Monday, August 29, 2016

Day Zero (Arcana Chronicles #3.5) & Arcana Rising (Arcana Chronicles #4) by Kresley Cole

Summary: Arcana means secrets, and these Arcana Chronicles short stories from #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole are filled with them. Experience firsthand the beginning of the end and behold the apocalypse through the eyes of characters you onlythought you knew. 

Ashes to ashes . . .
Evie Greene’s story of the Flash is just one of many. All over the world, those connected in some way to the lethal Arcana game—like Death, Jack, and Fortune—must first survive a horrifying night of blood and screams. 

We all fall down.
Some will have to grapple with new powers; all will be damned to a hellish new existence of plague, brutality, desolation, and cannibalism. Find out who they lost, why they endure, and what they sacrificed in order to live past Day Zero. . . . (Via

Pages: 168

Release Date: August 1st, 2016

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Summary: Losses mount and deadly new threats converge in this next action-packed tale of the Arcana Chronicles by #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole.

When the battle is done . . . 
The Emperor unleashes hell and annihilates an army, jeopardizing the future of mankind--but Circe strikes back. The epic clash between them devastates the Arcana world and nearly kills Evie, separating her from her allies.

And all hope is lost . . . 
With Aric missing and no sign that Jack and Selena escaped Richter's reach, Evie turns more and more to the darkness lurking inside her. Two Arcana emerge as game changers: one who could be her salvation, the other her worst nightmare.

Vengeance becomes everything.
To take on Richter, Evie must reunite with Death and mend their broken bond. But as she learns more about her role in the future--and her chilling past--will she become a monster like the Emperor? Or can Evie and her allies rise up from Richter's ashes, stronger than ever before?

Pages: 259

Release Date: August 15th, 2016

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars


Arcana Rising and Day Zero were two of my most highly anticipated releases of this year. I had been craving anything in the Arcana world after the devastating cliffhanger of the third book of the Arcana Chronicles, Dead of Winter. While I mainly read books that are popular or somewhat well-know in the YA/NA book world, the Arcana Chronicles is one of the few underrated series I have read. Only more recently have I discovered fellow lovers of the series. The Arcana Chronicles deserves more hype surrounding it. I have a review of the second book, Endless Knight, and the third book, Dead of Winter, if you would like to read those.

Overall, I loved both Arcana Rising and Day Zero. Although I waited a year and eight months for the fourth installment of the series, Arcana Rising, the wait was totally worth it. While Arcana Rising was not my favorite in the series, I prefer Endless Knight and Dead of Winter more, I still enjoyed it very much. I loved seeing old faces and meeting several new ones. Arcana Rising with the aid of Day Zero opened up a new world of characters and conflict that I never imaged. The ending of Arcana Rising was quite shocking; however, it was not as brutal as Dead of Winter. I have my fingers crossed that Kresley Cole will never deliver a cliffhanger that devastating again.

The entire series is compiled of rather short books which make them extremely easy to binge and become addicted to. The Arcana Chronicles is one of my favorite series, each book is extremely enjoyable and fast paced. The story and characters are also unique and compelling. If you have yet to start or continue on in the series, I highly recommend doing so.

I have no idea how many books are left in the series, but I am here for the ride. I am excited to see what Kresely has in store; however, I hope the trauma she creates is not too hard to handle. The fifth installment in the series, The Dark Calling, is set to be released in spring of 2017. While The Dark Calling will be one of my most anticipated releases of next year and I plan to start it the day it is released, I do not know if I am mentally prepared for what the next book could bring. By the way, I am currently giving away a copy of Poison Princess, Endless Knight, or Dead of Winter on Twitter if you would like to enter to win a copy.

Aric is one of my absolute favorite characters and one of my book boyfriends. Throughout the series we understand how much he has suffered without human contact and interactions. He shows how horrible immortality can be, especially to someone who can kill with a single touch. I was devastated when Evie chose Jack in Dead of Winter. While I did enjoy Jack in the first book, Poison Princess, I stared to dislike him after the end of Poison Princess. His repulsion of Evie at the end of book one seemed so unlike his character and it really angered me. Nonetheless, I began to fall in love with Aric's character when he was introduced in Endless Knight and I have been rooting for him since then. 

Although I was ecstatic that Evie finally choose Aric in Arcana Rising, I have always wanted them to be together, I had a couple problems with her choosing him. First of all, she did not choose him. She thought Jack was dead, therefore, he was not competition. She simply agreed to be with him. Secondly, I hated that she got with him because she thought he "deserved" happiness. While I completely agree that Aric did deserve to be happy, I disliked that she chose his happiness over hers. She did seem rather happy with him; however she always mentioned that one of her two goals was to keep him happy. Not keeping herself happy. She agreed to be his wife because she thought it was what he "deserved," it was not because she necessarily loved him or wanted to be with him. I am not saying that she does not love him, because I believe she does, but I dislike that she "chose" him because of what she thought he "deserved." Not what she thought she "deserved." Nonetheless, I am happy that they finally got together. Everyone could tell that he was so much happier and alive. 

I had a couple mixed feelings about Day Zero. I thought the idea of seeing all the Arcana on Day Zero, the day of the apocalypse, was fantastic. The execution of the stories were also great, but I hated that a majority of the book was focused on Evie, Aric, and Jack. This was a great opportunity for Kresley to explore a new cast of characters, yet she stuck to her main crew. Evie's story was literally taken out of Poison Princess word-for-word. Instead of skipping the story of other Arcanas, like the twins or Ogen, we could have skipped hers since we have already read it in Poison Princess. I understand that it helps set up Jack's story, but Calanthe and Joules' shared a story because they were together on Day Zero, Evie and Jack's story should have been done the same way. 

I did enjoy Day Zero for what it was. It was interesting meeting some of the new characters in Day Zero and then finally meeting them through Evie in Arcana Rising. I feel as though Day Zero was particularly used against the readers to manipulate their perspectives of the new characters. I am not saying that is a bad thing. I was sold on Sol in Arcana Rising because his story broke my heart in Day Zero. I never thought he would betray Evie. I am glad that he seems to be working with the crew though, I really love his character and how far he would go for his loved ones. It was devastating to see who everyone lost in Day Zero. Everyone suffered, no one really had it better or worse than anyone else. It was also interesting to meet some of the characters who died before we had the chance to meet them. It was also bittersweet to read about Tess and Selena, who we have lost over the course of the last two books.

There was no doubt in my mind that Jack was alive. Surprising, Evie's suffering did not annoy me at all. I liked that she was finally able to come to terms with him being "died," I was worried she would stay in the past for too long. I am really interested to see how Matthew's character progresses in the remainder of the series. He has always been one of my favorite characters and the gang is starting to realize that he does pose a threat. He has a lot of power over a majority of the characters. I am really interested to see why he let Evie initially believe Jack was dead and only now let her know that he is very much alive. He said he wanted to "break her" and making her think she is crazy by hearing Jack might be the direction he is going. 

The only explanation I can conjure about why Evie is not able to access her powers is because she is pregnant. The baby must be taking some of her powers as well as the nutrients it needs from her. The baby could also be blocking or limiting her powers. If Evie does end up having the baby, I wonder if it would have powers since its father, Aric, is also an Arcana? While a pregnant Evie made an interesting cliffhanger, the reason why she is left me confused. As far as I can remember, Evie has suffered no memory gaps except for time with her Grandmother at an early age. While she connects her memory gaps with her Grandmother, it is odd that she is suffering them now. I understand that since she was just with her Grandmother for a period of time that could have caused her into thinking she got a birth control shot, but it is too far of a stretch. It would make sense if she forgot a conversation she had with her Grandmother, but it is odd that she conjured a memory in her mind when her Grandmother was not even involved. Comment below with what you thought about the memory gap, I am curious to hear what others have to say about it.

I very much enjoyed both Day Zero and Arcana Rising. They were both stunning continuations to a brilliant series. I am extremely excited to see what Kresley Cole has in store for her readers in the next installment of the series, The Dark Calling. I cannot wait to see what happens to our cast of characters.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

ARC Review: And I Darken (The Conquerors Saga #1) by Kiersten White

Summary: No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

Pages: 475

Release Date: June 28th, 2016

Rating: 5/5 Stars


I went into And I Darken only knowing that it was a gender-bender retelling of Vlad the Impaler. I am a huge history nerd and the Ottoman Empire is my second favorite empire, the first being the Mongols, so I was extremely excited to see the lesser know empire have its turn in the spotlight. 

If you have yet to start And I Darken, I not only highly recommend doing so, but I also recommend starting it with only knowing the briefest knowledge of its plot. The story is so much richer and deeper if you go into it knowing little to nothing about the plot. I despise the summary of And I Darken because it alludes to/acknowledges plot points that occur halfway through the book. I do understand why they had to summarize the story that way, but I still dislike that it spoils a majority of the book. 

I was fortunate enough to receive this book in advanced thanks to a trade with the lovely Ava from Bookishness and Tea. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to read And I Darken before a majority of its readers. I know I am being rather withholding about And I Darken, but I just need you to pick it up for yourself and enjoy it. This was my first Kiersten White book, but it certainly will not be my last. With White's memorable characters and a world and plot that deserves to be on HBO or Starz, And I Darken is easily one of the best books of this year.

Going into the story, I had assumed that there would be some sort of a fantastical element due to my knowledge of White's other books. The cover also gave me a vibe of a magical element, but it must have been referring to her writing. I was glad that the book was strictly historical fiction with a gender-bender twist because other elements might have overshadowed the amazing characters and world she created. I absolutely loved the fact that And I Darken begins with Lada's birth and continues until her late teens. It allowed me to really grasp all the characters because their upbringing had such a great impact on why the characters are the way they are.

While I enjoyed Lada and Mehmed, Radu has to be my favorite character. Although he seems to be cute and innocent, he has such a deceitfulness that I love. I do not know what that says about my character, but I enjoy that his sister would stab someone in the front while he would stab someone in the back. Each of them has a bravery for doing what they do, but while they grew up in the same place with the same parents, their personalities have created who they are. A close second is Nicolae. 

"I think of you like a sister. Like a brilliant, violent, occasionally terrifying sister that I would follow to the ends of the earth, in part because I respected her so much and in part because I feared what she would do to me if I refused (Nicolae, page #349).

While the book contains some deep and dark pages, Nicolae also provides the comic relief. If Radu and Lada had similar personalities, they might have grown up to have the relationship Nicolae and Lada do. I am glad that Nicolae's character was not used as a love interest. Although Lada did ask him to kiss her once, it was mainly to prove a point to herself pertaining to Mehmed, they have such a great friendship. I cannot wait to see what their friendship brings in the next book of this trilogy.

And I Darken is full of sass, romance, and action; a pairing that would speak to any audience. While their story has already been told in history books, I am excited to see White's take on it, especially the fall of Constantinople, as the trilogy continues.

Kiersten White and I at San Diego Comic-Con 2016

An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabba Tahir + Giveaway

Summary: Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself (Via

Pages: 446

Release Date: April 28th 2015

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars


I had no idea what to expect with An Ember in the Ashes. While I had heard countless individuals rave about it, I was always hesitant to start it. I am not a huge fan of fantasy books so I was worried I would not enjoy it as much as everyone else. I finally decided to start An Ember in the Ashes because, not only did I get an exclusive San Diego Comic-Con edition at Comic-Con last month, I also got an ARC of its sequel, A Torch Against the Night. I also met the charismatic Sabaa Tahir again at Comic-Con which prompted me to pick up An Ember in the Ashes. I met her several times during the course of Comic-Con and she was so sincerely nice every time I saw her.

Nonetheless, I absolutely loved An Ember in the Ashes. Sabaa Tahir's writing and storytelling was so addicting and rich that it was nearly impossible to put down. The story was enchanting and its characters easily found a way into my heart. An Ember in the Ashes had me questioning the true definition of loyalty and love. I see a big future for these books, I would highly recommend jumping on this band-wagon. There is no doubt in my mind that this book will be on my favorite book list of this year. If A Torch Against the Night is as good or somehow better than An Ember in the Ashes, this series and Sabaa will be added to my favorite series and author list. 

One of the reasons I preferred An Ember in the Ashes over other fantasy novels is due to Sabaa's world building. She gradually immerses her audience into the world. She tells her readers what they need to know when it is appropriate to the story. She is not trying to speak another language to us, she is teaching it to us. You are not entering a new world, it is being constructed before your eyes.

I have a giveaway for a signed San Diego Comic-Con exclusive copy of An Ember in the Ashes and a signed ARC of A Torch Against the Night that you can enter below. My spoiler section of this review will begin below the giveaway section.

To Celebrate San Diego Comic-Con 2016, 
Enter to win:
A Signed SDCC Exclusive Copy of An Ember in the Ashes &
A Signed ARC of A Torch Against the Night
(More SDCC Giveaways here)

  • You must be 18 years or older, unless you have a parent's permission
  • This giveaway is only open to those with a U.S. mailing address (Sorry INT followers)
  • Once contacted, the winner will have 72 hours to respond with their address, or a new winner will be chosen
  • STARTS August 23rd, 2016 at 12:00 a.m. EST 
  • ENDS September 24th, 2016 at 12:00 a.m. EST

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any lost or damaged packages

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

At the moment, my favorite character is Helene. I admire that she is the under-dog of Blackcliff. No one expects her to be a fierce warrior, everyone underestimates her. While that fact has driven Helene mad throughout her career at Blackcliff, it has given her an advantage over her opponents because they do not expect her fighting ability. I also admire her loyalty to Elias, she would do anything to protect her best friend. In addition, I love Helene's trust in the supernatural. Although Elias did not believe in Augurs, Helene wholeheartedly trusted them and put Elias' life in danger because she trusted their visions. She trusted that her oath to them would keep him alive.

While Helene is my favorite character, she is also one of the main problems I had with the story. I disliked that she seems to be the damsel-in-distress. She is hyped as being the third in their graduating class, yet she is constantly being injured and showing weakness in the first couple trials. While Elias' fear does slow him down, and it does not stop him at the end, her fears petrify her so much that that she stops fighting and gives in. I liked that Elias eventually suffered an injury during the second trial. He needed Helene's aid and that became the point in which she seemed to be claiming her spot and became an equal to the guys. While I love Helene's character, Sabaa could have used Helene's character throughout the entire novel as an inspiration and empowerment to other women. Instead she let Helene become dictated by her fears. Helene is a great role model, but I wish she could have been empowering throughout the the entire book. I am interested to explore her power of healing as the series progresses. I want to learn her limits and how the drain of life it causes her impacts her health.

Although Elias told us what he and Laia will try to do, go north and rescue her brother, I am interested to see what A Torch Against the Night brings. I am assuming we will have chapters from Helene's perspective since Sabaa said that there are three narrator voices: one for Laia, Elias, and Helene. In the audio book of Ember, each narrator had their own chapters so I am assuming that means Helene will have her own. If that is the case, I am excited to be in Helene's head and hear her thought process. I hope that Laia and Elias will eventually defeat Marcus so Helene can join forces with them. I am curious, if Marcus dies, can she join her friends? Will she be expected to continue serving as Blood Shrike or will she be forced to take the throne? I am assuming if they take out Marcus they will destroy the Empire; however, their goal is not crushing the Empire at the moment, so I hate that Helene will have to serve under Marcus and hunt them down.

I am not really sure who I ship at the moment. While I really want Helene and Elias to be together, I would settle for their old friendship, but I am not sure if they can ever return to that state after everything that has happened and what is yet to come. I would be fine with Elias and Laia being together, but I just do not ship Keenan and Laia. I felt as though their relationship was too rushed. It felt like instant love, but Elias and Laia's relationship is not perfect either, they had instant-lust. I also did not enjoy Keenan as a character, there is just something off about him. It might have to do with the fact that his character was so flippant with the instant love. One minute he hated Laia and the next he loved her. I like love-hate relationships but this was too rushed. Typically, I am bias and absolutely love ginger characters, but I could not make myself like Keenan. But, we still have at least three more books in the series so I could change my mind. Please comment below with your ships, I am interested to see who ships who.

I am curious if we will ever discover who is the Commandant's spy within the Resistance. When Laia went to tell Mazen about the secret entrance she discovered, I had cursed her because, if the Commandant's spy was in the room, he/she would have reported back to the Commandant about Laia still being alive. However, it just occurred to me that Keenan pretended to kill her so the spy would have also reported that to his/her employee. Unless the spy was Kennan, then he would have reported back to her that Laia was alive and had sent her to Silas to trap her. Which would seem like a lot of work, but I am not quite buying the instant love, so who knows. I wonder what will happen to Cook? Since Izzi mysteriously disappeared, the Commandant will interrogate her, which could lead to her death. I am rather surprised that Cook let Izzy leave because Izzy has now put her life in the hands of Keenan, Resistance fighter. We all know how much Cook hates the Resistance. Maybe she realized Izzy would go without her blessing or she thought it would be better for Izzy than slavery.

Although I found some things in An Ember in the Ashes to be problematic, I really loved the story. It was a perfectly paced thrill ride that had the perfect balance of action and romantic tension. I am so excited to dive back into the world in A Torch Against the Night. Sabaa has created such an expansive world and cast of characters that I am excited to explore in the upcoming books.  

Monday, August 22, 2016

Event Recap: San Diego Comic-Con 2016 + Giveaway

San Diego Comic-Con 2016 has officially been over for a month, but it still very close to my heart. I have been looking forward to attending the convention every year for the last three years and I hope that I will be able to keep attending the convention far into the future. I have recaps of both 2014 and 2015 if you want to check those out, but otherwise let us begin the journey that was San Diego Comic-Con 2016.

Comic-Con in a Nutshell

This year I was lucky enough to get badges for all four days and preview night; however, I will not be having a section on preview night because nothing really happens. It is just a period of time to scope out the exhibit hall and score some ARCs. I am happy to announce that I did get ARCs of The Thousandth Floor and Three Dark Crowns which were two of my most highly anticipated ARCs to get during the convention.

On Thursday, I was able to meet both Romina Russell and Alwyn Hamilton during two of Penguin's in-booth signings. They were both amazing women and I am so disappointed in myself for not getting a picture with Alwyn. I got a signed paperback of Zodiac and an exclusive signed ARC of A Traitor to the Throne, which I will be giving away closer to its release date so be sure to watch my Twitter for that. 

Next, I was able to meet Sarah J. Maas for the fifth time during her signing as a special guest of SDCC. As usual, she was such a sweetheart and she actually recognized me when she saw me in the signing line which was a highlight of my day. I got my highly tabbed copy of A Court of Mist and Fury signed. 

Sarah J. Maas and Me

The true highlight of my day; however, was finally meeting Marissa Meyer during a panel signing later on in the day. I actually got to meet her several times over the course of the convention and she is one of the most genuinely nice authors I have ever met. At the same signing I also met Renee Ahdieh, Colleen Houck, Anna Todd, Jodi Meadows, Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Colleen Oakes, and Sam Maggs. They were also amazing and sweet. Throughout the course of the convention, I also saw Renee at numerous other signings.

I almost forgot to mention that prior to that group signing I got to met the lovely duo that is Christina Lauren. They were both absolute sweethearts and I hope to see them again in the future. I feel as though I am over-using the term 'sweet' in this post, but both Christina, Lauren, and all the other authors were so amazing. It is hard to use another word besides sweet.

I kicked day two off by seeing the gorgeous Sabaa Tahir who was signing exclusive SDCC copies of An Ember in the Ashes. She was also giving away ARCs of A Torch Against the Night. Both of which occurred during her in-booth signing at Penguin. While I dislike the idea of in-booth signings because many of them turn into mobs, Penguin has created the perfect system. They ticket their signings in the morning and guarantee the holder whatever book it is. Towards the beginning on the convention, we still mobbed even with our tickets, but as long as you returned during the signing time you could get a signing copy of whatever book it was. Other publishing houses should really look into ticketing, it makes the whole process less stressful for everyone. 

Afterwards, I went to see Kami Garcia during a panel signing and I received a signed ARC of her upcoming novel, The Lovely Reckless, which was one of my most highly anticipated ARCs to get. At the same signing, I also got to see Andrea Cremer, Kate Elliot, Amy Tintera, Brenna Yovanoff, and Mary E. Pearson. Although I had only read books by Kami, this was one of my favorite signings that I attended over the course of the convention. All the women were so kind and easy to talk to. I was also pictured on Fierce Read's twitter talking to Mary E. Pearson which was another highlight of this year. Thanks again to Jordan from The Heart of a Book Blogger who pointed that tweet out to me!

Following that panel signing, I went to see both Renee Ahdieh and Kiersten White in separate in-booth signings. I had met both authors last year at SDCC and I saw Renee the day before. I got a signed paperback of The Wrath and the Dawn from Renee's signing and if you have yet to meet her, she is so gorgeous, inside and out. I brought my ARC and hardcover copy of And I Darken for Kiersten to sign and she is such a sweetheart. I cannot tell you how adorable Kiersten is. It is rather shocking such an adorable person can write such a violent book.

Kiersten White and Me

Later in the day, I saw Alexandra Bracken, Kami Garcia, Marissa Meyer, and Mary E. Pearson on the panel: It's the End of the... YA Series. I loved seeing a few of my favorite authors in conversation with one another. They interacted so well together and it also helped move Mary E. Pearson's The Remnant Chronicles higher on my TBR. 

Next, I got an ARC of Anna Bank's Nemesis which I am really excited to read and review. For the next couple hours I sat in a panel room awaiting the start of Penguin's panel on their upcoming releases. There I was able to snag an ARC of Traci Chee's The Reader. During the time I sat in the panel room, I watched a panel on world building and FUNimation's yearly panel on their highlight anime's and moments. They were both very interesting and I enjoyed both of them.  

Saturday is always the make or break day of SDCC. This is typically the day when the most highly anticipated ARC is released. Last year, it was Susan Dennard's Truthwitch and this year it was Marissa Meyer's Heartless. Thankfully, there were 50 more ARCs of Heartless than there had been of Truthwitch so there was more room for error. Nonetheless, I managed to get an ARC of Heartless and it was a glorious moment. Although I just spoiled the most epic part of Saturday, there were still some other exciting things that occurred.

Me and Marissa Meyer
While the Heartless signing was much later in the day, the morning began with Marissa Meyer signing posters and giving out excerpts of Wires & Nerves, the upcoming Lunar Chronicles graphic novel. I later came back to the same booth for Mary E. Pearson's signing of annotated excerpts and posters of The Beauty of Darkness

I then went to see Ransom Riggs, James Dashner, Melissa de la Cruz, Scott Westerfeld, Ben H. Winters, Peter David, and Anthony Breznican on their panel: I Read It Before (And After) It Was a Movie. It was really exciting to see all of them interacting with each other and talking about the movie process. I went to their signing later on to get a birthday present signing for a friend and it was great to finally meet Ransom Riggs. I also got to see Tahereh Mafi, who I have seen every year at SDCC, and I got a signed ARC of her upcoming Middle Grade novel, Furthermore. It was rather interesting seeing both her and her husband back-to-back.

Soon after I went to see the panel: The Female Geek: Women as Fans and Creators featuring Leigh Bardugo, Sabaa Tahir, Kiersten White, Sarah Kuhn, Kathleen Smith, Margaret Stohl, and Madeline Ashby. It was essentially a feminist panel and it was really interesting to hear each author's story and opinion on the subject. While it was not meant to be taken as funny, the women on the panel are really charismatic and their interactions turned out rather funny, at times. Margaret Stohl is always the life of each panel she is on. I went to their signing immediately after the panel and it was great to speak with each author. While I had met a majority of the authors during the course of the convention, I was excited to see Leigh and get my hands on one of the beautiful Crooked Kingdom's poster. 

I then went downstairs to the exhibit hall to get a signed chapter sampler of Kami Garcia and Jonathan Maberry's X-Files Origins. I must say, the chapter samplers were very well thought out, they look like legitimate classified documents. Then I ran over to see V.E. Schwab, a.k.a Victoria Schwab, signing copies of Vicious and fortunately I was the second to last person to get a copy. Victoria is such a sweetheart and it was great to finally meet her.

I then ran upstairs to see Laini Taylor on a panel signing. For whatever reason she ended up not being on the panel even though she was originally supposed to be. Nonetheless, I was given an ARC of Jessica Cluess' A Shadow Bright and Burning, who was on the panel so I stayed and got it signed. The signing of Heartless followed and after that I left because my feet were in so much pain.

Oh, Sunday, why must you come so soon? I began the morning by attending Marissa Meyer's spotlight panel as a special guest of SDCC. While I loved hearing her talk, it was my least favorite panel because the moderator, Petra Mayer of NPR, made the panel more about herself and less about Marissa.

After that I ran to the Sails Pavilion for the panel signing of: What's Hot in Young Adult Fiction? with Nathan Bransford, Renee Ahdieh, Victoria Aveyard, Michelle Hodkin (who is pictured with me to the left), Lauren Oliver, Brendan Reichs, Victoria Schwab, Laini Taylor, and Adam Silvera. This was my most highly anticipated signing because two of my favorite authors, who I had never met before, Michelle Hodkin and Laini Taylor, were both signing. The signing was even more amazing than I had hoped for. I got an excerpt of The Shaw Confessions, the upcoming Mara Dyer spin-off series, wrote into the back of my copy of The Retribution of Mara Dyer. Everyone was amazing and the panel, which was later on in the day, was great as well. This year's San Diego Comic-Con was absolutely amazing. I got to see some old friends and make some new ones. I also got to meet new authors and see some old faces. I regret nothing about this SDCC and if I do manage to get badges for next year's Comic-Con, I can only imagine what the future holds.   

Now that my recap is done, here is what you have all been waiting for: the giveaway....

This year I wanted to try to spread the SDCC love as much as I could so I designed three different prize packs. Each prize pack contains two books/ARCs and an Epic Read's *Book Shimmy* tote bag. You can enter each giveaway as many times as you want, but you can only win one prize per person.

All the rules are the same for each prize pack so make sure to comply with all the guidelines. 

  • You must be 18 years or older, unless you have a parent's permission
  • This giveaway is only open to those with a U.S. mailing address (Sorry INT followers)
  • Once contacted, the winner will have 72 hours to respond with their address, or a new winner will be chosen
  • STARTS August 23rd, 2016 at 12:00 a.m. EST 
  • ENDS September 24th, 2016 at 12:00 a.m. EST

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any lost or damaged packages

Good Luck!

PRIZE PACK #1: A Signed SDCC Exclusive Copy of An Ember in the Ashes &
A Signed ARC of A Torch Against the Night

a Rafflecopter giveaway

PRIZE PACK #2: A Signed ARC of Furthermore &
A Signed ARC of A Shadow Bright and Burning

a Rafflecopter giveaway

PRIZE PACK #3: An ARC of Nemesis &
An ARC of Frost Like Night

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Release Week Blitz: Swear on this Life by Reene Carlino

From USA TODAY bestselling author Renée Carlino (Before We Were Strangers), a warm and witty novel about a struggling writer who must come to grips with her past, present, and future after she discovers that she’s the inspiration for a pseudonymously published bestselling novel.

When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J. Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.

The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?

AMAZON | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Atria Books

Exclusive Excerpt:

During the winter we pretended our way through the classics, read every popular kid’s book and by spring of our sixth grade year, the spring of all the rain, we were ready to be outside and explore again. There was a creek about half a mile back from our houses, past the tree line. Because of all the rain that year, it had become more of a river with the strongest currents right behind where we lived. Every adult warned us to be careful, even my dead-beat dad would say, “You better use that big brain of yours and stay out of the creek. You want to go swimming, you can go to the pool in town.”


Funny he would say that because the community pool was a seven-mile bike ride and it cost three dollars to get in. There was no way I was going unless Leila, Jax’s mom gave us a ride and even then, I would have to borrow the money to get in.  Frankly, going to the town pool was a pipe dream. It became a myth to us, a fantasy like Disneyland or Europe. Jax and I would try to imagine what it was like to go there.

“I bet they sell popsicles and popcorn and they probably have clowns too,” I said.

It was a warm day; we had made a picnic in the weeds. I laid out my Toy Story sleeping bag I’d had from when I was a kid. Jax brought a jar of applesauce and I brought Fun Dip that my dad had bought me at the 7-11. We mixed the fun dip into the jar and took turns eating spoonfuls.

“Community pools don’t have clowns, genius.”

“How do you know?” I said.

“Because I just do.”

“I bet there’s a high dive, like fifty feet in the air.”

“Do you know how high fifty feet is? You would die hitting the water. The impact would kill you.”

“You’re such a know-it-all, Jackson. Why can’t you let a girl dream? We’re never going to that pool because no one will ever take us, plus, it costs money, and last time I checked you weren’t making any.”

He lay back on the blanket and propped his hands behind his head and closed his eyes. “I’m not a know-it-all, I just have cable. And as soon as I turn sixteen, I’m getting a job. I’ll pay for us to go to the pool. You’ll see, it’s just a big hole with water in it.”

I never really stared at him until that day. His eyes were closed so I took the time to inspect every inch of him. I was so curious about his body. My own body was changing and I was terrified of it. Jax was getting taller. He was going to be tall like his father, but he looked more like his mother in coloring and features. Jax’s mom was French, so they had this creamy skin that looked sun-kissed year around and his brown hair and brown eyes had streams of gold running throughout it. He was letting his hair grow longer because he’d been watching some show on TV that took place in California. He said everyone in California had long hair.

I was trying to grow my own unruly, brown locks out. I don’t know why, I always had it in a braid. Maybe because I thought I would go to California with Jax one day. We both yearned for more than weeds and corn. All the books gave us those silly ideas and filled our heads with things that might never be.

I lay down beside him and stared directly into the sun. He turned on his side and propped his head on his elbow.

“You’ll go blind doing that,” he said in a low voice.

“Leave me alone.”

“Why are you in such a bad mood? You PMSing?”

“What do you know about it?”

“A lot.”

“I doubt that and even if I were, it’s beyond rude to talk to me about it.” I hadn’t started my period yet but I wasn’t going to tell him that.



Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of contemporary women's novels and new adult fiction. Her books have been featured in national publications, including USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Latina magazine, and Publisher's Weekly. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she's not at the beach with her boys or working on her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate. Learn more at