepsons, who are awesome. My books tend to contain lots of adventure, a little magic and romance, and smart girls who make (mostly) smart choices. I especially love to write about questions I don't know the answers to.

Find Rae:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Weekend Update - 8.29.15

Saturday, August 29, 2015 with 11 comments
So, since my end-of-the-week post isn't just about what I got in my mailbox or on my Kindle each week -- though that is a big part of it, I won't lie -- I decided to change up the title and intro a bit.  I might tweak the format a bit over the next few weeks, but for the most part, it'll contain the same stuff: stuff I got, stuff I did, and stuff that's coming up on the blog.  Plus, I get to use the awesome GIF you see here and blow kisses to all the people who sent me lovely books and bookish things.  Oh, and I've started linking up to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews since I'm not using a specific meme title anymore.  April's also doing her own Stacking the Shelves posts on Sundays.  Stop by and say hi!  =)
This week was full of suck and I didn't really get to read very much -- though, I listened to quite a few audiobooks -- nor did I post nearly as much as I'd planned to. Which really sucks because I've actually been in a blogging mood lately. :( It's mostly work, but also house-hunting and a little bit of Katie being back in school. Basically, just this big conglomeration of things that culminated into a big, bad, sucky week. I'm glad it's over, but the whole of September looks to be pretty much the same, if this last week of August is any indication. o_O Hope the end to your summer is much better than mine!

Anyway, here's what I scored this week:

For Review:

Got these fab ARCs from Harper/EpicReads in the mail earlier this week, and then I logged into Edelweiss and saw the awesome Harper upload and couldn't resist. I. Am. So. Bad. :P

Burning GlassA Study in CharlotteThe Great HuntFlamecaster (Shattered Realms, #1)The Girl from EverywhereDreamologyReign of ShadowsAssassin's HeartThe Shadow Queen (Ravenspire, #1)Sword and Verse

Looks like I have a very exciting, fantasy-filled winter ahead of me!!!!!!! I don't even know where to start with all of this awesome!


The Hidden Prince (The Orphan Queen, #0.1)

My awesome #OTSPSecretSister apparently already knows how much I loved The Orphan Queen and how much I'm anticipating The Mirror King, so she (or maybe he?) sent me the first novella in the series! I've been trying to hold off reading it, but I don't think I can wait any more! =) It's my first time participating, but I love how this extra bit of cheer can just totally brighten your day...or week, as in my case. :)

For preordering Queen of Shadows, I got this set of buttons from the Throne of Glass series, including a bonus I ♥ Dorian button! Such a great promotion! I'd preorder more books if I got swag like this at the price I got QOS for at Amazon! :P


I received a finished copy of An Ember in the Ashes from the lovely Ashley (@Bookz4Nerdz) in trade. And it looks so pretty with the ARC on my shelf!

If you're interested in trading books with me, check out this post. =) I've still got tons available, though if my husband has his way, they'll be going to HPB this weekend! But I'll be adding some newer ARCs to my trade list soon!


Magonia (Magonia, #1)Extraordinary Means

Had both of these for review but never had time for them. Which works because the audiobooks were kind of great. :)


With #otspsecretsister in full force, I've had to be really good and institute a book-buying ban for myself. So far, it's going well. Though, I did pre-order quite a bit when all those books went on sale on Amazon -- and in order to get some of that awesome swag being offered. :D

Though, I'll be honest, that BookOutlet coupon this weekend was VERY tempting.

Oh, wait. I lied. I did buy the audiobook for another ARC I already had, but it's because the narrator is so effing fabulous and I'd rather her read this story to me:

Lair of Dreams (The Diviners, #2)

So, that's my haul. :) How about you? What did you get this week?

The Week in Review:


Just One Year (Just One Day, #2)

Current Giveaways:

First in Line tote

Firewalker Blog Tour & Giveaway

Promotional/Discussion Posts:  
  • Be #FirstInLine to read the last line: Random House just launched a new YA program giving readers early access to some of the newest books and greatest authors!
  • #WoW - The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
  • Josephine Angeline talks about "redeemable villains" on my stop on the Firewalker Blog Tour + enter to win a finished copy of the book, which releases on September 1st!

Jen's Currently Reading/Listening To:

Of Beast and BeautyThe Weight of Feathers

I am totally loving this book, but I just haven't had much time to actually sit down and read lately. And when I have, I've fallen asleep minutes into it. :( I plan to finish The Weight of Feathers this weekend, though. It's absolutely lovely and perfect for fans of The Night Circus.

I finished three audiobooks this week and DNFed another and then I didn't know what to listen to. :( So, I checked out Audible and realized I had some new credits to use. Yay! And I'm in the mood for another retelling, so I picked this one. I really liked Princess of Thorns, so I'm sure this will be a treat.

Upcoming Reviews:

Looks like I'm behind on some reviews, lol...

Lion Heart (Scarlet, #3)The Invasion of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #2)The Anatomical Shape of a HeartThe Weight of FeathersWalk on Earth a Stranger (The Gold Seer Trilogy, #1)

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Title: Just One Year
Author: Gayle Forman
Narrator: Daniel May
Series: Just One Day #2
Length:  8 hrs 12 mins
Publisher: Listening Library
Publication Date: October 10th, 2013
Source: Library
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

Add to Goodreads
Just One Day. Just One Year. Just One Read.

Before you find out how their story ends, remember how it began....

When he opens his eyes, Willem doesn’t know where in the world he is—Prague or Dubrovnik or back in Amsterdam. All he knows is that he is once again alone, and that he needs to find a girl named Lulu. They shared one magical day in Paris, and something about that day—that girl—makes Willem wonder if they aren’t fated to be together. He travels all over the world, from Mexico to India, hoping to reconnect with her. But as months go by and Lulu remains elusive, Willem starts to question if the hand of fate is as strong as he’d thought. . . .

The romantic, emotional companion to Just One Day, this is a story of the choices we make and the accidents that happen—and the happiness we can find when the two intersect.
It took me two tries to finish this one. I can never seem to finish an audio book from my library before the 2 weeks is up. I could have just finished with my kindle version, but the audio is just so good.

Earlier this Summer I listened to Just One Day. It was good. I liked it, but I have to say, Just One Year was better. You see, Just one Year is told from Willems POV. It's basically his whole story from that year. I loved how points of the story matched up with what Alison was doing at those times.

Spoiler Alert for those who haven't read Just One Day.

Willem and Allyson get separated early on in Just One Day and she pines for him. Searches for him.. it's over the whole course of the year. When she finally shows up on his doorstep... the book ends. Hello!!!! What the fuck happens? lol.

Well, Just One Year takes you right up to that point too, and it's kind of amazing because you know it's coming. All of your questions regarding Allyson's misunderstandings are answered.

What I really loved about this one is that Willem was a mystery and by reading this book, it's been solved. You really get a deep down look at how he ticks, and what makes him that way. Through all of Just One Day I thought he was kinda a prick.. but it all makes sense now.

My only complaint is I would have liked a little more.. like say an epilogue or something...

No epilogue, but there is the follow up Novella.. Just One Night. Which is basically an epilogue. I'm not going to "officially" review it.. but I recommend picking it up to read following Just One Year. You'll be frustrated otherwise.

Overall, great book. I like this little series. As far as I know, that's it. No others about these two. Which is fine. I liked how it all ended. :)

About the author:

I suppose the short version of this bio could simply read: My name is Gayle Forman and I love to write young-adult novels. Because I do. So thank you for reading them. Because without you, it’d just be me. And the voices in my head.

Gayle Forman is an award-winning author and journalist whose articles have appeared in such publications as Jane, Seventeen, Glamour, Elle, and The New York Times Magazine, to name just a few. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Find Gayle:

Website | Twitter | FacebookGoodreads

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Today on the blog, I'm hosting a stop on the Firewalker Blog Tour, brought to you by Fierce Reads and Macmillan. Firewalker is the sequel to Josephine Angelini's amazing Trial By Fire. This series features parallel universes, magic, and witches, and I think I might like it even more than the author's mythology-based series. And that's saying a lot considering how much I enjoyed those books!

For today's stop, Josephine has contributed a guest post about one of my favorite types of characters ever: the redeemable villain. First, though, here's a little more about the book, which releases on Tuesday:

Title: Firewalker
Author: Josephine Angelini
Series: The Worldwalker Trilogy, book #2
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

Add to Goodreads
Worlds divide, magic slays, and love lies in the second book of Josephine Angelini’s The Worldwalker Trilogy.

"You think I’m a monster, but my choices, as ruthless as they seem, are justified."

Lily is back in her own universe, and she's ready to start a new life with Rowan by her side. True, she almost died in the Pyre that fueled their escape from New Salem, and must hide her magic for the safety of everyone she cares about, but compared to fighting the Woven, the monstrous creatures inhabiting the alternate Salem, life is looking pretty good.

Unfortunately, Lillian, ruthless ruler of the 13 Cities, is not willing to let Lily go that easily. If she can’t persuade Lily to return to her world, she will force her to come back by doing away with the ones she loves.

Picking up right where Trial By Fire left off, Firewalker is another sexy, fast-paced, heartbreaking thrill ride from internationally bestselling author Josephine Angelini!

My (Rambling) Thoughts on Redeemable Villains
by Josephine Angelini

Villains are such interesting characters. I think they shape the plot of a story even more than the hero. No bad guy, no obstacles. No obstacles, no plot.

Here’s a little secret: the type of villain a writer chooses says a lot about him or her. It’s almost more indicative of who we are as people—our fears, our internal quirks—than the character we create to be the hero. Think about it. The hero does what is right, and there isn’t a lot a leeway in that. Save the world, or not save the world? Save the world, of course. If not, your hero is a dink. But the villain? That’s where writers dig deep and find out what scares us. This is when we go to the dark corners of our minds and shine a light on the wee beasties there.

I came up with the idea for my WorldWalker Trilogy through the villain. I was lying in bed, chasing sleep, when a disturbing thought occurred to me. I thought that if I ever went to a parallel universe and met an alternate version of myself I’d probably hate her. I’d have the same reaction I do when I hear my voice on an answering machine, or when I see myself in a video and I wasn’t expecting it. That knee-jerk ew feeling I get whenever I have the misfortune to view myself from the outside.

And I’m not talking about looks. It’s not like I see myself and think, “Look at those giant buckteeth. Never noticed that before.” I already know my teeth look like they could chew their way through a fence post. I’m fine with that. The reaction that I have to seeing myself is something deeper. Something atavistic. There’s a special kind of horror to being literally face to face with yourself. You can’t escape your own failings. In many ways, we are our own worst enemies.

I made my hero and villain two different versions of the same person. Two sides to the same coin. But that concept comes with a problem. Two sides have to meet in the middle somewhere. If a character is good in one world and evil in another there has to be a reason she turned evil. Somewhere on the inside of even the worst character there’s a reason she became that way. Understanding that reason makes us sympathize with her, even if is just a bit.

I think it’s hard for a writer to completely hate his or her villain. There are always exceptions, but I think when we try to write even the most loathsome of characters the process of creating them makes us sympathize. On top of that, villains tend to have more interesting backstory than heroes do, and writers love them some backstory. By the time we’ve worked out all the kinks we’re so darn invested in our bad guys that we just can’t not love them.

This is probably the reason it’s so common for bad guys to turn out to be the heroes by the end of a long series. Take Darth Vader, for example. He’s the ultimate bad guy in Star Wars but by the time we get to Return of the Jedi, he’s the hero. It’s Vader, not Luke, who kills the Emperor. I wonder if George Lucas intended that when he wrote the first draft of the first movie or if he just got so caught up in loving Vader as the story deepened that he had to make him take off the black hat in the end. Or black mask, as it were. Redeemable villains are almost inevitable when you’re writing long, epic series. And anyway, after two or three books, who wants to see a bad guy stay a bad guy? There’s no character arc there.

Redeeming a villain is surprisingly easy. Readers love it. It’s chronicling the downfall of a hero that’s hard. Everyone loves a redemption story. No one wants to watch a favorite character make all the wrong choices and end up evil. Lately that idea has been gaining more traction with me. Doing it, and doing it so it breaks the readers’ heart instead of just pissing them off, would be a real feat.

Next series. :) 

I agree...I'm usually much more intrigued by the villain than the hero. So much potential there! And, gah, I would love to see a story about the fallen hero and the redeemable villiain...a role reversal of the most epic kind! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Josephine!

Josephine AngeliniAbout the author:

Josephine Angelini is a Massachusetts native and the youngest of eight siblings. She graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in theater, with a focus on the classics. She now lives in Los Angeles with her husband.

Find Josephine:

Website | TwitterFacebookGoodreads

Thanks to Macmillan and Fierce Reads, we've got a finished copy of Firewalker to give away to one lucky winner! Open to U.S. residents only.

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Tour Schedule:

August 25 - Live, Love, Read
August 26 - Winterhaven Books
August 27 - The Starry-Eyed Revue (you're here!)
August 28 - Once Upon a Twilight
August 30 - FierceReads Tumblr
August 31 - YA Bibliophile
September 1 - FictionFare

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