Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Rating: 5 stars
Pub Date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Knopf Book for Young Readers
Genre: young adult science fiction
(if general mind-f*ckery were a genre, tho, it'd be that)
Format/Source: arc/publisher & hardcover/Amazon

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Mary Had a Little Book Blog gets a face lift

Notice anything different? Of course you do! Mary Had a Little Book Blog has been in existence for three years now, and for at least two, I've wanted to get a design change. The incredibly talented Hafsah of Icey Books & Icey Designs has always been my dream designer, and a couple months ago, Hafsah made my dreams come true with this design (which, btw, made me cry the first time I saw it).

Sooooooo I figured to celebrate my new look and Hafsah's brilliance, I'm going to do a little giveaway (we all know how much I love those)! This will be open to the US & Canada.

Prizes: 1 winner will receive a planner, journal, or print of your choosing (up to $25) from the Icey Designs shop + a Kindle copy of Hafsah's sci-fi ya novel Unbreathable (yep, she writes too!)2 winners will receive Kindle copies of Unbreathable.
Giveaway ends 12 am cst December 1.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: The Deal by Elle Kennedy

Rating: 4 stars 5 stars*
Pub Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: self-published
Genre: new adult sports romance (hockey)
Format/Source: ebook, purchased from Amazon
Status: book 1 of the Off-Campus series
(companion series so not direct sequels)

She’s about to make a deal with the college bad boy... 

Hannah Wells has finally found someone who turns her on. But while she might be confident in every other area of her life, she’s carting around a full set of baggage when it comes to sex and seduction. If she wants to get her crush’s attention, she’ll have to step out of her comfort zone and make him take notice... even if it means tutoring the annoying, childish, cocky captain of the hockey team in exchange for a pretend date. 

...and it’s going to be oh so good. 

All Garrett Graham has ever wanted is to play professional hockey after graduation, but his plummeting GPA is threatening everything he’s worked so hard for. If helping a sarcastic brunette make another guy jealous will help him secure his position on the team, he’s all for it. But when one unexpected kiss leads to the wildest sex of both their lives, it doesn't take long for Garrett to realize that pretend isn't going to cut it. Now he just has to convince Hannah that the man she wants looks a lot like him.

Cover Reveal: Inflict by Cora Carmack

Today I'm really excited to share some new covers for one of my favorite people, Cora Carmack. Last year Cora published her first paranormal new adult, Inspire, the story of immortal muse Kallipe. Inspire released with a gorgeous cover, which you can see here, but when Cora was working on the sequel, she decided she wanted to update the covers, and that's what I'm sharing today! These beautiful covers were designed by Regina Wamba of Mae I Design.

Inspire - cover

Muse Series #1

by Cora Carmack
December 15, 2014


Kalliope lives with one purpose.

To inspire.

As an immortal muse, she doesn’t have any other choice. It’s part of how she was made. Musicians, artists, actors—they use her to advance their art, and she uses them to survive. She moves from one artist to the next, never staying long enough to get attached. But all she wants is a different life— a normal one. She’s spent thousands of years living lie after lie, and now she’s ready for something real.

Sweet, sexy, and steady, Wilder Bell feels more real than anything else in her long existence. And most importantly… he’s not an artist. He doesn’t want her for her ability. But she can’t turn off the way she influences people, not even to save a man she might love. Because in small doses, she can help make something beautiful, but her ability has just as much capacity to destroy as it does to create. The longer she stays, the more obsessed Wilder will become. It’s happened before, and it never turns out well for the mortal.

Her presence may inspire genius.

But it breeds madness, too.

Book Links:
 photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg  photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg  photo 111AD205-AA04-4F9E-A0F4-C1264C4E9F30-1855-000001A1E8CEB6D7_zps9b730b94.jpg  photo B1426D4C-9EEC-4C0B-A1FB-90524B03C0CA-1855-000001A1E82B3B3E_zps17d98f4d.jpg

And now, the cover of Inflict!
(if you don't have Thoughts about Wilder,
I don't think we can be friends)

Muse Series #2

by Cora Carmack
January 2016


Wilder Bell made a dangerous bargain...

For a chance at love, he gave up his life.

History knew Kalliope as an ancient Greek muse, but to Wilder, she was simply the woman he wanted to fall asleep with every night and wake up next to every morning. He made a deal with Hades, but the only thing the Lord of the Underworld deals in is death. Now Wilder is wasting away in a cold and wretched afterlife, waiting for Kalli to come for him. She will come. He has to believe that. Because the alternative is worse than death.

Kalliope lived her entire existence knowing that she was both a blessing and a curse to anyone she encountered. Wilder was no different. She loved him, and she got him killed. Now to get him back, she’ll have to face a scheming god, a perilous task, and death itself. But before it’s done, the Underworld will take more from her than she ever thought possible.
To be made whole, all must first be lost.

Check out the full cover copies for both books!

About the Author
Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She's done a multitude of things in her life-- boring jobs (like working retail), fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. Her first book, Losing It, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.

Author Links:

Cover reveal organized by:

Review: The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

Rating: 5 stars
Pub Date: July 7, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co
Genre: young adult fantasy
Format/Source: ARC, publisher
Status: book 2 of the Remnant Chronicles trilogy

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia's erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar's interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.

Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: there's Rafe, who lied to Lia, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives amongst them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country... and her own destiny.

Review: First and Then by Emma Mills

Rating: 4 stars
Pub Date: October 13, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
Format/Source: arc, from the publisher
Status: standalone

Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.

Introducing.... the 2015 YA Choice Awards!

It's that time of year again when we all take time to reflect, and being the bookish nerds we are, we tend to reflect a lot on the books we've read. Publishers Weekly already has their list of best of 2015. I'm sure every other major media outlet will do the same shortly. Meanwhile, Goodreads, literally the best and worst of all things bookish, has started voting for the 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards.

So what's the problem? Oh, I don't know... maybe because 2015 isn't over and there are still books being published? Maybe because there's at least one contender that isn't even out yet AND didn't have arcs so anyone voting on it isn't voting based on their experience actually reading it? Maybe because there are only two young adult categories? And heck, maybe just because Goodreads didn't allow readers the ability to nominate their favorites!

This isn't the VMAs. It's not the Grammys, the Oscars, the Emmys. It takes more than four minutes to read a book. Readers need the time to thoughtfully read and consider each book in the grand scheme of everything they've read this year to truly pick a favorite. And if there's anything we know about ya readers, it's that we're a voracious lot. I've read over 100 books this year, and I know some who have read over 200 or even 300, and it's NOT EVEN DECEMBER. Picking a favorite often makes us feel like our hearts are shattering into tiny shards, but that doesn't mean we're on board with awards that leave out amazing titles while giving others an unfair advantage.

So this year I decided to do something. I'll be hosting the 2015 YA Choice Awards, which will celebrate ALL young adult books published in 2015. I'm still working out most of the rules and logistics (AAAAGGGGHHHH), but for now, I need your help!

I would really like the focus of these awards to be on the BOOKS, not characters, friendships, romances, and especially not authors (Epic Reads does a really lovely annual award that includes all those things). The first thing I'd like to do is determine the number of genres/voting categories so that we (I) have a jumping off point. I have compiled a list so please select those you would like to be included, but if you have any suggestions, I am open to those and have space for that as well as any other comments you may have.

When I announced this endeavor, many of you have voiced your excitement and support, which is AMAZING, and I am so grateful to you. Thank you also to everyone who has offered to help. There are actually two things you can do: 1. SPREAD THE WORD! I really want this to be an award that ALL YA readers will want to take part of. Age doesn't matter. If you blog or vlog or whatever doesn't matter. YA readers are welcome here! It's the People's Choice of YA books! Feel free to use #YAChoiceAwards to help tell your friends. 2. If anyone would like to contribute some awesome graphics, please let me know by email (it's above, in Contact Me) or on Twitter.

Aaaand, that's it for now! It's still just November so more complete details about nominations and actual voting will come later.

Mary's Minute: Book Recommendation Bribery

Yep. It's November, which means I haven't posted on here in 3 1/2 months, and.... I'm okay with this. I might post more about why I've taken such an extended (and unannounced) break later, but that's not the important part. The important part is I miss blogging, I have for a while, and then something miraculous happened this week: I wanted to blog. Not just that I missed blogging, but I wanted to and I had ideas. That's important. So let's skip to what I want to talk about today:
Book Recommendation Bribery
Fans are funny people. We want people to like the things we like, and we often get offended if someone doesn't like what we like (ie the great battle of the 90s: Backstreet Boys vs NSYNC or the great battle of Which Member in 1D is Actually the Best [although this, too, started earlier, but probably with New Kids instead of BSB/NSYNC]). But HOLD ON TO YOUR HORSE if someone reads/watches/listens to/otherwise experiences what we like and then *gasp* tries to like it MORE than us, the original fan (ie BSB fans suddenly liking NSYNC and vice versa). SAY. IT. AIN'T. SO. Like, bitch, I KNOW you aren't trying to get all up on Nick and Brian when *I* liked them first (yes, I was an original BSB-er, and yes, I did eventually split my loyalties between boy bands, and yes, I do still love them both)!
And the same thing happens with books too. For instance, I AM an original HP fan (I actually did read it in the 90s). I also liked Suzanne Collins long before The Hunger Games was A Thing. I am not, however, an original Twilight fan. I jumped on that wagon halfway between Eclipse's release and Breaking Dawn's. Everybody has that fandom (or five...) that they "discovered" and try to pass on to everyone, and that's cool.

I managed to get Harry Potter to exactly two people–my sixth grade best friend and my sister– before it exploded past the point of recommendation, and that's good enough for me. But both of those people more or less willingly chose to read HP merely because I loved it and gave them a brief description of the books and why I thought they'd like them. SOME of my friends, however, are not so accommodating, and those friends require, erm, extra incentive to pick something up.

In 2015, I issued a reading challenge to two friends to pick up one of my all-time favorite ya series: Richelle Mead's bestselling Vampire Academy series.
Challenge #1
My first challenge was issued to my bestie Maura of The Whimsical Mama, who is actually one of the friends who got me into Twilight. Maura and I have very similar taste in ya books (as long as they aren't contemporary) so I knew if I could get her hooked, she'd love them. I already got her hooked on both Jodi Meadows AND Amy Plum, but for some reason Maura was stalling big time with VA. So in January, I issued this public declaration.

Maura is a huge Melissa de la Cruz fan, and I figured I could read one of her faves in return for her reading one of mine. Status of our challenge: Maura read Vampire Academy in May, which means I have two months to make good on my end of the bargain.

Challenge #2
And then the other day I was reminiscing with my friend Holly of The Fox's Hideaway about the start of our friendship (she won a giveaway on my blog, actually) and this beautiful trainwreck of a conversation happened:

This is when I brought in my secret weapon: Crystal of Bookiemoji, fellow Adrian lover and bad cop to my good cop (unseen tweets in this part of the conversation were hilarious, but probably just for the three of us so I did not include them). Seriously: she grounded Holly and everything. But anyway, to stay on track, Holly then said she was a rebel and the cool kids didn't need to read blah blah blah it was ridiculous.

TL/DR: Holly also hasn't read Vampire Academy so I told her I'd write a fanfic about some of our favorite YA guys if she'd give it a shot. Also, do NOT tell Crystal that you haven't read VA or she will CUT you.

So my question for you guys is, have you ever bribed someone into reading a book? If so, what was it and what did you offer as a bribe? What would you accept as a bribe in return? I'm curious!