Friday, February 17, 2017

A List of Cages by Robin Roe Book Discussion

Author: Robin Roe
Title: A List of Cages
Pages: 320
Published: January 10th, 2017 by Disney-Hyperion
Genre: Contemporary
Synopsis:  When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian—the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years. Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kindhearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives.

My thoughts:

This is my first contemporary read of 2017 and I'm so happy that I picked this up. From the very first page, this story had great pacing and a suspenseful atmosphere that made me flip through the pages 'til the very end. With likeable protagonists and impactful writing, this book will have your emotions jumping from heartache to happiness at a moment's notice.

The story is told from two points of view: Julian and Adam, two friends who have known each other since they were little.
I adore stories that focus on friendships and how inspiring they can be. To confide in someone, to encourage each other, is such a beautiful thing to see. 

Some pages can be quite difficult to handle, as they tackle tough issues. It's not always easy to read and it's painful to know these things happen, but it makes the author's message so much more powerful by the end of the story. 

This is one of those books that will stick with you long after you turn the last page. There were so many moments I just wanted to reach out and hug Julian. He's such a sweet character and I felt very protective of him. This story reminds us that we can't know someone from first glance or even third glance. Someone can be smiling, but deep down, they're not. It takes time to truly understand someone.

This story also reminds us that we are not alone, and that n
o matter what we go through, we can always heal. 
Even after all the pain we may deal with, we cannot let it harden our hearts. 

This story evoked such strong emotions throughout, and seeing two friends help each other journey through life together was so heartwarming to see. Anyone would be lucky to have a Julian or Adam in their life.

"People heal a whole lot faster when they're with someone who loves them." 

All in all, I give A List of Cages 5 out of 5 stars and I can't wait to read more from Robin Roe. If you are looking for an inspiring story that is beautifully written, I would highly recommend picking this up.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

2017 New Years Resolutions

1. Be kind. One of my favorite quotes is, and always will be, "No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind."

    No matter what happens, 
I believe it's always good to be kind to others. To give someone a compliment to brighten their day, to make them smile, to make their frown disappear.. to be kind.. it's one of the best things to do for one another, and I believe there can never be enough of it in this world. 
   So please be kind.
   And not just to others, but to yourself too
  "The next time you think of beautiful things, don't forget to count yourself."

2. Read more. I believe it's always good to read and re-read books in and out of your comfort zone because you can learn so many different things that you might have never learned otherwise. I'm so happy with what I read last year, although I didn't meet my reading goal, that's alright because I still learned a lot and gained even more knowledge for it, and that, that is everything to me.

    "Books are a uniquely portable magic." - Stephen King

3. Spend more time with family, the people you love. Family is the most important thing in the world. Time is precious and there is no such thing as spending too much time with the people you love. The ones who are always there for you. The people who have been there for years and years and only grow to love you more and more each day. When I'm spending time with family, I'm living in that moment and feeling grateful that I get to spend another day with them... I can never say enough how much family means to me.

   That's why I believe this quote, "Family. Where life begins and love never ends," is so, so true. I am very grateful to have them. They made me who I am, and because of them, I am a better person.

   I mostly made this list to remind myself what are the best goals for me, even if I don't reach them. Life is about thriving to be the best you, you can be. 
Whether I reach my goals or not, at least I can say I tried, and that, that is what counts most of all.

That is what life is about.
Falling down, but always getting back up.
We get stronger every day.
Our heart will guide us where we need to go, and at the end of the day, the most important thing you can always do is be kind to others, and to yourself. 

A few of my favorite quotes that I believe can never be heard enough: 

"You belong where you are loved."

"Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

"A loving heart is the truest wisdom."

"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of others."

Saturday, December 24, 2016

My Yearly Recap

This was an incredible year for reading. There were so many books I couldn't help but fall in love with that I will hold close to me forever. I am very grateful to all the authors out there who spend time writing and sharing their ideas with the world. They don't just bring us joy, but they also convey powerful messages that bring us clarity and inspiration. No matter what difficult times we go through, they remind us that we are never alone and that we are stronger than we know. 

I've read several books this year that inspired me in the best possible ways and have reminded me again why I read in the first place. I've written my list of my top 5 favorite books of this year, in no particular order.

   Map of Fates by Maggie Hall 

Just like the first book of The Conspiracy of Us series, this book was filled with exciting suspense and beautiful sceneries of different places across the world that made it feel as if I was watching a movie play out in ront of me. It has such a mysterious atmosphere that I couldn't help but fly through the pages until there were no more pages to turn. Last year I fell in love with this series, as well as the main characters, Avery and Jack, and I am so excited to read the final book, The Ends of the World, that comes out next year! 
   Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I have always loved Harry Potter and I just had to include this in my top 5. It had everything I love in a story. It's about Harry's children and I love that we get to read about them. I've heard that some people didn't care for this as much as the other books, but I thought it was very fun and heartwarming. 

The entire series is about the most powerful thing in the world. Living forever, having the Elder Wand, having power, none of those things mattered, and Harry knew that. In the end, not knowing love was one of Voldemort's many downfalls. Nothing can be truly conquered without love, and I will always believe that to be true.

You can read my review here.

    My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul

My Kind of Crazy is seriously one of those books that you can't help but fall in love with right away. It's amazing, funny, yet sad at some parts, and a fascinating story all in all with belivable characters. When stories make you feel all kinds of different emotions, including sadness and happiness. Those are the kind of stories that stick with you forever. I can't wait to read even more from Robin Reul in the future. 

You can read my review here.

           Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig

I am so glad I found about this debut this year. If you're looking for a mystery that is dark and intriguing, I would highly recommend picking this up, like right now. 
It has everything a good book should have. I could not figure out the ending. It has a very relatable set of characters. I loved Flynn. I loved the message this book conveyed. With laugh-out-loud-moments, with not-so-laugh-out-moments, and on the edge of your seat moments, this was seriously a brilliant story that will for sure stay with you. And I can't wait to read what this author writes next! If you haven't read this yet, you are missing out. I highly recommend it.

You can read my review here.

                   Crooked Kingdoms by Leigh Bardugo          

I love Leigh Bardugo. The way she writes is incredible and magical. I haven't had time to write a review for this book yet and I feel terrible about it. I wanted this year to be the year where I wrote several reviews because I love giving authors feedback and letting them know how much their books resonate with me. But this year has been very busy. And these books help. They help a lot.
I am so grateful to have met many talented authors this year. I want to thank all of them for making such a powerful impact on people's lives every single day. I believe without a doubt, that stories have the power to save lives, and because of those stories, we are filled with hope and always inspired along with countless others across the world. And for that, I will always look to those authors as heroes. If an author has made your day brighter, you should tell them. Or write a review, or just keep buying their books.

I'm so excited to read even more in 2017! There's so many good books coming out next year, but until then, I wish you all a beautiful new year filled with nothing but love throughout!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig Book Discussion

Author: Caleb Roehrig
Title: Last Seen Leaving
Genre: Mystery, YA

Published: October 4th, 2016 by Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 336

Flynn's girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can't answer, and her friends are telling stories that don't add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January's boyfriend, he must know something.
But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January's disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself. 

My thoughts:

I was captivated by this story from the very first page. We're introduced to Flynn, our protagonist of Last Seen Leaving, a wonderful character you can't help but sympathize with right away.

One day he discovers his girlfriend, January McConville, is missing. The police question him, people are worried, and secrets are brought to light as the story delves deeper into this suspenseful atmosphere. The author knows how to bring his characters to life and writes everything in such vivid detail that it feels like you are right there beside Flynn the entire time. I loved getting to know him and found reading from his point of view to be very refreshing.

Many other characters were just as fascinating to read. Flynn's parents were so kind and it was nice to see how supportive they were. Kaz in particular was another amazing character and it was so heartwarming to watch him and Flynn working together to unravel the mystery. Their friendship shined across the pages, I loved their witty banter, and I always looked forward to seeing more interactions between them.

With most mystery books, you often find yourself figuring things out long before the characters do, but this story did not have that issue. One thing I enjoyed was, even when I wasn't reading it, it still left me pondering what could happen next.

This story touches on subject matters not often explored in YA books and the author does a beautiful job with it all. When I heard of this debut, I knew I had to read it, and I'm so glad I did. This is much more than a mystery. It has everything a good story should have: a dynamic set of characters, realistic storytelling, and the more pages I turned, the more invested I became with Last Seen Leaving. It's about self-discovery, being who you want to be. It's filled with emotional moments and conveys a powerful message that is so inspiring. This is one of those gems of a story that stays with you long after you turn the last page.

I can't think of anything bad to say about this except that it's a standalone. I believe there can never be enough stories like this out there. If you have not read this yet, I highly recommend picking it up. All in all, I give this 5 out of 5 stars and I am so excited to read more from Caleb Roehrig!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Leigh Bardugo's Troublemakers Tour 2016 Recap

   Hi everyone. On October 4th, I was fortunate enough to have seen Leigh Bardugo on her last stop on her Troublemakers Tour. It took place in Glendale, California and it was full of passionate readers that are just as in love with her stories as I am.

    The bookstore hosting the event was Once Upon A Time Bookstore, the oldest children's bookstore in the country, and I must say they are one of the nicest bookstores around. The staff and workers are not only kind, but they always host such beautiful events throughout the year that inspire readers everywhere. And this one, this was no exception.

    Not only was Leigh Bardugo there, but Michael Dante DiMartino, the co-creator of Avatar: The Last Airbender, was there as well, and getting to hear the both of them talk on stage was such a treat. They talked for an hour and answered questions from the audience. They spoke about their writing process, their hopes, their favorite books, and even gave the audience such empowering words that resonated deeply with many. And one of the most important things they said, that I don't believe can ever be stressed enough, is to go for your dreams and never give up.  

The Adult Recreation Center, where the event took place.
  This event lasted a few hours and the time always flies by so quickly when you're in the audience listening to authors speak. There were so many people in line to see Leigh Bardugo and Michael Dante DiMartino - some even drove from hours and hours away to see them and get their books signed.

   Meeting Michael Dante DiMartino and seeing Leigh again was such a pleasure. I inspire every day to be wonderful authors like them, and every time I walk up to an author, I tend to lose my voice. I never get to say how much they truly mean to me. I look up to them every day and love what they are doing for people everywhere. And buying their books, reading their books, meeting them, is the least I can do to say 'thank you'. One of the reasons I love these events is because you get to be around authors and readers who are just as passionate about books and art as much as you are.

The talented Michael Dante DiMartino
   The book community feels like a home to me and I will always believe in all the good it does for the people across the world. I am thankful to the authors who take time to write and share their stories with us. They are not only entertaining, but their stories really do cause a beautiful impact on several lives every single day. They remind us, for when we don't see it ourselves, that we are always, always, welcomed into this world. No matter what anyone else says, we belong here. Just like our beloved characters from the books we fall in love with, are.

The beautiful Leigh Bardugo 
      Thank you for writing your stories, and I can not wait to read even more in the future.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Fading Dusk by Melissa Giorgio Book Review

Author: Melissa Giorgio  
Title: The Fading Dusk (Smoke and Mirrors #1)
Genre: Fantasy
Published: July 25th, 2015
Pages: 408
: In the gritty city of Dusk, seventeen-year-old Irina makes her living as the street magician Bantheir’s assistant. The job isn’t glamorous, but she loves the crowds, the shows, and most of all, the illusion of magic. But Irina’s world is shattered the night she is arrested and charged as Bantheir’s accomplice to murder—murder by magic.
Real magic, the kind that’s been forbidden since the old wars.
Irina finds the idea of flashy showman Bantheir using actual magic to kill someone laughable, but she’s the only one who sees how ridiculous the claim is. But how can she convince everyone Bantheir is innocent when they’ve already made up their minds? Desperate, Irina must decide who she can trust to help her win her freedom. Is the surly, handsome Captain Leonid telling the truth when he says he believes Irina is innocent, or is he just using her to get to Bantheir? What about Aden, the sweet soldier and longtime fan of Irina’s who claims he’s on her side?
Irina said she wanted to know the truth, but when she stumbles across a dark secret that changes everything, will she be strong enough to survive?


   I received this on netgalley for an honest review and I'll begin with saying how I could not bring myself to put this book down. It was so beautifully crafted that 
I simply did not want to see it come to an end. I found the plot to be very captivating. With a killer on the loose in Dusk, Irina's life will never be the same.

   I enjoyed getting to read from her point of view. She's the protagonist and I found her to be very brave and kind. She has flaws, just like we all do, but despite that, she has a good heart and only wants to see the killings in her town come to an end. I won't spoil anything, but one of the best things I enjoyed about this book was how there were so many twists and turns on every corner. One after another, more things kept being revealed.

   The author is very good at building suspense and I liked learning more about the mysterious president of the town that no one ever got to see. As the pages flew by, the atmosphere only grew darker as secrets were brought to light. The pacing never slowed and
 I loved reading about, not only Irina, but Leon and Vernen as well. I always looked forward to seeing them bond together. The author knows how to bring these characters to life and their friendship truly shined across the pages.

   All in all, I must give this five out of five stars. It was magical, suspenseful, and brilliantly written. I would recommend The Fading Dusk to anyone who enjoys an unexpected journey full of twists and turns, adventure, and a strong protagonist worth cheering for. If you have not read this yet, you should definitely pick it up!

   Side note: One of my favorite quotes from this book is:
   "Everyone deserves a chance to live. 
But no one has the right to say their life is more important than another's."

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Pasadena Loves YA 2016 Recap

   Hi, everyone. Last  Saturday I was fortunate enough to attend the third annual Pasadena Loves YA event and it was such an incredible experience to have. It took place at the Pasadena Public Library. The event started off wonderful right away and I got to meet a lot of nice readers (shout out to Serena who blogs over at readingoversleeping.The festival was so fun and inspirational that I had to write a blog post about it.

   It was truly a pleasure meeting so many authors and hearing them speak about what inspires them. The keynote speaker this year was Aija Mayrock, the author of The Survival Guide To Bullying, and getting to meet her was so very nice. Next year if you're in the area, I highly recommend attending Pasadena Loves YA because you will not be disappointed. Spending hours around authors and books is one of the best ways to spend your time. 
I truly believe book people are some of the best people in the world and it's always delightful to meet others who are just as passionate about reading as you are. Whether it's fantasy, contemporary, sci-fi or non-fiction, we all share the same love for reading. And no matter what is happening in life, you can always pick up a book who will always welcome you back.

"Live to read. Read to live." 

Me and the lovely Robin Reul, the author of My Kind of Crazy.

   The people who moderate these events are always so kind. It all begun at noon and lasted until the evening. I got to see/meet so many authors: Robin Reul. Charlotte Huang. Josephine Angelini. Kerry Kletter. Aija Mayrock. Robyn Schneider.  Ingrid Sundberg. Marisa Reichardt. Frank Beddor. And they were all so encouraging, speaking words of wisdom, innovation, and hope. The auditorium was full of readers and it was very nice to see everyone having a good time. This was truly one of the most inspiring events I have attended and I won't forget it any time soon. For these are the authors who motivate me everyday to keep reading and to never stop writing.

   Their stories make a big impact on people of all ages and that is magic in itself. 
I want to thank all the authors who make time to write stories and share them with the world. They aren't just entertaining, but they provide us with hope and remind us again that we are not alone, and that, that is so important. I don't ever want to imagine a world without them. 

      The beautiful Pasadena Public Library

Thank you again to Bridge to Books and all the incredible people who put on such a lovely festival. I'm so happy I got to spend my weekend in Pasadena and I can't wait until next year's event.

"I'll always be eternally grateful for this community of writers who represent all that's good and hopeful in this world."