Review: Obsidio (Illuminae Files #3)

Obsidio (The Illuminae Files, #3)




“It was amazing, epic (I never use that word), brilliant, marvelous, and it destroyed my feels beyond the point where they can be saved!” Nah. Too generic for me.

Who doesn’t already feel that way about this series or about the last book in the series that changed the game in YA sci-fi??  I know I was over the moon to find a store that was selling finished copies almost two weeks before release date, yet at the same time I was hella nervous to finish this series. It is such a perfectly flawed series that I felt like I may never be the same again.

You already know the back story. It started with Kady and Ezra fighting for their lives against a corrupt AI (AIDAN). Then it was Hanna and Nik trying to survive against damning odds. Now you are going to read about Asha and Rhys. Ex-lovers who thought they lost each other forever (though never stopped caring) and now have to learn to trust each other again in order to make it off of the planet Kerenza before all hell breaks loose. Can Asha trust her ex, who happens to work for BeiTech? Can Rhys prove to Asha he is the same person who is just trying to do what is right?

I’m going to tell you right now, whatever you think you know about this story, whatever you think might happen, you are not prepared. Kaufman and Kristoff will not hold anything back and they will not shy away. These two badass mfers will make you scream, cause you to cry, give you goose flesh, you will slam the book shut and walk away because you just “literally cannot even”, and they will do with while sipping on the tears of their readers grinning like the cat that ate the canary. They know exactly how to drive that knife in a little deeper to make you feel more. These two are a force to be reckoned with and there is a reason for that. This series is printed proof how masterful they are at their craft.

I’m not sure how much I can say about this book without giving anything away. I read the printed version so that is what I will try to review. I feel to get the true grasp of the story, the printed is the way to read it the first time through simply for the artwork and boatload of extras thrown in. The second time through (because of course you read this series multiple times) you listen to the audio because the full cast will blow your mind. The characters were perfectly flawed and beautifully complex. I loved Asha and Rhys, but my heart always stays with Kady, Ezra, and of course, AIDAN. They way every character tied into this story showed just how much Kaufman and Kristoff worked to create the total package. Every single thing had its place and every single person played a role. Yes, even AIDAN. I have to admit, AIDAN is the one character (is he considered a “character”?) that took my breath away. I read his voice with so much more depth than I have before and he now has a special place in my heart.

There is no world building here.. there is universe building and it was done right. I often felt as if I was on Kerenza with Asha and Rhys. I could have sworn I could smell the building debris in the air and wipe the dust off of my jacket. The pacing was top notch stuff, never a dull moment. Even when there was no fighting going on, there was something going on. Someone was revealing their cards, or a subtle event took place that would change the course of everyone’s outcome. Brilliant. Personally I thought it was over too soon, but that is because of how much I loved this book/series/universe.

I have zero doubts you already have this book or it is on your wish list/TBR or that you borrowed it from someone. I wish I could buy everyone a copy to have because 1) it is a stunning cover and 2) everyone needs this story in their life. They need these characters, this world, this struggle of good vs evil. This felt like a story to remind everyone that the good guys will always fight no matter what. If you have read this story, let me know your thoughts. I’d love someone to gush with.



ARC Review: Before I Let Go

Before I Let Go


I was excited to read the new story by Marieke Nijkamp as I liked her first book, This Is Where It Ends. I liked that story but was not in love with that story. It still made me curious to read her next novel, regardless of my feelings on her first.

Short recap: Corey’s best friend, Kyra, died under mysterious circumstances and the town of Lost Creek, Alaska wrote it off to suicide. Corey knew her best friend was ill with bipolarism and knew her well enough to know she would never commit suicide. Corey travels back to Lost Creek for two reasons: to pay respects to her best friend and to find out what really happened.

This was a wild ride of a story. I had my own ups and downs while reading this. It was a quick read but there were some things that just felt… obscure. I’ll explain but first I’m going to talk about the characters. There is only one real character in this story with several supporting characters. The entire story is told from Corey’s POV. Corey is absolutely torn at the loss of her best friend. Corey moved out of her home town to go to college and experience life, while Kyra was “stuck” in Lost Creek. To help deal with her manic episodes, Kyra would paint for hours, sometimes days at a time. I loved the relationship that these two best friends had. No matter what, Corey had Kyra’s back. But as the story developed and moved along, it seemed Corey grew farther away from Kyra who desperately needed her best friend. I don’t fault Corey for wanting a chance at a normal life outside of that weird town but it seemed she took her Kyra’s always being there for her for granted. There was a slew of supporting characters but none of them really stood out for me. It seemed everyone in that town was drinking spiked Kook-Aid. I half expected them to start chanting “One of us. One of us” while sparks were shooting out of their necks.

The one thing about the story that started to grate on my nerves was the constant repetition. I’m all for reminding the reader about certain aspects of the story, but the way Corey was going over the same points over and over started to annoy me. I knew Kyra was bipolar and was being refused treatment by her parents. I knew the girl isolated herself to help deal with her manic episodes. I knew the girl wanted to “collect stories” and paint as a way to deal with her bipolarism. I knew Kyra was alone and wanted more out of life but felt trapped. What I did not need was to have these points and more told back to me every other page. What I wanted more of was a thickening of the plot. I think I may have missed the part of the story where everything clicked for Corey. It might have been so subtle that I honestly missed it. One moment Corey was trying to find out what happened and in the next she understood. I may have to go back to find out what I missed.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I really did enjoy this book. The way Marieke portrayed a town that was so close knit that they didn’t approved of “outsiders” was very well done. I come from a super small town so I understood that aspect of the story. What I didn’t truly get was how or why this town went from not accepting Kyra to saying that her art brought the town together. Maybe I won’t ever understand that part, who knows? As I always say: not ever book is for ever reader.

Overall, I did like this book. I enjoyed Marieke’s words and the way she weaves a tale. I will always be a reader of her books and I will always encourage everyone to read her books. I feel this book was better than her first book so please, give it a try if you have not already.



ARC Review: Everless



With fantasy stories being the hot thing on the streets,  it seems as if every book or every other book published right now is a fantasy. For someone that isn’t a huge (high) fantasy reader (like me) that makes it difficult for me to be excited about a lot of books. I am still pushing myself to step out of my comfort zone and read because if not I might miss something great. With that said, this book surprised the hell out of me.

Short recap: Jules Ember lives in a world where time is currency. Time pays for everything: rent, food, clothing, everything. If you do not have enough time to pay your bills, you can sell your blood… which means draining years from your life. Jules is raised by her father and the one thing he has always told her is, “Never let the queen look upon you”. When Jules is in her late teen years, she leaves for Everless (the main city) for employment and the opportunity to make a lot of money. Jules never expected how terrible things would turn out for her by defying her father’s one wish.

I went into this story thinking, “Okay, so blood is valuable because you can sell it for the time that is in it?” Knowing how tough that was for me to wrap my head around, I still gave this book a shot. I’m happy to say that after that massive and somewhat confusing info dump at the beginning of the story, it got better. I found that I easily picked up on what was going on and was along for the journey with Jules as she figured out what her father was protecting her from. While this story seems to be cut and dry with Jules on a mission, there is a secondary story that you must pay attention to. There is a tale told and referenced throughout the book about a Sorcerer and an Alchemist. I will not give that part away but it the tale is woven throughout the entire story so don’t skim past it.

The characters were just as intriguing. Jules is the protagonist and we follow her on said journey. She is a tough, brave, yet reckless character. She is quick to say what is on her mind without thinking of the trouble she could get herself in. She is aware of her history in Everless as a child and the connection she has to the princes of Everless. They don’t remember her at first but she clearly remembers them. The friends Jules is able to make along the way will stay with you long after the book is over.

Holland did a wonderful job when it came to world building. I did feel as if I was submerged in Everless and all of its weird blood letting ways. I still wondered what Holland was doing when she came up with the concept of creating a story where time can be extracted from blood to create currency. And this said currency would be forged into a coin and a if anyone dissolved this coin in liquid and drank it, they would gain that amount of time. Interesting concept, no? It took me a hot minute to understand it all but it was clearly explained and soon I didn’t give it a second thought when Jules talked about pulling 40 years of her life through her blood.

Here is the one complaint I have with this story: the climax was over far too quickly and passed without much fanfare. I had to really pay attention because I almost missed it. Not to mention that it didn’t happen until pages before the book was over and then the story was done. Very little resolution but Holland did set up perfectly for book 2.

Overall, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. It was just the right pace to keep my attention and keep me wanting more. I am anxious to see how the series continues and hope everyone gives this a chance.



MAD MAGIC Blog Tour – Review and Giveaway!




About the Book:

IMG_6193Title: MAD MAGIC

Author: Nicole Conway

Pub. Date: November 14, 2017

Publisher: Month9Books

Pages: 300

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&NiBooksTBD


Mad Magic is a beautifully dark and rich Young Adult fantasy from Nicole Conway, bestselling author of the Dragonrider Chronicles.

Josie Barton is a high school student living in terror. Invisible creatures torment her everywhere she goes, constantly getting her into trouble at school, and even haunting her apartment. But just when Josie thinks things couldn’t get any worse… she meets the guy from across the hall.

Zeph Clemmont is a changeling with enemies in all the worst places, fighting to undo a curse that threatens to end his life. Survival means he will have to swallow his pride and trust Josie with all his darkest secrets.

With the help of a gun-slinging shaman and the enigmatic Prince of Nightmares, Zeph and Josie are only a heartbeat away from defeating one of the most diabolical faerie villains their world has ever known.



This book pleasantly surprised me! This story was packed full of romance, danger, evil villains, magic (so much magic…), and attractive fae. I’m quickly finding my place in the fantasy-reading population and therefore found myself enjoying this more than I thought I would.

I really liked the characters and felt they were very well developed and complex. Josie, the protagonist, was living a life where she was constantly getting in trouble for things that either were not her fault or out of her control. She lived in a world where she was being tormented by invisible creatures. Things went sideways when she met Zeph, the handsome bad boy across the hall from her haunted apartment. Zeph is the typical swagger filled handsome dreamboat dripping with “I’m nothing but trouble” from every inch of him. Did that stop Josie? NOPE. These two were so much fun to read! Josie tried to ignore her feelings for Zeph but when his secret was revealed, everything just got more complicated. Things get more complicated when Eldrick is introduced into the story. Eldrick was your standard swoon-worthy tall drink of water with just enough mystery to make a girl forget who she is. The adventure that lies ahead of these three is one you just have to read for yourself. With the help of Zeph and Eldrick, Josie discovered who she was supposed to be and her place in her crazy life.

There was not a moment of this story where I was bored or skimming just to finish. This held my attention and left me wanting more from this author. There is a huge battle at the end that let my head spinning, but know it was in a good way.

I’m trying so hard not to give anything away! Keeping spoilers out of this review is tough, let me tell you. Please add this to your TBR if it isn’t already there. Great characters, engaging plot, and twists & turns everywhere. It really is a must read for fantasy lovers.


About Nicole:

NicoleConwayPhoto-300x204My name is Ashley “Nicole” Conway. I’m originally from North Alabama and attended Auburn University where I earned a BA in English with a concentration in Classics & Mythology. I’m happily married and have one son, Ethan.  I also have a cat, Mr. Darcy, and a dog named Phoebe.

Writing has been a passion of mine since childhood, and to be able to do it as a full-time career is something I take as a great blessing and honor. My heart is in children’s literature, specifically middle-grade and young adult fantasy. I’m best known for my MG/YA fantasy series THE DRAGONRIDER CHRONICLES, which is published by Month9Books. The second series, THE DRAGONRIDER LEGACY, just launched this fall!

My other works in include MAD MAGIC (2017), THE DISTANCE BETWEEN STARS (2017), SCALES (tbd), and SHATTERBEAST (tbd).

I am represented by Fran Black of Literary Counsel.

Look for my books on and at your local Barnes & Noble Bookstores!

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr | Pinterest |  Goodreads


Giveaway Details:


1 winner will win a $10 Amazon Gift Card, US Only.

1 winner will win a finished copy of MAD MAGIC, US Only.

Rafflecopter link:



Tour Schedule:


Week One:

1/1/2018- BookHounds YA– Interview

1/1/2018- Confessions of a YA Reader– Review


1/2/2018- Wandering Bark Books– Excerpt

1/2/2018- A Gingerly Review– Review


1/3/2018- Lost in Ever After– Interview

1/3/2018- Two Chicks on Books– Interview


1/4/2018- Book Briefs– Review

1/4/2018- Ikram Reads A Lot– Review


1/5/2018-  Books and Ladders Review

1/5/2018- Rambling Reviews– Review


1/6/2018- Just Commonly– Review


Week Two:

1/8/2018- Once Upon a Twilight– Excerpt

1/8/2018- Step Into A Book World– Review


1/9/2018- Blushing Bibliophile– Review

1/9/2018- Book-Keeping Review


1/10/2018- Novel Novice– Guest Post

1/10/2018- Pervy Ladies Books– Review


1/11/2018- My Crea Bookish Kingdom– Review

1/11/2018- The Book Recluse Review– Review


1/12/2018- Owl Always Be Reading– Excerpt

1/12/2018- Abooktropolis– Review



Texas Teen Book Festival ’17 Recap

Welcome to my Texas Teen Book Festival 2017 Recap! It was October 7, 2017 in Austin, TX. Sit back and get cozy because this may be a long post.. full of pictures and great stories! (HA! See what I did there?)



This festival was at St. Edwards University again. I had only been to this festival two years before and it was a disaster. I could regale you with horror stories or share pictures but just trust me when I say it was a cluster. It made me not want to go back, especially after the horrific stories I heard from last year. Leigh Bardugo anyone? I took a chance and packed up my books. I am overjoyed to say that, as an attendee, I feel this year’s festival was wonderfully done! Other than the Texas heat and humidity, which nothing can ever be done about that, I believe this festival was really well done. It did not feel like the same festival I went to years before.



This was taken early in the morning but it was still a beautiful day.



Book Sales

What booknerd doesn’t love book sales??? Book People in Austin was in charge of the sales and I feel it went off without a hitch. All of the books were neatly laid out and you could easily tell what was signed and what wasn’t. I’m surprised that a good majority of the books were already signed by the authors but you certainly had the opportunity to get them personalized later if you wanted.



Publisher Additions


It was so great to see publisher tables at this event! Macmillan and Penguin were the two tables I saw but I know more publishers sent items to be given away. Festival attendees (like me!) always enjoy any presence from a big publisher.

I believe there were some Fierce Reads events during the day but I wasn’t able to attend. Unfortunately, it clashed with a signing time so I couldn’t go.



It may have been me but it felt like the attendance was not as high this year. Maybe it was because Austin City Limits was going on at the same time and people didn’t want to risk the traffic? Whatever the case, I took advantage of it. The lines were almost non-existent. The longest line I stood in was at the end of the day to see Mackenzi Lee and that was because she is a sweetheart and wanted to chat with every single person who was in her line. I can’t be mad at an author who wants to be so engaging with her readers and fans.




I try to express how important it is to make friends at these festivals. I made more friends this year and was over the moon excited about that! It also blew my mind how many people actually knew me. I have moments where I still feel like a newbie when it comes to blogging but then I remember I have been posting on my blog for two years now. Where has the time gone? I was even more floored when people asked where I blogged and I was able to hand them my card! Little moments like that is why I love blogging so much.


It is not a true Texas book festival until I see Xander!



Everyone, @heartbrekkerr! This girl was my lifeline all day! I am not sure I could have made it through the festival without her. ❤



I may jinx myself here but I don’t feel like I have to cover this topic when it comes to experience I had at this festival! Everyone was nice! Everyone was friendly! Everyone was helpful! From the volunteers (SHOUT OUT TO THE VOLUNTEERS!) to the publishers to the venders to the attendees. Everyone had manners and was respectful! I still feel like I was in a dream when it comes to not be shoved around or treated like a faker because I’m an older YA reader. Just know it was a breath of fresh air.




I did not attend any panels this year. There wasn’t time! Again, you had to make a decision – attend panels or go to a signing. (I’ll get into that in a moment.) Maybe next year I’ll go to one.


Author Signings

Now we get to the topic that you really want to know about (unless you have really been curious about the entire day). I am guessing that you are probably like me and want to know about the authors and the rush of meeting these awesome people. I am happy to report that this went super smooth. Both Book People employees and volunteers were on point and had everything under control – and they were nice about it. There were four different signing times throughout the day and I think that helped a lot with crowd control.

The early bird signing included E. Lockhart, Stephanie Perkins, Jason Reynolds, and Marie Lu but Marie was unable to attend this signing. I volunteered at this time so I didn’t get photos. But never fear, I still took plenty of pictures of the rest of the day!

I cannot remember the exact authors at every signing as there were so many. Instead of trying to rack my brain and possibly missing someone, I’ll share with you the photos I took:


I bought Aditi’s book signed later in the day and am kicking myself for not having her personalize it.



Lisa Maxwell was just so nice!



ERIN BOWMAN!! I simply love her books. ❤ (Notice Cindy Pon on the left!)



ONE OF MY FAVORITES!! Stephanie Perkins is just too sweet for words. This was the sixth time (I believe) that I’ve met her and it still blows me away that she knows who I am. We chatted like old friends and it warmed my heart.



Me after the first signing event I went to. Notice how organized things are behind me as that’s the signing tent. So awesome.


Third signing of the day!




Notice Jason Reynolds on the left… he was so engaging with his readers.



Jessica Taylor and Peter Bognanni



Amy Tintera



Jason Reynolds’ line never stopped! He was very popular. 🙂


The fourth signing of the day was a BIG ONE for me. MARIE LU was going to be in this signing and I was bursting with excitement! Somehow I was able to be the first person in line to meet her!



Because her line was so intense, wrist bands were handed out to the first 35 people to guarantee them a spot to meet Marie.




While waiting for the signing to start, I stopped Jason Reynolds for a photo. I’m not intimidated by a lot of authors but he kind of intimidated me.



Can you tell how excited and over the moon I was to meet Marie again?! AAAHHH!



Next on my stop was Mackenzi Lee but I was able to snap photos of other authors while waiting. Here we have Jennifer Mathieu, Julie Murphy, and Sandhya Menon



Better shot of Sandhya and Julie



Kathryn Ormsbee



AAHH!! Mackenzi Lee!! She has been one of my most favorite authors! Notice me holding an ARC of her debut, This Monstrous Thing. She was floored to see it in the wild again!



Anna-Marie McLemore was so sweet and super friendly. I have heard nothing but great things about her book.



I was in line for Ashley Poston (!!!) when the signings were cut off so the workers could prepare for the final signing of the day –every author would be available to sign books. I was just a few people away from meeting Ashley but was able to capture a photo of Ryan Graudin… 🙂


After the signings, I spotted Adi Alsaid and grabbed him for a photo!



You are seeing that photo correctly! I met Ashley at the last and biggest signing of the day and I had TWO copies of Heart of Iron for her to sign! When I told her I had these babies, she legit teared up. It pulled on my heart strings. This story is six years of her blood, sweat, and tears. She hadn’t seen but one other reader with the ARC so seeing them in the wild brought tears to her eyes. She was gracious enough to sign one to me and even wrote some spoilers somewhere in the book. She’s so evil that way and I love her for it.


My Book Haul

Would you believe me if I tell you that I carried about 90lbs worth of books all day? I even went light this year! I took one small bag of books with me to start the day



I am rather proud of myself because I only bought five books this year. All were already signed and three I had personalized by the author.



These are the books I was given throughout the day… I’m still in shock over them!



These are the books I had signed and/or personalized



All in all, this is what I carried around (proudly) all day!




Swag is not something I’m big into but I did collect some throughout the day




Overall Thoughts

I am blown away by how much improvement there was with this festival. The first year I attended was the first year it was at St. Edwards University. It was a horrific nightmare. I Nobody working the festival had any idea what was going on, the signing events were screwed up, and so were the lines. Oh goodness the lines! They were stuff nightmares were made of. I am now going to be a forever fan of this festival and attend every year I can if it continues to run the way it did this year. This felt easy. Maybe the Texas heat kept people away or the ACL event, but either way it was really enjoyable and I still feel like I’m floating from the amazing interaction with everyone.


So tell me, did you attend this event? Or would you attend this event? What are you thoughts on everything I laid out about the day? I want to hear from you.sara-signature1



ARC Review: Keep of Ages (The Vault of Dreamers #3)

The Keep of Ages (The Vault of Dreamers, #3)


I have been waiting on pins and needles for the third and final installment in The Vault of Dreamers trilogy. It was a heck of a wait and I was not patient about it. Just as I expected, O’Brien knocked it out of the park.

Short recap: Rosie Sinclair is still running and fighting for her life against Dean Berg, who wants to mine her for her dreams. Dean Berg has upped the stakes by involving Rosie’s family and those she loves the most. Will Rosie finally be able to expose Dean Berg for the horrors he has put her through and the rest of the kids in the Vault of Dreamers?

This was such a wild ride that I devoured the book in no time. Rosie’s character was brilliant, as always. She was constantly growing, developing, and surviving. I found myself wishing I could be as resourceful and brave as her. She went through some pretty extreme circumstances to save those she loved, even if it mean hurting herself. She was not alone, she had her dear friends Linus and Burnham. The romance was still there between Rosie and Linus, and still awkward around Burnham. The new character introduced was Lavinia Jacobs. She was a strange bird, I’ll admit, but she fit perfect into the story. She knew Dean Berg before he became the current evil person everyone is trying to run from. She worked at the Forge School before Berg so she knew what the school was supposed to be, not what it currently was.

The world building O’Brien put into The Keep of Ages was amazing! I felt like I was on the cliffs next to the beach and in the amusement park watching that fantastic dragon. I really loved the setting so much as it made the story feel realistic and believable. This was such a quick paced, action packed, non-stop story that it was over before I knew it. I found myself sad to say goodbye to Rosie and her friends. I really enjoyed watching Rosie’s character really grow and develop over the course of the trilogy. I know, that sounds crazy but when you enjoy a series as much as I enjoyed this one, you’ll know what I mean. I felt connected to Rosie because I was with her for her journey.

I am trying so hard not to give away any spoilers in this review so forgive me for being so vague. Just know this – this book was everything I was hoping it would be. O’Brien did an outstanding job of wrapping up the series and giving us the ending we deserved. I hope you will give this a chance, you won’t be disappointed.


NTTBF ’17 Recap – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Welcome to my North Texas Teen Book Festival 2017 Recap! It was March 4, 2017 in Irving, TX. It is the third year for this festival but it has grown so much. It was surprising to see so many publisher tables with really good swag and ARC drops. I believe this festival was better than last year in certain aspects and I will do my best to explain.



The festival was at the Irving Convention Center again. It is a very nice place for an event like this and thankfully more of the center was used as opposed to last year. This festival was on four different floors. Let that sink in. Four. Different. Floors. That meant there was a LOT of walking and carrying of books up & down escalators. I heard a lot of attendees being confused where things were. They were upset about missing panels because they weren’t sure where GB3 was located. That’s fair if you hadn’t been to this center before. This held true during the 2016 and 2017 festivals. Even more of the convention center was utilized this year but the weather just was not playing nice (think cold and rainy).


This is how crowded the first floor was at 8:30AM. Just let that sink in because it is reported that over 10,000 people attended this year and this was a snapshot of just one portion of the floor.


Book Sales

What booknerd doesn’t love book sales??? Half Price Books did not provide the book sales this year, Barnes and Noble was in charge of that. I am not always a fan of BN because I never have a good experience when I go into their stores. The BN near me feels like they silently judge me for reading YA books and I don’t appreciate that. This crew was not that way (thankfully) and were on top of their game. The thing that changed this year was you were given a wristband after you bought books. These were supposed to be used and checked when it came time for the signing lines. I’m here to say that didn’t happen.



Publisher Additions

I’m adding this to the beginning of the post because for me, as a reader and blogger, this made a huge impact on my day. Random House/First In Line hosted a breakfast with some of their authors. You had the chance to quickly chat with them and get your books signed. If you were lucky enough to get your books signed before the signing lines, it made you breathe a little easier knowing you wouldn’t have to fight to get them signed later. I was fortunate to get a seat right before the doors closed. Even though it was rather cold and blustery, it was a really good event. The authors were very welcoming and always had a smile on their face.


Jeff Zentner, Julie Buxbaum, Jennifer Niven, Nicola Yoon, Kiersten White, and Jennifer E. Smith



That girl with the bag had Kiersten sign everything she owned so I never got her to sign anything for me at this event. 😦


I did get to chat to one of my favorite authors who I’ve talked to at other events, Jeff Zentner. (Isn’t he a doll?)


Nicola Yoon was the only other author I was able to get close to. That place was packed and some of the attendees seemed to cut in line.

There were also afternoon meet & greets put on by Epic Reads. You could choose between the 1PM and 2PM event. Both had different authors so it really was a tough call. I opted for the 2PM and it gave me anxiety because that meant I would be late to the signing lines.  I really was torn between meeting these authors up close and personal or heading down to get a good spot for the signing lines. (NOTE: My anxiety and fears were confirmed. More on that later.) I opted to go and here is the result: face time with some really awesome people.




Me with Colleen Oakes


Me with Victoria Aveyard



Me with Margot Wood (EEK! I fangirled so hard)



Me with Heidi Heilig dressed as a pirate



Me with Angie Thomas 



Me with Katie Cotugno

I felt this event was very, very well done but it felt rushed. That was probably because the author signings were directly after this event. I sat a smaller table and we all worked together so well on getting stuff signed, taking photos, and asking questions. I hope the rest of the tables were able to get signatures and photos.



The lines this year were slightly better than last year, but only slightly. There were yet again lines for signing passes, special Epic Reads events, and more. The first line of the day (which I did not stand in) was for signing passes to see Veronica Roth and R.L. Stine. I was not going to put myself through that madness so I avoided. Sadly the weather did not play nice so people had to stand outside in the cold wind to get a Roth/Stine wristband. It was all about the wristbands this year.

This was yet another year where as an attendee I had to make the decision: lines or panels? I certainly could not do both. Did I want the chance to meet awesome authors and/or get ARCs or listen to authors talk on a panel? The honest answer is it didn’t matter because both were not going to happen. I clearly chose the lines.

I did stand in line to get a wristband for the Epic Reads meet and greet. That was not a pleasant for several reasons, the weather being most of them. Here is me freezing with my light jacket.



The other reason I did not enjoy this line was… wait. That part of the story should fall under the Manners section. You’ll have to wait just a wee bit for that one. It’s good. You’ll want to stick around for it. The bottom line is I got my wristband and that’s what mattered. (Clearly because the pictures for that are shown above.)



As I mentioned, publishers really stepped their game up this year and did several ARC drops throughout the day. As a reader, that blew my mind in the best way possible. I am forever grateful when a publisher wants to get an upcoming book into the hands of readers. That being said, it quickly became a nightmarish experience thanks to one group of unchaperoned middle grade students. While waiting patiently next to the Penguin Teen table for the upcoming ARC drop, a group of middle grade students rushed up to the table minutes before the line was to form.


The girls in the green shirts hovered after being told no less than six times by the Penguin Reads staff to “take a lap” and “keep moving”. Once the line was told to form, those girls shoved their wait in front of every single person who had been doing what they were supposed to do. Not one time was there a parent or someone watching them. They had no respect for authority or adults and clearly did whatever they wanted. I know this because after they grabbed books from Penguin, I witnessed them rushed to the guy manning the First In Line/Random House table and take books from him before he could even get them sat out for his ARC drop. They were also rude during the signing lines. Now yes, I know this should probably fall under the Manners section but it seemed to fit with the Lines section as well. I did end up getting the ARC at this drop and I am grateful, but I felt I had to fight to get that. Nothing about these festivals should feel like a battle.



I did also stand in line for a Fierce Reads ARC drop and it was so organized and calm. Not a slam against the publishers or the people that manned the tables, only an observation on the people in line. (I told the couple behind me I would put them in my blog so here you are! 🙂 )



The other line that is the real focus is the signing lines… but that will come later. Let’s just say that it was calmer than last year but my level of disappointment hit a new low.



I try to express how important it is to make friends at these festivals. I made more friends this year and was over the moon excited about that!


#squadgoals – am I right? I know April (@aprillovesbooks) and Ashley (@ashleyoutpaged) from Houston but met Jesse (@JesseTheReader) and Makaelyn (@MakaelynP). They were so much fun to hang around! Never a dull moment with these celebrities. (Photo credit Makaelyn’s mom 🙂 )

I also ran into friends I hadn’t seen in awhile. It made me miss them even more.


#reunited This is my partner in crime! Putting the two of us together is so much dang fun. ❤ (photo credit: @LaCherenda)

I also ran into Xander (@Foreverbookish – he is a big deal) and Liv (@GrangerLiv – also a big deal!) though I didn’t get photos. 😦 Boo on me for that. I did run into Becky (@Becky_LoveDemi) at the start of the day. That made me happy.


I still stress the importance of making friends at these events. One can never have enough friends no matter what.



Let me take a moment to talk about manners. This is something that should be common sense to everyone but it seems to have skipped some (a lot of?) people. I saw a tremendous lack in manners and common courtesy through the entire day. This was strong at the 2016 event and it held true this year. Yes, everything felt more organized and calm this year but that did not stop the students from slamming into me, cutting me off, stepping on my feet, shoving me out of the way, glaring at me for one reason or another, or telling me to get out of their way. Not at any point in time did one of them say, “Excuse me”, or “I’m sorry”, or “please”, or “thank you”. I know it is too much to ask, shame on me.

I know I am an older YA reader and I will never deny that. I embrace who I am and what genre I prefer to read. Nobody should have the right to judge me on that. That being said, it happened to me a lot at this festival. By volunteers. You read that correctly. The volunteers were rude this year. So very rude. I know it was mainly to older readers/attendees because I traded stories with others who were treated this way. Talk about uncalled for. Here is my story: After I made my way to the table with my friends for the Epic Reads wristbands, the volunteer said loudly in front of everyone, “You do realize this is for teens, right? The publisher wants TEENS to attend.” I. Was. Floored. I felt so many emotions at once: rage, anger, embarrassment, shame, and fury. Just typing this now is making my hands shake with anger. Who are you to judge me like that? I happen to know the publisher wants YA readers to enjoy this event, not just teens. If publishers did not want older YA readers to read their books, why put so many on mailing lists for ARCs? Why include so many on blog tours and ask for their opinion on books or events?

That one situation really ruined my day. I carried it with me for the rest of the day and you can confirm that with anyone that was around me. I was not excited to be at this festival any more. Knowing I was being treated that way by volunteers was shattering to my self esteem, my mental status, and my overall thoughts on the festival. Why in the world would I want to attend a festival where I know I’ll be talked to this way by volunteers. Not to mentioned it made me question what I was doing. Should I really be an older reader at a YA festival? More on that later but it made me question a lot of things.

Remember me mentioning the middle grade schoolers who jumped in line and did whatever they wanted? They were very rude when it came to signing lines. One girl behind me huffed a lot and asked me to “move faster” because she wanted to meet the author. Calm down, sweetheart, we are both in the same line that isn’t moving. Being a jerk to me isn’t going to change that. And no, I am not going to let you cut ahead of me. Stop asking.



I only went to one panel this year: Penguin Teen panel. The description was a bit misleading in the brochure because it made it seem like a lot of the authors would be there. NOPE. It was someone from Penguin talking about the upcoming books.



Author Signings

Now we get to the topic that you really want to know about (unless you have really been curious about the entire day). I am guessing that you are probably like me and want to know about the authors and the rush of meeting these awesome people. If you read my post from last year (found here: NTTBF ’16 Recap) you will remember what a nightmare the authors signing was like. I’m happy to report that it was only somewhat better this year. Only. Somewhat. Remember how I said I was afraid of getting to the author signing area late? Well, I did show up “on time” (which meant very late) and I was towards the very end of the line. I was already pissed and didn’t care much about being here due to earlier events of the day, so missing the chance to meet a lot of authors for photos and signatures did not hit me as hard as it should have. It hits me hard now and the overwhelming sense of disappointment hits all over again. But feast your eyes on the line to get to the signing lines:


Chaos. Madness. Rudeness. Whining. Utter defeat. All of these were felt where I was in line. I know I felt a lot of that myself, mainly utter defeat. I honestly asked myself, “Why even bother?” By the time I made it inside the signing area (which you had to continue following a piece of tape along the right wall and around the other side of the room) I had just over an hour to get my books signed. Do you think that went well? No, of course not.

The signing area was done a little differently and authors were given longer lines for people to stand in. sigh That meant I spent 20 minutes waiting to meet just one author. Go ahead, do the math on that. I ended up meeting a total of FOUR authors. FOUR out of FIFTY. To say I was disappointed and defeated, again, is an understatement.





I didn’t have anyone to help me get my books signed so I was stuck. Again, what else could I do?

Here are the authors I was able to meet:


Jennifer E. Smith


Stephanie Perkins (whom I ❤ so much)


Adam Silvera



Kiersten White

That is what just over an hour got me. Four authors. Me = let down and defeated (my theme for the day, it seems). I did manage to snag a photo of Veronica Roth on my way out. It was the closest I got to her:


It isn’t fair that she is that attractive.


My Book Haul

Would you believe me if I tell you that I carried about 60lbs worth of books all day? I even went in light this year thinking I wouldn’t have to carry as much. Little did I know I would be handed beautiful ARCs by wonderful publishers to take home.

All of the books I carried with me all day:



The swag I walked away with. Swag was not as plentiful this year.




The books I took to be signed:


Now what I actually had signed:



It looks like a lot, I know, but I had a lot of anthologies that I wanted signed by multiple authors. Should have known that was a pipe dream.

The ARCS I brought home:


Tote bags for days….



My prize of the day was finding this oddly cut copy of Kiersten White’s ARC Now I Rise


Pretty rad, no? I did have Kiersten sign it. 🙂 She even took a picture of it!



EDIT: Overall Thoughts

I love this event and will go back next year, and the year after that. I will scream it from the rooftops how much I adore and support this event. My opinions here are meant to be heartfelt and with no harsh tones at all.

I have now been on both sides of a book festival – planning and attending. I truly believe the NTTBF planners took the comments from attendees last year that the signings needed to be handled better. I believe the signings were handled better but it still does break my heart to know I was one of those at the back of the lines that was given such a short amount of time to potentially meet the authors I wanted. It really did kick me in the gut and wear me down. I did have thoughts of picking up my book bags and walking to my car to just end the day. Why stand in line for 20 minutes to get no more than three books signed by the author? (I was yelled at by a volunteer for putting four books in front of one author. Thankfully the author came to my rescue but the damage was already done.) I know there were a lot of people at the event and we all had the same goal. It still doesn’t make me feel any better. I know I have a somewhat established library and as a result I have a lot of books. Why would I not take advantage of them being signed? I know I sound super pessimistic and selfish but when I got my hopes up that high to meet authors and have a great time, only to not have all of that happen, I can’t help but feel down.

I urge everyone to try to attend this if you can, but either go with a friend or make friends there. Remember – BE NICE TO PEOPLE. THAT GOES FOR YOU TOO, VOLUNTEERS. Nothing gives you the right to pass judgement on someone because they look over 18 and read YA books. You have no idea how much of an affect your mean words can have one someone’s state of mind, feelings, and emotions.

Keep in mind if you have to sacrifice panels to stand in line, ask yourself if it is really worth it to you. If the answer is yes, there you go. I skipped panels for the chance to see what the publishers brought or what events they were holding. Still not sure if it was the best thing for me due to manners and crowds but at least I tried.

As you can tell, that one comment from early in the day really did stay with me. Heck, it is still with me. No matter how much I interacted with fellow readers or was recognized by authors (still blows my mind…), that one comment shadowed everything else. I could not move past it. I don’t like holding on to things like this but I don’t ever want anyone to have this happen to them. It did raise a question in my mind that I may create into a discussion post: Should your age determine if you attend a YA festival? Obviously my answer is no because a majority of the demographics of YA readers/book buyers is 18-64. What I do strongly believe is that nobody has the right to judge me or anyone else on what books they read. I know, I know, it shouldn’t matter right? I was only 1 of over 10,000 and I should move on. Answer me this: How would you feel if something like this was said to you? end soap box rant.


So tell me, did you attend this event? Or would you attend this event? What are you thoughts on everything I laid out about the day? I want to hear from you.sara-signature1



Review: Wires and Nerve (Wires and Nerve #1)

Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 (Wires and Nerves, #1)


Let’s be honest, who hasn’t been excited for the new graphic novel from Marissa Meyer?! I was over the moon when I heard she was continuing this amazing storyline with a graphic novel. Be still my heart! This is a 240 story that does go by quickly, but I wasn’t as impressed as I wanted to be. Maybe I had my hopes too high.

Wires and Nerve picks up almost right where Winter left off. Cinder is now the rightful Queen of Luna and things are slowly getting back to normal. The new threat is the rogue hybrid wolf packs that are roaming parts of Earth. They were left to fend for themselves after the battle ended and with nowhere to go, they chose to become a terror to people. Iko is the one that chooses to hunt these packs down and bring them to justice. Why Iko? She feels she is the most expendable one of the bunch. Iko does a pretty good job finding all of the packs but one Alpha chooses to hunt Iko down and use her as leverage to get Queen Cinder to reverse the horrid things that were done to make him an Alpha.

I will say this – this is a quick and interesting read but I just did not jive with the story line. I liked Iko’s character in the Lunar Chronicles but I didn’t see her as a lead character. She felt super whiney and “woe is me” throughout this entire story. She chose to leave on her own to hunt the wolves down because she was the only one who didn’t have a love interest. Uh… what? That didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Plus, it seemed Iko focused a lot on the fact she didn’t have a significant other, she wanted someone to love, and she wanted all of the attention. Make up your mind – is this a contemporary where Iko finds someone or is this an adventure where Cinder and the crew track down bad guys? The answer is neither. Cinder never leaves Luna; Thorne and Cinder travel everywhere; Wolf and Scarlet are on the farm in France; Winter and Jacin travel everywhere as well; Kai is on Earth still trying to deny his feelings for Cinder when they are pretty crystal clear from the original series. I did enjoy how the rest of the original group was brought back but it felt like too much. They never truly got back together. Each stayed where they were when Winter ended and that’s it. Every one of them had a scene or two but it felt forced, as if Meyer felt they all needed to have a presence. That’s an awful lot for only 240 pages.

Maybe I am let down because I had really high expectations for this graphic novel. That’s my fault. I expected more than what was delivered. I was underwhelmed to say the least. Plus, am I the only one that gets images in my head of what the characters should look like, then to see them completely different in a graphic novel makes me upset? I did not  picture any of the characters to be drawn the way they were. That was another let down for me. Again, my expectations were just too high.

I am bummed out that I did not enjoy this as much as I wanted to. I read it in just an hour or so. It is a quick read but it felt like everyone was forced to make an appearance in this story for the sake of saying they are in the story. They didn’t all add value to the overall storyline and that bothered me. I know I’ll still pick up the next installment of this graphic novel but I know I will go into it with much, much lower expectations.



Review: I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl

I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl


Sigh. I feel this topic has been overdone in stories lately. I went into this book blind but was quickly hit with every stereotypical HS character, storyline, and outcome imaginable. Nothing about this book blew me away. I found myself heavily sighing and rolling eyes more than anything.

This is the story of math nerd genius, Beatrice, and her friends who decide to reinvent themselves for their senior year of high school. After being dumped by her new boyfriend, she created a formula for the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Beatrice knows this formula will help her win her ex-boyfriend back. Plus, this will help solidify her placement at M.I.T., the only college she wants to attend. Once this formula is in place, it is not just her life that Beatrice is messing with… she is messing with the lives of her best friends. Is this really what Beatrice wants to do? Is this the life Beatrice wants? Is she willing to risk the friendship of the two that know her best?

That all sounds great but this story truly did not deliver. The characters were supposed to be seniors in high school but they came across as if they were just starting junior high. It was painful how immature they were. I did not relate to them, nor did I find myself cheering for any of them. Beatrice was a badly written protagonist because she was shallow, self centered, bossy, egotistical, and very narrow minded. When it came to her ex-boyfriend, she swore having a boyfriend is what made her be an actual person. GROW UP, HONEY. You don’t need a boy to define you! The romance between the two of them was all over the place. It didn’t feel believable, it felt one-sided. I am almost never on board with the “I must win back the guy who dumped me for another girl!” plot because it always ends up with the girl realizing she didn’t need the guy to begin with. yawn It has been done so many times already.

I also did not enjoy how all of the characters in this book are the most severe versions of stereotypes written. There is the gay best friend, the artist, the popular Queen B girl in school with her following, the dreamy exchange student, the laid back cool guy every girl wants to date, and the math nerd. The moral of this story was “be yourself!” but it was not delivered well. It almost came across that if you reinvent yourself – even when you are a senior in high school – you will achieve your new goal of being class president. Uh, not sure that is how that works. Why change to impress people you will probably never see again after HS? Is their opinion really that important to you?

This was a hard book for me to get through because I felt I was rolling my eyes on nearly every page. I gave it two stars because this was not an original plot line, nor did it really send a positive message. I know it tried to but I feel it got lost along the way. I would have a very hard time recommending this to anyone. It just felt scattered and confusing. This was my first Gretchen McNeil book but if the rest of her stories are like this one, I may pass on them all.



Review: The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B


I recently read my first Teresa Toten book, Beware That Girl, and had mixed reactions to it. Ok, not really because I didn’t like the twists and turns the story took. Regardless, I met Teresa Toten at a recent book signing in Houston and heard really good things about this book. I was surprised at how much I never knew about people with OCD. I feel this was an eye opener.

This is the story of Adam, a fifteen year old boy, who goes to a support group for teenagers with different types of OCD. One day, Robyn Plummer joins the group and Adam falls for her quickly. Unknown to Robyn, Adam makes it his mission to protect her no matter what. That proves to be difficult because Adam is already trying so hard to protect everyone he loves: his little brother, his mom, his family, the rest of his friends in the support group… Can Adam really protect everyone?

The characters of this story stood out to me the most. Our protagonist, Adam, fell quick and hard for Robyn. I was bracing myself throughout the story for Robyn to crush Adam’s intentions. Adam felt like such a fragile and innocent teen that I wanted to protect him from unnecessary harm. His OCD is pretty intense in the way that it makes it difficult for him to get into his house at nights. See, he has to perform certain rituals before entering certain doorways. If he does not do them correctly, he starts over until he gets it right. Some nights it can take 17 minutes, other nights it can take over an hour. My heart broke for him because I wanted him to be able to overcome his OCD and have a normal teenage boy life. Adam’s innervoice lets the reader know that he does want to have a normal life but he just is not sure he can overcome the urges and compulsions.

The rest of the characters were just as endearing. To read how all of them take on personas of popular superheros (both Marvel and DC), we see how just that small thing can help the teen feel braver. They all played a wonderful role in this story and in Adam’s life. They were very well defined and portrayed that I found myself tearing up at times.

To read the struggles of everyone within the support group was eye opening. I feel that is also the best way to describe this entire book – eye opening. I did not have a lot of knowledge of people suffering with OCD issues but I feel this book opened my eyes. This book taught me that people suffering from OCD have a constant need for a specific type of order and just how hard daily life can be.

I did struggle with the fact it felt like there was no real plotline in this story. It felt like we were given a snippet of Adam’s life and were witness to that. I won’t give anything away but please don’t go into this lightly thinking there will be a happy ending. It is important but not very happy but that’s the way life is sometimes. I found myself liking this story more than I should. It caught me off guard and that doesn’t happen too often. I recommend this for anyone who likes reading books about realism and not afraid of a tough story.