The Backlog #3: Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers


Title: Assassin's Heart
Author: Sarah Ahiers
Series: Assassin's Heart #1
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 2nd, 2016
Goodreads Page

In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.

Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.

Waiting on Wednesday: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor


Title: Strange the Dreamer 
Author: Laini Taylor 
Series: Strange the Dreamer #1 
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 28th 2017 

Strange the Dreamer is the story of:

the aftermath of a war between gods and men
a mysterious city stripped of its name
a mythic hero with blood on his hands
a young librarian with a singular dream
a girl every bit as perilous as she is imperiled
alchemy and blood candy, nightmares and godspawn, moths and monsters, friendship and treachery, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.

I am so excited for this novel. Laini Taylor has such magical, beautiful writing and I absolutely adored her series, the Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It was such a pleasure to read and she created this fantasy epic. And this synopsis is just so gorgeous. I can't wait to read this novel and see what kind of a fantasy that Laini has painted this time.

Happy Reading! 
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#RiGoesOutside: HCCFrenzy Presents!

Hello everyone!

I was lucky enough to be invited to the HCCFrenzy event this year! It's the blogger Harper Collins YA event in order to learn about all the coming novels this fall and winter.

Travelling down to the city was a little bit of a hassle, involving a car and the subway. I had it lucky though, since there were road closures and subway closures. So I made it to the office early and of course I had to go get myself a Starbucks. I chugged that down and definitely got the caffeine jitters.

Their office is so nice! They have all these books displayed out front showing off the novels they publish. It was super hot in the elevator area though omg.

Anyways, you can just barely see it in the bottom right corner of the photo, a copy of THIS SAVAGE SONG. Love that novel and I can't wait for the next book to come out!

When the doors were let open for the mob of bloggers, we all walked in, walking past these gorgeous books and into a beautifully decorated meeting area where they put out some RED QUEEN notebooks and a pen!

I saw those Red Queen notebooks in pics from the people who attended the Indigo Teen preview and I wanted them so bad. I'm a sucker for notebooks so I'm super grateful that the HCCFrenzy peeps gave them to us!

I mean, look at that gorgeous thing, with the awesome quote on the bottom of every single page. The paper takes fountain pen ink pretty well.

ANYWAYS, that's enough about the notebook. The HCCFrenzy peeps also put out a nice spread of food for us, involving candy, cookies, chips and cupcakes! The cupcakes are super cute with a mountain of icing and little book cover decorations with some of the featured books!

Here's my cupcake: (I only ate the cake, because that icing is a MOUNTAIN)

Cute right? Unfortunately, that chocolate ball was hollow and not a Lindt truffle like I had hoped it'd be.

The first novel we talked about was GIRL MANS UP by M-E Gerard. We were lucky and M-E Gerard was actually there! She talked about her novel and Shelly of Read.Sleep.Repeat got a shout out since she loves this novel. To be honest, contemporary isn't much what I go for, but this sounds interesting and I got a signed ARC since the author visited us!

Then we talked about As I Descended by Robin Talley, which was described to us as modern day, LGBTQ Macbeth. Sounds interesting right? But apparently according to Karen of kmn04books, it's super creepy, which ngl, sells me on it. I have a strange aversion to creepy movies/tv, but am interested in creepy books.

Next up was The Thosuandth Floor by Katharine McGee! Gosh that book is gorgeous! The gold part on the finished novel has this frosted metallic sheen to it and it's so pretty. I'm excited for this novel since it sounds great and I was kind of hyped up when I did the #BBTC chat for this novel. We were given this really beautiful stiff poster that depicts a diagram of the tower with a bronze metallic finish. So beautiful!

Then we talked about a book that I've literally just started (I'm on page 1): Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. It's a novel that's right up my alley: fantasy, fighting and magical powers. I'm so excited to get into this one! I'm also super in love with the cover. That typography <3.

After that came the new Mindy McGinnis novel, The Female of the Species. The cover is absolutely gorgeous and it's about how girls are the dangerous ones, which is pretty evident by the title and the way the girl characters are described in the synopsis. It sounds interesting. It's that dangerous bit that really draws me in.

Next, was the third novel in Sara Raasch's Snow Like Ashes trilogy: Frost Like Night. I still haven't read the second book (oops). I loved Theron and I should definitely get around to reading it soon. The cover of this one matches the others and I love it.

Then we talked about The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst and holy moly this book sounds awesome. There are killer nature spirits and the queen is the only one who can keep these spirits at bay and keep them from slaughtering everyone. There are multiple heirs for the queen since she's still only human. Scary violent fantasy is definitely up my alley.

After, was Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel. This novel sounds awesome! It was described as "Romeo and Juliet meets Indiana Jones". It deals with early palaeontology and the children of the first palaeontologists, who were very bitter rivals. The cover is gorgeous also!

Kenneth Oppel visited us and talked about the novel, and how he came up with the idea for this novel. He's super charismatic in person and it was fun listening to him talk about his novel. Obviously since he was there, we all went home with a signed copy of his novel. I'm excited to read this one!

Then Rosamund Hodge's Bright Smoke, Cold Fire came up and omg I can't wait. I love Rosamund Hodge and the way she puts a dark fantasy twist on fairy tales and classic tropes. This one is a dark Romeo and Juliet based novels involving lots of fighting, death and apparently zombies.

Next was Replica by Lauren Oliver. It seems interesting. It involves literal replicas of people (hence the name) and so it talks about two replicas and there are two stories. You read the novel from one end and in the perspective of one of the replicas and then you flip it over to read a story from another replica's perspective. It's an interesting premise and apparently there are slight Stranger Things vibes to it.

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst was the next book. It's a fantasy where some kingdoms outlaw magic. The main character is a princess with magic who is engaged to a prince from another kingdom that outlaws magic. She also finds herself falling for the prince's sister. Need I say more? ;)

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth. Need I say more? The hype is real.

Also another book that needs no explanation, The King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard. I haven't read the second book yet, but that's okay!

Then we talked about The Valiant by Lesley Livingston and I am SO HYPE FOR THIS ONE. It comes out on Valentine's Day of 2017 and it talks about female gladiators and Julius Caesar and seriously I am so into Roman history. Yes please.

Almost done guys, this won't go on for too much longer. LOL

Next was The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. I haven't read her debut novel, but all I know is that there was a tremendous amount of love for it and people are hype for this novel.

Lastly was Fireworks by Katie Cotugno. It's about popstars and the girl/boy band craze of the 90s and friendships.

Those were most of the novels we talked about, I may have missed a few unintentionally, but these are definitely the ones that made an impact on me. There are so many awesome new novels that are about to come out!

After all this talk about books, we got to line up and get our books signed by M-E Gerard and Kenneth Oppel! I talked with some other bloggers in the line as we waited to get our novels signed, namely Jamie from Books and Ladders.

I got to meet and talk to a lot of bloggers and it was so much fun. Here is what I picked up in my swag bag at the end:

Thanks to the HCCFrenzy and HarperCollins Canada peeps for inviting me to this event! I'm so psyched to read some of the novels I received yesterday and to also check out some of these new novels we talked about!

Happy Reading! 
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[Blog Tour] A Guest Post by Paula Stokes, on VICARIOUS.

Hello everyone! I'm so excited to be a part of the blog tour for Paula's new novel -- Vicarious! I love Paula's work and I've gotten the opportunities to design some stickers to help promote her novels, Girl Against the Universe and this novel, Vicarious.

Here's some info on the novel:


Title: Vicarious
Author: Paula Stokes
Series: Vicarious #1 
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: August 16th 2016 

Winter Kim and her sister, Rose, have always been inseparable. Together the two of them survived growing up in a Korean orphanage and being trafficked into the United States. But they've escaped the past and started over in a new place where no one knows who they used to be.

Now they work as digital stunt girls for Rose's ex-boyfriend, Gideon, engaging in dangerous and enticing activities while recording their neural impulses for his Vicarious Sensory Experiences, or ViSEs. Whether it's bungee jumping, shark diving, or grinding up against celebrities in the city's hottest dance clubs, Gideon can make it happen for you--for a price.

When Rose disappears and a ViSE recording of her murder is delivered to Gideon, Winter is devastated. She won't rest until she finds her sister's killer. But when the clues she uncovers conflict with the digital recordings her sister made, Winter isn't sure what to believe. To find out what happened to Rose, she'll have to untangle what's real from what only seems real, risking her own life in the process.

Paula Stokes weaves together a series of mysteries and the story of an unbreakable bond between sisters in this unforgettable high-tech thrill ride.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | BookDepository | Indigo

You can find my review of Vicarious, here

Paula's guest post on my blog, talks about her experience writing outside of her perspective and her research strategies she used for writing Vicarious.

PART II: Writing outside my perspective
Research strategies and knowing what questions to ask

One of the things I noted on my manuscript when my agent put Vicarious on wide submission was that I had lived and worked in Korea for a year. Living and working somewhere obviously does not make me any kind of authority, but it goes a long way in helping me figure out which questions to ask.

Tangent: Have you ever read a book where the author got something wrong—like really wrong—and you wondered how that happened? Sometimes it’s because authors don’t know which questions to ask. If you’re not researching the right things, then of course you are going to make mistakes. I have a mystery writer friend who watched a couple of episodes of Orphan Black, but gave up on the show because one of the early episodes involved clones who had the same fingerprints, and my friend felt like the writers didn’t care about accuracy. Apparently fingerprints form in the womb and vary due to fetal positioning, length of umbilical cord, and other non-genetic factors, so identical twins (and clones) have different fingerprints. Did you know that? I didn’t. I would have assumed that twins (and clones) had the same fingerprints. Chances are the writers for Orphan Black did too. It’s not that they were lazy or negligent—they probably just didn’t research fingerprints because they assumed something that seemed logical but turned out not to be false.

So then how did living in Seoul for a year help me know which questions to ask? It helped because I was surrounded by Korean people and Korean culture all day every day. I learned, without even trying, about Confucianism, collectivism, respect for elders, speech honorifics, family structures, living arrangements, social norms, expectations for employees, expectations for students, industry, food, fashion, entertainment, alcohol and smoking habits, and more. I did not become an expert in any of those things, but when certain things appeared in my outline or manuscript, it raised a flag in my head where I knew that more research and/or verification was needed.

My cultural research started with what I remembered from my time in Korea, reviewing hundreds of pictures and conversations or experiences I’d had with friends. I was still in contact with a few of my students and I looked at their social media to see how things had changed. I asked questions about how they thought Korean culture and Korean people had changed in the past few years.

Throughout the writing and initial revising of the book, I relied mainly on books and the internet, reading Korean culture manuals and travel guides, researching specific points on multiple blogs and websites. The internet is a great resource, but for the most part you can’t trust it, so I always tried to verify every piece of information in at least three places. To do this I utilized upward of thirty blogs/websites, some written by Koreans living in Korea, some written by Koreans living in the US, and some by Westerners living in Korea. I wanted a variety of perspectives as well as the opportunity to double check my facts.

Some of the websites I frequented heavily (in no particular order) include:

The final piece of my research involved getting feedback on my entire manuscript from multiple Korean beta-readers. Just like with the blogs, I wanted varied perspectives, so I recruited older and younger Korean readers, some who lived in the US and some in Korea. I’ll talk more about what it was like to use cultural beta-readers next week. Tomorrow check out a post with Eileen (and Ripple!) at Book Cat Pin at that will give you some quick insights into Winter’s personality. Eileen will also post her review of the book. Thanks to those of you who are following the tour :)


Paula Stokes writes stories about flawed characters with good hearts. She’s the author of several novels, most recently Vicarious and Girl Against the Universe. Her writing has been translated into eleven foreign languages. Paula loves kayaking, hiking, reading, and seeking out new adventures in faraway lands She also loves interacting with readers. Find her online at or on twitter as @pstokesbooks.

Happy Reading!
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