Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

Rating: 4.5 stars
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: young adult science fiction
Format/Source: ARC, from the publisher
Status: book 1 of the Warcross duology

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For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

Blog Tour: Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows: Guest post + giveaway

I am so excited to bring you today's stop on the Before She Ignites tour! BSI is the newest fantasy from Jodi Meadows, and it's out TOMORROW! *celebrates* Jodi joins me on the blog today for a special guest post. Be sure to check out ALL the stops on the BSI blog tour for more guest posts from Jodi, interviews, reviews, and excerpts PLUS the awesome giveaway!

Release Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: young adult fantasy
Format/Source: ARC, from the publisher

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Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.

But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.

Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.

No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.

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.