Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Warcross by Marie Lu

Title: Warcross
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication date: September 12, 2017
Pages: 368
Source/format: Publisher//ARC

Rating: ☆☆☆1/2

Synopsis (from amazon.com):

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu—when a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths.

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Marie Lu wrote an action-packed, futuristic, sci-fi novel that will sweep you off your feet. Not only is Emika Chen a character to learn more about but her interesting past has caught the eye of Hideo Tanaka, the creator of the virtual reality game, Warcross. From being in foster care to living with a roommate being a bounty hunter in New York City, Mr. Tanaka invites rainbow haired Emika to join him to hunt down Zero in Japan using her hacking expertise during the Warcross Championships. Emika has gone from a criminal to a wild card during the first draft of the Warcross Championships. She joins the Phoenix Riders and infiltrates the games while uncovering the real identity of Zero.

Kudos to Ms. Lu who wrote such a compelling and well written novel. The intensity and momentum heighten the more you read the book. You're at the edge of your seat next to Emika trying to figure out who Zero is. The games are intense! I enjoyed learning more about secondary characters, especially about Emika's teammates, Asher, Hammie, Ren and Roshan. There are a few twists at the end and Emika surprisingly teams up with people that she would never have thought she would have in order to do what is right for mankind.

Emika is survivor. She knows what she wants and how to obtain what she needs. As a go-getter, Emika is all about business. Although she doesn't open up to people easily, she genuinely wants to gain acceptance and have people who care for her. She is definitely my favorite character in Warcross.

Lu incorporates diversity in every form in Warcross. Because the games is worldwide, it makes sense to have diversity in terms of nationality, ethnicity, religion, disabilities, etc. Warcross will be a novel many will gravitate toward because they can see someone like them in the book. I was hoping for more build up regarding the romance in the novel. I felt that certain scenes were added just for the sake of being in the novel. The transitions weren't as smooth. However, I enjoyed reading the novel overall.

Warcross is colorful and dynamic! It's immersive and readers who love video games will definitely enjoy this novel! So put on your NueroLinks and join the game!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

After the Fall by Dan Santat

Title: After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again)
Author: Dan Santat
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication date: October 3, 2017
Pages: 40
Source/format: Publisher//Finished Copy

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from amazon.com):

From the New York Times–bestselling and award-winning author and illustrator of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend comes the inspiring epilogue to the beloved classic nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty.

Everyone knows that when Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. But what happened after?

Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat's poignant tale follows Humpty Dumpty, an avid bird watcher whose favorite place to be is high up on the city wall―that is, until after his famous fall. Now terrified of heights, Humpty can longer do many of the things he loves most.

Will he summon the courage to face his fear?

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) is a masterful picture book that will remind readers of all ages that Life begins when you get back up.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Everyone one knows about the story of Humpty Dumpty and how he sat on a wall and then had a great fall. He is well known due to a popular nursery rhyme. Santat added more to the story by incorporating what Humpty Dumpty learned from the fall.

The King's men were able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again but there were wounds that didn't heal. These invisible wounds such as being afraid of heights took awhile for Humpty Dumpty to overcome. It became so apparent that he couldn't even enjoy some of his favorite things anymore. Humpty Dumpty tries alternatives to still enjoy his favorite things but eventually he had to overcome his fear in order to persevere. 

Santat teaches little ones and pretty much anyone who reads the After The Fall that everyone can overcome their fears. If a fear is interfering with you enjoying a favorite thing, one must overcome that fear. Also, Santat discusses about accidents and how accidents happen. One must learn how to adjust if an accident occurs. Sometimes you will need to overcome a fear as an result of an accident aftermath. It's okay to be nervous and terrified. It's okay to be worried and thinking you might not make it. Just keep moving one step at a time toward to goal. Taking baby steps will help achieve a goal with less fear. 

Santat's illustrations are remarkably wonderful! The timeless muted color palette reminds me of Mike Curato's Little Elliot, Big City. The ending was unexpected but it works beautifully with the motto of the book. The dust jacket has the title of the book in a raised semi-spot glossed type while the rest of the cover is matte. Humty Dumpty sitting on a while is also semi-spot glossed. Removing the dust jacket reveals a wonderful illustration of Humpty Dumpty falling with from the sky. Birds and a pair of binoculars are seen in the sky.

After the Fall is a wonderful inspirational book for all ages. It's the type of book that will help readers feel at ease when they make mistakes. This is a classic story about overcoming fears when you are afraid. It's okay to fall but as long as you get back up, everything is okay.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR List


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to blog their top ten books on their fall TBR list. The titles are in no particular order.



1. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie Dao has been on my TBR list for quite awhile. I was fortunate enough to meet her at BEA 2017 and I cannot wait to read the book. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is the first book in the Rise of Empress series. If you are looking for Asian retelling of the Evil Queen from Snow White, definitely check out this novel.


2. The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken is a middle grade novel about a boy named Prosper who finds out that a demon lives within him due to one of his ancestors breaking a contract. Fall seems a perfect time to read this novel!


3. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is a novel that everyone has been raving about. I was fortunate enough to meet Celeste at BEA 2017 but I love how she lives in the same state as me and she always has events in MA. I cannot wait to read this contemporary adult novel about family, adoption and more.


4. The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman is the prequel to Practical Magic. Readers will finally learn more about the Owens Curse. I am hoping to attend her book event on October 31st. How fitting?!


5. Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi is a companion novel to Furthermore. A girl is entrusted with the destiny to spend her days washing the bodies of the dead and preparing their souls for the afterlife. Intriguing in a morbid way, this middle grade novel piqued my interest and what a perfect time to read it too! 



6. Shadow Weaver by MarcyKate Connolly is a middle grade novel about a girl who can control shadows ever since she was a baby. This is the first book in a dark fantasy duology. I am a big fan of MarcyKate's previous companion series, Monstrous and I look forward to diving into more fantastic writing!


7. The Ravenous by Amy Lukavics is Amy's third book. The Ravenous is about the Cane family who seems like the perfect family until one of the daughters dies in an accident and then is somehow brought back from the dead. However, she needs to feed on human flesh to survive. Not only is Amy's writing horrifically fantastic but she sets the tone for some of the perfect novels to be read during the Halloween season.



8. American Street by Ibi Zoboi is actually a book I am currently reading. The novel follows Fabiola who starts a new life in Detroit, MI after leaving Haiti. Unfortunately, her mother is detained in New Jersey and Fabiola learns to adapt without her mother in a new country. The novel moves at a fast pace and is definitely a novel everyone should read.

9. Little Elliot, Fall Friends by Mike Curato is the fourth book in the Little Elliot picture book series. Readers can follow Elliot and his friend Mouse in the countryside during the fall season. Mike's illustrations are timeless and his storytelling is captivating.


10. The Crowns of Croswald by D.E. Night is a fantasy novel about a boarding school called Halls of Ivy which is a school where students learn to master their magic and the power of Croswald’s mysterious gems. I haven't heard about this novel until recently but it's definitely up my alley. I love to read books about magic and boarding schools.



What novels are you looking forward to this fall? Do you prefer to read a certain genres during certain seasons?

Friday, September 15, 2017

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

Title: There's Someone Inside Your House
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Publication date: September 26, 2017
Pages: 289
Source/format: Publisher//ARC

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Scream meets YA in this hotly-anticipated new novel from the bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss.

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.

International bestselling author Stephanie Perkins returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Stephanie Perkins is known for her Anna and the French Kiss companion trilogy but this is her first time launching a horror novel! The novel starts off with a group of girls talking about the Sweeny Todd production that they are apart of at Osbourne High School in Nebraska. Unfortunately, one of the girls in the production is murdered at home and is the first of many students who are killed within the novel.

Makani Young moved from Hawaii about a year or so ago to Osbourne, Nebraska and still is trying to fit in. Her friends Darby and Alex and supportive and she is beginning a steady relationship with Ollie. Makani left Hawaii because of a scandalous past that caused her to change her last name. Her grandmother currently raises her in Nebraska and her parents find her a nuisance and a burden.

Although the novel is a horror novel, I find the book a fusion of contemporary and horror. There are a lot of instances of Makani and Ollie hooking up in the novel. The novel is more of a contemporary with scattered instances of horror weaved into There's Someone Inside Your House. Just a warning, there are instances of a lot of make out sessions, sex and hazing in the novel. I was a little put off by it because of how intense the hazing situation is.

Readers find out about the murderer earlier than expected. Half way through the book, Makani meets the killer and becomes a victim. Unlike the other victims, she survives. I didn't expect to find out about the killer so soon. I was hoping for the suspense to last until the very end where clues led to identity of the murderer. I also find it ironic how the school is doing a Sweeny Todd production during the time the serial killer is out to kill many students who attend Osbourne High School. The show ends up being cancelled due to the grieving community and the nature of Sweeney Todd.

There's Someone Inside Your House is written in third POV and readers will know what is happening to each character right away. Sometimes it can be hard to follow the plot with so many characters in the book. I recommend this book for those who like contemporary novels but want to have a taste of horror but aren't ready for a full blown suspenseful horror novel.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

Title: Wishtree
Author: Katherine Applegate
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication date: September 26, 2017
Pages: 224
Source/format: Publisher//ARC

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Trees can't tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories. . . .

Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood "wishtree"—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red's branches. Along with her crow friend Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red's hollows, this "wishtree" watches over the neighborhood.

You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red's experiences as a wishtree are more important than ever.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Every first of May, people will adorn Red the red oak tree with scraps of paper, bits of fabric and snippets of yarn with dreams, desires and longings. Trees can't tell jokes but they tell stories. They talk to some people but often will converse with nature. Red often chat with Bongo, the best friend who is a crow.

Red is not just any tree but he is a home for many and is important to the community. Samar is a ten-year-old who visits the tree at night when her parents fall asleep. She makes a one wish. Her wish is, "I wish for a friend." Samar has been bullied by others because she is Muslim. A carving on the tree is found telling Samar's family to leave and it upsets Samar. Stephen who lives next door to her becomes a friend over time with the intervention of Red and Bongo. Unfortunately, Red breaks the code of conduct between trees in order to make the friendship happen.

Francesca is the owner of the property of the tree and she is debating where to cut the tree down. After readers find out that Francesca is related to the person who first started the wishing, she changes heart and decides to protect the tree. A diary consists the first wish made by a young female back in 1848. Bongo was able to give the key to Samar in order to unlock the diary. The first wish was the gift of love. Eventually, love prevails!

Katherine Applegate has written a wonderful middle grade novel that delves into many current topics. The Wishtree is a novel that tackles topics such as friendship, environmental protection, diversity, bullying, community and love. It's a lovely book for all ages.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

Title: Black Bird of the Gallows
Author: Meg Kassel
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Publication date: September 5, 2017
Pages: 300
Source/format: Publisher//ARC

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.

What's more, she knows something most don't. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Mysterious Reece Fernandez and his family moves next door to Angie Dovage in Cadence, PA. Crows start multiplying in the neighborhood for some odd reason. At first, Reece seems like your typical popular, athletic guy but he harbors some secrets. Angie harbors a secret herself but her's seems tame compared to Reece's. Angie has an alter ego at the local club, The Strip Mall. She DJ's during her spare time and the job allows her to be an alternate version of herself. Everyone loves DJ Sparo compared to the quiet and shy Angie in school.

After some run ins with bees and random creepy people, Angie becomes suspicious of Reece and what he has been up to. Angie begins to stalk Reece in order to get her answers and finds out more about Reece's cursed life. Angie has been drawn to Reece ever since he moved in next door. It's like a magnetic connection. However, I was a little put off when Angie stalks Reece. She became a little too curious about Reece and it almost lead her to be killed.

Angie is close to her best friends, Deno and Lacey. Although, Angie lives a complex life, she knows Deno and Lacey will always be there for her. Angie's father always looks out for Angie especially when he finally gained custody rights. Despite everyone shaming Angie's mother for being a horrible mom, Angie uncovers more about her past through the mysterious supernatural happenings in her town. I am glad that Angie has a supportive group of friends and an understanding father.

Meg Kassel wrote a captivating and engaging novel about two teenagers that are fated to be together but due to certain circumstances, they must stand their distances to save each other. In order to stop history repeating itself, Angie and Reece try to deny their love for each other.

Black Bird of the Gallows is a novel for readers who love paranormal romance and are looking for something different from vampire, witch and werewolf tropes. The novel is intriguing and moves at a decent pace.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Hunting Prince Dracula Tour: Traveling Etiquette and Tips for Victorian Women

I am fortunate for this opportunity to participate in the Hunting Prince Dracula Tour as part of the Knights of White Chapel. Today, I am showcasing traveling etiquette and tips for Victorian Women. I came up with this idea when I read the first chapter of Hunting Prince Dracula. Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell are traveling to Romania on a train. Back in the day, women had less rights than the women of the modern day.

Upper and upper-middle class women were able to travel for leisure and for political reasons. It was a way for women to gain some sense of freedom and independence of their own. Some women would travel for missionary work while others wanted to explore lands they have never traveled to. All women had to abide to certain etiquette rules during the early 18th century to early 19th century.

Also, check out my review for Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula. You can also check out my posts about Stalking Jack the Ripper Exclusive Chapter Thoughts and Stalking Jack the Ripper Tea Pairings.

Sources: Traveling Etiquette and Tips for Victorian WomenVictorian Women Travelers in the 19th Century9 Rules For Female Travelers From The Victorian Era

Traveling Etiquette and Tips for Victorian Women

1. Ladies always give themselves at least an hour of ample time to get ready for preparation in the morning.

2. Wear appropriate modest clothing. Dress plainly in an outfit similar to a morning gown and don't dress too showy. To avoid robbery, don't adorn yourself with jewelry and expensive high quality clothing.

3. Ladies should limit their luggage to one carpet bag or traveling satchel for an overnight stay. Grooming items, reading material and possible food should be packed along with clothing (shawl, night clothes, clean linen, night cap).

4. Because women traveling alone are prime targets of robbery, most of a lady's money should be held by her male driver or escort. This will decrease the amount of monetary items that a robber might take from a traveling lady. A lady should also have a pocket in her upper petticoat to hold money.

5. A male escort shall not enter a lady's compartment.

6. If a woman travels alone, find a seat next to another woman or near an elderly gentleman. This is to lessen the chances of being robbed.

7. Don't pester the escort or the companion. You don't want to be a burden to others. 

8. Be polite at all times. Never return rudeness with rudeness. Hold back and bite your tongue if you don't have anything good to say. 

9. Always be punctual. There is no excuse for being late. Remember, early is on time, on time is late and late is well unacceptable. 

10. A lady never checks herself into at a hotel or inn. The driver or escort will take care of all the lodging arrangements.


Title: Hunting Prince Dracula
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Publication date: September 19, 2017
Pages: 448
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: AmazonBarnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound
Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

In this hotly anticipated sequel to the haunting #1 bestseller Stalking Jack the Ripper, bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer...or has the depraved prince been brought back to life?

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper's true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe's best schools of forensic medicine...and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life's dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school's forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again. 

***

PRAISE FOR HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA

“There are plenty of suspects and red herrings as well as tense escalations….A scenic, twisty mystery.”

―Kirkus Reviews

“Readers of the previous mystery will be thrilled to have more of this likable duo. [A] delightful romp into an 1888 Gothic mystery with a hint of romance.”

―School Library Connection


ABOUT KERRI MANISCALCO

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats.

Her first novel in this series, Stalking Jack the Ripper, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history.

Follow Kerri on Social media links:

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Website | Tumblr | Pinterest

GIVEAWAY

Nicole's Novel Reads is not responsible for books lost or damaged in the mail. Good Luck!



TOUR SCHEDULE

Week One

August 21: Paper Cuts: Hunting Prince Dracula Playlist
August 22: Literary Legionnaire: Review of Hunting Prince Dracula
August 23: Books & A Cup of Coffee: Character Mood Boards
August 24: Artic Books: Hunting Prince Dracula Playlist
August 25: 21st Century Once Upon A Times: A “Drink Your way through SJTR: Tea Edition”

Week Two

August 28: Hiver Et CafĂ©: History of Prince Dracula
August 29: Justice Reads: Review of Hunting Prince Dracula
August 30: Nicole’s Novel Reads: Travelling Etiquette and tips for Victorian Women
August 31: Sophie Reads YA: Favourite Stalking Jack the Ripper Fanart
September 1: LILbooKlovers: Top Ten Quotes from Stalking Jack the Ripper

Week Three

September 4: One Way or An Author: Hunting Prince Dracula Phone Backgrounds
September 5: A Blinding Book: Hunting Prince Dracula Aesthetic
September 6: Rants & Raves: Review & Snacks
September 7: Rattle the Stars: Hunting Prince Dracula Playlist
September 8: A Gingerly Reviews: Hunting Prince Dracula Review

Week Four

September 11: The Plot Bunny: Hunting Prince Dracula Trick or Treat Customer Ideas
September 12: Blame it on The Books: Hunting Prince Dracula Review
September 13: The Reader & the Chef : Hunting Prince Dracula’s Menu
September 14: Books, Tv, and More…Oh MY!!: Top Ten Favourite Traits of Audrey & Thomas
September 15: Unquenchable Reads : GIF, GIFS, and more GIFS

Week Five

September 18: Rattle the Pages : A Glimpse Back in Time: Vlad The Impaler edition
September 19: Beyond the Book Reviews: Character Wears of the 21st Century
September 20: The Heart of a Book Blogger : Hunting Prince Dracula Mood Board