Book Talk: The Strange & Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

Book Talk: The Strange & Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye WaltonThe Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Published by Candlewick on 2014
Genres: YA Magical Realism
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!




Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”



Ava, a girl born with wings, was also born to a family line who has experienced pain and loss along the way. Ava brings us her story but first tells the stories of her grandmother and mother who paved the path to where she is. Her grandmother is closed off and distant. Her mother is forever heartbroken. And Ava, the girl born with wings, has been isolated in her house away from people until, at 16, she decides she wants to find out where she could fit in with the world as a girl with wings — unprepared how others will regard her and her wings or the motives of an obsessed man who thinks she is an angel.

ALERT: as I type this the book is $1.99 for Kindle!!



*me falling in love with magical realism all over again*

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Book Talk: An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Book Talk: An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa TahirAn Ember in Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Series: An Ember in Ashes #1
Published by Razorbill on April 2015
Genres: YA Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!




Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”



Laia and Elias both live in a world controlled by the Martials –a  brutal, sadistic regime who rules by force and will kill for the smallest infraction. Laia has grown up poor with her grandparents and brother and is part of the Scholar class that is persecuted by the Martials. Elias is from a powerful family and goes to one of the best military schools, Briarcliff, where he trains to be a Mask and is at the top of his class but he really plans to desert because he hates this way of life and doesn’t want to be a killer. Laia’s brother is taken away and accused of treason and Laia tries to make a deal with some rebels who promise her that they will help release her brother if she goes undercover as a spy at Briarcliff where she will be the slave to a brutal and powerful woman. It is there at Briarcliff that Laia and Elias meet and come to learn just how intertwined their destinies are.

a2*tries to catch breath and calm down*


Upon finishing the book someone asked me what I thought and my reply was that 1) that I super enjoyed it and 2) it was sosososososo intense and brutal.

High intensity factor: seriously this book had me on the edge of my seat pretty much from the start until the nail-biting and explosive end. If you are looking for a book that has high stakes, espionage, traitors, magic, betrayals and so much action….I can’t recommend this enough. I felt like the action just kept being upped, without sacrificing too much character development, and I could NOT read fast enough to find out how it would end.  There’s a lot at stake for both of the main characters and I loved watching their stories converge in such an intense manner. They both are in seemingly impossible and desperate positions and it sure becomes a page-turner.

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Monthly YA Book Subscription Box Reviews: Uppercase & OwlCrate

Subscription boxes are all the rage and they have them for pretty much everything you can imagine. I personally have done Julep (did it for a while but had to stop because NAIL POLISH OVERLOAD) and Ipsy (did it in the first year it was created and quit after one time).

I’ve noticed a lot of bookish subscription boxes popping up over the past year — created by bookstores, bookish websites and bloggers alike. I’ve been curious about them and was grateful that two companies reached out to me for a chance to review their subscription box. So full disclosure: I did not pay for these but received one box for review from both companies in exchange for an honest review. I didn’t receive any other compensation other than the free box!

UppercaseLogo5-e1403709110859(click the logo to check out the website)

What I got:

Cute packaging (the mailer, if you care, was a standard priority mailer envelope)! Also, Jamie fail. I got too excited and started taking stuff out so pretend you didn’t see the candle and it’s in the package still.

Uppercase boxThe whole package!

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Closeup of the candle!Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I opened the package and immediately I pulled out a non-book shaped thing which was  the candle! It’s adorable (I’m definitely keeping that tin after I burn the candle). It smells nice and I’m actually burning it right now. Then I pulled out the letter. I think this was a nice touch — it’s handwritten and I loved hearing why Lisa picked Red Queen.  Then I pulled out the book, Red Queen. I think this was a good selection though I already have it as an ARC. I tried to read it a couple months but since I’m a mood reader I was in a fickle mood and put it down though I definitely plan to try to pick it up again. Then it came with a signed bookplate from the author that I can put in my book (very cool!). Then there was a little slip of paper with a 15% discount to a shop on Etsy which I will be checking out!


Nice, clean website. Detailed FAQ section that was pretty darn thorough.
Love the two subscription options. There’s the Expert which is the most general one — it varies in genre and isn’t tailored to your taste or anything. Then there is the Personalized box which is nice if you are a bit more picky, only read certain genres, etc. Since I don’t have a log-in I couldn’t get into see what kinds of questions you get asked but I know it is a more personalized pick based on your answers.
Excellent curating — They are new releases from major publishers! I browsed the past picks too (I love that you can see that as a prospective customer) and I think Lisa has done a good job picking quality books in various genres for the Expert box! I think if you read pretty widely you will be great with the Expert picks!
Exclusive author content for Uppercase members: I thought this was such a nice touch! You’ll get an email about a week after the box ships in which you’ll get some exclusive content JUST for Uppercase members.

Gift option: I love that there is an option to gift it to a friend and you can pick which box and how many months. What a great gift to give someone!


A little too pricey for my taste: I think this is my problem with subscription boxes in general? The basic (Expert) box is $29 (that includes shipping).  Most YA hardcovers are let’s say ~$15 plus shipping if you order online. (On Amazon and B&N they are listing it around $11.50 right now). I guess it depends on if you value not having to do the work of finding a new read and also if you think the bookish goodie is worth those extra couple dollers.

Only currently ships to US, Puerto Rico and Canada. (This doesn’t affect ME but thought it’s worth noting).

Return policy: I know it probably has to be this way because it would get MESSY and crazy but if you get a book you already own you are pretty much out of luck. You can’t return it. Best you can probably do is sell it to Amazon or a second hand shop to get yourself a new book. Or host a giveaway. Swap with a friend. It would be a bummer to get a book you already had but I guess that’s the gamble if you are a frequent book buyer. If don’t buy a lot of books, this won’t be much of a problem!


e940a7aaec0b421e931a3b6877ded904(click the logo to check out the website)


Cute box! Love how even their box calls out to their brand!

Owl Crate box

Ooh pretty stuff! (I love when packages come with this stuff because I always reuse it)

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The whole package!

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The poster in full (it has the OTHER cover on the other side):

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I was SOOO happy because I have been wanting this book and actually didn’t own it! I thought for sure I would get a book I either had as an ARC or owned so this automatically made me happy! I thought the goodies in here were all fab — the CraftedVan bookmarks that I love, the Game of Thrones figure (I don’t watch but Will and I are starting it soon), the swag (pin, bookmark and poster) and the cutest unicorn bandages EVERRR. Like I kind of want to get wounded so I can use one. (Okay not really because I’m the whiniest of whiny babies and pain adverse).


Great curating: I mean, it’s only the first pick from Owl Crate but I thought this pick was on point! It is a new release with good buzz!

Themed packages: This is one thing I think is REALLY cool about Owl Crate is that each month has a different theme that the book and the goodies for the month revolve around! This month was fantasy and the sheet I got says that next month the theme is “all the feels”! Very curious what that will entail!

Really lovely packaging: I’m a sucker for good packaging and presentation and Owl Crate had that from the time I saw the package on my doorstep to the time I opened it. Everything looks super professional and is just REALLY cute. Love the logo and how pretty everything is! A+ branding.

The goodies: This subscription box is more expensive than Uppercase Box BUT you get extra goodies in it. So if you are a person who wants to discover cool bookish things, this one is great. It was really fun to get some cute surprises! I thought the selection of things in this box were of quality and worth the money. I personally have some bookmarks from Craftd Van already (dessert themed) and they are the best bookmarks I’ve owned!

Price discount if you select a 3 month or 6 month plan: If you know that you want to get it for more than just a month there is a discount which I appreciate!

Ships internationally: It’s a pretty steep price if you ARE looking to ship outside of US or Canada but I like that it’s an option!


Expensive: Pretty much everything I said above about Uppercase Box. This one is $29.99 plus shipping but you DO get more goodies with the book that I thought were of quality.

No personalized option: It’s probably not fair to compare the two but I think that this was a great feature of Uppercase that helps pickier readers. I would HIGHLY recommend being open to many genres if you subscribe to this one because there ISN’T the option to maybe get only fantasy-ish picks or contemporary only (at this point in time anyways). If you are open to reading from many genres, I think this isn’t a con at all. Like for me, this wouldn’t bother me at all because I’ll read from any genre.

Return policy: I already explained this above for Uppercase. I get why they maybe wouldn’t but I do wish there was an option (for both of them) to maybe get 1 or 2 “returns” on your account in the event you got the same one. So, I guess, like I said above you can always give away it if you get a duplicate, donate it or sell it.


Would I subscribe to Uppercase or Owl Crate?



I think Uppercase AND Owl Crate are great but I don’t know that it would be worth it for ME right now. Why? Because if you are a blogger (especially one who gets a lot of ARCs) or someone super into this community who buys a lot of books, it’s a bit of a gamble. Looking over the past month’s (plus this month’s) of Uppercase selections, I already owned ALL but one out of 7 (which I was aware of but not interested in) that I got either as ARCs and/or bought. I would consider subscribing to Uppercase/ Owl Crate if I stopped blogging and wasn’t as on top of new releases/not getting ARCs anymore obviously (and also if my financial situation could allow it haha).  I WOULD in my current situation, however, consider gifting it to a friend or family member who reads but isn’t up on the new releases — definitely my niece and maybe my little sister.

People I WOULD recommend them to:


People who aren’t up on the latest and greatest books: I’m thinking of some family members and friends who read YA (but not nearly as voraciously as the people in this community) and I think they wouldn’t be aware of or have already heard of these picks. I know I have a lot of readers of this blog who are NOT bloggers and who rely on my blog and others to find recommendations and I think this sort of box would be REALLY good for them to discover new books.

People who don’t buy a lot of books: If you are a person who pre-orders a lot of the big buzz books and talked about books in this community, there is a good chance you might have already gotten it. But if you are a person who really doesn’t buy a lot of new books (especially new releases) this might be ideal.

People who don’t have time to discover new reads: If you aren’t super into the community and don’t really like to spend time finding new reads, this might be your solution because they curate for you! It can be time consuming and hard to find out where to start so this takes all the hard work out of it and gives you well-loved and decently popular books.

People who are new to the YA scene: I think this is a great thing if you are new to YA and don’t know where to get started!

People who are wanting to give a gift to the young or not so young YA reader in your life: You might be someone who doesn’t really read YA but knows a YA reader! This is a great gift option because you don’t have to try to figure out what book they might like and who doesn’t like getting FUN mail!



I think Uppercase and Owl Crate are on to something really great even if I don’t think, right now, it’s a good investment for me because I get a lot of books right now and I’d probably overlap a lot plus financially I’m not able to do any sort of subscription boxes right now. When the time comes that I ever abandon this blog and am not as immersed in this community I think I’d LOVE to subscribe to either one of them. They both of their own pros and cons (some that they share that are just really inherent of subscription boxes, I think) but I would highly recommend both. I think it would depend on what you are looking for — Uppercase has more flexibility that could be more tailored to your tastes and Owl Crate is really fun because you get themed boxes full of really awesome goodies in addition to the book. All depends on what you are looking for and how much you are willing to spend! I also do recommend both because both Lisa (Uppercase) and Korrina (Owl Crate) are great contributors to this community from the interactions I’ve had with them and they have solid recommendations.


Do you subscribe to any bookish boxes? What do you think about these/are you interested in subscribing? Let me know if you have any questions about them and hopefully I can answer! Also, for fun, I’d LOVE to hear about any OTHER subscription boxes you are into!

Top Ten Books I’d Recommend To My Cousin Who Loves Sarah Dessen


Top Ten Tuesday, as  always, is hosted at my other blog — The Broke & the Bookish

This week’s topic: Top Ten Books I’d Recommend To X Person


So, every summer we have a family reunion/crab feast in Maryland and every year that we go my teen cousin, a junior in high school, has a Sarah Dessen book. I’ve literally never seen her without a Sarah Dessen book. I’ve talked to her a bit about what else she likes to read and she named a few pretty popular contemporary authors similar to Sarah Dessen but she expressed that she really doesn’t know what to read so she just sticks to all of Sarah Dessen books. Of course, I was all like CHALLENGE ACCEPTED… I will totally make you a list of books to read that are similar to Sarah Dessen’s books. Now I’m not the most well read when it comes to Sarah Dessen books (only a couple) but these are some contemporaries that I think fans of Sarah Dessen will love!

For Fans Of Sarah Dessen

Books Similar To Sarah Dessenif you like sarah dessen booksgood books like Sarah Dessenbooks like just listen by sarah dessen

Pretty much, with the exception of two which I’ll note below, these are some of my favorite contemporary books ever!

1. Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson: Road trip! Sweet romance! MY HEART! Also highly recommend Second Chance Summer which wrecked me.
2. Moonglass by Jessi Kirby: Beach setting! Great father/daughter relationship! Also super cute romance!
3. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han: A classic if you love contemporary YA!
4. The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler: A new favorite! Funny, sweet and made me cry! One of my favorite dads in all of YA lit. Also love Twenty Boy Summer!
5. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: Paris! St. Clair! One of my favorites!!
6. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson: What a beautiful book! If you like your prose more lyrical..whew! Get this!
7. Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland: I LIKED this one a whole lot! So much good about it. I don’t think I even had one bad thing to say in my review..I just didn’t get to that LOVE position. But it’s a great book that I really think my cousin would like! She also plays lacrosse so I think she’ll like Cricket in that way for sure! 🙂
8. The Statistical Probablity of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith: SO CUTE! I just can’t even. I devoured it in one day!
9. If I Stay by Gayle Forman: Oh god this book. Make sure you have Where She Went afterwards…I loved that one even more.
10. All I Need by Susane Colasanti: Okay, I didn’t really love this book at all. It was a quick, fun summer-y read but though it wasn’t really my taste I KNOW my cousin would love it.


So tell me…what other books that might not be on my list would be my cousin who is a huge Sarah Dessen fan? She’s definitely not into super steamy books and my aunt would kill me haha. Do you disagree with any of my picks? Agree?

Review Of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

YA dystopian for Hunger Games fanBook Title/Author: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen 2011
Genre: YA Dystopian
Series: YES!
Other Books From Author: None!

Amazon| Goodreads | Tahereh Mafi’s Website
I purchased this book with my own money!

Juliette’s been locked up in solitary confinement for 264 days. She’s been locked away for incident which resulted in murder because her very touch is deadly but nobody knows why. While she’s locked away for being a hazard to the general population, the world as she knew it is deteriorating even more than it had been before. Food is rationed, the weather is strange, birds don’t fly anymore and it seems like trouble is brewing between the Reestablishment and the rebel movements. Juliette doesn’t realize just how important she could be on the outside until she finds out that though she’s been in solitary people have taken notice of her and want her use her power for their gain.

Do you ever have a book that you hear everybody talk about it and rave about it and it just somehow turns you off? Is that weird? I don’t know but that’s the case with this book. I heard too much about it and wasn’t intrigued enough by the summary and I thought I’d be let down. Then a few blogger friends told me I HAD to read it so I purchased it this past April when I went to Chicago for RT Convention and a Dark Days tour stop. It’s been sitting on my shelf ever since until Jen from Makeshift Bookmark demanded recently I read it when I asked for a rec!

I was nervous that it wouldn’t blow my mind like it seemed to do to everyone else. BUT FRIENDS, mind = blown. I mean, it kind of looks like a CSI crime scene around here. Shatter Me was pretty unlike things I’ve read recently and I so enjoyed it — the worldbuilding, the characters, the writing, the romance, the fast paced page-turning nature of the story. It was a book I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to finish. Something I haven’t been doing lately. You would have had to pry this book from my cold dead fingers before I’d have given it up to go to bed. I mean WHAT IF I DIED IN MY SLEEP AND NEVER FINISHED IT??! Morbid, I know, but I just needed to finish it that bad.

Immediately you know this novel is going to be different from the first page by the writing style. Lots of crossed out sentences, tons of stream of consciousness type writing. It takes some time to get used to. I found that I had to reread some parts again but it was so beautiful and it totally hones in on the state of  Juliette’s mind. I felt like I was there imprisoned with her in solitary confinement. The writing just set the mood really well. You felt kind of crazy like I’m sure she did — never speaking but your brain is a lively dialogue and picture show just barreling along. I knew I was going to like this book within the first few pages. I will say that some of those elements do peter out as we get in the story but it makes sense to me as the story progresses. Juliette changes and gets out of her own head.

I found the characters (even the hateable ones — I’m looking at you WARNER) to be so intriguing and I’m excited to learn more about some of them. I’ve heard a lot of Team Warner’s being thrown around and I didn’t understand it though I’m hearing that my mind will change if I read the novella Destroy Me (which you know I have reservations about novellas) and then Unravel Me (book 2). I don’t know.

I also am incredibly drawn into this world that Mafi created — curious about how it got to the point it is, what’s up with Juliette’s special power, what Warner has planned for Juliette, where Juliette’s family is etc. etc. Everything just made me SO CURIOUS. I had a million thoughts running through my mind and I am even more anxious for Unravel Me!!

Moral of the story: When all of your blogging friends tell you to read a book, just do it. Because it might end up being one of your most memorable, favorite reads of the year! I was getting so series weary but this one is invigorating and worth getting sucked into!


I see why this book was SO very popular! It’s addicting and the ultimate page-turner filled with intriguing characters, a completely scary and imaginative dystopian society and a love story that didn’t feel out of place and haphazardly thrown in there like “OH HAI ROMANCE SELLS. GOTTA INCLUDE IT.”  It’s breathtakingly different and some of Mafi’s prose is just enchanting. I’ll say it does take a little bit to take to the style of writing at first but I promise you that you’ll get to a point where you just PLOW through it. Lots of feelings happened while reading this book — rage, hope, sadness, etc.


You May Also Like: Touch by Jus Accardo, Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, Legend by Marie Lu, Eve by Anna Carey

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi - teen dystopian


Let’s Talky Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think if you have read it? And I have to ask, did you read the novella Destroy Me? Is it worth reading?


Review: Purple Daze by Sherry Shahan

Title/Author: Purple Daze by Sherry Shahan
Publisher/Date: Perseus Books  – March 22nd 2011
How I Got This Book: Accepted pitch from author

Set in one of the most politically charged eras in America, Purple Daze lets us see 1965 through the eyes of six young adults as they wade through the typical high school experience while in the midst of some serious social and political revolutions. Told in verse, these six teens share a glimpse of the issues of the time–riots, anti-Vietnam war sentiments, sex, drugs, feminism–and really help to paint a picture of the undertones that propelled the counterculture movement.

One thing you should know about me: At heart, I’m a Bob Dylan singing, peace sign throwing, groovy little hippie. So this book, along with its gorgeous cover, had me ready to start donning some flowers in my hair and burning all my bras….ok, I kid on that last one. But seriously..I find myself so drawn to the 60’s for some reason so this book was definitely something I wanted to check out because I haven’t really ever seen any YA books set in the 60’s.

The only novel in verse I’ve read is Crank by Ellen Hopkins. For whatever reason, that one was a lot easier for me to keep up with because it was a fluid storyline. I thought the free verse style was PERFECT for this book  because I think it really reflected the freedom of the era but at some points I just felt my mind wandering. That could have just been my own issue as a reader but reading a novel in verse really is quite a different experience. That being said, the author did a phenomenal job incorporating all of these different perspectives in the form of letters, journal entries, and thoughts with tidbits of history. I was so interested in learning a little bit more of some major events that happened in 1965 through speeches and news clippings, etc.

I found it interesting to see how these teens were interacting with some of the social and political issues of the time and seeing a snapshot of how the counterculture reform really started stirring in this time period. These teens were questioning the traditions of their parents and their political decisions especially when it came to the Vietnam war and the Civil Rights movement. You could really get the sense of just how real the consequences of some of their parents decisions were to these teens especially when there friends and boyfriends were going off to war.  There were some really really powerful lines in this book and I thought the author really captured what I would think it would be like to be a teen during this time period.

I think the one aspect of the book that was hard for me was that I didn’t feel connected to any of the characters aside from Cheryl and Phil. I felt like I got a sense of who they were and really cared to know what happened to them. I wanted to care about the others but I just didn’t. I was more interested in learning about the time period through most of the novel. I felt like it was really hard to feel something for the rest of the characters because there were so many different perspectives and the writing isn’t as dense because it IS in verse so it was difficult. I wanted to keep the story going and find out more about them..but I understand that the author was just providing a snapshot of that year and how it shaped the teens.

My Final Thought: While I thought that the writing and concept was really great and that the balance of story and history was done well, I really had a hard time feeling something for the characters and at times found myself wanting something more that I can’t quite figure out. If you really love history and are looking for something that delves into the Sixties in an accessible way for young adults–this is for you. It’s wholly unique and well-written but may be hard for readers who are looking for a whole lot of movement. I personally enjoyed being in the characters heads and jumping around 1965 in that way… so much that I think I would have enjoyed an even longer novel.

A few of my favorite songs to get you in the 60’s spirit:

Light My Fire — The Doors
Like A Rolling Stone — Bob Dylan
Paint It Black — The Rolling Stones
Turn! Turn! Turn! — The Byrds
White Rabbit — Jefferson Airplane
And obviously..Purple Haze — Jimi Hendrix Experience

And you can’t go wrong with some Beatles or Joan Baez.

Have you read any other good books set in the 60’s? (YA or adult)

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