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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Authors for CCHS

A Literary Fundraiser to Benefit Rare Respiratory Disorder

Lydia Kang's Control
(Image courtesy of
Authors around the country have come together to raise money for Congenital Central Hypoventilation Syndrome (CCHS), a rare, life-threatening disorder that affects breathing. The initiative is spearheaded by author and physician, Lydia Kang, whose debut novel, CONTROL, features a protagonist with CCHS.

"When I wrote CONTROL, I wanted to create a heroine who faced struggles that readers don't always get to see,” says Kang. “After the book released, I wanted to bring a focus back to the non-fictional heroes--the children with CCHS and the people who champion them."

The funds raised will go to the Center of Autonomic Medicine in Pediatrics, or CAMP, a program run through Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. There, With sophisticated diagnostic testing and pioneering research, CAMP provides individualized services for these patients referred from 50 different countries and conducts research aimed to maximize their quality of life.

Since this disease primarily affects children, it’s fitting that most of the authors participating in the fundraiser write for children, tweens and teens. Donors will receive thank you gifts ranging from bookmarks and stickers, to three and five book bundles, to a character name in an upcoming book from one of the participating authors. Everyone who donates $50 or more will be invited to participate in a virtual VIP party with the participating authors.

The group hopes to raise $5000 or more and the fundraiser runs through September 20, 2014.

"I've been so grateful for the authors who have donated so selflessly,” says Kang. “The CCHS community needs research dollars, so every effort to raise funds and awareness is a huge help."

Related links:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: The Mean Girl Apologies by Stephanie Monahan

Title: The Mean Girl Apologies
Author: Stephanie Monahan
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: June 2, 2014
Publishing House: Entangled
ISBN: 9781633750210
Source of Copy: Requested from publisher via NetGalley


You know that catchy song you keep hearing on the radio? It's about you.

Natalie Jamison has spent five years trying to forget the girl she was in high school: popular, pretty... and, okay, mean. Now in her twenties and living once again in her small town, she's right back where she was: following Queen Bee Amber and keeping secrets from her best friend, Sarah. 

Secrets like Jack Moreland. 

Everyone knows Jack Moreland - his new album, "Good Enough", is everywhere. He's famous. Impossibly handsome. Completely untouchable. But what none of Natalie's old clique knows is that in high school, Natalie and Jack fell in love. And their secret relationship was incredible, painful - and earth-shattering enough to inspire an entire album. Facing friends and enemies isn't easy, but Natalie will go to great lengths to prove she is good enough - to her friends, to herself, and most of all, to the small-town boy turned worldwide heartthrob she never forgot.

(Image, summary and information courtesy of Goodreads)


Never in Natalie Jamison's wildest dreams did she ever imagine she'd be going back to the tiny town she grew up in. And just when she thought she left high school behind, it seems that her old clique is still in town, and one of them in particular, is just as awful as she was back in the day. Jack Moreland, however, is on his way to the stars. But his heart? Just as shattered as Natalie left it. When a chance meeting reunites the two old flames, Natalie must decide whether she'll let other people's opinions trump her own feelings.

While Natalie never always approved of Amber's mean girl antics, she nevertheless was part of the popular girl clique. And Natalie knows that if you want to stay in, you have to act in. Jack Moreland? Definitely not in the clique, but definitely in her heart. But Natalie's insecurities always end up pushing Jack further and further away, until all that's left is their relationship in tatters.

While I did like the concept of two old sweethearts reuniting and realizing that the spark was very much still alive, I didn't feel as giddy as I expect I would when Natalie and Jack were together. Sometimes, there are chance novels that make you just want to smoosh the romantic characters together because all they need is a proper snogging to make them realize their true feelings because they obviously are very adorable and go together as soundly as bread and butter. But Jack and Natalie didn't have the kind of electrifying chemistry that I liked in my romance, which was kind of a bummer.

I did like how Jack was a bit wary about where this new, older version of their relationship would go, seeming as he was always the one fighting for the both of them back when they were younger. It then left things up to Natalie to face on her insecurities and slaying her own dragons (read: Amber, that evil, nasty little two-faced troll). 

The Mean Girl Apologies is okay, but not as magnetic as I made it out to be in my head. Truthfully, I have read about five or six books in between reading this one, just to shake things up a bit. 



NICOLE'S REVIEW: Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard

Title: Strange and Ever After
Author: Susan Dennard
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: July 22 2014
Publishing House:  HarperTeen
ISBN: 0062083325
Source of Copy: Edelweiss


In the conclusion to the trilogy that Publisher's Weekly called "a roaring - and addictive - gothic world," Eleanor Fitt must control her growing power, face her feelings for Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus...all before it's too late.

He took her brother, he took her mother, and now, Marcus has taken her good friend Jie. With more determination that ever to bring this sinister man to justice, Eleanor heads to the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt in hopes of ending this nightmare. But in addition to her increasingly tense relationship with Daniel, Joseph, and her demon, Oliver, Eleanor must also deal with her former friend, Allison, who has ciriously entangled herself in Eleanor's mission.

With the rising dead chomping at her every move and Jie's life hanging in the balance, Eleanor is convinced that her black magic will see her through to the bitter end. But there will be a price. Though she and the Spirit Hunters have weathered every battle thus far, there will be consequences to suffer this time - the effects of which will be irreversible. And when it's over, only some will be able to live a strange and ever after.

        (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


Strange and Ever After is the last book in the series. Review for the second book HERE.

This is it, the final battle, the moment that will decide whether Eleanor manages to win against the evil that took her mother, her brother and now her friend Jie or ultimately lose everyone dear to her. Eleanor travels all over the place in this installment, from Paris to Marseilles and then to Egpyt, if I'm not mistaken, trying to stop Marcus and hoping to save the life of her friend.

The final installment of this series is...I can't. It's killer. As in when I read...THAT PART (no spoilers) I had to do a reread because why why why why why. Cue ugly crying people. Ugh. On to the review.

Eleanor's control of her powers is getting better but her powers and her demon companion still cause strife between her and the Spirit Hunters seeing as how they're totally against her necromancy. I'm glad that Daniel and Eleanor's relationship actually progresses in this installment and Eleanor does grow as a character. I mean sure sometimes her decisions leave me baffled but Eleanor's a smart girl and fearless too and she always manages to push through. Sometimes I wonder why Eleanor's so afraid of her magic but then I realize it's not exactly unicorns and rainbows when it comes to raising the dead. Dead is dead and zombies aren't pretty.

If you've read the second book you'll know that Eleanor and Oliver are not on good terms but I like how their friendship doesn't just disappear and they manage to bridge the gap between them. He's the one who always urges Eleanor to hone her powers and free him from their contract. And despite his anger and hurt he still cares. 

Strange and Ever After is hard to put down, Eleanor encounters trouble every which way she turns to the point that it looks like she just can't win. And when all was said and done, the ending was terribly poignant. It's one of the more conclusive endings I've read, with all the loose ends tied up. It was sad but Dennard managed to make it hopeful so while I might have thrown a little tantrum I got over it quickly enough. I'm satisfied and I will definitely read the next book the author releases. 

Thank you for this series Susan Dennard, it was wonderful.




Wednesday, August 20, 2014

[BLOG TOUR + Giveaway] Proxy by Alex London Nail Art Tutorial

Hi guys!

I'm with Pinoy Book Tours to kick off the Proxy blog tour with a bang. In case you didn't know I have a FOUR RAINBOW review of Proxy HERE. I had no idea this tour was going to happen and had already reviewed the book so the lovely ladies of PBT asked me to do a picture tutorial of my nail art instead - which I hope you guys will sport during the signing.

This nail design is really easy and you don't exactly need fancy nail art tools. Just your nail polish and maybe a thin pointed brush. You can find these at NBS or any art store basically. Proxy and Guardian (book#2) can also be purchased from National Bookstore. It's my first time to do a tutorial since a lot of my work is done freehand and involves a LOT of yolo. Hope you like this mani!

Here are the steps:

1. After prepping your nails add on a layer of base coat. If you're using OPI Push and Shove, it comes with its own base. (You're free to use whatever silver you want.)

2. Take your red polish and swipe it along the free edge of your nail. If your nails are square, round, squoval, it doesn't really matter. It's like french tips.

3. There are actually two ways to do this step:

A. Take your pointed brush and trace along the base of your nail, near the cuticle, then draw a straight line a few spaces above it then fill in to get that lovely solid wall of color on the base.

B. Another way is to just swipe your nail polish brush along the base and clean up after. (I recommend step A, less hassle but yeah.)

4. Taking your pointed brush just trace along the sides of your nails starting from the base and then connect it to the color on the tips.

.Add top coat and voila! There you have it.

Novel Nails Designs is my nail art blog over at Tumblr in case anyone's wondering, and Instagram too. Bookish manicures galore. If you do recreate this mani tag me on instagram using #novelnailsdesigns! Or tweet me @thetwinsread. I would love to see people recreate this for the signing. 

Here's the link to the giveaway which is PH only. HERE.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Aspen by Rebekah Crane

Title: Aspen
Author: Rebekah Crane
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: June 5 2014
Publishing House:  This Together Media
ISBN: 1496139437
Source of Copy: NetGalley


One quiet night in Boulder, Colorado, Aspen Yellow-Sunrise Taylore made a mistake.

In the next instant, her life changed forever.

Aspen doesn't want to remember the car accident that killed Katelyn Ryan, a sleek-haired popular soccer player. But forgetting is hard - because Katelyn may have died - but she didn't leave. Her ghost is following Aspen around, and heading into senior year, it's kind of a problem. Especially when Katelyn's former boyfriend Ben appears to be the only person at school with a clue as to how Aspen feels.

Popularity, Homecoming Court, hot guys - none of these things ever mattered to Aspen. She's been busy trying to keep her stoner mother Ninny in line and out of unemployment. But with Ben sitting next to her in Physics and her therapist begging her to remember all the things she wants to forget, Aspen is thrust into a vivid, challenging world she can't control...and doesn't want to.

        (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


Honestly, if you put a pile of books in front of me, this one included, I probably wouldn't pick it up. Even if it were displayed among dreaded medical textbooks or math books. I'm really just not that into contemporary. But I was offered an eARC of this book and I thought, why not? I liked the author's previous book well enough. 

Aspen is suffering from PTSD after her involvement in an accident that took away the life of one of her classmates. She just wants to get through her senior year, figure out why Katelyn's ghost is stalking her and try to keep her mother in line. It doesn't help that Ben, Katelyn's boyfriend, sits next to her in class and looks at her with eyes that seem to know just exactly what she's going through.

Aspen feels genuine. A normal girl trying to find her way, trying to move on from the accident that changed her life in an instant. She's struggling to deal with the people in school, her family and Katelyn's ghost. The ghost isn't particularly malicious but that doesn't mean it's not creepy. Aspen is also lucky in that she's got a mother who, despite being irresponsible, truly loves her and friends who care about her. She's stubborn and all she wants to do is forget.

Then there's Ben. He's sweet and nice and charming and good for Aspen. He's making her remember things from the night that she'd rather forget. And he's making her feel things she's not sure she should. But hey, he needs her and she needs him and they're perfect for each other.

The pacing for this book was just right, showing readers Aspen's snarky side and her humor. Her interactions with all the different characters and the final moment where Katelyn's side of the story is revealed and Aspen learns to let it go. (Cue the Frozen song, just because)

This book is heartfelt. A story of letting go, acceptance and the fact that life goes on whether you want it to or not. I may not have bothered to pick this up if it were dangled in front of me but I'm glad I did. Maybe next time I'll try not to judge a book by it's cover.



Monday, August 11, 2014

NICOLE'S REVIEW + Novel Nails #16: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Title: Dorothy Must Die
Author: Danielle Paige
Format Acquired: Paperback
Publication Date: April 1 2014
Publishing House: HarperCollins
ISBN: 0062280678
Source of Copy: Purchased from National Bookstore


I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.

But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado - taking you with it - you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. But I never expected Oz to look like this. A place where Good Witches can't be trusted and Wicked Witches may just be the good guys. A place where even the yellow brick road is crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

My name is Amy Gumm -  and I'm the other girl from Kansas.

I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked and I've been given a mission:

Remove the Tin Woodman's heart. Steal the Scarecrow's brain. Take the Lion's courage.

        (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


I could not resist buying this book. A retelling of The Wizard of Oz that puts a totally new spin on the characters? Yeah, dude. Count me in. 

Amy's spent her whole life stuck in a trailer with her alcoholic mom, stuck in a school where she gets teased all the time and where everyone is against her. She just wants to leave it all behind her. Little does she know that her yearnings would all by answered in the form of a tornado that sweeps through town, lifts her trailer up and dumps her in the middle of nowhere where she's faced with an odd, crumbling yellow brick road. 

I love how Paige took the original story and warped it into something wicked. Dorothy who's now the power hungry monarch ruling Oz in her tiny cleavage-bearing dresses and high heels? A little disturbing. The Tin Man's got a crush on Dorothy and acts as her bodyguard, the Lion's been turned into a gruesome beast who sucks the soul out of hapless munchkins and the like. And the Scarecrow? He performs despicable experiments on flying monkeys and turns people into walking weapons. Literally. 

Amy, the heroine, is incredibly real. She doesn't want to be the hero, doesn't want to be the one to kill Dorothy. But what choice does she have when the witches who saved her from Dorothy's clutches claim she's the only one who can? Her emotions are all over the place but really, mine would be too if I were in her place. She can be nasty sometimes, and kind of whiny and maybe a little stupid but that's what endeared her to me. She's genuine.

Going up against Dorothy and her magical red heels and clothes in that awful blue and white checker pattern? No thank you. Imagine that pattern on leather and try not to cringe and shudder in despair. (Has turning evil somehow screwed with Dorothy's fashion sense?) She's forced to train with the witches and earn her magic but she also has to deal with Nox; infuriating, handsome, standoffish Nox who teaches her combat skills and takes her to mountain tops to look at the stars. Nox who looks at her like he sees her and tells her he likes her hair. I couldn't exactly get a read on him and I'm pretty sure there's more to Nox than his combat skills and dedication to the cause.

Dorothy Must Die is an incredibly imaginative retelling of the original Oz but you don't have to be familiar with the original story to follow this. It's dark and dreary and gory but wholly entertaining. Oh and did I mention that this is Danielle Paige's debut book? So rad. If you're a fan of Oz, of retellings, or maybe just on the lookout for your next read why not pick this book up? 


"Novel Nails" is a feature of the blog that showcases nail art inspired by books and their covers. Nail art will be created by either Michelle or Nicole and will be featured alongside their reviews.

It's nail art time! This week's feature is Dorothy Must Die. I loved this book, you guys should totes read it.

Anyway, this is an easy bookish manicure too. I initially wanted to do the blue and white gingham check pattern but it didn't suit the feel of the set I had in mind. I tossed that idea. Blue and white gingham will never be the same after this book. Imagine a gown in that pattern. I might cry.

Here's the nail polish I used:
MAC Flaming Rose
Orly Liquid Vinyl
Nails Inc. Covent Garden Market

Freehand designs done in acrylic.

I just love this set. Look how sassy my nails are. 

Matchy matchy with the book. You can see how adding the gingham pattern would have thrown this mani for a loop.

I'm assuming that that's the symbol for the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. I copied it onto my nail. 

Isn't that red just gorgeous? Reminds me of Dorothy's ruby heels.

Hope you liked this mani and if you're interested feel free to check out my instagram HERE for more bookish manicures or my tumblr HERE. Feel free to message me and let's talk nail polish and books.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Stephanie Perkins Book Signing Recap

So, this happened on July 6. And it's what, August 7 now? (We're super sorry we're late to the party... or what's left of it!)

When National Bookstore announces that the author of the most cutesy-pie-y contemporary novels is coming to town, you pretty much die inside. And since dying inside is what we do best, we fangirled over everything during the entire forum. (Her fluffy hair! Her dress! Her cuteness! Her very nice husband who is having fun watching her field fangirl-y questions!)

(I believe I took a gazillion photos, but only one looked decent. That should give you an idea of how great I am with an iPhone camera, which is basically idiot-proof.)

This is Jarrod Perkins, Stephanie's husband. He wasn't spared from all the shameful things we and our blogger friends made him do, like sign all the dedication pages Steph wrote for him, and hold up a sign with the most... interesting translation for Anna and the French Kiss. 

Le Michelle (and her mermaid hair, of which Stephanie took an actual moment to marvel at when she was asking her question) and le Nicole, of the ever present and ever purple lips.

Group shot with the other bloggers. (Oops, I think someone got cut out. Meep!)

Just to show you just how game Jarrod is with us, here's a pic of him with Nicole.

And here's Michelle with the forever fab Chad and Louisse and Ge of The Soul Sisters.

We were lucky enough to receive ARCs of Isla too (which we predictably omnomnom-ed within a few days).

Signed pretties~

Itty bitty tiddy bitties (Wow, that sounds kind of nasty now that I think about it):

1. Stephanie based Etienne off actors she won't name because she feels like it'll totes destroy the image of Etienne in a young girl's mind. (It's because she loves you, and if you imagine Etienne looking like someone off One Direction, she doesn't want to muck that up for you. True love right there.)

2. The personalities of her male characters were based on her husband Jarrod.

3. She has an upcoming 2015 horror novel with Dutton, because she always had been a fan of gore (girl loves her Stephen King, yo).

4. She has French-kissed before (because someone had to ask that

5. Stephanie has actually been to Paris and it is fabulous. While Anna and the French Kiss was situated more around her research, Stephanie went to France with her sister afterwards and spent a month or so just exploring the gorgeous country.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

NICOLE'S REVIEW + Novel Nails #15: Proxy by Alex London

Title: Proxy
Author: Alex London
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: June 8 2013
Publishing House: Philomel
ISBN: 9780399257766
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


Knox was born into one of the City's wealthiest families. As a Patron, he has everything a boy could possibly want - the latest tech, the coolest clothes, and a Proxy to take all his punishments. When Knox breaks a vase, Syd is beaten. When Knox plays a practical joke, Syd is forced to haul rocks. And when Knox crashes a car, killing one of his friends, Syd is branded and sentenced to death.

Syd is a Proxy, his life is not his own.

Then again, neither is Knox's. Knox and Syd have more in common than either would guess. So when both boys realize that the only way to beat the system is to save each other, they flee. Yet Knox's father is no ordinary Patron, and Syd is no ordinary Proxy. The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a secret society of rebels, test both boys' resolve, and shine a blinding light  onto a world of those who owe and those who pay. Some debts, it turns out, cannot be repaid.

        (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


Just when I've been about to turn my back on dystopians this book comes along and manages to rekindle my love for the genre. With wonderfully nuanced characters and crazy plot twists I found myself engrossed in a world where the rich (Patrons) have everything and the poor are burdened with debt. 

Enter Knox, born to one of the wealthiest families he wants for nothing. He has money, looks and a Proxy to take all his punishments for him. He's all up for causing chaos because he knows he won't ever be blamed. But when Knox crashes a car and kills his passenger, his Proxy is set to die in his place. Syd, the Proxy, won't stand for it and runs. Caught in this tangle of lies and deception, Knox and Syd form an unlikely truce because to get out of this alive, they'll both need their wits about them.

Proxy is told in the alternating voices of Syd and Knox. Knox is your typical rich boy, spoiled, uncaring, entitled and always after his next conquest. Let me add that he's also an excellent hacker despite blundering about in school. He's the type of character I usually hate but London's characters aren't one-sided and being a spoiled brat isn't all Knox is. He's got issues with his father and the events that led to the death of his mother and his growth later on in the story is admirable. So while I did want to punch him in the face I as wanted to give him a hug and tell him that things'll get better.

Syd is Knox's Proxy. Every blunder and every mistake Knox commits, Syd is there to take punishment. Being a Proxy is a way for the poor to pay off their debt (school, medical bills, the like) and Syd was just the unlucky boy who got picked. Did I mention that he's also gay? I love how London didn't make such a fuss about Syd's being gay. It's not an Issue book, it's definitely a sci-fi/dystopian where the protagonist just so happens to be a boy who likes boys. Syd's also a special little butterfly - there's something in his blood that might just put an end to the social divide but he's going to need the help of the rebels to figure it all out.

London has created such a great book. It's got social issues, the divide between the poor and the rich is glaringly obvious; well crafted actions scenes and a bunch of cool tech that I wouldn't mind playing with. His characters are multidimensional, not flat paper dolls to be jerked around. The plot's all twisty and focuses on the unwitting friendship (sort of) between Syd and Knox. The ending was a surprise. I never expected the book to close on that note and I'll admit to feeling a little bereft after finishing the book. Do I recommend this book? Yes. YES. Pick up Guardian while you're at it.


For PH residents, Alex London is coming to the Philippines on Aug 30 for a book singing event. I can't wait to meet him. Seriously. You all need to read this book. The copy I have right now is from Fully Booked but I'll be snagging copies (YES, COPIES) from National Book Store. Buy your books there. See you at signing!

"Novel Nails" is a feature of the blog that showcases nail art inspired by books and their covers. Nail art will be created by either Michelle or Nicole and will be featured alongside their reviews.

This week's feature is Proxy by Alex London. I snagged a copy of the book as soon as it came out and it's shiny. It was the perfect opportunity to use my newly acquired bottle of OPI.
If you want to check out my other bookish manicures, visit my tumblr HERE or my instagram HERE

Nail polish used: 
OPI Push and Shove (It is so gloriously shiny)
MAC Flaming Rose

No fancy freehand designs this time around. These nails are way easy to do and who knows, I might be sporting these during the signing.

I didn't use any fancy tools to create this design. I just put on two coats of Push and Shove then whipped out Flaming Rose (but you can use whatever shade of red you'd like to use) and outlined my nail.

Closer look. They're as shiny as the book and I love my nail shape.

With the book again. Okay so it must be a trick of the light because the cover isn't yellow like that. Look at the first picture!

Look at these bad boys under the sun. I'm blinded.

Would you guys consider recreating this mani and will I be seeing you at signing? Tag @thetwinsread OR @novelnailsdesigns on Instagram and we can talk about books and nail polish. Glorious nail polish.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

(BLOG TOUR) MICHELLE'S REVIEW: Magnolia by Kristi Cook

Title: Magnolia
Author: Kristi Cook
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Publishing House: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781442485358
Source of Copy: Pinoy Book Tours


In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.

Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents' wishes. They're only seventeen, for goodness' sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can't stand Ryder's nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn't exist.

But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma's and Ryder's true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over.

                         (Image, summary and information courtesy of Goodreads)


Jemma Cafferty didn't always hate Ryder Marsden. In fact, she was kind of crushing on him back in eighth grade... Only he kind of unknowingly crushed her heart. Which in turn, crushed the dreams of the two closer families of ever being united by marriage. Now seventeen and on the brink of their high school graduation, Jemma and Ryder are more than ready to bid adieu, farewell to everyone's expectations of them ever getting together. But like the storm that batters Magnolia Branch, there seems to be some other stronger force to be reckoned with...

It's not exactly a secret that any book that is set in either the South, or in New Orleans, is already halfway to my list of must-reads. A fluffy-sounding contemporary in the South where glorious chicken and biscuits exist side by side with the lovely drawling accents of the inhabitants? Sign me up!

It wasn't all that hard to fall into this book. In all honesty, I dazedly abandoned everything as soon as I got home, hurriedly grabbed my tablet and sprawled out on my mother's chaise lounge, ashamedly with an arm draped across my forehead, channeling one of them older Southern belles I thought I would encounter. (I must have looked pretty ridiculous, and you know you'd think I would look pretty ridiculous. I don't know why I had to tell you that, but I did. I have no regrets.)

I did like Jemma and Ryder (fine, everyone!) because they're all so darned there. Part of the charm (Ha, Southern charm, amirite? ...Goodness gracious, just ignore me.) of Magnolia is that it's easy to read, and you just fall right in. Like that one time you stumbled across some acquaintance's or friend's secret blog, and you just lap up delicious post after delicious post (which in my case, wasn't delicious at all, because all it did was chronicle what she did for the day. And when you're in school doing the same stuff almost every day, there's really just so much "We had a quiz!" "I ate lunch!" "My teacher is so boring!" posts you can get through). 

I found it quite amusing and adorable that the families weren't exactly subtle about their wanting Jemma and Ryder getting together (The proverbial wedding cake is as old as they are, you guys.) It's not so much as an arranged marriage, but it's more like a "C'mon, pleeeeeeeeeeeease get married, you two!" between the two families. It would probably be annoying if they genuinely hated each other, which they definitely don't, so I just sat back in that lounge with a smirk on my face, and watched it all unfold. 

About 70% of the book did revolve around Jemma and Ryder's interactions during the storm, and maybe that's where I found some things that may have gotten a bit off. Sure, there's nothing much to do with the power out, and I do understand that they may end up more friendly because of all the time they spend together. I don't get how chummy they suddenly seem though. Don't get me wrong, I want them to end up together, but if I end up stuck in a storm with the guy who humiliated me, and broke my heart, you can best bet that I won't let him know much of my future plans. I also don't get why they use some people to make the other jealous in the first place. They're both sounding off that they dislike the other, but it's like, "Yeah, look - the person I'm kissing right now? Isn't you - BAM, IN YO FACE!" (C'mon, that's lame, you guys.) That's about the only gripe I have with this book, which isn't even all that major for me.

Have I mentioned that I like the cover of the book? It's not all artsy-fartsy and stuff, but it's very fitting. It's got Southern-setting scrawled over the book, without the corny, cheeseball "YEEHAW!" everyone's drawing up in their minds every time someone mentions the South. We have Jemma whose tense-looking body may be pointing the opposite direction, but her head is definitely facing the same direction Ryder is. It's like she's giving off the "I want to do the opposite, but dang, maybe I'm just being contrary, and if I don't do the contrary, then I'm just being myself" mind-warring thing she's doing. (I'm told I overanalyze everything. Do I really?) Ryder's body language, on the other hand, is a bit more relaxed, just like how he is in the book. And can I also just point out that very ominous-looking sky which changes the course of e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-ng for the two kids?

Magnolia by Kristi Cook is perfect for readers who are looking for some light contemporary about a reverse Romeo and Juliet-esque couple who just need some time and space to pick up where they last left off.



Monday, August 4, 2014

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Burn Bright by Bethany Frenette

Title: Burn Bright
Author: Bethany Frenette
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: February 25 2014
Publishing House:  Disney-Hyperion
ISBN: 9781423146667
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


Audrey Whitticomb saved the world.

Actually, it was just her city. And sure, she maybe had a little help, from the superhero Morning Star (who just so happens to be Audrey's mom) and her mom's sidekick, Leon, Audrey's sort-of boyfriend, who is gorgeous...and frustrating.

But after two peaceful months, there is a vicious new threat in Minneapolis. Her name is Susannah, and she's a Harrower, a demon hell-bent on destroying people like Morning Star, Leon, and Audrey - the Kin. Like others before her, she seeks the Remnant, a Kin girl who has the power to unleash the inhabitants of the Beneath. But to what end?

Audrey already has a ton on her plate: dealing with her best friend Tink's boy drama, helping her other best friend Gideon, figure out his nightmares, and exploring the highs and lows of "dating" Leon. But when she develops a powerful new ability, she seizes on the chance to fight, despite her mother's protests and Leon's pleas.

As Audrey gets closer to figuring out Susannah's motives and tracking down the Remnant, she'll uncover more than she bargained for. The terrible truth is staring Audrey in the facae. But knowing the truth and accepting it are very different things.

        (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


Burn Bright is the sequel to Dark Star which I reviewed HERE

After saving her city, Audrey's all set to explore a relationship with Leon and, with the appearance of her new ability, she's all about lending a hand in the fight against Harrowers despite the naysayers (mainly her mom and Leon). But when a new threat in the form of a vicious Harrower named Susannah appears, determined to end the Kin, it's time for Audrey and her gang to once again step up to save the world. Sort of.

I just love the superhero theme going on in the books. It's way too much fun. Add to that the super cute romance between Audrey and Leon, a few bad guys who're out to rule the world and a crazy dude fixed on vengeance and getting himself killed and you've got yourself a winner. 

Frenette has a cast of wonderful characters. Audrey is terribly pragmatic and while some girls swoon at the thought of a guy willing to risk his life for hers because it's oh so dramatic, Audrey is afraid. She's scared and terrified and while I don't really approve of the way she distanced herself from Leon, I understand why she did that. Leon's got a protective streak going on and Audrey isn't exactly an ideal body to guard. She's also got a whole lot of things to deal with; like her best friend's boy problems, the nasty nightmares that torment Gideon and the fact that she and Leon have never gone out on an actual date. Oh and let's not forget the murderous Harrower who's hell-bent on annihilating them. Superhero stuff.

This series is seriously addicting though what with all the twists and turns and action scenes that Frenette doles out. It never got boring. And while the book is light-hearted and humorous at times, don't let that fool you because there's some serious stuff going around here. The relationship with Audrey's mom and her dad? Ugh. So. Painful. 

So anyway, I'd definitely recommend this series and I would like to see more Leon and Audrey kissy scenes in the next book. PLEASE. If you haven't picked up this incredibly fun series yet, well, what are you waiting for?