Blog Tour: Ferocious by Paula Stokes

Rating:  stars
Release Date: August 15, 2017
Publisher: Tor Teen
Genre: young adult thriller
Format/Source: finished copy, from the publisher
Status: Book 2 of the Vicarious series
Links: Girl Against the Universe review

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour, which was organized & hosted by Jean Book Nerd book tours. The full tour schedule can be found HERE. Please go give my fellow tour hosts some love!

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour. This does not affect the content of my review.

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Paula Stokes returns to the world of Vicarious in this sequel, a high-action psychological thriller with a protagonist out for vengeance.

When Winter Kim finds out that her sister is dead and that she has a brother she never knew about, only two things matter―finding what’s left of her family and killing the man who destroyed her life. Her mission leads her from St. Louis to Los Angeles back to South Korea, where she grew up.

Things get increasingly dangerous once Winter arrives in Seoul. Aided by her friends Jesse and Sebastian, Winter attempts to infiltrate an international corporation to get close to her target, a nefarious businessman named Kyung. But keeping her last remaining loved ones out of the line of fire proves difficult, and when all seems to be lost, Winter must face one last devastating decision: is revenge worth sacrificing everything for? Or can she find a spark of hope in the darkness that threatens to engulf her?

Merchandise Review: Reel Bookish subscription box

Today I'm reviewing Reel Bookish, a brand new subscription box that pairs goodies from classic AND current films with a newly released YA book. Keep reading to see my unboxing, discover the theme for September, AND receive a code to save on your first box!

Shop: Reel Bookish
Owner: Montana of The Book Belles
Goods: book subscription box

Shop Links:

Overall rating: 4.5 stars

Disclaimer: Reel Bookish provided me with a complimentary box for review. This does not affect the content of my review.

This is the first subscription box I've reviewed, and as I worked on this post, I realize that since boxes are released differently than a regular merch shop, I'll have to tweak the format of my post a bit. Normally I rate shops based on the shop (products offered), product quality, and customer service with an overall rating based on a combination of those three. But subscription boxes... don't have some of those things. So I'll be primarily concentrating on the products that were included in the box.

Reel Bookish is a bi-monthly subscription box so after the initial July box, the next will ship in September. Like the bookish candle market, the YA subscription box market is pretty saturated right now so I think it's smart for Reel Bookish to go bi-monthly. It's definitely a good way to entice readers who want to try a box, but aren't willing to commit to a monthly plan. The price is $29.99, which is on par with other subscription boxes, and it's a pretty good deal considering the July box contained a newly released hardcover and 7 other items. You can purchase a one-time box on the Reel Bookish site or head over to subscription box headquarters at Cratejoy to start up a subscription that will renew automatically. I really appreciate this aspect because I've tried a few different subscription boxes now, and while every box offers the option to cancel, you know how life is. Sometimes you forget these things. Having the ability to start with a one-time box is smart and considerate to your curious but not-quite-ready-to-commit customers.

There's No Business Like Show Business

The theme for the July box is There's No Business Like Show Business, and I like it! This classic Hollywood slogan clearly conveys the box's message, and the message is movies! In this case, the box had three inspirations for the items included: classic Marilyn Monroe film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the modern award-winning La La Land, and Leila Howland's newest novel Hello, Sunshine. The box came with two guide cards, one that explained the items included in the box and an art card with each title and cover/poster/still on one side and the summary of each title + one fun fact + recommendations on the other. The first card is another standard for a bookish box because it explains the items and credits the shops whose items were included, but I LOVE the second card. I just saw La La Land a couple weeks ago (that opening number tho!), but I've never seen Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and the summary and trivia intrigued me. The info card listed that each title inspired 2-3 items in the box so here's the breakdown:

La La Land
Bookish design queen Evie Seo designed an exclusive print based on the iconic "A Lovely Night" dance from La La Land. It's stunning, of course, and this print will definitely be popping up on my instagram feed in other posts.

My fave Novelly Yours also created an exclusive candle for the box: City of Stars, a dreamy candle about which I am torn. Do I burn this amazing beachy candle and enjoy it or do I keep it forever because IT HAS WAX DRIPPED ALL OVER THE TOP TO SIMULATE STARS? So you see my dilemma. Brittany told me some of the drips are random (mine), but some have constellations dripped into them (!!!!!) like the Little Dipper (!!!!!) and Cassiopeia (!!!!!). Brittany, you tricksy mix, you've done it again & created a masterpiece. The scent is similar to her Scorpio Sea and World-Building candles, but it's actually wholly unique from any other candle I own (which you all know is a LOT).

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Okay. Some of the words you have read a couple times in this post already are "similar to other bookish boxes" because honestly, so many boxes are very similar. There are a few with a focus on fantasy/sci-fi. There are a few bi-monthly or quarterly. Everyone does candles. Everyone does prints. Everyone has done socks or tea or bookmarks or magnetic bookmarks. Many have done mugs and jewelry and pillowcases and totes. Reel Bookish stands out to me because of the theme, but this next item has me with a major case of heart eyes: THERE IS AN ACTUAL TIARA IN THIS BOX. That's right. T I A R A. To see my reaction, please watch this 50 second video:

I've never seen a box with a TIARA before, but I was super stoked to get it! I have actually been looking for a nice tiara, and I've finally found one!

side note: I might get to meet Mayim Bialik in October & I'm so excited!

There's also gorgeous shimmery pearl gumballs in an adorable little bottle for a movie snack. The gumballs taste like Double Bubble (so I have a HUGE craving for it right now) and the flavor lasts about 20 seconds, but they're beautiful, and if you're into bookish photography, these would look amazing in any sort of ocean themed as bubbles. I'm going to give creative points on this one because I also haven't seen gum in a box yet, and they really are super pretty.

Hello Sunshine
I adore Leila Howland's Nantucket duology (Nantucket Blue, Nantucket Red) so I'm pretty excited to have her third YA novel in my hands! Leila's books embrace and embody the very essence of summer, and while they're fun, fluffy reads, they also contain a great deal of emotion and fantastic character development that most people don't associate with a typical beach read. The bookstagrammer in me is also VERY happy to have another yellow naked hardcover in my collection.

Finishing out the box are a cute LA postcard, surfboard magnet, and starfish shell, all of which I adore. They fit the theme perfectly, and they're adorable!

Conclusion + coupon code!
I'm really happy with this box, and I'm definitely considering snagging a subscription, especially because the September box is a choose-your-own. The TWO themes are A Shimmer of Magic (!!!) and The Life and Times of Diana Prince (!!!). MAGIC and WONDER WOMAN, Y'ALL. If Reel Bookish sounds like a box for you, I definitely recommend you give it a shot. Also, you can use code MARY from now until August 7 for 25% off!

Merchandise Review: Flickering Tales candles

We are back for another merchandise review, and today, I'm sharing another favorite: Flickering Tales! Disclaimer: I have been repping for this shop since May which means I have received some items in exchange for promotion, but I was also a customer of the shop for months before I was chosen to be a rep. I am genuinely a fan of Rachael's products, and this is an honest review of my experience both as a customer and a rep.

Owner: Rachael of Redrchl.reads
Goods: bookish candles

Shop Links:
Shop Links:
Overall rating: 5 stars
Shop rating: 5 stars
Product rating: 5 stars
Customer service rating: 5 stars

Shop rating

Flickering Tales is a newer candle shop, open since March, but I've been a fan since before day one. Jess of Stuck in Books & jessbooklover RAVED about these candles so I put in a preorder and picked up just about every candle in the shop at the time (which was 10). Flickering Tales has expanded since then, and I like that there's a really good variety of scents and sizes plus prices are really reasonable. Each regularly listed candle is available in a 4 oz or 8 oz (included in the same listing so you're not searching for a different size. I LOVE when shops list products this way), but if you're into 2 oz samplers like me, there's a pick four option that includes most of the candles (exception: candles available in specific sets). As Flickering Tales is exclusively available on Etsy, there isn't a rewards program, BUT Rachael runs sales all the time, usually around holidays and has rep codes to boot (code KNOXDIVER10 is good until the end of July!).

One of the best things about Flickering Tales is that Rachael believes in variety! Yes, there are  the requisite ACOTAR candles (you can buy the four seasonal courts as a set!) and one lone HP option, but there's also Daughter of the Pirate King (also available individually or as a set!), a limited edition Game of Thrones set, Mr. Darcy, and a whole heap of brand new scents for several different fandoms! Sadly, there are three scents that have been discontinued and are available only until stock runs out so if you're a fan of Belle, the Queen of Hearts, or Pemberley (this is one of my FAVES!!), you need to grab these now!

Also available is a monthly mystery candle. So far, Rachael's done Nikolai for our favorite Bardugo-born pirate prince, Parisian Kisses in honor of Anna & the French Kiss, Dragna for a certain Caravalian villan, and July's mystery candle is "a mouthwatering mix [that] is the perfect blend for burning alongside your summer reads." Finally, Rachael also has created a collection of genre candles, which I LOVE. They're available individually, as part of a Lover set (classic, contemporary, new adult, romance), Fighter set (adventure, fantasy, sci-fi, suspense), or Lover & Fighter bundle for all eight that comes with a bonus Fairy Tale candle! I love how unique these are and they're very versatile for bookstagrammers because you can use these in pictures with so many different books, not just a specific book or series.

I'm on the rep team so one thing we do in our group chat (other than be silly and ridiculous and generally fangirlish) is workshop candle ideas! Rachael is really receptive to suggestions, which is fantastic because she makes me feel like I'm part of a team, not just a bought and paid-for advertiser. But she is the one who's making the candles, and no matter what our group suggests, Rachael's the one who works to make those ideas come to life and then she always goes the extra mile on top of that.

Product rating

I *love* my Flickering Tales candles! Points to the shop because there are labels on the lids for the shop and labels on the side with each candle's name and scent combination, which I like because I always want to know the individual scents (I never would have known I loved amber scents if it weren't for Flickering Tales candles!). The labels are minimalist but tailored to each candle (November Cakes is Orange, Rhysand is navy, Breakfast at the Burrow is a chocolate brown, I am Groot is dark green, etc) so they look beautiful in pictures.

Also, these candles have really great throw, lit AND unlit. Every time I get a package from Rachael, I can smell the candles before I even open the box! I LOVE a candle with a strong throw. Most of the candles are undyed white wax, with the exception of the mystery candles, which come in beautiful glass jars with custom special labels. My special Unicorn Farts candle is made out of this amazing glitter wax so the candle shimmers while it's lit.

Customer service rating

As a customer from before the shop launched, I can objectively say Rachael's customer service is top-notch! After I put in one preorder, I decided to add a second, and Rachael double checked to make sure the shipping didn't also double in price AND ALSO sent me samples for candles I didn't order. She's incredibly responsive to messages on Etsy and answers in a timely and professional manner. I think sometimes people get caught up in the fan part of these bookish businesses and forget that they are, in fact, a business. Rachel is fun and kind and funny and fangirly so she's not all business, but she's super professional when it comes to orders.

Speaking of orders, they always ship out super quickly. The only time you'll be waiting on your candles is if you order your mystery candle early in the month because they always ship out about 3 weeks into the month. Once shipped, your order should arrive quickly, and it's always packaged up so your candles are safe. That is not an overrated detail since mail people usually get rough with your stuff.


Here are my favorite candles from Flickering Tales!

Rhysand: Okay, this smells like cologne and sexy man. One of my fellow reps gave SJM this candle while she was touring for ACOWAR, and Sarah said it smelled just like she imagined Rhys would. *swoon* If you want to shove this candle into a body pillow with Rhys's face drawn on it, I'm not going to judge. *shoves Rhys doll out of sight*

Pemberley: Disclaimer: This candle does not come with your own Pemberley. Or Mr. Darcy. You should know that in advance. But it DOES smell like your own English manor with sweeping gardens. If you close your eyes, though, I'd swear you'd be able to hear Darcy striding across the fields and Georgiana Darcy playing piano.

Unicorn Farts: This candle is not currently available, but it smells like strawberries and champagne and magic. I seriously like to just shove my nose in this bad boy and sniff. (see below)

Fairy Tale: This smells like fruit and fairies and magic and wonder.

Suspense: Okay, I'm not a huge fan of the suspense genre, but this candle is AWESOME. It smells like fog and mystery, as if the game, dear Watson.... IS AFOOT!

In conclusion...

I love this shop a whole lot and definitely recommend you check it out if you're into bookish candles. At least until July 31st, you can use KNOXDIVER10 to save while you're shopping. :)

Review: Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser

Rating: 5 stars
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: young adult fantasy
Format/Source: ARC, from the publisher
Status: Book 1 of the Song of the Current series

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Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. For generations, her family has been called by the river god, who has guided their wherries on countless voyages throughout the Riverlands. At seventeen, Caro has spent years listening to the water, ready to meet her fate. But the river god hasn’t spoken her name yet—and if he hasn’t by now, there’s a chance he never will.

Caro decides to take her future into her own hands when her father is arrested for refusing to transport a mysterious crate. By agreeing to deliver it in exchange for his release, Caro finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies, with dangerous pirates after the cargo—an arrogant courier with a secret—and without the river god to help her. With so much at stake, Caro must choose between the life she always wanted and the one she never could have imagined for herself.

From debut author Sarah Tolcser comes an immersive and romantic fantasy set along the waterways of a magical world with a headstrong heroine determined to make her mark.

Review: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

Rating: 4.5 stars
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: young adult realistic fiction,
contemporary romance
Format/Source: arc, from the publisher

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When it all falls apart, who can you believe in?

Everything is going right for Lucy Hansson, until her mom’s cancer reappears. Just like that, Lucy breaks with all the constants in her life: her do-good boyfriend, her steady faith, even her longtime summer church camp job.

Instead, Lucy lands at a camp for kids who have been through tough times. As a counselor, Lucy is in over her head and longs to be with her parents across the lake. But that’s before she gets to know her coworkers, who are as loving and unafraid as she so desperately wants to be.

It’s not just new friends that Lucy discovers at camp—more than one old secret is revealed along the way. In fact, maybe there’s much more to her family and her faith than Lucy ever realized.

Boldly Bookish Tour: All the snark in Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser - Guest post + giveaway

Rating: 5 stars
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: young adult fantasy
Format/Source: ARC, from the publisher
Status: Book 1 of the Song of the Current series
Links: check out my review of Song of the Current here

Summary: Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. For generations, her family has been called by the river god, who has guided their wherries on countless voyages throughout the Riverlands. At seventeen, Caro has spent years listening to the water, ready to meet her fate. But the river god hasn’t spoken her name yet—and if he hasn’t by now, there’s a chance he never will.

Caro decides to take her future into her own hands when her father is arrested for refusing to transport a mysterious crate. By agreeing to deliver it in exchange for his release, Caro finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies, with dangerous pirates after the cargo—an arrogant courier with a secret—and without the river god to help her. With so much at stake, Caro must choose between the life she always wanted and the one she never could have imagined for herself.

From debut author Sarah Tolcser comes an immersive and romantic fantasy set along the waterways of a magical world with a headstrong heroine determined to make her mark.

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Merchandise Review: Wick and Fable candles

As you guys may know, I am somewhat of a candle connoisseur; that is, I have a massive bookish candle collection (like, it would be embarrassing for me to post how big it is). All my friends ask me for bookish candle recommendations, and just like when I was always asked for book recommendations, I decided to start doing merchandise reviews for bookworms. You can check out my review of Novelly Yours here, and today, I'm going to talk about Wick and Fable, another bookish candle shop that has a few more goodies in its inventory as well!

Owner: Jess
Goods: bookish candles, tea blends, spa items

Shop Links:

Overall rating: 4.5 stars
Shop rating: 4 stars
Product rating: 5 stars
Customer service rating: 4 stars

Disclaimer: I have only purchased candles from Wick and Fable. I am not a rep, I have not been gifted any of their candles, and this post is NOT sponsored.

Shop rating

Wick and Fable offers a variety of bookish candles, literary teas, and will soon release a line of bath & beauty products. I believe each of the candles are offered as a wax tart, 4 oz candle, or 8 oz candle. One thing I REALLY like is that each of these size items is offered in the same listing so if you change your mind and want a larger or smaller size, you don't have to search for a separate listing. I also love the bundles available. My first two W&F candles were courtesy of this bogo 8 oz/2 oz bundle, and I've also taken advantage of their pick 4 sampler, or there's this pick 2 sampler. Additionally, Wick and Fable offers a monthly fandom box with a handful of candles plus some great swag. And, like many stores that run on shopify, Wick and Fable has a rewards program where you can earn points for purchasing items, leaving reviews, recommending the shop to friends, following on social media, etc.

Wick and Fable has a pretty large inventory of items, but the list of fandoms represented is fairly small and rather typical of a candle shop. That is to say, there's TOG/ACOTAR, Six of Crows, HP/Fantastic Beasts, Wintersong, Caraval, Outlander, Sherlock, Gilmore Girls, Strange the Dreamer, Flame in the Mist, etc. However, the amount of candles for most of the fandoms is pretty extensive so if those fandoms are yours (particularly SJM), you'll probably still be pretty happy with the offerings. I do like that there's an option to shop by fandom OR by scent so if you're searching for something in particular, it's fairly easy to find.
Product rating

So, the first time I ever ordered from Wick and Fable, I got my candles, and I was... underwhelmed. When I smelled the two candles I got (Starfall and Giggle Water), I was not very impressed with the scents at ALL. However, with both, I fell in love after burning. I don't like to rate my candles against each other for the most part, but Starfall is now probably one of my favorites from any shop. That's why it's really important for me to actually USE my candles rather than just take pictures with them as props. 

Now, I quite like the scents that Wick and Fable uses. They're perhaps a little perfumier than most people are accustomed to, but it works for me. Plus, the candles burn well and have an absolute MARVELOUS throw. These will definitely fill up a room, even with a fan going. Also, they solidify nicely so there aren't bubbles that make the surface uneven after you burn them. They still look pretty.

Also, Wick and Fable's labels are GORGEOUS, which is a definite plus, but something that frustrates me is that they either have the scents OR a quote from the book/character. I would prefer scents over the quote, but if they could find a way to do both, I'd be thrilled. I just like to know exactly what I'm smelling without having to pull up the website to check.

ACOMAF fans are all about chapter 55 (and sometimes 49), but my favorite scene is Starfall. It's sweet and a little bit silly, and it's an emotionally pivotal moment for Feyre & Rhys. What's your favorite scene in ACOMAF? 🌠 This Starfall candle from @wickandfable is delicious! It smells sweet, like flowers and wine and burgeoning love, and I adore it! It's perfect paired with my favorite print from @taratjah, whose ACOMAF fanart is my favoirte! 🌠 Check out the link in my profile! I just reviewed Amy Tintera's Avenged, and I'm giving away a signed arc this week! 🌠 #acomaf #starfall #instabook #bookstagram #wickandfable #yalit #booksandflowers #bookshimmy #igreads #booklover #bibliophile #ireadya #booknerd #bookporn #signedbook #bookandcandle #Bloomsbury #SarahJMaas #acourtofmistandfury
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Customer service rating

One thing that is frustrating about Wick and Fable is that the shipping is a little slower than I'd like. Expect to wait a couple weeks before your candles come; if you preorder a box, it will probably ship toward the end of the month so that will be a while longer. However, I know Jess is now using a different system (I think she's going by inventory instead of made-to-order...?), and shipping is now a bit quicker.

I've had a couple interactions with Jess, both via Etsy conversation and the contact form on the new site, and she was very responsive. I also appreciate that she occasionally sends out site updates through her newsletter. I think a lot of shops rely on Instagram stories for updates, which is frustrating because what if customers aren't on instagram? What if you miss it? What if you don't have a connection? That's lazy and limiting. I'm not saying Jess never uses stories, but I do like that she actually uses the newsletter function. 

And here are my favorite Wick and Fable candles. If you like candles, these are the ones I most highly recommend.

Starfall | RhysandInejNight CourtEver After (This candle has actually been discontinued, but Nina or Giggle Water are fairly comparable alternatives with similar strawberry and champagne scents)

Blog Tour: Refuge for Masterminds by Kathleen Baldwin

Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: May 23, 2017
Publisher: Tor Teen
Genre: young adult historical romance
Format/Source: ARC, from the publisher
Status: Book 3 of the Stranje House series

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour, which was organized & hosted by Jean Book Nerd Blog Tours. This does not affect the content of my review. The full tour schedule can be found HERE. Please go give my fellow tour hosts some love!

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It’s 1814. Napoleon has escaped his imprisonment on Elba. Britain is at war on four fronts. And at Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, five young ladies are secretly being trained for a world of spies, diplomacy, and war….

Napoleon’s invasion of England is underway and someone at Stranje House is sneaking information to his spies. Lady Jane Moore is determined to find out who it is. If anyone can discover the traitor, it is Jane―for, according to headmistress Emma Stranje, Lady Jane is a mastermind.

Jane doesn’t consider herself a mastermind. It’s just that she tends to grasp the facts of a situation quickly, and by so doing, she’s able to devise and implement a sensible course of action. Is Jane enough of a mastermind to save the brash young American inventor Alexander Sinclair, her friends at Stranje House, and possibly England itself?

Fans of genre-blending, romance, and action will love this Regency-era alternate history novel filled with spunky heroines, handsome young lords, and dastardly villains―the third in the Stranje House series. Don’t miss the first two books: A School for Unusual Girls and Exile for Dreamers.

Mary's Minute: My Inner Circle

The other day, I received an email with a promising subject line: CREATE AN INNER CIRCLE. For those of you who don't know, I'm kind of in love with Sarah J. Maas's A Court of Mist and Fury (I like books 1 & 3 too, but ACOMAF is by far my favorite), and one of the reasons I love it so much is because of the close-knit group of friends the main character Feyre makes. For a second, I though it was a promo email from Bloomsbury, and I was super excited! Unfortunately, the email was some super preachy spam email with lots of Bible references so... not at all what I expected. 

However, the idea of building my own Inner Circle is an intriguing one so I have decided to go ahead and make my own Inner Circle so thanks for the idea, Myra Perry, whoever you are! As a matter of fact, I like this idea SO MUCH that I'm going to create TWO Inner Circles: a list of fictional characters who I would want in my theoretical Inner Circle and a list of IRL actual humans who already are because if there's anything I like, it's talking up books I love and bragging about my friends!

Fictional Character Inner Circle
Before you check out my picks, I just want to say that I ADORE Feyre, Rhys, Mor, Cassian, Azriel, and Amren, the six in the ACOTAR Inner Circle, and obviously I want them all. However, as I tried my hardest to pick individuals and not entire groups and the actual Inner Circle is at its best when they're all together, I gave myself the rule that I couldn't use any of them. Same with other large groups of characters. Otherwise I'd just end up with an Inner Circle that would be entirely comprised of entire casts like TLC + the Dregs + the Inner Circle + all the Starbound & Illuminae groups + the Cullens + everyone from Vampire Academy and Bloodlines etc.

Nina Zenik. I want the heartrender from Six of Crows on my list for several reasons: 1. she's a HEARTRENDER, hello! 2. She's got a great sense of humor. 3. Waffles. 4. She comes with friends who will totally end up part of my Inner Circle (welcome, Inej & Matthias!). 5. I love her!

Also part of my fictional Inner Circle is Levi from Fangirl. I adore this actual Good Guy. He's sweet, he's adorable, he's kind, he's chivalrous without being patronizing, and he makes me laugh.

Tarver Merendsen is a broody soldier, but he's in my Inner Circle because he would be the one keeping all of us alive! He's great at his job, but he has the heart of a poet. Plus, as much as I love him, like Nina, he'd also come with friends: notably, his debutant-computer-programmer girlfriend Lilac. And Lilac and I would totally be shopping buddies. I mean, girl's got style for days!

Absolutely invited to the party is Susannah Simon, commonly known as Suze, from the Mediator series. Suze is a tough chick. She's not afraid to kick some serious ghost butt on a regular basis OR the occasional human butt when living flesh-and-blood people get in her way. Also, she would absolutely go shopping with me and Lilac.

Actual Real Life Inner Circle
First of all, my fantasy football league Game of Throws ladies: Lindsay (aka Bookie Crumbles aka cookie goddess aka our commish), Wendy (of Book Scents), Ellice (of Paper Riot), Jess (of Gone with the Word), Andi (of Andi's ABCs), Tonya (of Lily Bloom Books), Lauren (of Bookmark Lit), Morgan (of The Bookish Beagle), and Danielle (formerly of Love At First Page aka the triangle hater). These ladies are My People. We came together because of a mutual love of books and football, and we stay together because we're way too freaking weird to unleash our full selves on the general populace (I'm.... only partially kidding). We laugh, we cry, we tell weird jokes and gossip and rant about fandoms and Marvel and hot guys and books and food and diets and exercise and family and friends and jobs and being moms being wives being single basically every single thing. The group DMs (because of COURSe we have multiple group DMs for each of our fandoms in addition to the main chat :D) smart, talented, loving, kind, hilarious, ridiculous, amazing women has become my one-stop-sanity-shop when I need a pick-me-up or just to talk, and I am absurdly lucky to have each and every one of them in my life.

Then there's Jessica of Stuck In Books, who is my most-frequent IRL Inner Circle member. Jess and I live about 3.5 hours apart, but we see each other as much as possible, which is fairly often considering all the book events in Texas. Jess and I are those friends who can start a conversation in one place (like Twitter) and seamlessly transition that conversation to Instagram, Twitter DMs, text, Instagram stories, and Instagram DMs and then switch back-and-forth indefinitely but also manage to keep track of rants and stories that require being shared in-person because there's no other way to appreciate it. We're kind of brain twins, but that doesn't mean we always think exactly alike or share the same opinion. Jess is the kind of friend who always tells me the truth, even the difficult ones, and always thoughtfully responds to my comments. She's the Inej to my Nina, and I love her, and I'm  already counting down the 27 19 days until I get to see her next! (I wrote this post last week & needed to edit :D)

Lastly, there's Katie from the Polished Page Turners. Have you ever met someone and just thought, "Yeah, this is my person" because they get you and you get them & you just... click? That's Katie. She's fantastic, and I love her to pieces. I'm so glad that a mutual love of soccer, sports romance books, and Rob Conrad from As Long As You Love Me brought us together! I wish desperately that we lived closer to one another because she's SO much fun to hang out with in person. We've had some amazing adventures together, despite the fact that my family once though that Katie was a serial killer I'd met on the internet (lolz), and I can't wait until the next one, whatever city it may be in. Here's to good food, taking absurd selfies, and smacking down badly behaving jerks at RT, Katue! ;)

So my question for you is: who would be in your Inner Circle? Feel free to share some of your favorite fictional characters or give a shout out to IRL awesome people. :)

Giveaway: Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

Welcome to the Girl Against the Universe seven days/seven giveaways paperback tour! I ADORE Girl Against the Universe (check out my review here), and I'm so happy to help Paula spread the word for the paperback release. Keep scrolling to learn how to enter and for the schedule for the other SIX giveaways that are happening this week!

Rating: 5 stars
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
Status: standalone
Links: Girl Against the Universe review

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Maguire knows the universe is against her. No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when she's around. Like that time the roller coaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or the time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash--and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch. 

Despite what her therapist tells her, Maguire thinks it's best to hide out in her room, far away from anyone she might accidentally hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star who wants to help her break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for him is to stay away, but it turns out staying away might be harder than she thought.

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Paula: Hi everyone! Girl Against the Universe releases in paperback on June 6, 2017 and I’m so excited about that I decided to do an entire blog tour of giveaways to celebrate! In the story, main character Maguire creates her own list of seven challenges to help her overcome her fears. This week I have seven challenges for you, and seven chances to win a shiny GATU paperback :D These contests are international, but due to shipping costs US winners will receive signed copies sent by me and INT winners will receive their books from Wordery or The Book Depository, with signed bookplates mailed separately.

All contests will end on May 31, 2017. All winners will be contacted via Instagram, Twitter, or email as well as posted on my blog in early June. If you’re going to enter a Twitter or Instagram challenge, be sure your account is set to public during the contest period so I will be able to see your entries.

Challenge #3:

Ready to get your poetry on??

It’s haiku time! haiku are three-line Japanese poems with a syllable pattern of 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables. If you want to win, you’ve gotta get the pattern right—it’s harder than it looks! Not sure if you’re aware, but Mary is one of the internet’s most talented YA book-related haiku writers ;)

(Mary: this is true. Paula and I became acquainted through a Twitter party for The Art of Lainey in which I killed the competition with my rad and more-than-slightly inappropriate haiku skills.)

You can write your haiku about any of the following things, all of which play somewhat important roles in Girl Against the Universe: good luck, bad luck, tennis, dolphins, roller coasters, California burritos. Or if you’ve already GATU, you can write your haiku about anything you want related to the book.

For this contest, you’ll need to fill out the Rafflecopter for bookkeeping purposes. One entry if you post your haiku in the comments, two more entries if you post your haiku on Twitter in plain text, and an additional five entries if you post your haiku as a graphic on Twitter. Your post must include these tags so I can find it: @pstokesbooks, #GATUpaperback, #haiku.

Here’s an example I made using a free image from Canva, but I’m not nearly as skilled as Mary!

I made a #haiku about luck for @pstokesbooks #GATUpaperback blog tour contest!

If you make a visual haiku, you can claim both the 2 entries for tweeting your haiku and the 5 entries for tweeting an image without tweeting twice. Happy haiku-ing! You can enter one poem before May 31, 2017. Questions? Put them in the comments :)

Tour Schedule:

About the Author:
Paula Stokes is half writer, half RN, and totally thrilled to be part of the world of YA literature. She started out writing historical fiction under a pen name and is now branching out into other YA genres.

When she's not working (rare), she's kayaking, hiking, reading, or seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. She's petted tigers, snuggled snakes, snorkeled with stingrays, and once enjoyed the suction-cuppy feel of a baby elephant's trunk as it ate peanuts from her palm. Her future goals include diving with Great White sharks, learning Krav Maga, and writing a whole slew of novels, not necessarily in that order.

Author Links:

One winner will receive either a signed paperback of Girl Against the Universe (US) or a paperback copy of Girl Against the Universe with a signed bookplate mailed separately (INT).

Mary Had a Little Book Blog is not responsible for lost prizes. Chances of winning are determined by number of entries. Good luck!