Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Blogging slump, self care & 30 Days of Yoga Challenge!

Hello there!

I've been dealing with a blogging slump for quite a while, essentially for a few months since my laptop had a break down and stopped working for a week, and then came my vacation time and BEA and now I feel that I'm finally getting over it and starting feeling more motivated to write posts and reviews again!

Before my vacation time I had been feeling really tired and with work and the apartment work (it's been a year already since I'm a home owner wooohooo!!), I had pushed blogging to the corner, using what little motivation I had to do house work and assemble furniture and the like.

But now after my vacation I'm back and feeling much more motivated and energized! I wake up feeling rested and I've realized that if I oversleep and wake up late in the morning, I end up feeling more tired.

I think that not only the vacation time rest has done wonders, but also I finally decided to take a step onto self care and I've finally started doing some exercise. You might not know this but since I stopped doing ballet & swimming in high school, I've been the most unathletic person EVER! I hate working out, I hate the thought of going to the gym... just NO.

But, I'm a really flexible person (hello, years of ballet) and I've noticed that my posture was slouching, and as a nurse, my back sometimes complains, so I thought I really needed to DO something, so... my first thought was to give yoga a try.

Again, not a gym person so I thought "if I learnt how to wrap a saree in 6 different ways with YouTube tutorials, I'm sure I can find a Yoga For Beginners video to try" so I did my search and came upon Yoga With Adriene!

The moment I started watching her videos I knew I had found the right videos for me! She's funny, she always gives you options for the asanas depending on how advanced or not you are on your yoga practice, and she's not overly mystical (sorry, really NOT a mystical person here...).

I've been practicing her beginners videos now for a month and surprise surprise, I wake up in the morning WANTING to do my yoga! And that is seriously BIG for me!

I'm so happy about my yoga practice that I've decided to work on the 30 Days of Yoga Challenge playlist that she has, and I start tomorrow! Wish me luck guys!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Illumicrate May Box is HERE!!

Hiya there guys!

Today I'm oh so very happy to share Illumicrate May's box!!

It arrived last week but since I had just returned from BEA & vacation and even if I took some pics and flailed very much about it on Twitter and I was beyond happy about all the goodies... it's taken me a while to get my s... eerrrm, well, it's just taken me a while to find the motivation and the time to write this post!

I've said this before, but Illumicrate is a quarterly subscription box based in the UK, which means it was my obvious option when I decided to go for one. If want more info about it, you can go HERE!

Now, let me show you the goodies!! As you can see Dylan was as excited as I was to dive into the box!

And here's the full loot! Book, sampler, mug, pins, bookmark and more!

The main book is When We Collided by Emery Lord, with a signed bookplate and gorgeous artwork postcards! - I had heard so many good things for this one and now I can check it out!

There was also a sampler of the UK edition of Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor - Now that I have both the US & UK samplers, I'm pretty sure I'm gonna preorder the UK edition because I adore that cover!

Then we have an extremely cool mug from Shanelle of Mother of Books Designs! I now want a physical book club to take the mug to the meetings!

A super cute notepad perfect for every reader from Goodnight Boutique!

An adorable bookworm bookmark from My Bookish Mark.

More cuteness in the shape of a "Readers Gonna Read" pin from Literaryemporium!

And again more cuteness in stamp shape "Ex Libris" from LittleStamp Store!

To top it all, a few more extra promo goodies, like postcards and pins!

And that's all folks! I'm completely in love with this box and I'm already getting excited to see what will be in August's box!!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Thursday Thoughts: Girl Against The Universe by Paula Stokes!!!

Hey there guys!!

I'm finally here with a review that is not part of a blog tour, so maybe now I can get back on track with reading AND reviewing! Because yes, I haven't stopped reading at all, but I've been really bad at writing reviews for all the books I've been reading (and loving!).

And the first review had to be for Girl Against The Universe, a book that is massively special in many ways, and it's become my most re-read book of 2016 already! From the first time I read it as a beta reader I fell in love with it so completely I kept on sending all sort of "feels filled" messages to Paula while I was reading and cursing her for making me tear up... Everytime I've started reading the book I've been unable to not read it cover to cover because it's the kinda book that grabs you and doesn't let you go!

This book is extra special because I am a character in the book, Nurse Pili here everyone, and I'm also mentioned in the acknowledgements and both those things still have me reeling and being overwhelemed and giddy, but those are not the reasons I give this one 5 stars, those would be responsible for some extra stars, but the book itself made me fall in love with it, hard!

Girl Against the UniverseGirl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Girl Against The Universe is the kind of contemporary that I can re-read time and again and love it as much or even than I did the first time!

Contemporary YA is not my go to genre, but since I'd read anything that Paula Stokes would wrote and her first contemporary was absolutely therapeutic for me (The Art of Lainey), GATU was a must read and it delivered in every which way.

It's what I call a "feel good" book, there's conflict, there's serious issues but there's no overabundance of drama and there's no unnecessarily added conflict. There's wonderful relationships, from family to friends to a developing new romantic relationship but none of them are really the focus or maybe all of them are. All the relationships are important in this books, and all of them help Maguire to finally get fighting to try and get better.

Mental health is an important issue to discuss and although not all cases are equally dire or grave, they all deserve attention and treatment. This book does a fantastic job on showing up different levels of mental health issues and different stages of acceptance of help and progress of treatment, as well as a positive depiction of therapy, along with the false starts, the progress, the doubts and the reality of humans "not being toasters that can be fixed".

Maguire had a lot of bad things happen to her and she came to think that she was cursed and was a danger to others, so she kept herself from interacting with the rest of the world as much as she could. The book starts with her first therapy sessions where she starts by being silent and thinking it's a waste of time, to start listening to what her therapist has to say and once she finally decides she want to try and face her fears, we see how she makes progress, how there are setbacks and doubts and we're there with her every step of the way.

The romance in this book is the kind that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside and it adds to the "feel good" feeling of the book. And no, the romance doesn't mean the mental health issues are fixed by finding love or anything of the like. The characters do provide support and motivation for each other, first as friends and then as more, but they both have their own issues to face on their own, and they do. The relationship is not a crutch to make everything better.

This book managed to make me laugh, sigh, swoon, want to hug the characters, tear up more than once and upon finishing I procedeed to hug the book and have a contented smile on my face. I've re-read it quite a few times already, and it will be one of my go-to books when I'm on a slump and I need a favourite to make me want to read again!

Very much deserved 5 stars if not a few more!!

View all my reviews

Monday, May 23, 2016

Memories of Ash by Intisar Khanani Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway!!

Hello there guys!

I'm starting this week with taking part in another Blog Tour! I find that it's the best way to get myself into the thick of things since I had been into a bit of a blogging slump even before my vacation time.

Today I'm going to share my review for Memories of Ash by Intisar Khanani and there will also be a giveaway at the end of the post. Do make sure to check the rest of the tour stops HERE.

But before we get to my review and the giveaway, let me share a bit more about the book and author!

Memories of Ash by Intisar Khanani
(The Sunbolt Chronicles #2)
Publication date: May 30th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

In the year since she cast her sunbolt, Hitomi has recovered only a handful of memories. But the truths of the past have a tendency to come calling, and an isolated mountain fastness can offer only so much shelter. When the High Council of Mages summons Brigit Stormwind to stand trial for treason, Hitomi knows her mentor won’t return—not with Arch Mage Blackflame behind the charges.

Armed only with her magic and her wits, Hitomi vows to free her mentor from unjust imprisonment. She must traverse spell-cursed lands and barren deserts, facing powerful ancient enchantments and navigating bitter enmities, as she races to reach the High Council. There, she reunites with old friends, planning a rescue equal parts magic and trickery.

If she succeeds, Hitomi will be hunted the rest of her life. If she fails, she’ll face the ultimate punishment: enslavement to the High Council, her magic slowly drained until she dies.


About the author:

Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. She has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. Until recently, Intisar wrote grants and developed projects to address community health with the Cincinnati Health Department, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy. Intisar's current projects include a companion trilogy to Thorn, featuring the heroine introduced in her free short story The Bone Knife, and The Sunbolt Chronicles.


I started reading my eARC of Memories of Ash as soon as I finished Sunbolt! I was very glad to have waited and read both books back to back because even if the ending of Sunbolt was not a massive cliffhanger and Memories of Ash doesn't start exactly were Sunbolt left us, no wait between stories that you are loving is always the best option!

Intisar's writing is fantastic, it's the kind that keeps you fully immersed in the story and that mixes descriptions with character development and moving the plot along. You might not be sure why a new character is introduced but she never does anything randomly, all dots will connect somehow at some point, and usually in rather unexpected but never unreasonable ways!

Hitomi is a fantastic character, she does have a tendency to get into things without all that much planning and plotting, but it's so much forgivable when she herself acknowledge it as a flaw in her character but one that goes hand in hand with her need to do what's right and to never take a life. She has got so much better at working with her magic although it seems that she doesn't realize how powerful she really is.

The political threads that we saw in Sunbolt here are explored more in depth and we see more of the fight for power and how it is possible for someone to continue to achieve power and control by manipulation and using others' support and even using their neutrality for their own means. We are shown that not taking a stand against what is wrong can be as bad as supporting it, and that gives us quite a bit of food for thought.

There is no real romance, even if there's a few hints of something that might or might not come to pass in the rest of the series, but there are plenty of other relationships and alliances to keep us engaged and wondering in some of the cases. Complex familial relationships, alliances and friendships from the past that need to be figured anew and rekindled or left behind... And new friendships and alliances that are introduced and forged here.

One of the best things for me in this book is that the plot was never easy to figure out or predict, even if some isolated parts of it were to be expected, you just never knew what would happen, and even the things you expected don't happen in the way you'd think they would!

My review might have been a bit vague but I wanted to make sure I didn't end up spoiling anything for anyone if I ended up talking a bit too enthusiastically about certain characters or events, but let me tell you that this series (and author) are very much worth checking out if you love fantasy!

Very much deserved 4.5 stars, cannot wait for book 3!


 Enter the giveaway HERE!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Midnight Sea by Kat Ross Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway!!

Hey there guys!

Today I'm once again extremely pleased to be part of the Blog Tour for another Kat Ross book, this time is for The Midnight Sea, a fantasy with some historical touches, hosted & organized by the lovely Giselle from Xpresso Book Tours!

Today I will be sharing my review with you all, as well as sharing a giveaway at the end of the post, so stay tuned for that! But first, let me give you a lil bit of info about the book and the author!

The Midnight Sea by Kat Ross

(Fourth Element #1)
Publication date: May 10th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

They are the light against the darkness.
The steel against the necromancy of the Druj.
And they use demons to hunt demons….

Nazafareen lives for revenge. A girl of the isolated Four-Legs Clan, all she knows about the King’s elite Water Dogs is that they bind wicked creatures called daevas to protect the empire from the Undead. But when scouts arrive to recruit young people with the gift, she leaps at the chance to join their ranks. To hunt the monsters that killed her sister.

Scarred by grief, she’s willing to pay any price, even if it requires linking with a daeva named Darius. Human in body, he’s possessed of a terrifying power, one that Nazafareen controls. But the golden cuffs that join them have an unwanted side effect. Each experiences the other’s emotions, and human and daeva start to grow dangerously close.

As they pursue a deadly foe across the arid waste of the Great Salt Plain to the glittering capital of Persepolae, unearthing the secrets of Darius’s past along the way, Nazafareen is forced to question his slavery—and her own loyalty to the empire. But with an ancient evil stirring in the north, and a young conqueror sweeping in from the west, the fate of an entire civilization may be at stake…


About the author:

Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She lives in Westchester with her kid and a few sleepy cats. Kat is also the author of the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day (Skyscape, 2014), about a world where the sea levels have risen sixty meters. She loves magic, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Preferably with mutants.


I was pretty sure I would enjoy The Midnight Sea because I had really enjoyed Kat's take on the dystopia genre when I was already feeling a lil burnt out of it. So seeing that she was tackling fantasy, being one of my fave genres, and that was mixing it with historical fiction? I was really excited to get my hands on it!

The Midnight Sea is set during the height of the Persian Empire but it's not exactly alternative history, it's more on the side of taking a few bits here and there for setting but mostly taking its own road to show us how lies can be built up on for control and how in that need for control an entire race of people or supernaturals can be demonized and made less to justify that control.

Nazafareen lives with her tribe in the mountains until everything changes when her sister dies and she decides to leave with those recruiting for the King's army against the Druj, the demons that took away her sister.

I had a few issues at the beginning of the book, because when Nazafareen joins the Water Dogs army, time passes in leaps and bounds and the progression felt a lil choppy, at least for the first quarter of the book. I understand that nothing much probably passed on that time other than some training, but seemed like some of the relationships weren't as well built up from the beginning as others. That is the reason I'm not giving this one 5 stars, because although it never bothered me enough to want to give up on the book, it did feel a lil choppy.

But, once Tijah was introduced as an ally and not as a rival, and once Darius entered the story, putting Nazafareen's training into perspective and bringing some real conflict when she has to confront her own daeva and see if what she thought applies to him now being a real being and not just a hypotetical entity. Wondering if the inherent evil of a "race" is real or not always starts with an individual, and that's very well depicted here.

We get more than a few surprises, characters that we thought were good guys end up being anything but an ally, those that we thought were bad guys or evil might not really be that, and truths accepted for many years end up crumbling to dust and leaving Nazafareen unsure of who to trust or what path to follow, until she decides to face the truths, both within and without!

I loved the little historical nuggets here and there, even with names changed, some geography was easy enough to figure out and I'm so very excited to see where the series will take us next! We're left with quite a few revelations to digest, two quests that will start in the next book and meeting an intriguing and very dangerous enemy! Simply cannot wait!

Very well deserved 4 stars for this one! Highly recommended if you like your fantasy with both magic and a lil bit of historical references!


You can follow the rest of the blog tour HERE!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Girl Against The Universe Blog Tour: Deleted Scene & Giveaway!!!!

Hello there guys!!

I know it's been a while but first was my slump and then vacation... but today I'm back with a brilliant post!

I'm super honoured to be part of the Blog Tour for Girl Against The Universe by Paula Stokes, organized by the lovely Hannah from Irish Banana Tours!!

There will be a giveaway at the end of this post, so stay tuned for that! I'm gonna be sharing one of the books deleted scenes that I really wish could have stayed!! I will be sharing my 5 stars review for GATU either later this week or early next week too!

Girl Against The Universe by Paula Stokes

Maguire is bad luck.

No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.

It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.

From author Paula Stokes comes a funny and poignant novel about accepting the past, embracing the future, and learning to make your own luck.


About the author:

Paula Stokes writes stories about flawed characters with good hearts who sometimes make bad decisions. She’s the author of several YA novels, most recently Girl Against the Universe and Liars, Inc. Her writing has been translated into eleven foreign languages.

Paula loves kayaking, hiking, reading, and seeking out new adventures in faraway lands She also loves interacting with readers. Find her online at authorpaulastokes.com or on twitter as @pstokesbooks.


Paula: So this is a scene that got cut in a huge four-chapter delete because of multiple major changes to the storyline. There was no psychologist in the first draft, so Jordy was helping Maguire test her curse and she was helping him with math homework in return. One day she’s tutoring him and checking out his tennis trophies in the living room and he offers to show her the stuff in his room… That turns into them kissing, and then Jordy’s mom comes home unexpectedly and Maguire is trapped in Jordy’s bedroom. Jordy isn’t allowed to date because of his tennis schedule, so he and Maguire have to enlist the help of Jordy’s younger sister to explain Maguire’s presence upstairs. The plan is for Maguire to pretend to be friends with his sister. I have purposely obscured the identity of Jordy’s sister in this deleted scene because it’s a mini-spoiler for the book. 

“Oh my God,” I say. “Every day is the most embarrassing day of my life.”
Jordy’s sister starts rifling through her closet. “What are you embarrassed about?” she asks, her voice muffled by a mix of T-shirts and designer tennis clothing. “I think it’s cool he finally found a girl he likes enough to risk getting in trouble for.”
“But I don’t want him to get in trouble,” I protest. “I tend to do that—somehow get other people into bad situations that don’t hurt me at all.”
“Really?” Ducking out of the closet, she eyes me curiously.
“It’s a long story, but yeah.” I glance at myself in the mirror again. My skin is slowly returning to normal color. “Thank you,” I say. “Jordy’s right. You’re a lifesaver.”
“Maybe,” she says. “Or maybe I should have let you two get busted. I hate that my parents make him feel like he has to sneak around. You weren’t doing anything wrong, even if you were having sex.”
“But we weren’t,” I say quickly.
She blinks innocently. “Not yet.” Then she rolls her eyes. “Oh boy. Just when you were starting to go back to your normal color.”
I turn back toward the mirror and will myself to return to my usual shade of pale. School, I think. Mr. Ginger. Terminal Velocity. Trigonometry. I force-feed my brain the least sexy things I can imagine and it seems to work. Slowly the redness fades from my cheeks.
“Okay. Put this on.” Jordy’s sister hands me a tennis dress that is at least two sizes too small for me. “My mother will never believe you came over here to practice with me wearing jean shorts.”
I suddenly wish I hadn’t left my duffel bag in Jordy’s car. I wriggle into the tiny dress and tug it down over my hips and thighs. It’s so tight I can barely move.
She gives me an appraising look. “Hmm, that’s a little snug, isn’t it?” She tries to pull up the neckline and pull down the hemline simultaneously, but the dress still looks borderline obscene. “Maybe I have some warm-up pants that will fit you.”
There’s a knock at the door. “It’s me,” Jordy says from the hallway. Jordy’s sister opens the door a crack and he holds up my duffel bag. “Thought you might need this.” His gaze falls on me in the too-tight dress and his jaw drops a little. “Whoa,” he says.
“Get out,” his sister hisses as she grabs the bag. I flash him a grateful look just before she shuts the door in his face. As I quickly change out of her dress and back into my own tennis clothes she says, “Sorry. I think not being able to date is making him extra-pervy or something.”
“It’s okay. It’s kind of flattering.” I check my reflection in the mirror. Much better now that I’m back in my own clothes.
She clicks her tongue at me and shakes her head back and forth. “No it’s not. Don’t be one of those girls who finds being objectified flattering. Be flattered that he likes you for reasons that actually mean something.”
Because you’re smart, and funny, and talented, and kind. He does like me for reasons that actually mean something. But can I say the same? Maybe I only like him because a boy who could have almost anyone picked me. Maybe I only like him because I know that sooner or later I’ll push him away for his own good. He’s safe, because I won’t let things get carried away…will I?


1 - $25 B&N gift card, or in the event of an INT winner, choice of one book from The Book Depository or Wordery. 
2 - Swag pack winners

                                                 Enter the giveaway HERE

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Sunday Street Team: Outrun The Moon by Stacey Lee!!

Sunday Street Team is organized by Nori @ ReadWriteLove28. SST is a cross between a blog tour and street team for a couple different titles each month. As the title suggests, the posts go up on Sundays!

Go here to learn more about SST.

May had some really awesome authors and I'm very happy helping promote a book I am extremely excited for (and cannot wait to get my hands on!) Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

I have a fantastic guest post by Stacey Lee to share with you all, as well as 3 giveaways (so don't forget to scroll down for those!) but first let me tell you about book & author!!

Outrun The Moon by Stacey Lee

San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from the poverty in Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare’s School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare’s is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes.

On April 18, an historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Mercy can't sit by while they wait for the Army to bring help. Fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, yet Mercy still has the 'bossy' cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenaged girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?


 About the author:

Stacey Lee is a fourth generation Californian with roots in San Francisco Chinatown. Born in Southern California, she graduated from UCLA then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall.

She has lots of experience with earthquakes, having skinned her knees more times than she wants to remember diving under tables. One day she hopes to own a hypoallergenic horse and live by the sea. See what she's up to on Twitter & Instagram: @staceyleeauthor.


- San Francisco, a multicultural haven of a city: Myth or reality historically speaking?

Reality! San Francisco was the main Pacific gateway into the US, as the entrance to one of the best harbors. The first settlers were Native Americans, the Ohlone Indians. Then the Spanish sailed in, establishing military settlements, and religious ones for converting the Native Americans to Catholicism. Curiosity over this new land and hunger for a piece of the pie led to more explorations by the French, the English, and the Russians, but eventually the area became part of Mexico after its independence from Spain.

Not long after independence, gold was discovered, and immigrants from all over the world headed for the gold mines of California, so gold-hungry that often sailors would just abandon their boats in the harbor because no one wanted to make the return trip home. The first significant wave of Chinese immigrants arrived during this Gold Rush of 1849.

By the time of OUTRUN THE MOON (1906), San Francisco was truly a diverse city, though folks tended lived in their own neighborhoods (not always by choice, as with the Chinese). The earthquake shook up that dynamic, at least temporarily.



There are three fantastic giveaways that you can enter!!

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The Show Me San Francisco code:
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The Hand Knit Shawl code:
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