[ARC Review] Fireblood by Elly Blake

Hey everyone! We’re back today with a review of FIREBLOOD, book two in the Frostblood Saga by Elly Blake!

*Disclaimer: We received this ARC from Hachette Book Group Canada. This has not biased my opinion. Thank you, HBG!* 

First off, take in this GORGEOUS cover below:

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May Wrap-Up [2017]

Hey all! We’re having a tough time believing it’s June already; seriously, where does time go?? We did some pretty cool things in May, so let’s take a look!

Sasha read: 0 books (sigh!). She did, however, read MOST of ACOWAR. 😀

Sarena read: 3 books

  1. Trials of Apollo 2: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan — 4.5*
  2. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo — 4.5* (review here)
  3. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han — 5*

This month we also did something REALLY awesome. We signed with our literary agent, Pete Knapp (you can read our story here). We are so excited to get started on revisions for this new book!

On May 4 we attended a book signing for Nicola Yoon! I loved TSIAAS so that was really exciting!

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Nicola Yoon with the director of Everything, Everything!

On May 6 we were invited to the Raincoast blogger preview (which we watched from the comfort of our home, yay!). We are so stoked for the books coming this fall from Raincoast/Macmillan, like Renegades and Language of Thorns!

We also began interning for the awesome book packager CAKE Literary. (Seriously, they’re awesome.)

On May 21 we attended a signing for SJ Maas! We got to the mall location at 8:45ish and got one of the few final tickets for the signing at 1PM. The store was PACKED. (Photos below!)

Now let’s take a look at our month via Instagram photos:

Books we got from the Raincoast event:

Got this awesome book when we were out for Mother’s Day:

And we got these in the mail — STILL FLAILING.

From said signing with SJ Maas:

Also, we attended an awesome Penguin Random House book sale!! Check out all these awesome books!~

And finally, we got this awesome ARC from S&S Canada. Very excited for this!

We hope you all had a great month! Look out for a May book haul on our Instagram soon 😀

-S&S

[ARC Review] I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Hey everyone! Today we’re back with a book review for an upcoming YA contemporary that releases this Tuesday: I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo.

Disclaimer: We were provided with an ARC from Raincoast Books to review–this has not biased our thoughts in any way. Thank you, Raincoast!

Let’s look at the super cute cover + synopsis!


31145133Desi Lee knows how carburetors work. She learned CPR at the age of five. As a high school senior, she has never missed a day of school and has never had a B in her entire life. She’s for sure going to Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation-magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Rules for True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and fake car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.


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[ARC Review] The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins

Ellen Hopkins is known for her books told in verse, but her newest release, THE YOU I’VE NEVER KNOWN, is told in both verse and prose. Filled with poetry and deep messages, this novel was the most light-hearted-yet-emotional book by Hopkins thus far. I was offered a review copy by Simon and Schuster Canada, so big thanks to S&S for being so kind to send me an ARC. Without further ado, let’s get into the review by beginning with the synopsis. (I will admit, the synopsis gives away quite a bit relating to the ‘twist,’ so if you don’t want to read the synopsis, skip down below!)


30312837How do you live your life if your past is based on a lie? A new novel in both verse and prose from #1 New York Times bestselling author, Ellen Hopkins.

For as long as she can remember, it’s been just Ariel and Dad. Ariel’s mom disappeared when she was a baby. Dad says home is wherever the two of them are, but Ariel is now seventeen and after years of new apartments, new schools, and new faces, all she wants is to put down some roots. Complicating things are Monica and Gabe, both of whom have stirred a different kind of desire.

Maya’s a teenager who’s run from an abusive mother right into the arms of an older man she thinks she can trust. But now she’s isolated with a baby on the way, and life’s getting more complicated than Maya ever could have imagined.

Ariel and Maya’s lives collide unexpectedly when Ariel’s mother shows up out of the blue with wild accusations: Ariel wasn’t abandoned. Her father kidnapped her fourteen years ago.

What is Ariel supposed to believe? Is it possible Dad’s woven her entire history into a tapestry of lies? How can she choose between the mother she’s been taught to mistrust and the father who has taken care of her all these years?

In bestselling author Ellen Hopkins’s deft hands, Ariel’s emotionally charged journey to find out the truth of who she really is balances beautifully with Maya’s story of loss and redemption. This is a memorable portrait of two young women trying to make sense of their lives and coming face to face with themselves—for both the last and the very first time.


***Disclaimer: I received a review copy from S&S Canada. This has in no way impacted my review.**

This book was an emotional ride. It’s definitely a lot lighter compared to some of Hopkins’ other works, like IDENTICAL and BURNED, both of which I read and remember having heavier themes than this one. However, at the heart of this book, what I liked was that it contained a story about family. First and foremost, the novel was always about identity, family, and finding yourself. I liked how Hopkins was able to diverge from her usual writing style (verse) and use a mixture of the two to get across a unique dual PoV. Though I guessed the twist not long before it was revealed, it still came to me as a shock. (Kudos, Hopkins!) I especially enjoyed the diverse aspects of the novel, especially the exploration of bisexuality.

Now, let’s get into the two characters themselves. Both are young women, in their teens, exploring different parts of themselves. Ariel has never known life outside being with her father. Though her father was definitely the worst, Ariel was still able to forgive him for certain things, which I found to be very mature. I liked how different Maya’s voice was compared to Ariel’s, considering Maya’s parts are told in prose and Ariel’s in verse. I still have to say, though, that Hopkins’ verse is one of the best, so Ariel really stole the show for me. I wanted to keep reading her parts, which took up most of the novel compared to Maya’s sections, as they were really quick to get through.

I especially liked Monica and Gabe, though Monica won my heart in terms of BFFs-to-more characters. The fact that she’s Mexican and brings with her a rich culture and language made the story even more organic and diverse.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, though I’m not sure if I liked it more than the other two I’ve read by her. Those were hard-hitting with twists I did not see coming, especially in IDENTICAL. I remember reading IDENTICAL in one day, as well as BURNED. It’s been a few years since then, so I thought it was time to pick up another one of her books, but this one took me a bit longer to get through. This one did have a lighter tone, though, and made for a different, perhaps more unique (and maybe more enjoyable for some!) read.

My rating: 4.5/5*. This book released on Jan 24, 2017.

Until next time,

S&S

 

On Patience in Publishing

It’s been a while since we last spoke about our writing journey and the publishing industry in general (besides, well, book releases!), but recently we began a new, shiny WIP and it is magical and fantastical and so different from anything we’ve ever written.

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Which means, we’re really enjoying the writing process at this point. (The book hasn’t made us break down and cry … yet.) But, besides being a really fun book to write, it has become a bit of distraction. Not in a bad way–rather, it’s helping us move on and write another shiny manuscript that we finally have a passion for and don’t quit 10k in. We didn’t participate in NaNo last year because we were a part of #PitchWars (which we’ll hopefully have a blog post on in the near future!) and that month was crazy busy for … reasons. And then December rolled around, and we started this new project, and we wrote, and we stopped writing (holiday season, late exam) and then suddenly became refueled all over again toward the end of 2016. For days, we’ve been writing. Some days, we’ve written more than 5k. Others, 3k. Others, 1k. Either way, it’s been a really strong writing month so far (*coughs* only January 3rd *coughs*) and we’re definitely hitting our stride, despite the beginning of school.

Which is all cool and awesome. But.

If there’s something we don’t want … it’s to write this entire thing, edit too quickly, get beta readers and then edit too quickly again, and then …

Not take time. Not appreciate the work we have in front of us.

Of course, we’ve made our own deadlines. We’re excited about the project, so why wouldn’t we? And it’s really helping us to hit our quarterly goal (in terms of finishing this draft, editing, etc.). However, today I (Sasha) was surfing online and came across a few great blog posts on Patience in Writing and Publishing written by the wonderful author Lindsay Cummings, and decided to read them. Boy, were they helpful. I mean, I’ve read lots of things about how the publishing industry is slow, it’s painful, it’s tough. (Trust us, as self-pubbed authors as teens, even we know the value of taking time, perfecting craft, and … waiting.)

But that’s the thing. It’s a whole lot of waiting.

 

Image result for that's shocking elf gif

It’s not really shocking, but we needed an excuse to use this gif.

 

Which is to be expected. Books don’t come out for years at a time. In fact, we read another blog post today written by another fab author (Marissa Meyer) all about how often she wrote, worked, and even thought about Heartless while on tour. And she decided to record it all down. Her total? Over 700 hours. Yeah. Crazy. But … that book you’re currently reading? That author’s debut? It took them years too. Years to hone their craft. Maybe they went to school to get an MFA before writing. Maybe they jumped right in (like us!), and worked really, really hard to get their book on shelves or on your e-reader.

In terms of stats, the numbers surrounding queries in an agent’s inbox versus books they actually request versus clients they sign might seem … shocking for some. That is to say, agents get 1000s of queries in their inbox and sign around 3+ (it varies, I’ve seen some say up to 12!) clients a year. Not all agents have the same stats (hence: subjectivity!), but it’s true when agents say they only take on the best of the best. They simply don’t have time to work with everyone and anyone. It’s all about what they feel is best, who they think they might be able to sell the book too … and of course, whether or not they can champion the book–and the author–to the fullest potential.

The point is, authors write books and books and books until they hit the one. Some write the one … and suddenly to some it seems like: boom, agent! boom, book deal! That’s not always the case. Sometimes the process can be fast, but those cases are anomalies. One thing has stuck with me, truly: something that YA author Roshani Chokshi once said on Twitter (and I’m paraphrasing here, but it might be bang on!)–Twitter is a highlight reel. Social media seems to shout at readers these days and say, Look at all these published and soon-to-be-pubbed authors! There are so many! Never-ending TBR, here we come!

But there are writers out there who are working. Writing. And soon, they’ll be the ones on the shelves, the ones who were patient and hard-working and diligent and were lucky enough to find the right agent, the right publisher–ultimately, the right home for them and their book.

Unfortunately, this dream isn’t always realized immediately. Books don’t pop out from printers overnight. They’re carefully crafted, beautiful things. (I think we can all agree on that.) Which is to say, it takes a lot–and we mean a lot–of patience.

We’re working hard on that new WIP. We’re working hard on our #PitchWars manuscript too, trying to find the best agent for it. We’re coming up with ideas, spinning them around in our heads … we are writing. And writers, that’s the most important thing you can do. Before thinking “I want this now and this now and this“–the truth is it isn’t that simple, or fast. Your time will come, we promise. And when it does, it all will have been worth it.

-S&S

Most Anticipated Diverse Reads of 2017

Well, it’s been a while. Is this thing on? *taps mic* Ah, yes. First off, HI! It’s been… over a month. Almost two. Yeah, sorry about that. Dunno how that happened (actually we do — school is basically to blame). We fell into a major blogging slump over the past little while, with no desire to write posts at all, as we were swamped with school work (and will be for the next two weeks! huzzah!) and #PitchWars, which is now over. (More on our #PitchWars experience in a later post, but for now just know that it was amazing and Brenda Drake is the best. Go buy her books.) And can we just say it feels great to finally be writing up posts again? Our fingers are flying across the keypad!

Now, onto the topic of this post. Anticipated Diverse Reads of 2017. I (Sasha) recently held a poll on Twitter asking what your most anticipated diverse read of 2017 is, and the winner was (drum roll please!) … THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas!

most anticipated diverse 2017.PNGYay! (And thank you to everyone who took the time to vote.) Close behind was another one of our most anticipated diverse DEBUTS of 2017, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao. Seriously–it’s a Snow White Villain retelling. We need this one when it releases in fall!

Now, it’s time to talk about OUR most anticipated diverse reads of 2017. So here’s a list of ones you should be looking out for in the new year. 😀

THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas

FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS by Julie C. Dao

FLAME IN THE MIST by Renee Ahdieh

ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN by Jenny Han

NOW I RISE by Kiersten White

HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME by Adam Silvera

THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END by Adam Silvera

THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED by Becky Albertalli

A CROWN OF WISHES by Roshani Chokshi

TRAITOR TO THE THRONE by Alwyn Hamilton

THE BONE WITCH by Rin Chupeco

POISON’S KISS by Breeana Shields

EMPRESS OF A THOUSAND SKIES by Rhoda Belleza

THE SHIP BEYOND TIME by Heidi Heilig

THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE by Mackenzie Lee

27 HOURS by Tristina Wright

MY SO-CALLED BOLLYWOOD LIFE by Nisha Sharma

THE GAUNTLET by Karuna Riazi

WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI by Sandhya Menon

THE AMATERASU PROJECT by Axie Oh

DEAR MARTIN by Nic Stone

GIRL OUT OF WATER by Laura Silverman

THE EDUCATION OF MARGOT SANCHEZ by Lilliam Rivera

IT’S NOT LIKE IT’S A SECRET by Mia Sugiura

And probably a gazillion others we are forgetting… but this list is getting long enough, so for now, be sure to add all these to your TBR!

Until next time,

S&S

A Super-Late August Wrap Up & September Releases! [2016]

It’s almost halfway through September, and we haven’t posted our August Wrap-Up yet… (blame school!). Well, here it is! We’re going to go through all the fun things we did in August (there were a lot!), all the things we posted on our blog, and what we read during the month! Followed by our *most anticipated* September releases–and buckle in, because there are tons on this list!

WHAT WE POSTED: 

ARC August TBR [2016]

GIF Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Waiting on Wednesday #32: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

The Book Buzz #7: The Cursed Child, Ascendant, + More!

Olympic Book Tag! 

Stalking Jack the Ripper Blog Tour: Reasons Why We Need SJTR in Our Hands!

We’re #PitchWars 2016 Mentees!

[Review] The Thousandth Floor By Katharine McGee

#IndigoBookPreview and Frenzy Presents Event Recaps

As you can see, we did quite a bit this month! We voraciously read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, watched the Olympics (who didn’t?!), entered an amazing contest by the name of #PitchWars (and got in!) and attended some amazing events like #IndigoBookPreview at their headquarters in Toronto, as well as the HarperCollins Canada offices! Oh, and on top of that, we got out G2 drivers’ licenses. Woohoo!

In terms of what we actually read… well, let’s just say we didn’t exactly stick to our ARC August TBRs. Let’s take a look at what we did manage to read in the hectic month of August!

Sasha read six books:

  1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (still not sure how to rate this one…) by Jack Thorne
  2. Ruined by Amy Tintera (4/5*)
  3. Trick or Trap by R.L. Stine (3/5*)
  4. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (4 – 4.5/5*)
  5. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (4.5/5*)
  6. The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee (4.5/5*)

Sasha’s favourites were a tight tie between More Happy Than Not (so emotional!) and The Thousandth Floor (so good to fill your PLL hangover!). 

Sarena read five books:

  1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne
  2. Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton (5*)
  3. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi (5*)
  4. Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana (4.5*)
  5. A Torch Against the Night (5*)

Sarena’s favourite book this month was A Torch Against the Night–and her favourite book of 2016 so far! 

And now, onto the SHINY September releases! Many of which have already come out…

EMPIRE OF STORMS by Sarah J. Maas

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THE FEVER CODE by James Dashner

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STALKING JACK THE RIPPER by Kerri Maniscalco

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CROOKED KINGDOM by Leigh Bardugo

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GIRL MANS UP by M-E Girard

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AS I DESCENDED by Robin Talley

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BRIGHT SMOKE, COLD FIRE by Rosamund Hodge

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EVERY HIDDEN THING by Kenneth Oppel

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THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES by Mindy McGinnis

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LABYRINTH LOST by Zoraida Cordova

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STEALING SNOW by Danielle Paige

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And we’re sure there are many more that we’re missing! What are your most anticipated September releases? Sasha’s is definitely EMPIRE OF STORMS (and she’s currently working her way through it–no spoilers, please!).

Until next time,

-S&S