This Is Halloween | Halloween Reads 2015

Saturday, 31 October 2015
Boys and girls of every age, wouldn't you like to see something strange?

Come with us and you will see, this our town of Halloween.

This is Halloween. This is Halloween. Pumpkins scream in the dead of night.

This is...Liran's 2015 Halloween Reads recommendations because it's Halloween today and we're all going to spend the day (and night) reading, right?

Just don't read these in the dark...

1) This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

ALIVE. DEAD. ALIVE AGAIN.

What's scarier than Frankenstein? I don't know. I was hoping you'd have an answer.

Synopsis: In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.

His brother, Oliver—dead.

His sweetheart, Mary—gone.

His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.

Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.

But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.

Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay...


2) Dead Upon A Time by Elizabeth Paulson

Imagine throwing your favourite fairy tale characters into your worst nightmare. Enjoy!

Synopsis: It's a fairy-tale nightmare . . .
One girl is kept in a room where every day the only food she's given is a poisoned apple. Another is kept in a room covered in needles -- and if she pricks her finger, she'll die. Then there are the brother and sister kept in a cell that keeps getting hotter and hotter. . .

A sinister kidnapper is on the loose in Kate's world. She's not involved until one day she heads to her grandmother's house in the woods -- and finds her grandmother has also been taken. Already an outcast, Kate can't get any help from the villagers who hate her. Only Jack, another outsider, will listen to what's happened.

Then a princess is taken, and suddenly the king is paying attention -- even though the girl's stepmother would rather he didn't. It's up to Kate and Jack to track down the victims before an ever after arrives that's far from happy.


3) Asylum by Madeleine Roux

Asylum is PERFECT for American Horror Story Asylum fans.

Synopsis: Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-novel perfect for fans of the New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it's a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it's no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux's teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.


4) A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

Insane. Asylums. Have fun!

Synopsis: Grace Mae knows madness.
She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us.

5) Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

A killer Dorothy. A dark Oz. Why haven't you picked this one up yet?

Synopsis: 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. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still a yellow brick road - but even that's crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

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

I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.

I've been trained to fight.

And I have a mission.


6) Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Like zombies? You'll LOVE Something Strange and Deadly!

Synopsis: There's something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia. . . .
Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about.

Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she's just read in the newspaper:

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor . . . from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she'll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.


I hope you all have a happy Halloween and remember, STAY SAFE!!!


Life Slump #374

Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Hi.

I really don't know how to start this. Really, I don't even know what the point of this blog post is.

Could I do a recap of the Fierce Reads signing on Saturday? Maybe. But I just feel like there isn't much to tell and there are better recaps out there already. Plus, I forget the majority of what I said when I chatted with the authors while they signed my books.

Sorry.

Maybe you'd like to hear about what shows I have been binge watching lately. They are The Royals and (as of yesterday) Reign.

I don't know what else to say so I'm going to end this post here. Sorry it's so short. I'm going to try to prewrite some for November because I am attempting NaNo (properly this time as in actually taking part in the event).

Okay, enough of my rambling. Sorry you had to endure this post (if you even made it to the end).

Review of Newt's Emerald

Tuesday, 13 October 2015
Guess who can't think of a creative way to start this review? Oh yeah, me. So I guess I'm going with happy release day to Newt's Emerald and hope all my fellow Canadians had a lovely Thanksgiving yesterday.

Book: Newt's Emerald

Author: Garth Nix

Publisher: HarperCollins

Genre: Regency, Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Summary: Lady Truthful will inherit her family’s most valued heirloom on her eighteenth birthday. Until the Newington Emerald is stolen.

Lady Truthful, nicknamed “Newt” by her boy cousins, discovers that to her horror, the people closest to her have been framed for the theft. But Newt won’t let their reputations be damaged by rumors from a false accusation. Her plan is simple: go to London to recover the missing jewel. Despite her best intentions, a young lady travelling alone is frankly unacceptable behavior. So Newt and her aunt devise another plan…one that entails men’s clothing and a mustache.

While in disguise, Truthful encounters the handsome but shrewd major Harnett, who to her amazement volunteers to help find the missing emerald under the assumption that she is a man, Henri de Vienne. But once she and her unsuspecting ally are caught up in a dangerous adventure, Truthful realizes something else is afoot: the beating of her heart.

Truthful has far more than romantic complications to worry about. The stolen emerald is no ordinary heirloom-it is the source of the family’s luck and has the power to yield vast magic. It would be completely disastrous if it fell into the wrong hands. The fate of England depends on Truthful securing the emerald.

Review: Newt's Emerald was so charming! It's the perfect light, fun, quick read!

Lady Truthful is this delightful heroine who undergoes great character development throughout the story. Starting off obnoxious, she does grow into a more likeable character by the end. Newt is also a very determined and fierce kind of girl who will stop at nothing to get her family's heirloom.

The setting was excellent. I loved the England during the Regency period backdrop. I thought it fit the book really well. It had a magical feel to it which fit in which the tone of the book quite nicely. If you enjoy historical fiction, you'll definitely love this aspect of the book.

The writing was fantastic (because it's Garth Nix and great writing it always guaranteed when it comes to him). The descriptions were lovely and I really felt like I was going on an adventure with Newt and Charles. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough!

Utterly quirky and delightful, Newt's Emerald is the perfect weekend getaway book. 







***Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My opinions were in no way influenced. 

Review of The Conspiracy of Us

Friday, 9 October 2015
Here we have a prime example of a book I should have read sooner. (I have no excuse because I knew about it before it came out.)

Book: The Conspiracy of Us

Author: Maggie Hall

Publisher: Penguin

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Young Adult, Adventure, Romance

Rating: 10000000000000/5 Stars (It's a new favourite of mine.)

Summary: A fast-paced international escapade, laced with adrenaline, glamour, and romance--perfect for fans of Ally Carter

Avery West's newfound family can shut down Prada when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. Part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, they believe Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Some want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead.

To unravel the mystery putting her life in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the monuments of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul with two boys who work for the Circle—beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack. But as the clues expose a stunning conspiracy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she discovers that both boys are hiding secrets of their own. Now she will have to choose not only between freedom and family--but between the boy who might help her save the world, and the one she's falling in love with.



Review: My heart. Oh, MY JACK AND STELLAN LOVING HEART.

So...um...excuse me, but how have you not read this book yet? And if you have, how have you survived the wait for Map of Fates?

Warning: This book is filled with amazing descriptions of Paris and Istanbul, and may cause you to look through photos of your vacation to Paris that you took in March.

Oh look, here they are!


















So I have a few reasons why you should read this book. In no particular order:

1) Jack.

2) Stellan.

3) Avery is a great protagonist who doesn't rely on men to save her, but knows when she needs help.

4) THE LOCATIONS. AHHHHH!!! I have never wanted to go back to Europe so much before.

5) Maggie Hall is a phenomenal writer. She sucks you in and never lets you go until you're done the book and begging for more.

6) The boys. (Cue fangirling.)

7) The plot is action packed and fast paced in addition to being incredibly interesting and intriguing.

8) "WELL I DIDN'T SEE THAT COMING." - Me on the end. (You're going to want to read this if only to understand what I didn't see coming.)

9) Stellan was so cute and the Russian nickname for Avery was just so awwwwwwww!!!!

10) JACK. MADE. ME. BLUSH. IN. PUBLIC. BEWARE.

Basically, you need this book. I don't care who you are, what kind of books you like to read, YOU. NEED. THIS. BOOK.

Trust me, you need to read this book.

Now excuse me while I go beg Maggie for the sequel.

What I Didn't Know About Blogging Part Four

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

First off, I'd like to take everyone for all the support on part one of this series. You're all the best and I'm trying to rally up fellow bloggers so we can all help new bloggers and anyone really who has a question. I feel that it's a great way to give back to the blogging community and to try something a little different on here.

Today's topic is on how to market oneself. (Because your blog will likely grow faster if you self-market.) I especially wanted to cover social media in this post because I think that in this day and age, it's a great marketing tool that any blogger should know how to use. Keep in mind that I did a "how to make friends via social media" post separate to this just to keep things organized.

So let's begin!

For those of you who don't know, I have a major Twitter addiction. It's a serious problem. (I'm @EmpressLiran if you'd like to follow me.)

But is it really?

I find that the more time I spend on Twitter--the more I interact with people on Twitter, the more blog traffic I get. What does this mean? It means that through social media where sharing your links is incredibly easy, I have added to my readership.

But there's also Instagram and Tumblr (it's hard to share your links via Instagram, but it's worth it!) that allow you to expand your readership even more. These social networks are used by so, so, so many people that the chances of someone stumbling upon a link to your blog is higher than you might think.

So here are my social media tips:
  • People are drawn to pictures! Including a graphic or cover relevant to your post can grab someone's attention and cause them to read the tweet!
  • Be concise! People will read a sentence or two about what your post is about. Make every word count!
  • Tweet or post about a blog post several times a day at different times. This increases the chances of it showing up on people's timelines.
  • Be nice to people on social media! People like nice people. Be kind and others will go check out your blog.
  • Be active on there! (Pretty self-explanatory.)
  • Don't self-promote only! Only 10-15% of your posts or tweets should be self-promotion. 
I will cover proper behaviour on social media when I explain how to make friends over there because I think social media etiquette lends itself better to that topic.

As for other methods that work well, word-of-mouth is a big one. Verbally telling your friends or people in general (as embarrassing as it may be and I am still embarrassed whenever I mention my blog to anyone I know in real life) ensures they know about your blog and they might tell their other friends about it. And...well...do you see how that's useful? Trust me, this works.

Something else that works is using key words to help people find your blog more easily. This means having a catchy title or a good description. Be articulate!

I think that's just about all the wisdom I've got on self-marketing! Tune in next time as I try to explain ARCs. It's not as complicated as it sounds. Promise. :)

(Also, if any other bloggers want to do a guest post about this, fill out this handy form please: http://goo.gl/forms/ukHU6cfggI)

Review of Never Never

Saturday, 3 October 2015
Happy Saturday! Because who doesn't love Saturday? (I think Saturdays are great.)

Book: Never Never

Author: Brianna R. Shrum

Publisher: Spencer Hill Press

Genre: Pirates, Peter Pan, Origin story, Young Adult

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Summary: James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up.

When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child—at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up.

But grow up he does.

And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate.

This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan.

Except one.

Review: How befitting that I review a pirate book when we all know I have a secret soft spot for them. 

Never Never beings with James Hook before he goes to Neverland. His life in London depicted as the child he was before Peter Pan turned him into the Captain Hook we all know and love to hate. It brings a more humane side to him that we don't really get to see in the Disney film. 

We're also given a glimpse into Peter Pan's darker side--something absent in the film as well. I really liked how realistic this side was. By that I mean that it's understandable how Peter became a twisted, evil little boy.

I loved the plot arc with its PIRATENESS (I love pirates) and its gore (warning for the faint of heart). This was what I was hoping this book would be and it met my expectations in every way possible.

While the writing sometimes came off a little childish, I didn't mind. I loved the way Brianna described things and the world building in the story.

Basically, this book is fun and will give fans of Peter Pan retellings exactly what they want.







***Disclaimer: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way influenced my thoughts.

Review of The Sin Eater's Daughter

Friday, 2 October 2015
I didn't mean to take a break from reviewing books this week, but I did. Sorry for the inconvenience, but life got hard.

Anyway, lol because this review is long overdue...

Book: The Sin Eater's Daughter

Author: Melinda Salisbury

Publisher: Scholastic

Genre: Fantasy, Magic, Young Adult

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Summary: I am the perfect weapon.
I kill with a single touch.

Twylla is blessed. The Gods have chosen her to marry a prince, and rule the kingdom. But the favour of the Gods has it's price. A deadly poison infuses her skin. Those who anger the queen must die under Twylla's fatal touch.

Only Lief, an outspoken new guard, can see past Twylla's chilling role to the girls she truly is.

Yet in a court as dangerous and the queen's, some truths should not be told...
 


Review: Me when I finished this book: MY EMOTIONS. Holy. Cow. Who. Let. Melinda. Salisbury. Wreck. My. Emotions. Like. That???

And THAT. ENDING. Just give me book two please. Send help.

Me now that I can attempt to put my thoughts into words: Would you look at that? An original fantasy without a protagonist trying to be epic and badass because that was what I was in the mood for.

Twylla, oh Twylla, you are awesome. And the fact that you're just trying to make the most of your awful situation makes me feel for you. I can't imagine what life would be like with lethal touch (as useful as that might be). I like your character arc, I like your personality, the romance fell a little flat, but was still good so I didn't mind.

Melinda Salisbury's writing is gripping. She sucks you into the story with the beauty of her words, breaks your heart, and then spits you back out. I'm looking forward to reading more of her books in the future.

The plot was great. I loved the queen as a character the way I liked Elara from Red Queen as a character. Both were wicked and cunning the way I like my villains.

And then you get to the end and all you want is The Sleeping Prince to land on your doorstep so you can continue on with this series.

The point of this review is that you should get on this exciting fantasy series now because you're bound to love it.







***Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book but I have also purchased my own copy. These opinions are completely my own.

What I Didn't Know About Blogging Part Three

Thursday, 1 October 2015

So my first post on this was getting long. Hence why you're getting a part three.

There are so, so, so many things I didn't know about before I started blogging. I was hoping to cover graphics today because that's something I'm fairly new to as well and I just thought I would share any wisdom that I have on the matter.

Just a MAJOR DISCLAIMER that YOU SHOULD BE USING IMAGES YOU ARE ALLOWED TO USE.

What are graphics?

You see that picture at the top of this post? The one that says what this post is about with that cute little tagline and the roses? That's a graphic. Also, these:




Why are they important?

GRAPHICS ARE NOT MANDATORY. But they sure do help inform people about a specific series or something very easily.

What makes for a good graphic?

You got me on this one. The truth is, it really depends. What are you going for? Something fancy or something simple? What designs do you want on it?

But there are universal points. A good graphic is:

  • readable
  • clean
  • eye-catching
  • memorable enough so that people can associate it with something
And that's about all I can think of.

How does one make a graphic?

You picked the wrong person to ask because I can't photoshop. I just can't. But there are other tools besides photoshop.
I personally like piZap and Polyvore the best, but use whatever works for you.

Join me next time as we cover all the other things that I wish I'd known before I started blogging.

(Also, if any other bloggers want to do a guest post about this, fill out this handy form please: http://goo.gl/forms/ukHU6cfggI)