Monday, December 23, 2013

The Quantum League: Spell Robbers

The Quantum League: Spell Robbers
By: Matthew J. Kirby
Reported by: Roark Helms
Source: ARC via Scholastic
Publishing date: January 28th, 2014

After Ben Warner is recruited to join a “science camp” led by the eccentric quantum physicist Dr. Madeleine Hughes, he quickly realizes it’s no regular science camp. Along with his new friend, Peter, Ben discovers the secret, powerful art of Actuation—the ability to change reality by simply imagining it differently.

When a mysterious group of men invade Dr. Hughes’s laboratory, abducting her and stealing her precious equipment, Ben and Peter are suddenly caught up in a turf war between dangerous actuators desperate for Dr. Hughes’s innovative technology. And as Ben and Peter are pulled into a perilous, hidden world full of impossibilities now made possible, will their combined powers be enough to save Dr. Hughes and vanquish their enemies before it’s too late?

From Edgar Award-winning author Matthew J. Kirby comes a fast-paced, boldly imagined tale of friendship, deadly adventure, and the infinite power of imagination.

-Summary from Goodreads
Pre-order: Mrs. Nelson's (support indie stores!) || Barnes & Noble || Amazon || Book Depository
In the words of my 11-year-old brother:

I would rate this book four out of five.

The characters: Ben is really freaking cool. He was way ahead of Peter, who was already ahead of everyone else. Sasha is okay but I think she was acting sort of bossy and I don't really like bossy people. Peter is actually kind of immature because there will always be someone who is better than you and so you should just try to do your best instead of whine about it.

The story: The plot is very interesting and cool but I'm just wondering... why did it take 160 pages for things to get really interesting? The beginning felt so slow and the book would be five out of five if the beginning didn't take so long to get good. I can stand the characters because everyone makes mistakes but I am not very patient. I am glad I read on though. I do think the plot is cool because it tells you how Ben learned Actuation and how and what the Quantum League does what it does. I think that what a really smart thing that the author did was how in the beginning I didn't know who was the antagonist and so that led to a lot of mystery, which I really enjoyed.

There we go! Thank you Roark, and thank you Scholastic for providing us with a copy of this fantastic book. I can't wait to dive into it myself as it sounds extremely promising as a sci-fi middle grade! ^.^ I'll be back to review more YA next month but until then, I wish everyone happy holidays and the best new year yet! :D  

P.S. Please don't kill me for my constant absence. T.T Sometimes I really hate school...
The Reviews News

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Book Review: Sorrow's Knot

Sorrow's Knot
By: Erin Bow
Reported by: Julianna Helms
Source: ARC via Scholastic (ugh I love you guys thank you <33)

In the world of Sorrow’s Knot, the dead do not rest easy. Every patch of shadow might be home to something hungry and nearly invisible, something deadly. The dead can only be repelled or destroyed with magically knotted cords and yarns. The women who tie these knots are called binders.

Otter is the daughter of Willow, a binder of great power. She’s a proud and privileged girl who takes it for granted that she will be a binder some day herself. But when Willow’s power begins to turn inward and tear her apart, Otter finds herself trapped with a responsibility she’s not ready for, and a power she no longer wants.

-Summary from Goodreads
Purchase: Mrs. Nelson's (support my local indie store!) || Barnes & Noble || Amazon || Book Depository

Sorrow's Knot is a woeful, poetic tale with a dew-dazzling quality to it, hypnotic in rhythm and unrelenting in emotions. Erin Bow's writing is beautifully quiet, with words stringed together like charms on a bracelet without ever stealing the story away from its original purpose: to give us some sense of hope, of peace and serenity, even when we know that not all is well.

I think what Sorrow's Knot does exceptionally well is its delicate balance of romanticizing sacrifice and spearing freedom. It raises such profound questions, and in a way that never makes you feel as if its suffocating you with its morality. How free is freedom, and how far are we allowed to go to protect freedom before we've gone too far? Is sacrifice a smudge of weakness or is it heroic and insurmountable?

Besides the phenomenally crafted themes and writing of the book, the worldbuilding is superb as well. The world is reminiscent of Native American culture, and some parts of it reminds me of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart (Evil Forest, etc.). But that's not to say the world is a parody; if it is based on any sort of Native American or African culture at all, it is safe to say that Sorrow's Knot is more of a corollary, a refining of such traditions rather than an imitation. And the world is rich and believable and immersive, and it's almost impossible to not forget yourself when you're wallowing in lakes with Otter or hiking through mazes of crooked branches.

The characters, finally, are commendable for their depth and realism. Though they live in a world so completely different from ours, there never was a doubt in my mind that they weren't fleshed out. Every character had its own identity and even the most seething, hateful ones had qualities that allowed us to glimpse their humanity. It is truly remarkable, how incredible each character is developed.

Read this book. There's nothing else I can say but ask you to read it. It is, quite simply, breathtaking.
starred review
The Reviews News

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Spirit Animals Comin' Your Way!

Spirit Animals: Wild Born
By: Brandon Mull
Reported by: Juli & Roark Helms
Release Date: Sept. 10th, 2013
Source: ARC via Scholastic (Thank you so much!*)
Four children separated by vast distances all undergo the same ritual, watched by cloaked strangers. Four flashes of light erupt, and from them emerge the unmistakable shapes of incredible beasts - a wolf, a leopard, a panda, a falcon. Suddenly the paths of these children - and the world - have been changed for ever. Enter the world of Erdas, where every child who comes of age must discover if they have a spirit animal, a rare bond between human and beast that bestows great powers to both. A dark force has risen from distant and long-forgotten lands, and has begun an onslaught that will ravage the world. Now the fate of Erdas has fallen on the shoulders of four young strangers ...and on you.

-Summary from Goodreads
Pre-order: Mrs. Nelson's || Barnes & Noble || Book Depository 

Talk about creative! My brother and I've both been big fans of Scholastic's multi-author series, and this one, Spirit Animals, is no exceptions. Let's have my ten-year-old brother take it away first:

This book was just so... COOL. The main characters got the Fallen Four spirit animals, which is so cool. They each had better spirit animals than other people, which is really interesting because they must be awesome to have such cool spirit animals. I also really liked the plot because it tells you a lot about the spirit animals world, which is very fascinating**. It is also good because it switches from person to person so I can get more information from different places.

I think the characters are awesome**. Conor learned how to use his spirit animal faster than everyone else, which was cool. Abeke was the first to learn how to turn the spirit animal into a tattoo. They're all smart, maybe not like Meilin but, while Meilin is the best fighter which is cool because she's a girl [my sister is really good at Kung Fu but my friends don't believe me because she's a girl]***, everyone else can fight well in their own awesome way. Rollan, lastly, is my favorite because he is so funny.

Overall, I give this a 5 out of 5.

Since I'm just a tad above the targeted age range and the complete opposite of my brother, I can't sing praises for Wild Born without a few (or, I suppose, one really big) reservation(s).

First off, though: Brandon Mull is excellent at world-building. I found it fascinating how he managed to twist four cultures into a cocktail of a world that, though anachronistic, surprisingly retained many of the elements of each culture when it would've been much easier to neglect their foundations. I enjoyed running on a South America-like street with Rollan, being pampered (ephemerally) in an Asian palace with Meilin (Since I'm Asian, the discrepancies in the Asian worldbuilding stood out to me more than the other ones did; still, it is a commendable effort on Mull's part to make it as reminiscent of Asia as possible without compromising the story's overarching world), shake with terror in a Medieval England-esque surrounding alongside Conor, and hunt through wild forests with Abeke that brings images of Native American tribes to the mind.

Yet where he excels, I also reluctantly found fault. Mull's writing is... dull. Quite dull.

It feels plain, especially in the  first few chapters, full of telling and detached emotion. It is only after about 50 pages in that I really began to see the characters for who they were. Even then, oftentimes I found myself not exactly enthused--though certainly not unwilling--to dive back into the Spirit Animals world because something about the writing just didn't necessarily captivate me. It missed a spark; a touch of something magical, to fit in rightly with its exquisite world.

Still, I didn't care much about the writing's obtuseness after a while because the action and any scene, really, was just so entertaining. The characters were written exceptionally well in regards to their authenticity. I saw a lot of myself in Meilin, and laughed far too loudly at Rollan, and I could appreciate the humbleness of Conor just as well as I admired Abeke for her bravery. Each character could hold their own, and because of that and the excellent world-building, even with the writing being flat, the plot never ran too slowly.

The verdict? If you stick with the book through its rough beginning, you'll likely find yourself flipping the pages quickly--and if not quickly, then at least satisfactorily. After all, it's not every day you get a middle grade that mashes all the charming bits of the age group together in quite the inventive and ambitious tale. Besides, the spirit animals are, as my brother would say it... SO COOL.

*I received an ARC copy provided by the publisher in an exchange for an honest review. No monetary or otherwise beneficial supplement was exchanged.
**He didn't actually say that. He said cool. I had to change his vocabulary up, I'm sorry. T.T
***He didn't include this in the actual review that he handed me, but he had mentioned it to me before and I thought it was a very valid point. ^.^

Oh! Before y'all ditch this post--Scholastic is doing this cool (GAH! Now I'm turning into my brother!) thing where you can actually play an online game set in the Spirit Animals world hand have your own Spirit Animal. I think it's very innovative, and you should totally check it out here.
The Reviews News

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Authors are Rockstars Tour Stop: Rae Carson (Interview + Giveaway!)

Howdy, my bookish friends! It's that time of the year again: the Authors ARE Rockstars Blog Tour! I participated in this tour last year (also on the 29th of August, eh!), and it's my utmost honor to be a part of it once more! The Authors ARE Rockstars tour, in case you're unfamiliar, is an annual tour hosted by the fabulous Jaime of Two Chicks on Books, Rachel of Fiktshun, and Mindy of Magical Urban Fantasy Reads that showcases the awesomeness of over 100 authors every August. Thank you for all that you do, Jaime, Rachel, and Mindy!

Today, I am SO SO excited to present to y'all the amazingness that is Rae Carson.

Why is Rae Carson a Rockstar?

Rae is one of the most inspirational people I've ever "met". She has such a strong personality: both incredibly determined and incredibly reassured. She writes amazing books for sure, but I'll get to that in a second. I just want to say: Wow. If you ever read the stories about what Rae has gone through, and how she battled her way through misogyny and people who should reconsider their moral path--it's truly inspiring. Besides, Rae connects with her fans a lot and it's really awesome to see that she responds to your tweet, even when it's super embarrassing. And then of course, her books are among some of my all-time favorites. Just: dang. I bow down to this woman. SKILLZ.

And on a personal note... I do believe that The Girl of Fire and Thorns was one of the first--if not the first--ARC I ever received, so I owe a lot to Rae just for how much she helped me kickstart my blog. Love you, Rae! *she says with the most serious and solemn face possible, with a handful of tissues on the side*

Before I get to the interview, you should know what this series is about.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns
By: Rae Carson
Release Date: Already released
Publisher: Greenwillow/HarperCollins

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

-Summary from Goodreads
Purchase: Mrs. Nelson's (Help support my local indie store!)* || Barnes & Noble || Amazon || Book Depository

Here is my review of The Girl of Fire and Thorns ///// Here is my review of the sequel, The Crown of Embers (Find it on Goodreads here)  ///// Lastly, find the last book, which just came out on August 27th, here on Goodreads!

Alright, without further ado... let's get to the INTERVIEW!

Hi Rae! Welcome to The Reviews News. *waves* Thanks!! *waves back*

1) Your books draw heavily from Spanish roots, which I think is incredibly cool. How much research did you have to do, if any at all, to make sure the period/cultural information was at least reflective of the Spanish culture?

I was pretty immersed in it at the time. I lived in California's Central Valley, in a place were non-Hispanic whites are a minority. My Latina friends were teaching me Spanish, and I was watching Spanish telenovelas religiously. So all the Spanish influences came pouring out in a very organic and natural way.

2) In Elisa's world, religion is as embroidered into their lives as breathing. Did you ever think that the religious aspect could be a turn-off to some readers?

The religion absolutely turns off some readers! But I feel strongly that teen experiences should be explored in literature—in all their incredible diversity—even if they make readers uncomfortable. In a country where more than 80% of people still claim to believe in a god, it's odd to me that more books don't explore religion. I'm not a religious person myself, but I'm determined to have empathy for the millions of teens who are. 

3) I'll admit: when I first read The Girl of Fire and Thorns, what happened to Alejandro and Humberto completely shocked me. I think that was the first book where my naive expectations of "everyone's safe! Always!" was irreversibly knocked down. I love you for it, but man, that was brutal. Did you ever feel as though you couldn't carry through with a plot point because it was just too emotionally unbearable?

I'm not going to lie; it was reeeally hard to do what I did to Humberto. I liked him a lot. But I wanted Elisa to experience true loss, especially in regards to war. War sucks. People die. And it's dishonoring to all those who have risked their lives in service to their countries to pretend otherwise.

Also, while Humberto was generally a nice guy, he was Elisa's kidnapper, and she deserved better. No heroine of mine will ever end up with a man who abuses her.

4) Did you always set out to make Elisa an overweight heroine to begin with? What were your influences for her character?

Yes, I always intended for her to be overweight. Even later, when she is more fit because of her changed lifestyle, I hope readers continue to picture her as a larger girl. I chose to make her that way after dumping a guy who was obsessed with my weight—even though I could run 6 miles every day, I was never skinny enough for him. So writing about Elisa was my way of giving the finger to him and his douchey perception of beauty.

5) Your husband and you both write. Has this impacted your writing in any way? Do you both never sleep? (The second question is a joke. I think.)

My husband is my first reader for every single thing I write, and he has a great editorial eye. For example, after I drafted The Crown of Embers, I could tell that a few scenes weren't paced right. So he broke them out into an Excel spreadsheet!!! and showed me how I could re-order them for maximum impact. It's the sexiest thing he's ever done for me. 

And what is this "sleep" you speak of? 

6) You're writing a new series in the Gold Rush Era, which is AWESOME. What can we expect? :D

The first book is tentatively scheduled for early 2015. It will have some similarities to the Fire and Thorns series because epic journeys! And magic! And horrifying deaths! And KISSING! But it will be different because guns! And DYSENTERY! I'm very excited about it.

P.S. Questions:
-Humberto or Hector?
HECTOR. Hands down. No question.

-How much will we die from The Bitter Kingdom's feelz?
A lot, I hope. "Am DED from FEELZ" is pretty much the best thing you can say to an author.

-Will you come to my funeral?
Of course! I'll bring Hector with me.

-How embarrassed were you by my absolutely facepalm-worthy fangirling video of The Crown of Embers that I sent you a link to on Twitter last year? (I hope you don’t remember it. And I’m not posting the link again, haha. Oh gosh. I swear I have no eloquence. T.T)
How could I forget something that epically awesome?!?

Thank you so much for stopping by! ^.^ We eagerly await the final part of Elisa's epic story.

Thanks for having me!

I don't know about you, but those were some AWESOME answers. I know I can't wait for Rae's new series--but first, I don't know if I'm ready to handle the emotional wreck that I will become after The Bitter Kingdom.

Rae CarsonAbout Rae:

I write books about teens who must do brave things. I'm originally from California, but I moved to Ohio to marry my husband, who is the smartest and therefore sexiest man I know. We live in Columbus with my teenaged stepsons, who are awesome. My books tend to contain lots of adventure, a little magic and romance, and smart girls who make (mostly) smart choices. I especially love to write about questions I don't know the answers to.

Find Rae: Website || Goodreads || Twitter || Facebook

And finally... the GIVEAWAY!

What can you win?
-A signed hardcover copy of The Bitter Kingdom from Rae herself!

What are the rules?
-The prize can only be shipped to an address in the U.S. But that doesn't mean you can't get your friend in the states to enter for you, and then for them to mail it to you wherever you are if they win! *nudge nudge*
-The giveaway will run for one week, from August 29th, 2013 to September 5th, 2013. You must enter within that timeframe.
-The winner will be given 48 hours to respond following initial contact. If there is no response, another winner will be selected.

What do I do?
-Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below! Only leaving a comment is mandatory, but if you follow Rae on Twitter or tweet about the interview + giveaway, you get extra entries! Woot!

Monday, August 26, 2013

I'm Back! (Sort of)



(okay okay, I know you're all rolling your eyes here because I'm probably going to leave again, so I'm not really back back, but just stay with me for a moment!)

Yeah... I'm sorry guys. I'm horrible.

Yeah yeah yeah, I get it. I deserve it. Come on. You can slap me. As much as you want.

-slapping over-

Okay! I really am sorry, guys. I know, I keep on disappearing for no reason whatsoever, and then I'll post a random review like nothing happened and disappear again. It's quite horrible of me and I apologize.

But- this time I actually have a legitimate reason for my voodoo phantomness!

So I debated about whether or not I should post this, because goddamnit, EXCUSES SUCK. But I figured that this isn't an excuse so much as an explanation, so I'm going to make a wee little exception and explain really quick why I'm like Nearly Headless Nick.

I had planned on posting a LOT this summer, but the moment I got out of school I got diagnosed.

Specifically, I got diagnosed with two things: bipolar disorder, and also granulomatous uveitis. (I also went back to my home country of China for the first time since six years ago, when I first came here. Here being 'murica. But that's a post for another time.)

I have to stop with the sarcasm here and actually be serious for a moment because I don't want anyone to take this the wrong way. Sorry, no more GIFs for a while.

So. I mean first off I should clarify that I've been taking meds and my uveitis is much better. I should also clarify: uveitis is an eye inflammation. It's the reason why I've been missing from social media, and more importantly, this blog. I was completely blind for three days while I got this lovely little inflammation (apparently I can't whisk a sarcastic bone out of my body) and that was just... so eye-opening (heh... eye-opening...) (Oh, I had the inflammation for two months. The blindness was just the worst part. So don't worry, I'm not exaggerating one thing to cover the fact that I keep on vanishing). Here: close your eyes. You can do this for ten minutes, or an hour, however long you want. But close your eyes and try to do something normal, something that you'd usually do when you're bored, or a mundane chore: anything.

It's hard, right?

I know most of us here (especially if you're reading this) spend a LOT of time on the internet. I was also taking two years worth of math at the time, so it was like:

I lied about the no-GIF rule. Sorry not sorry.
except it was really more like this:
I know that sounds really dramatic and stupid... but ah, man, that was tough. Turns out my uveitis was caused by TB. I'm lucky though, the bacteria is still latent in my body, so it's not contagious and I'm taking medicine to prevent it from becoming active. But yeah. Yay inflammation and blindness...

But! My eyes are so much better now! (No duh Juli, look at your internet time log...)

Anyways, I just wanted to let you know about that. IF YOUR EYES EVER HURT, do NOT dismiss it as pink eye! PINK EYE DOES NOT HURT.

^Seriously. Go see a doctor just in case if that happens. I thought I had pink eye for the longest time, and in that time my optic nerve was getting damaged like frick. Not the best feeling.

Anyways. I don't want to seem like I'm complaining--I'm really grateful I got to have this eye-opening (eye-closing?) experience. I think I learned a lot from it. And I'm not going to say much about being bipolar because I'm not very comfortable with it yet and until I can accept it without raging like a raptor from Jurassic Park, I shall remain silent and let other beautiful people on the internet talk for me about that little beast.

So... yeah. Hi guys. I've missed you all so much it blows my mind. And I was prepared to miss y'all a LOT.


I hope this disjointed post--so so disjointed, and such poor writing...--shed some light (light is great. seriously. no more darkness please.) on my mysterious existence. I'm not going to go back and edit it because I feel like ranting on about bipolar stuff but I don't trust myself to do it without 1) boring you to death and 2) hating myself, so if you spot any grammar/spelling errors, I apologize on behalf of Juli's English Inc.

School's starting for me again, but I'll do my best to post more this year. I already have a few posts scheduled, so yay for that.

Also, wow, my blog is OVER TWO YEARS OLD. That's insane. Be on the lookout for a celery-bration! Celery because yo, nutrients. And nutrients keep y'all alive.*

*Actual festivities will not include celery**
**Well, maybe for me. I'll eat celery. But I can't mail it to you because how do you even mail vegetables.***
***Hmm... celery is also green. And my blog is green. Wow wow wow serendipity yo. 

YEAH... I'm back.

Hi guys. :)

(I'm so sorry, I couldn't help myself. Please forgive me. T.T)
P.S. Only editing to say that if you know me IRL and you're doing the jazz fingers because yo, you can totally dish on dat Juli now...

I've got my eyes on you... -.-
The Reviews News

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Spies and Prejudice Blog Tour: Guest Post & Giveaway!

Anyone who knows me knows just how much I absolutely adore the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. There's a reason, after all, that Pride and Prejudice has remained such a beloved classic.

With a spy-cial re-imagination of Austen's iconic novel, please put your hands (fingers? via keyboard?) to give a drumroll to...

SPIES AND PREJUDICE! (the blog tour)

Alright, you all know how much I love guest posts. For this stop I asked the fabulous Talia Vance (by the way, her other YA novel, Silver, is amazing. You can read my review of it here--funnily enough, I was also part of the blog tour for Silver!) to explain her research process. After all: How do we understand a trade so clandestine?

Before I let Talia take the stage, let's find out what Spies and Prejudice is about first, shall we?

Spies and Prejudice
By: Talia Vance
Reported by: Julianna Helms
Release date: June 11th, 2013 via Egmont

Fields’ Rule #1: Don’t fall for the enemy.

Berry Fields is not looking for a boyfriend. She’s busy trailing cheaters and liars in her job as a private investigator, collecting evidence of the affairs she’s sure all men commit. And thanks to a pepper spray incident during an eighth grade game of spin the bottle, the guys at her school are not exactly lining up to date her, either.

So when arrogant—and gorgeous—Tanner Halston rolls into town and calls her “nothing amazing,” it’s no loss for Berry. She’ll forget him in no time. She’s more concerned with the questions surfacing about her mother’s death.

But why does Tanner seem to pop up everywhere in her investigation, always getting in her way? Is he trying to stop her from discovering the truth, or protecting her from an unknown threat? And why can’t Berry remember to hate him when he looks into her eyes?

With a playful nod to Jane Austen, Spies and Prejudice will captivate readers as love and espionage collide.

-Summary via Goodreads
Pre-order:  Mrs. Nelson's (you should totally support my local indie store, yo!) || Barnes & Noble || Amazon || The Book Depository

Doesn't that just sound AWESOME? I know I can't wait to read it!

Alright- Let's get to the guest post:

What was Your Research Process for SPIES AND PREJUDICE?

Since the romantic storyline in Spies and Prejudice is loosely based on Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, it probably comes as no surprise that I spent some time re-reading Pride and Prejudice before I started writing. I picked which characters/archetypes I thought would fit well with my contemporary spy story and re-read some of my favorite scenes. Then I put it away, because I never wanted to do a straight retelling and I didn’t want to copy scenes, so much as honor them with subtle references.

I spent a lot of time researching spy gadgets. I started with gadgets that would be available to a teen with an internet connection. A lot of Berry’s gadgets are things you can purchase online: ninja claws (, foot spikes (, grappling hooks (, listening devices ( camera glasses ( can all be bought with the click of a mouse.

Most teens already have digital cameras, camcorders and voice recording devices right on their cell phones, but I wanted my spy gear to be a bit more sophisticated and stealthy. I interviewed a woman who worked for a defense contractor who designed spy gear, and while she couldn’t reveal any secrets, she was willing to listen to my ideas for button cameras, exploding bracelets and portable scanners, and to let me know if they were feasible (button cams exist!).

I also spent time researching hacking, addiction, Hamlet, energy drinks, redness minimizers and Spielberg films. Berry has a Saint Bernard, and I conducted hands on research, buying a Saint Bernard puppy within days of starting the manuscript and incorporating realistic details of owning a 150 pound monster (like drool that dries to the consistency of glue and hogging the bed).

Finally, I had some real life experience to draw on. My father is a private investigator, and I spent a summer working for him after college. I was a terrible spy, but I the idea that I could have seen something was the impetus for Berry’s story.

That is truly fascinating, Talia! Thanks so much for sharing the behind-the-scenes stuff. It's always interesting to read about these processes.

Want to Know More about Talia?

Talia Vance is a practicing litigation attorney living in Northern California with her real life love interest, two-point-five kids, and a needy Saint Bernard named Huckleberry. Talia has been writing since she could talk, making up stories for every doll, stuffed animal and action figure she could get her hands on. She grew up hoping to write the great American novel, but her life ran more along the lines of tortured romance and fast paced thrillers, so that's what she writes.

Find Talia Online:

Personally, I think Talia can pass for a spy just fine. :)

And now... the moment you've all been waiting for!

Giveaway Details:
-There will be 5 total winners (US only)
-3 winners will receive a hardcover copy of Spies and Prejudice and a t-shirt
-2 winners will receive a t-shirt

Just enter in the Rafflecopter widget below! 

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Last Surprise

The Last Academy
By: Anne Applegate
Reported by: Julianna Helms
Source: ARC via Publisher (Thank you!)
Release date: April 30th, 2013 via Point/Scholastic

What is this prep school preparing them for?

Camden Fisher arrives at boarding school haunted by a falling-out with her best friend back home. But the manicured grounds of Lethe Academy are like nothing Cam has ever known. There are gorgeous, preppy boys wielding tennis rackets, and circles of girls with secrets to spare. Only . . . something is not quite right. One of Cam's new friends mysteriously disappears, but the teachers don't seem too concerned. Cam wakes up to strangers in her room, who then melt into the night. She is suddenly plagued by odd memories, and senses there might be something dark and terrible brewing. But what? The answer will leave Cam—and readers—stunned and breathless, in this thrilling debut novel.

-Summary from Goodreads
Pre-order: Mrs. Nelson's || Barnes & Noble || Amazon || Book Depository

First off, I should probably make the caveat that I'm not typically a fan of boarding school stories. But Scholastic was really kind in sending me this book, and it had a fun-sounding premise, so I figured... why not? 

Oh, why not indeed.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Teen Book Fest (incl. Stephen Chbosky! O.o)

Hey you.

Do you love Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower)? Marie Lu (Legend -- my review of Legend is here and of its sequel, Prodigy, here)? Leigh Bardugo (Shadow and Bone)?

Do you live or will be in the Southern California area on Saturday, May 11th?

I really, really hope you just said yes. Because those amazing authors (and many more talented, crazy awesome peeps) will be discussing fabulous bookishess and also signing books (!!!) from 9AM until 5PM at the Teen Book Fest, hosted by the fantastic Ontario City Library! (Sadly, not the Canada Ontario. But Canadians, stay tuned--I do believe I will be giving away some signed swag/maybe books after the event!) It will be here:

Merton E Hill Auditorium at Chaffey High (211 W. 5th Street, Ontario CA)

The door will be open at 8:30AM! If you want to know more about the event, please visit its website here. This is seriously the type of event and author lineup that makes me want to throw up because I'm so excited (sorry- but it's true!).

Comeeeee onnnn, join me! I'll be there and these amazing people will be there and it will be a day full of BADASS bookish business (alliteration *cough*).

Hope to see you there!
The Reviews News

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Live for This Book

Eleanor & Park
By: Rainbow Rowell
Reported by: Julianna Helms

"Bono met his wife in high school," Park says.
"So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?"
"Shallow, confused, then dead."
''I love you," Park says.
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be."

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

-Summary from Goodreads
Purchase: Mrs. Nelson's || Barnes & Noble || Amazon || The Book Depository 

"Stop. Don't say my name like that. It only makes it worse." 
"Makes what worse?" 
"Everything," she said. 
He was quiet. 
She sat up and wiped her nose on her sleeve. 
"Do you have a nickname?" he asked. That was one of his tricks, whenever she was put off or irritated--changing the subject in the sweetest way possible.

 -pg. 107 

I don't like this book.

I think I live for this book. (Read the book. You'll get it. What I just did. But also, why I did what I just did.)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Dive In!

Deep Dive: Cephalox the Cyber Squid 
By: Adam Blade
Reported by: Roarko (my 10-year-old brother's pseudonym)
Source: ARC via Publisher (Thank you, Scholastic! <3)
Release date: April 1st, 2013 via Scholsatic (Already released!)

A brand-new underwater adventure from Adam Blade, author of the Beast Quest series!

Max's home, the floating city of Aquora, is attacked by Cephelox the Cyber Squid and his father is carried away by the Robobeast. Max and his robodog, Rivet, set off on a rescue mission. Along the way, they meet Lia, a princess of an ancient race of Merryns who live underwater. The Merryn's magic powers are fading because the evil Professor has stolen four pieces of a skull that is the source of their abilities. It is up to Max and Lia to retrieve these items and save Max's father before it is too late.

-Summary from Goodreads
Purchase: Mrs. Nelson's || Barnes & Noble || Amazon || Book Depository

This review is written by my ten-year-old brother, who I figured was perfect for reviewing this book since he's in its intended demographic and loved Adam Blade's Beast Quest.

The Characters:
Max is a smart, brave boy, and his ability to learn quickly makes him a very admirable hero. I didn't necessarily like Lia, the princess of Merryns, because she got angry very easily when Max couldn't understand her. Though I guess anyone could have gotten frustrated in that circumstance. Rivet the robodog was awesome. He could chop through metal and talk and do all these cool things. Mostly, I really liked the characters and their developments.

The Story:
The plot was good, except it seemed a bit of the same storyline as Adam Blade's other book, Beast Quest. It was almost as if Deep Dive is an underwater version of Beast Quest with different characters. Yet I still liked the story because it introduced some really interesting elements that I didn't expect, adding in awesome technology with some really cool ideas.

The Writing: 
The writing was P-E-R-F-E-C-T (my sister's transcription). Adam Blade used words I didn't know and made up some really great terms that I thought was totally awesome.

If you like action, you should read Deep Dive. It has some really great action scenes and also pretty epic characters.
The Reviews News

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Deadly To Love Tour Stop: Teasers + Giveaway!

Hey y'all! Today, I'm excited to be presenting some teasers from Mia Hoddell's Deadly to Love. But the teasers aren't all Mia's offering--there will also be a giveaway at the end of this post for a copy of Deadly to Love and swag! Awesome, yeah?

So what exactly is Deadly to Love?

Deadly to Love (Elemental Killer #1)Deadly to Love
By: Mia Hoddell
Series: Elemental Killers

There is a love that is so dangerous, so powerful, so intoxicating that it embraces your heart and smothers your mind until it leaves you defenseless.

Serena knew that but still, it didn't stop her. His name was Kai. He was the most beautiful, irresistible man she had ever encountered. Their attraction was too compelling to fight and she knew she would go to the end of the world beside him. That is love.

However behind the allure was hidden a deadly secret – a secret that threatened her fragile life... But secrets best left unsaid never remain hidden forever. When Kai reveals his true identity, she is exposed to a frightening world she had no idea existed. Controlled by powerful Elemental forces her life is placed in mortal danger.

Unbeknown to them, their lives have been entwined from the beginning and it leads her to discover an even greater secret about who she really is. As the pieces begin to unravel and death becomes a reality, Serena is forced to decide what is more important...her love or life.

-Summary provided by author
Purchase: Amazon (e-book) || (e-book) || Lulu (paperback)


Teasers from the book

He started to walk back towards me,his expression cautious, like a hunter who was trying not to spook its prey. I hated to admit it but he was right ~Page 27 

Slightly unnerved by the image, I laid the camera on my desk, breaking the compulsion the image had over me ~Page 44 

He glared at me as he stood up, brushing himself off but I barely spared him more than a glance. My attention was focused on Kai, his performance had scared me a little ~Page 142 

“What are you doing? What’s going on?” The hand that wasn’t holding onto me was reaching behind him and fumbling in his bag for something.

“Just stay quiet,” he insisted as he pulled a gun out of the bag he had brought with us. ~Page 173 
His gaze was focused on something out of the window closest to me on his left. Holding a finger up to his mouth he signalled for me not to speak as he cut the headlights. ~Page 297

Thanks to Julianna for hosting me on her wonderful blog and remember to check out Deadly to Love and the rest of the tour stops here:!


Mia Hoddell lives in the UK with her family and two cats. She spends most of her time writing or reading and her preferred genre is Young Adult, Paranormal Romance. Before 2009, Mia wouldn't even pick up a book and was more interested in sports. However she finally found some novels that captured her interest and developed a love of both reading and writing. Mia began with poems and after getting two published in separate anthologies she moved on to short stories. Although she enjoyed this, Mia found she had too much to tell with too little space, so later on she created her first series The Wanderer Trilogy and from there other ideas have emerged which she hopes to turn into novels as well. Elemental Killers is her second series and book two will be out soon.

Find Mia Online: Blog || Twitter || Facebook || Goodreads

Mia is generously giving away one e-book copy of Deadly to Love through Amazon Kindle (Int.) and one pack of Deadly to Love (UK only) swag away! Just enter using the Rafflecopter forms below. :)

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