10 Books to Look Forward to This Year!

10 Books to Read this Year | read more at nyctalon.com

Far off places, daring swordfights, magic spells, a prince in disguise! We’re well into the first month of 2017, and you might be looking to escape into a new book. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. These new releases, or continuing series, will be sure to get you on your reading game. Fair warning, most of these are YA, as is my preference. For other genres, follow me on Goodreads for some other exciting reads!

The Book Jumper by Mechthild Gläser – January 3rd

The Book Jumper

This fantastical YA fiction story features Amy Lennox who, after moving to Scotland with her mom to stay at the family’s home on Stormsay Island, finds out she is a book jumper. Able to leap into a story and interact with it, Amy’s powers are as dangerous as they are thrilling. When someone starts stealing from the books that Amy visits, she must team up with fellow book jumper Will in order to solve the mystery of the thefts. Available now!

Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly – January 31st

When I found out one of my favorite authors, Jennifer Donnelly, was writing this book I was so excited. Then when I saw the cover – well, just look at it! It’s gorgeous. You all know that we loved the Beast not for his baroque-style castle, but for his envy-inducing library. Talk about happily ever after. Here’s that cover:

Beauty and the Beast Lost in a Book

An original addition to the beloved Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, Lost in a Book follows the lonely, bookish Belle as she finds an enchanted book in the Beast’s library called Nevermore that carries her into a glittering new world. There, Belle is befriended by a mysterious countess who offers her the life she’s always dreamed of.

But Nevermore is not what it seems, and the more time Belle spends there, the harder it is to leave. Good stories take hold of us and never let us go, and once Belle becomes lost in this book, she may never find her way out again.

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones – February 7th

Wintersong

Liesl is the innkeeper’s daughter, the secret composer, the girl with magic in her soul. She abandoned fantastic tales of the Goblin King long ago in favor of taking care of her family and helping her brother in his musical studies. But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. I give this book a solid rating – see my review here.

Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey – February 14th

Miranda and Caliban

Miranda and Caliban is bestselling fantasy author Jacqueline Carey’s exciting retelling of The Tempest. Carey explores the themes of twisted love and unchecked power that lie at the heart of Shakespeare’s masterpiece, while serving up a fresh take on the play’s iconic characters.

Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge by Lisa Jensen – March 7th

They say that Château Beaumont is cursed, but servant-girl Lucie doesn’t believe it—how could anyone as handsome as Jean-Loup Christian Henri LeNoir, Chevalier de Beaumont and master of the estate, be cursed? She cannot imagine the monster that lurks behind his handsome façade, and after the chevalier reveals his brutal cruelty, Lucie clings to the hope of revenge. She wishes to see Jean-Loup suffer, and a wise woman grants her wish, turning Jean-Loup into a hideous beast and Lucie into a candlestick, sleek and silver and impervious to harm. For months, Lucie casts her enchanted light on Beast and illuminates his grotesqueness…until the night an intruder shows up on their doorstep and changes everything. Filled with magic and fierce emotion, Lisa Jensen’s imaginative retelling transforms a classic into a lyrically written, psychologically complex exploration of good, evil, innocence, and truth that defies expectations.

This story offers a unique twist on the classic Beauty and the Beast story, keep an eye out for reviews!

Hunted by Meagan Spooner – March 17th

Hunted

Beauty and the Beast retellings always have a special place in my heart (see my Uprooted review here), and this year is especially friendly for this type of tale in light of Disney’s much anticipated live-action film. Check out what Goodreads has to say about this promising book:

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas – May 2nd

A Court of Wings and Ruin

This NA (that’s New Adult, for you young’uns) series has captured the hearts of Maas fans everywhere. The third installment of this riveting series picks up with Feyre back in the spring court with Tamlin, and the entire world on the brink of war. Expect to feel all of the feels. All. Of. Them. Also expect to wish for a time machine (a little blue box, perhaps?) that will bring you closer to the release date of this book, because May 2nd is too far away.

The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye – May 16th

The Crown's Fate

If you liked the first installment of this series, The Crown’s Game, then you’re bound to love the second. If not, now’s the time to dive into this historical fantasy. Pick up on May 16th, or pre-order here.

Dark Breaks the Dawn by Sara B. Larson – May 30th

Dark Breaks the Dawn

A princess, magic, a corrupt king, romance, the battle between light and dark. What are you waiting for? Oh yeah, that May 30th release date. Preorder here.

Sparks of Life by Janet B. Taylor – August 1st

Sparks of Life

For the first time in her life, Hope Walton has friends . . . and a (maybe) boyfriend. She’s a Viator, a member of a long line of time-traveling ancestors. When the Viators learn of a plan to steal a dangerous device from the inventor Nikola Tesla, only a race into the past can save the natural timeline from utter destruction. Navigating the glitterati of The Gilded Age in 1895 New York City, Hope and her crew will discover that high society can be as deadly as it is beautiful.

The second addition to this exciting time-traveling series is sure to be a hit! Pre-order here.

What books are you reading this year? Leave your comments (and recommendations!) below.

8 Books on Our Radar for Fall 2016

8-books-to-read-this-fall

The fall is an ideal time to catch up on your reading list and there are so many amazing books coming out these next few months, chances are I will probably post a second fall book list. For now, here are the books that you definitely will want to add to your shelves asap!

Damn Delicious – 100 Super Easy, Super Fast Recipes by Chungah Rhee

damn-delicious-cookbook-by-chungah-rhee

As a hardcore Damn Delicious fan, I have to say I am beyond thrilled that Chungah – the brains behind one of the internet’s most popular food blogs, Damn Delicious – is releasing a book. With her signature mouth-watering photos, the Damn Delicious inaugural cookbook features 240 pages of exclusive new recipes, as well as some of Chungah’s most beloved dishes. Releases on September 6th, pre-order here.

The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life by John le Carre

the-pigeon-tunnel-by-john-le-carre

The Little Drummer Girl was my first ever le Carre and I’m still obsessed with it. In The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life, John le Carre gives readers a glimpse into his life – from serving in British Intelligence during the Cold War to meeting with two former heads of the KGB. This first memoir from the noted author is sure to be a thrilling read. Release date: September 6th, pre-order here.

Breaking Breads: A New World of Israeli Baking

breaking-breads-by-uri-scheft

My Breads Bakery obsession has already been well documented here, just look at those pictures and tell me that this cookbook isn’t worth its weight in Nutella babka:

“Israeli baking encompasses the influences of so many regions—Morocco, Yemen, Germany, and Georgia, to name a few—and master baker Uri Scheft seamlessly marries all of these in his incredible baked goods at his Breads Bakery in New York City and Lehamim Bakery in Tel Aviv. Nutella-filled babkas, potato and shakshuka focaccia, and chocolate rugelach are pulled out of the ovens several times an hour for waiting crowds. In Breaking Breads, Scheft takes the combined influences of his Scandinavian heritage, his European pastry training, and his Israeli and New York City homes to provide sweet and savory baking recipes that cover European, Israeli, and Middle Eastern favorites. Scheft sheds new light on classics like challah, babka, and ciabatta—and provides his creative twists on them as well, showing how bakers can do the same at home—and introduces his take on Middle Eastern daily breads like kubaneh and jachnun. The instructions are detailed and the photos explanatory so that anyone can make Scheft’s Poppy Seed Hamantaschen, Cheese Bourekas, and Jerusalem Bagels, among other recipes. With several key dough recipes and hundreds of Israeli-, Middle Eastern–, Eastern European–, Scandinavian-, and Mediterranean-influenced recipes, this is truly a global baking bible.”

Breaking Breads is available for purchase on October 18th, pre-order it here.

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

futhermore-by-tahereh-mafi

Bestselling author of the Shatter Me series, Tahereh Mafi’s Furthermore promises to be an equally enthralling read. Futhermore tells the tale of Alexis Queensmeadow, a 12-year-old who must travel through the mythical and dangerous world of Furthermore where “down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong” all to save her father and bring him back to their home in Ferenwood. To be fair, this book released on August 30th, so not technically a fall release, but close enough. Pick it up here.

Gilt Hollow by Lorie Langdon

gilt-hollow-by-lorie-langdon

Lorie Langdon must be a writing machine! Her and Carey Corp’s much-anticipated conclusion to the Doon Series just released this summer and she’s already back with a pivotal YA book just in time for the fall. Gilt Hollow follows Willow Lamott whose best friend Ashton is a murderer, and who also happens to be freshly out of juvie and headed back to the small town of Gilt Hollow. Will Ashton’s desire to clear his name and become the man that Willow sees him destroy everyone he loves? If small town drama, mystery, and suspense is your thing – then you’ll love this book. Pre-order ahead of the September 27th release date here.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

crooked-kingdom-by-leigh-bardugo

The second addition to the Six of Crows series, Crooked Kingdom promises to be a dark continuation of an already dark and thrilling story. Readers of Six of Crows are dying to know what will happen to Kaz and the crew, if you haven’t read the first one – it’s been generally likened to a fantastic and dark YA version of Oceans 11, so if you’re into heists, planning, with a little mystery and a load of magic thrown in you will love this series. I definitely recommend getting them in hardcover, the book design is amazing and certainly deserves a spot on your shelf, releases on September 27th.

The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

the-chemist-by-stephenie-meyer

The queen of YA herself, Stephenie Meyer is releasing a new novel. The Chemist, her first thriller but second adult novel, is about an ex-agent on the run from her former employers. She must take one last case to clear her name, of course this one last case will probably involve very deadly circumstances. Sounds very Jason Bourne, and very promising – we still have a while to wait yet, it’s expected to release on November 15th. Pre-order on amazon here.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

heartless-by-marissa-meyer

Author of the extremely popular Lunar Chronicles series (seriously, do these authors never sleep?), Marissa Meyer brings readers an exciting tale of none other than the Queen of Hearts. We know her as the terror of Wonderland. In Heartless Meyer brings us the girl before monster, Catherine, who wants to open a bakery with her best friend and fall in love on her own terms. But this is the Kingdom of Hearts and fate has other plans. Intrigued? So am I, pre-order this tale ahead of its November 8th release date here.

There are so many other amazing books to look out for – what are you reading this fall? Did you read anything amazing over the summer? Let me know!

8 Books to Read this Summer

I almost threw the towel in on this list. Not because there weren’t enough books that I felt worthy of recommendation, but because there is possibly even too many books out there that would make for perfect summer reads! But somehow I muddled through and narrowed it to eight. This list is comprised of my ideal kind of lazy summer day book, yours may of course differ – so feel free to drop your book recommendations in the comments below. Also, join me here on goodreads for more book reviews and to keep track of your favorite reads!

8 Books to Read This Summer NYC Talon

Remnant Chronicles: The Beauty of Darkness

The Beauty of Darkness

The Beauty of Darkness is the third and final book of The Remnant Chronicles series by Mary E. Pearson and it is not to be missed! Full of intrigue, romance, suspense, and action – this YA series featuring the ultimate heroine and a thoroughly engaging story-line will keep you glued to the page. This last installment releases on August 2nd, so you’re sure to have a great book to finish summer vacation with. Preorder here.

Shining Sea

The Shining Sea by Mimi Cross

Looking for a quick fantasy read with some Twilight undertones? Shining Sea by Mimi Cross definitely deserves its spot among beach reads with its mix of mystery, fantasy, and family drama. Here’s the goodreads synopsis:

“Seventeen-year-old Arion Rush has always played the obedient sidekick to her older sister’s flashy femme fatale—until a mysterious boating accident leaves Lilah a silent, traumatized stranger. As her sister awaits medical treatment with their mother, Arion and her father head to his hometown in Maine to prepare a new life for them all. Surrounded by the vast Atlantic, she finds solace in songwriting, her only solid ground.

Unexpectedly, Arion blossoms in the tiny coastal town. Friends flock to her, and Logan Delaine, a volatile heartthrob, seems downright smitten. But it’s Bo Summers—a solitary surfer, as alluring as he is aloof—that Arion can’t shake. Meanwhile, Lilah’s worsening condition, a string of local fatalities, and Arion’s own recent brushes with death seem ominously linked…to Bo’s otherworldly family. As Arion’s feelings for Bo intensify and his affections turn possessive, she must make a choice. How will Arion learn to listen to her own voice when Bo’s siren song won’t stop ringing in her ears?” Read The NYC Talon full review here.

A Court of Mist and Fury

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sara J Maas

The second book to Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury resumes with Feyre after her harrowing experience freeing the Fae from Amarantha’s evil clutches under the mountain. You definitely need to have read ACOTAR prior to this, but you won’t regret it, you’ll find yourself zooming through all 640 pages of this book in no time. This story is amazing. Read more here.

Food Whore: A Novel of Dining and Deceit

Food Whore by Jessica Thom

Sort of like The Devil Wears Prada, but for the food scene, Food Whore by Jessica Tom is one of my favorite summer reads. “Full of wit and mouth-watering cuisines, Jessica Tom’s debut novel offers a clever insider take on the rarefied world of New York City’s dining scene in the tradition of The Devil Wears Prada meets Kitchen Confidential.” Pick it up here.

One Paris Summer

One Paris Summer by Denise Swank

For teens, One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank, is a recipe for a great summer read. Sophie Brooks and her brother are sent to spend a summer in Paris with their father who had suddenly abandoned them a year earlier. Now he’s about to remarry and we watch Sophie as she struggles with feelings of betrayal, loyalty, love, her dreams of becoming a pianist, and of course an evil stepsister. The summer she dreaded soon promises to become the best summer of her life. Pick up this classic YA contemporary on amazon here.

Forever Doon

Forever Doon

The final book to Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon’s Doon series has us feeling bittersweet – we don’t want to say goodbye! Forever Doon picks up where we left off – with the Brig o’ Doon destroyed and the portal fragmented, Doon’s forces are divided and isolated in different dimensions. Can Vee, Jamie, Kenna, Duncan, and Doonians (both old and new) pull together and save their kingdom or will the witch of Doon destroy them forever? I loved this fun YA series and have to say this final book gave me chills! Pre-order for the August 2nd release date here.

The Books That Changed My Life: Reflections by 100 Authors, Actors, Musicians, and Other Remarkable People

The Books that Changed My Life

A book for book lovers and writers, this collection by Bethanne Patrick features one hundred of today’s most prominent literary and cultural icons talking about the books that hold a special place in their hearts, that changed their life, why they love them, and their passion with readers everywhere. Regan Arts has teamed up with literary charity 826National, which will receive a portion of the books proceeds to provide students ages 6-18 with opportunities to explore their creativity and improve their writing skills, find out more here.

Strangers on a Bridge: The Case of Colonel Abel and Francis Gary Powers

Strangers on a Bridge

Contrary to popular belief (a.k.a. my sister), I do not exclusively read YA. I’m also an ardent fan of historical non-fiction. If you’ve seen Bridge of Spies starring Tom Hanks, you’ll know a little bit about the 1962 exchange that occurred on Glienicke Bridge. Take a more in-depth and riveting look with an insider account from James B. Donovan himself, who was appointed to defend Abel. I’ve saved the best for last, although it’s at the bottom of this write-up it’s actually at the top of my to-read list. Pick it up here.

For more great content about summer, please be sure to check out these awesome posts written by my fellow Chosen Chix bloggers:

Cookbook Review: The Quick Six Fix by Stuart O’Keefe

I used to have a massive collection of cookbooks, some that I had since I was a kid. Most of them were rarely used, but I did have my favorites. Books like an old creased copy of The Joy of Cooking, a buttered and battered Cookie Cookbook, and an old retro collection of chocolate recipes that were given to me as a gift years ago. Unfortunately, most of them were damaged during a bad leak a couple of years ago and had to be disposed of. It was kind of bittersweet because so many of them had been on our shelves since I was a kid, but it also provided me with an opportunity to find cookbooks that I would actually use. I’m too busy to worked on tiered cakes and exotic dessert recipes. So a more practical addition like The Quick Six Fix by Stuart O’Keefe, which focuses on no-fuss meals, is a definitely the sort of staple cookbook most people like me should have in their arsenal.

The Quick Six Fix Review

In The Quick Six Fix, features dozens of delicious recipes for breakfast, salads, soups, pasta, fish, chicken, pork, beef, sides, and desserts that will get you in and out of the kitchen in thirty minutes or less. Each requires no more than 6 key ingredients, 6 minutes of prep work, and 6 minutes of clean up. Since most of my cooking typically involves a ridiculous amount of mess, time, and quite a few ingredients (hence the mess), I was really excited to take this cookbook for a test run.

Stuart O'Keefe Cookbook

There are so many great recipes in this book, but I really loved how Chef Stuart includes recipes for meal components like Lime Avocado Dressing, Asian Dressing from up the Street, and Mustard Herb Dressing. Having these sort of at the ready, makes meal prep even more simpler. I had quite a few favorite recipes – like the Kale , Fingerling, Potato, and Bacon Salad. Because of the simplicity of the recipes, switching out for substitutes and personalizing recipes is incredibly easy. Like for that salad I switched out spinach for most of the kale. Another must-try recipe is the Chicken and Rice Miso Soup. Chef Stuart was first introduced to miso soup when he moved to California, and he’s been hooked since – which is another thing I love about this book, that you get a little bit of background with every recipe.

Lemony Artichoke Spaghetti Recipe Review

So the most recent recipe that I whipped up with this book was the Lemony Artichoke Spaghetti. Inspired by his trip to Seattle’s Pike Place Market, I have to say I loved this pasta. I’m a massive fan of marinated artichokes and this pasta felt very reminiscent of my favorite picatta which also has a ton of artichoke quarters. I also added scallops here, as I just happen to have some fresh scallops on hand (it happens, rarely, but it does occur, haha!).

The Quick Six Fix Pasta Recipe Review

I definitely recommend checking out The Quick Six Fix, especially if you or someone you know loves to cook at home and struggles with making time for it, or even someone who is relatively new to home cooking. More info here.

Book Review: Curio by Evangeline Denmark

Curio by Evangeline Denmark Review

I’m fairly certain I’ve mentioned this before, but I am not the world’s biggest steampunk fan, I haven’t had the best interactions with the genre. But Curio, by Evangeline Denmark, is definitely a game changer. Curio follows Grey Haward, a girl from Mercury City – a sort of other-world Chicago. To survive in Mercury City you must take your daily dose of potion, potion which is concocted by the Chemists. The Chemists are, for lack of a better way to explain, the elite authority. Unlike the suffering citizens of Mercury City, the Chemists have magic and their potion, which keeps them in power. Grey is a bit different than the average Mercurian, she’s unusually tall and strong in a city of underfed and underdeveloped citizens. Despite her and her family’s efforts, she catches the eye of the Chemists and after a tragic turn of events ends up uncovering secrets that will change her and possibly Mercury City forever.

Curio Book Review

One of the biggest issues I’ve had with steampunk is finding a human connection in stories often filled with overwhelming descriptions. Curio strikes that balance of giving me, the reader, that perfect balance between world building, character building, and story building. I was enthralled with the fantasy surrounding Curio, which also contrasted so beautifully with the dank, dangerous, and well, frankly depressing landscape of Mercury City.

 Grey Haward has always detested the Chemists, the magicians-come-scientists who rule her small western town. But she has always followed the rules, taking the potion the Chemists ration out that helps the town’s people survive. A potion that Grey suspects she—like her grandfather and father—may not actually need.

By working at her grandfather’s repair shop, sorting the small gears and dusting the curio cabinet inside, Grey has tried to stay unnoticed—or as unnoticed as a tall, strong girl can in a town of diminutive, underdeveloped citizens. Then her best friend, Whit, is caught by the Chemists’ enforcers after trying to protect Grey one night, and after seeing the extent of his punishment, suddenly taking risks seems the only decision she can make.

But with the risk comes the reality that the Chemists know her family’s secret, and the Chemists soon decide to use her for their own purposes. Panicked, Grey retreats to the only safe place she knows—her grandfather’s shop. There, however, a larger secret confronts her when her touch unlocks the old curio cabinet in the corner and reveals a world where porcelain and clockwork people are real. There, she could find the key that may save Whit’s life and also end the Chemists’ dark rule forever.

As far as characters go, Grey is young, curious, and in a manner of speaking very innocent – but not stupidly so. Her reactions are believable, and I love that she is really intuitive – she knows when she is in a sticky situation and makes moves to better herself. She absolutely engages in zero self-pity, and despite being dropped (quite literally) into a new situation she really hits the ground running which moves the story along well. Also, kudos to Evangeline Denmark for including a scene that dealt with actual basic issues that would arise – like using the bathroom. My sister and I always joke about how our heroines never seem to have to use the bathroom, or brush their teeth and tend to other hygiene needs!

Curio

Her character is one that I could not read enough of, in fact I would even go so far as to say that I wish that Curio would have been even longer so I could spend more time with Grey and Blaise, and her father. Which brings me to another key character, Whit. Whit started out as such a star for me, sure he was stubborn but he really seemed noble and honorable. Then I completely lost interest in him. I mean completely. His narrative was a real drag for me, and that is the single criticism I have of this book. I wish there was less Whit, and significantly more Grey and Blaise. Their relationship could have benefited with more development, while Whit & co. could have been relegated to a much smaller portion of the book (or even the sequel or a novella) and I would have been 1001% fine with it. I get that his story, especially considering the ending, will probably evolve in the second book (and hopefully as the series continues) but right now I’m very “eh” about his part in this tale. And just to make it clear, the writing of Whit and what happens to him is really good, but for me (which probably won’t hold true for most other readers) I just didn’t fall in love with him.

There is a short prequel novella, called Mark of Blood and Alchemy. It’s not necessary to have read it before you start Curio, but I appreciate its existence. I am definitely hoping we get more of Blaise and Grey, Blaise and Grey’s dad, and even Grey’s mom in the next book, as well as delving more into the world of the Chemists. I’m trying really hard to keep this review spoiler free but, let’s just say that there is so much potential for juicy conflict within Grey’s group especially since we know that there was an existing relationship with Blaise and Grey’s father – which has yet to be thoroughly fleshed out. I still have so many questions, and honestly I’m not sure whether I want them all addressed in the next installment or whether I just want to sit down and have a Q&A sesh with Evangeline Denmark, haha!

Curio is an adventure worth delving into, whether you’re a fan of steampunk or not. Entertainment, romance, shocking revelations, and equally as riveting twists and turns make this a great read! Pick it up on amazon here!

Title: Curio
Author: Evangeline Denmark
Pages: 432
Genre: Teen, YA, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Steampunk
Publisher: Blink, HarperCollins

*I was sent an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Book Review: Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor

Touted as an Outlander for teens, I was more than excited to get my book nerd hands on Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor. I literally finished this book within 48 hours, so right off the bat I’m going to tell you it’s good, and yes, you should totally read it! Here’s a quick synopsis before I delve into my review:

Into the Dim Book Review

Being “the homeschooled girl,” in a small town, Hope Walton’s crippling phobias and photographic memory don’t help her fit in with her adoptive dad’s perfectly blonde Southern family. But when her mother is killed in a natural disaster thousands of miles from home, Hope’s secluded world crumbles. After an aunt she’s never met invites her to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic. She’s a member of a secret society of time travelers, and is actually trapped in the twelfth century in the age of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Now Hope must conquer her numerous fears and travel back in time to help rescue her mother before she’s lost for good. Along the way, she’ll discover more family secrets, and a mysterious boy who could be vital to setting her mother free… or the key to Hope’s undoing.

The settings for Into the Dim are lush and exciting, and the story itself is so engaging. As a massive fan of time travel (pretty much by way of Outlander and Dr. Who) and history, I was thrilled to see a YA capitalize on them both. Unlike many sci-fi novels, there aren’t any glaring plot holes. The manner of time travel is easily explained and the conflict is complex but not unbelievable. I loved the characters, although I’m really hoping that the next book delves more into the Viators and the Timeslippers – I feel like we haven’t yet had enough time with all the characters!

Into the Dim kindle cover

I loved Hope, she is a great YA main character. She has this amazing photographic memory, which is counterbalanced by her serious phobias like anxiety and claustrophobia. I love that despite her various issues, Hope is never really weakened by them, she doesn’t engage in any sluggish self-pity. Despite her crippling anxiety she handles her situation rather well. Going along this journey from Hope’s perspective was a joy, she’s the kind of character that you definitely look forward to hearing more from.

I do wish that the book was longer – I know it’s 432 pages, but it felt like it went by so fast! Also, I wasn’t thrilled with the ending which felt rather rushed. I know everyone hates a cliff-hanger, but they’re a necessary evil. They leave you reconsidering everything you just read and wanting more, and I don’t really feel like there was a serious “gasp! Until next time…” kind of ending. That being said, I loved Outlander and I love that Diana Gabaldon gave this book her stamp of approval, one drawback about Outlander for me is that I wouldn’t share it with my younger sister because it has so many intense mature themes. However, Into the Dim allows me to share the world of time travel and history because it’s written for that young adult audience and I know my sister will get hooked because with a story like this – brimming with adventure, history, time travel, and romance – how could you not? It’s just so utterly engrossing and wonderfully told.

Into the Dim by Janet Taylor

All in all (wow, I feel like I haven’t written that phrase since my senior thesis), Into the Dim is an exciting YA novel not just because it’s amazingly written but also because it’s a great way to introduce younger readers into the world of time travel and history, and I cannot wait to see what else Janet B. Taylor has up her sleeve! The book is anticipated to hit shelves on March 1st 2016 – make sure you get your hands on a copy!

Preorder Into the Dim for your kindle here.

Title: Into the Dim
Author: Janet B. Taylor
Pages: 432
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction, Adventure
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers

*I received a digital copy for review via NetGalley, find more of my reviews and talk books with me on goodreads!

Book Review: The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill

At first I hated this book. I could not connect with the main character, Liza, who I felt was way too uptight and controlling. I was tempted to put the book down (or in this case, my Kindle) but I didn’t and I’m actually pretty darn glad that I finished it. The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill stars Liza Sanders, a drum major who has just found out her band is losing funding. Armed with her clipboard and baton, she finds Destiny – a luxury cruise liner hosting a Spring break talent show complete with a $25,000 prize. Throw in an old friend (a.k.a. new flame), the school jock, and an ex-bestie/current arch nemesis and you’ve got a recipe for YA Contemporary gold.

Kindle-Book-Review-The-Trouble-with-Destiny

You see, when I was in my senior year of high school I finally took Musical Theater, the only art credit that would fit into my perfectly crafted schedule where I attempted to spend the least amount of time in school, little knowing that I would be selected as Stage Manager for our Winter performance. If you don’t know what a Stage Manager is, they’re basically that person that does everything – they have to make sure that everything and everyone has what they need, is where they need to be, and doing what they’re supposed to be doing. I was one of the only senior’s in a sea of freshman, given the burden of stage managing as well as having to perform “Can You Hear the People Sing” from Les Miserables. Suffice it to say it was one of those terrible, horrible experiences that you sort of chuckle about years later, but also still feel weirdly bitter about. In the middle of running around moving people and props on stage I had a classmate open the stage door on my finger, ripping my fingernail up and backwards off of my nail bed exactly one act before I was supposed to perform. The pain in combination with angry stress left me crying angry tears. I still remember going on to perform and hearing my musical theater teacher whisper from the front row “sing LOUDER Krista”. I don’t think anyone could have given a more genuine French revolution-inspired (pardon me, June rebellion) performance.

The-Trouble-with-Destiny-Review

This tale of woe has a point (I promise), you see while I initially abhorred Liza’s over-controlling personality I began to understand her. I could identify with stress and pressure and feeling like you’re the only person who can see “the big picture”. I can identify with giving yourself over to stress in such a manner as you do and say things you instantly regret. For people who are natural born leaders, like I believe Liza is, there is a struggle with trying to get people on the same level of motivation when they are not as invested. Which is why I loved that the story ended the way it did.

Of course, there were some parts that I just couldn’t even – like when she got in trouble with her band teacher. I get how in terms of moving the story along that would be a quick way to get Liza out of leading the band, however, I just didn’t like how it was written, I didn’t like that that was what ended up happening. I also didn’t like her antagonistic relationship with Russ throughout most of the book – I liked Russ instantly, as a reader you know he’s the good guy so every time Liza is mean or just plain rude to Russ it makes you sort of kinda hate her. I went to a city school where I feel like cliques weren’t as big of a deal as they might be elsewhere, so I’m not sure if this sort of resentment has any root in reality but I wasn’t a fan of the sports team-hating on Liza’s part – it felt a little too cliché. Also, the ending is really rushed – like the author is tying up all these loose ends that have been floating around – Liza’s relationship with Demi gets a quick and unrealistic ending, which brings me to the conclusion of this lengthy review…

I realized while writing my review that the issues that I had with the story were all mainly issues with the tendency of the writing to be unrealistic. I mean, would you really do what Liza does? Would anyone? And then it hit me – this book is a literary chick flick for the younger set – does anyone bump into a billionaire in the street, end up interviewing with them, solve their corporate issues with your knowledge of shopping, and magically fall in love? Not often. In the same way no one would really raise enough money for a luxury cruise ship excursion with the entire band in the middle of being defunded, and casually compete to win $25k in between buffet bars, jacuzzi’s, and romantic entanglements? Probably not. But we love these stories just the same, which is why I can gladly give The Trouble with Destiny a tidy recommendation.

Pick up your copy of The Trouble with Destiny here!

Title: The Trouble with Destiny
Author: Lauren Morrill
Pages: 272
Genre: Young Adult, Teens, Fiction, Contemporary
Publisher: Random House, Delacorte Press

*I received a digital copy for review via the NetGalley, find more of my reviews and talk books with me on goodreads!

Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Two weeks ago I went on YA reading rampage. Well, not really. But I did finish three books in a span of three days, and one of those books was Uprooted by Naomi Novik (the others were the first two books of The Remnant Chronicles series). The blurb for Uprooted promised to be an intriguing, if not dark, retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It’s only until recently that I’ve become a fan of BATB, as a kid I never really liked it because it was my older sister’s favorite Disney movie and as rascally younger siblings do, I didn’t want to like everything that my sister liked. Of course now when she asks if we should watch Beauty and the Beast, I’m always game!

Kindle Book Review Uprooted

But back to the book, while this is modeled generally off of the framework of BATB, it’s not really a retelling. It’s more just inspired by BATB – sure we have a “beast” character, a Belle, and even a sort of Gaston, but the stakes are much higher here than in Belle’s little village and the curse in this story is a dark and dangerous woods that is a legitimate threat to life in the entire kingdom.

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”
 
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
 
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
 
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
 
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

As far as main characters go, I really adored Agnieszka. She was spunky and honest, brave but in a realistic way. I’m not a big fan of leads being surprised that they have some hidden strength that no one else has – girls that are “just normal” but find out that they’re in fact princesses, have epic ninja skills, or are secretly another being entirely – but when we find out that Agnieszka is unique in her own right, it’s so well written that we don’t feel that this makes Agnieszka no longer relatable. She doesn’t become this awesome, cool heroine who is impossible to emulate because you don’t have a similarly tragic past that’s murky with mystery and deadly family secrets (I’m looking at you dystopian fiction). She’s still this normal girl, who is struggling with a life and future that she never anticipated – i.e. spending ten years with the “Dragon”, a mysterious and grumpy/rude but generally helpful wizard.

This story was packed with so much great stuff, I honestly don’t know where to begin, and really party of me just wants you to stop right now and pick up a copy yourself. So if you haven’t read it, I recommend you stop here. If you have then continue –

us-uprooted1

So I loved the idea and the character of the ‘Dragon’, but I wish that there was more development where he was concerned. I don’t know, I felt it was like a gun on the mantelpiece – there is so much more potential for story here! I am demanding a sequel Naomi!

The whole premise of having a forest that is pretty much alive with deadly forces is so enchanting, and I loved how the author doesn’t leave flagrant plot holes and does not overwhelm you with useless information. I do wish that there was more interaction between the Dragon and Agnieszka – their relationship goes from 0 to 60 in a matter of a few scenes, and I honestly don’t think she was prepared to get into bed with the Dragon when she did. In fact I wish she hadn’t – partly because I would’ve recommended this book to younger readers (like my younger sister) if this scene hadn’t been included. I love Agnieszka’s relationship with Kasia, but I also feel that there is so much more that could be done/said with both of their characters.

I get that this is one of those do you or don’t you book reviews – but the reality is is that I loved this book, but on the other hand I can understand people who are not as enamored with it as I am. For instance, I love lyrical and descriptive writing – my imagination can fill in the scenes with all the suspense and drama required – but some people prefer it to be written out for them and there’s nothing wrong with that. I do sincerely hope that Naomi writes a sequel, as the book really just scratched the surface of iceberg of potential this world she wrote has.

Pick up your kindle copy of Uprooted here!

Title: Uprooted
Author: Naomi Novik
Pages: 448
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Del Rey, Ballantine Books, Random House

Book Review: Shades of Doon

I loved the Doon series so much that I finished each book within hours. I’m a speedy reader by nature, but I only ever finish a book within 24 hours when it’s a story that has fully sunk its claws into me, and all three Doon installments did that completely. Saying I’m hooked would be a vast understatement. The latest addition to the series, Shades of Doon, written by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon, is another chapter in the girls’ exciting tale involving the kingdom of Doon.

Shades of Doon by Carey Corp & Lorey Langdon Review | read more at nyctalon.com

For those of you unfamiliar with this popular YA fantasy series, allow me to introduce you to our two main characters Veronica and Mackenna – best friends, both with their fair share of endearing and frustrating qualities. They’re the kind of girls I’d totally be friends with. We also have two swoon-worthy male leads. During the first book we’re introduced to our two MC’s, along with the enchanting (but soon troubled) land of Doon and our eclectic cast of characters. The second book, Destined for Doon, was pretty much a whole world of angst (but good angst) in terms of Kenna and Duncan. We also deal with the reemergence of a big bad as well as getting to watch how Veronica deals with her new role and what that means for her and Jamie.

When I first read that this book, Shades of Doon, would take Mackenna and Veronica (Verranica) back to their former lives I was both apprehensive and excited. Apprehensive because both of the girls have matured since the first book and it’s easy for characters to slip back into old behaviors and court old fears when faced with their past – which is also why I was excited because it likewise gave our girls the opportunity to grow, not only as individuals but also as people in relationships.

Shades of Doon by Carey Corp & Lorey Langdon Review | read more at nyctalon.com

What I find is most striking about the Doon series, and especially in this latest installment is that I feel like Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon have really given us two utterly believable and relatable characters – within a not-entirely-relatable setting. In fact, even our two leading men – Jamie and Duncan – are not without their flaws. Vee and Kenna are not two dimensional, they’re complex within reason (and I say within reason, because I’m not overly fond of characters that are written to be cliche’ and illogical – which Kenna and Vee are not either of). Their personal problems are not insurmountable and their reactions are spot on.

Shades of Doon delivers thoroughly on “I must go back and re-read (and re-read again)” moments – especially during the time that Vee, Kenna, Jamie, and Duncan spend in the modern world. It also features plenty of fun and intrigue – let’s just say that you will be left clinging to the edge of your seat/couch/bed. And if you have any lingering questions after Destined for Doon, yes, they do all get answered!

The second book did leave us with a cliffhanger, but this one *spoiler* leaves us with the mother of all cliffhangers! So much so that I’m ridiculously excited for the fourth book (which is slated for release in the fall of 2016) – actually I read on Sara Ella’s blog that their will only be four Doon books, which is sort of disappointing because honestly I just can’t get enough of Vee, Kenna, Fergus, Fiona, and the MacCrae brothers!

Guys, I’m entirely engrossed with this story in the best sort of way, pick it up and you will be too!

Check out Shades of Doon and 7 other books you’ll want to pre-order right now for the fall!

Books to Pre-Order in Time for the Fall 2015 | read more at nyctalon.com

*I was sent an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review*

8 Books to Pre-Order In Time for the Fall

The summer of 2015 has already given us a plethora of good reads as well as another Harper Lee book to add to our shelves with Go Set a Watchman, and the fall literary lineup promises to be no less exciting! Check out these highly anticipated books, and pre-order them before they fly off the shelves. Here are 8 books you’ll want to be reading this fall, long after the back to school rush and way into the holidays:

Books to Pre-Order in Time for the Fall 2015 | read more at nyctalon.com

My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life

My Kitchen Year

For those of you who are fans of food, recipes, food writing or just plain good writing. In this book Ruth Reichl, arguably one of food’s greatest storytellers and former editor in chief for Gourmet magazine, shares how food – and in this case, cooking – helped her cope with the folding of the aforementioned magazine back in 2009. The book contains 136 recipes, pre-order on amazon here, or see the book’s page on RandomHouse.com. The book goes on sale September 29th.

Shades of Doon (A Doon Novel)

Shades of Doon

The highly anticipated third installment of the YA fantasy Doon series by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon is slated to release on September 1st. Shades of Doon continues the story of Veronica and Mackenna (and subsequently Jamie and Duncan) as the girls find themselves thrust out of the idyllic kingdom of Doon and back into their old lives. I personally can’t recommend this series enough and can’t wait to get my hands on Shades of Doon! Preorder on amazon here, or check out the book’s page here.

Lost Ocean: An Inky Adventure and Coloring Book

Lost Ocean by Johanna Basford

While technically a coloring book and not a book book, Lost Ocean: An Inky Adventure is the latest in the best selling series of adult coloring books by Johanna Basford and is definitely one worth picking up. Both entertaining and relaxing, Johanna’s previous release Secret Garden has purportedly sold over 2 million copies worldwide! Preorder it here on amazon, it hits shelves on October 27th.

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles)

Winter The Lunar Chronicles

The concluding book of the Lunar Chronicles, if you haven’t yet read this hit series you’ll want to start with Cinder and work your way here. Will Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? This sci-fi fantasy is sure to be a perfect accompaniment to your favorite pumpkin spice latte and softest knit sweater! Set to hit shelves on November 10th, preorder it here.

The Nerdy Nummies Cookbook: Sweet Treats for the Geek in All of Us

Nerdy Nummies

The long awaited cookbook from YouTube star and creator of our favorite Nerdy Nummies, Rosanna Pansino shares her favorite geeky recipes! Sure to satisfy the nerdiest sweet tooth with recipes like Apple Pi Pie and the Periodic Table of Cupcakes – this cookbook is perfect for gifting or keeping all to yourself. The Nerdy Nummies Cookbooks hits shelves on November 3rd, preorder it here!

Why Not Me?

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

As a fan of Mindy, her Project, and her last book – we can’t wait to get our hands on Why Not Me?, a collection of essays that are sure to be both hilarious and insightful. Apparently Mindy tackles hard hitting topics like seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever (we can totally relate). The book releases on September 15th, preorder here.

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 1: The Sword of Summer

Magnus Chase

Rick Riordan has a new series, ‘nuff said. But seriously, fans of Riordans bestselling Percy Jackson and the Olympians are sure to love this adventure in Norse mythology with the story of Magnus, a troubled kid from Boston who finds out from an estranged uncle that he happens to be the son of a Norse god. Magnus is plunged into an adventure the might just cost him his life, preorder it here, it hits shelves on October 6th.

The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science

The Food Lab

As Serious Eats’s culinary nerd-in-residence, J. Kenji López-Alt focuses on the science behind beloved American dishes, delving into the interactions between heat, energy, and molecules that create great food. If you’re a fan of Serious Eat’s, food-science (or that Alton Brown show, Good Eat’s), food, recipes, and amazing photography, then you’ll want to get your hands on this cookbook. The Food Lab releases on September 21st, preorder here.