Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge – Paul Krueger

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge – Paul KruegerTitle: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger
Publishing Info: June 7, 201 by Quirk Books
Source: Publisher
Genres: Adult, New Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 23, 2016

A sharp and funny urban fantasy for “new adults” about a secret society of bartenders who fight monsters with alcohol fueled magic.
College grad Bailey Chen has a few demons: no job, no parental support, and a rocky relationship with Zane, the only friend who’s around when she moves back home. But when Zane introduces Bailey to his cadre of monster-fighting bartenders, her demons get a lot more literal. Like, soul-sucking hell-beast literal. Soon, it’s up to Bailey and the ragtag band of magical mixologists to take on whatever—or whoever—is behind the mysterious rash of gruesome deaths in Chicago, and complete the lost recipes of an ancient tome of cocktail lore.


I immediately jumped on the chance to read LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE after seeing it in Shelf Awareness and at BEA 2016. Quirk Books asked me to be a part of the blog tour and with a description that calls it “Harry Potter for adults,” naturally I couldn’t refuse. I was also anxious to check out the new adult/adult feel of the book and watch magic and mixology collide!

What I loved the most about this book was the magic of mixology. There’s a magical underground where bartenders are the keepers of the paranormal and mixing just the perfect drink provides them with special powers in the form of some sort of physical or mental strength. I really, really loved this concept because it was something that I’ve truly never seen before. I loved the unique magical system and how there was a real structure for each power that the drink endowed. The type of liquor determined whether an ability was mental or physical and the various ingredients affected, enhanced, or shaped that overall idea. It was so neat and really well done! The only thing was that it was so well structured that I would loved to have had more details on each drink like maybe some sort of chart, or even just spent more time really getting into what each cocktail did. Most of them were mentioned as the characters were using them but I would have loved a little lesson within the book breaking things down even more. It’s the fantasy-nerd and school-nerd in me! If there happened to be a sequel (which I’d totally read), I’d love for even more detail!

I really enjoyed the tone of the book as well! It was quite entertaining and maintained a lighter tone with characters who made bad jokes, silly puns, fun atmosphere, and a just a really great cast. The terrors were dark but the feeling was light and I really love that sort of feel in an urban fantasy sort of setting. The book wasn’t terribly long but it was easy reading that also made it breeze by!

I think overall, LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE could have used a little “more” — a little more background, a little more detail, a little more plot, a little more romance — but despite that, I really did enjoy it! It was still a solid read but if there’s ever a sequel for some random reason, I’d love to see more development come in book two. I guess that means I just have to check out future works from Paul Krueger, which I am definitely interested in doing! 

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!



Kept Me Hooked On: Mixology. I’m not a cocktail girl (I’m a beer girl)  but I loved the involvement of alcohol as a magical element in this book. It was just so much fun and so original!
Left Me Wanting More: Magical details. When it comes down to it, I just really wanted more details on the magic system. I’m nerdy like that and would have loved some sort of chart or a more detailed lesson in the book because it was so cool and I thought it totally deserved some more page time!

Addiction Rating
Read it

This book was just a lot of fun and if you’re up for something not YA and pretty original, you should really check this one out!



(Click the cover to see my review!)


Book Title Buzzwords | DREAM

Book Title Buzzwords

I love noticing title trends in the YA world (and in adult books too!) and I can also tell that there are certain words I latch onto. Book Title Buzzwords features books that I’ve read (or want to read) that follow some recent trends! 

With Laini Taylor’s latest release STRANGE THE DREAMER coming out in just months (NOTE: I found out this actualyl got pushed back to 2017 after I drafted this post. Wahhh!), I’ve been daydreaming (ha) about so many incredible books that are coming up! The title had me looking back on all of the “dream” books I’ve read and heard of recently and just like that, a new Book Title Buzzwords post was born!


The Dream Thieves - Maggie SteifvaterTHE DREAM THIEVES| Book two in The Raven Cycle | Scholastic | September 17, 2013

Naturally, THE DREAM THIEVES is the first up on the list. I still remember standing in line for this at BEA back in 2013 (my first one!) and how special it was to have it be one of my very first BEA ARCs that I ever read. The experience was even more special just because the book was so amazing. It was more than I expected it to be and if you haven’t read this series yet, it’s truly unique and something you need to experience! THE DREAM THIEVES continues the saga of Blue and her Raven Boys and what happens when things start to get a little dreamier, departing a bit more from the normal even more than there was in book one. The gang gets tighter, things get weirder, and pulses sky rocket!
Find it on Goodreads | Review

Dreams of Gods and MonstersDREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS by Laini Taylor | Book three in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy | Little, Brown | April 8, 2014

Maybe Laini Taylor just really likes dreams… This is another book with the same buzzword! DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS was the conclusion to the beautifully sweeping Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. The books are hefty in size but the content is amazing. This was actually my least favorite of the three books, simply because I felt like it spent a little too much time away from the main action, but it still delivered a satisying ending to this tense war and forbidden romance. I just love Laini Taylor’s writing so it was sad to say goodbye to this series but that makes me that much more excited for a new book coming up!
Find it on Goodreads | Review

dreamstriderDREAMSTRIDER by Lindsay Smith | Macmillan | October 6, 2015

I’m including DREAMSTRIDER on my list for its originality, even though it wasn’t a favorite read of mine. I immediately picked it up because of the dreaming concept, but in the book I actually found it to be a bit confusing. I’d dub the book “fanta-sci” (fantasy + sci-fi) because of the fantasy world and concept but using dreams (which I consider to be a sci-fi aspect, although that could also fall under the fantasy umbrella too) and the two just didn’t quite mesh the way I had hoped. The book did have so many creative concepts and really interesting facts that kept me reading and looking for more. I really wanted to get lost in this world and understand the whole dreaming aspect, plus there was a curious political conflict going on!
Find it on Goodreads | Review


Obviously! It’s the book that inspired this post!
Find it on Goodreads

DREAMOLOGY by Lucy Keating
This was another book that grabbed my eye smply with the dreaming concept. I meant to read it as soon as it came out but life got in the way again. It looks so darn cute!
Find it on Goodreads

My best friend Alyssa loves Cat Winters… and I still haven’t read any of her books! They’re pretty much all on my TBR though.
Find it on Goodreads

I still haven’t read any of Kerstin Gier’s books but I want to! Her sci-fi concepts sound exactly like something I would enjoy!!
Find it on Goodreads

What are your favorite “dream” books? What else would you recommend for fans of dreams and dream concepts?

P.S. I Like You – Kasie West

P.S. I Like You – Kasie WestTitle: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Publishing Info: July 26, 2016 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 14, 2016
Related Posts: Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1), The Distance Between Us, On the Fence, Split Second (Pivot Point #2), The Fill-In Boyfriend

What if the person you were falling for was a total mystery?
While Lily is spacing out in Chemistry one day, she picks up her pencil and scribbles a line from one of her favorite songs on the desk. The next day, someone else has written back to her on the desk! Soon enough Lily and the mystery student are exchanging notes, and lyrics, and even sharing secrets. When Lily finds out that her anonymous pen pal is a guy, she's flustered -- and kind of feels like she's falling for him. She and her best friend set out to unravel the identity of the letter writer -- but when the truth is revealed, the guy is the LAST person Lily could have ever imagined it to be. Now that Lily knows the truth, can she untangle her feelings and gather the courage to listen to her heart?
From beloved author Kasie West (The Distance Between Us) comes an utterly charming story about mixed messages, missed connections, and the magic of good old-fashioned secret admirer notes.


** SLIGHT spoiler in the sense that I’m revealing who mystery note-writer is later on in my review. It’s necessary in order to properly share swoons. You can probably guess as you read but if you don’t want to know, avert your eyes! ** 

Kasie West is one of my queens of contemporary. When I’m in the mood for a contemporary novel, I usually lean towards light and fun (especially lately) so as soon as I heard about new title P.S. I LIKE YOU from Kasie West, I was ALL over that. A new cute contemporary novel from Kasie AND a secret letter exchange? Oh, boy. It had my name written all over it.

All of Kasie West’s novels are amazing so it’s hard for me to pick a favorite… and P.S. I LIKE YOU made it that much harder. It was good right from the start but I wasn’t sure it was “new favorite” material. I immediately adored Lily and her quirky, unique, and not-afraid-to-be-themselves family but I wasn’t sure I could really relate as much as I had to previous novels like ON THE FENCE (swoon).  The more I got to know Lily and her family, the more relatable they became. I really, really loved how Kasie West showed how Lily was comfortable with who she was (for example, in fashion sense and music taste) and yet she was still shy and uncomfortable to be so different at times. She had such a conviction in what she loved and yet she felt vulnerable about those things as well. There’s so much going on in one person’s life that it’s impossible to tell why they do, dress, or act how they do. Lily has a unique clothing style and makes her own clothes. It’s a passion and art is important in her family but it also stems from the fact that her parents can’t afford to buy herself new clothes and all of Lily’s money usually goes towards her guitar or hanging out with her friends. I can’t say how much I appreciated that Kasie West portrayed a character who was happy with her creations and art and was still so self-conscious of them at the same time.

I loved seeing two present parents for the main character as well. I suppose it’s more common in fantasy/dystopian/paranormal to have a noticeable lack of adults around but I always appreciate seeing two loving parents in a YA character’s life. I suppose part of the reason parents are so often absent (because of divorce or death) in YA novels is probably because that is a major thing for a teen to deal with but it’s also nice to have novels where you get to see a family with two parents who have a good relationship. I’m not saying one is better than the other but when it becomes a noticeable tend in YA to have missing parents, it’s refreshing to see the opposite… But that’s a discussion for another day.
What I loved best about Lily’s family was how supportive everyone was of each other. The kids’ ages range from 8 – 19 so there’s a wide array of sports schedules, practices, friends, places to be, and things to do among all the kids. Sometimes Lily has to grudgingly baby-sit but you can always see the love there for her younger brothers and even though she and her sister are different in many ways and can butt heads, they’re always looking out for each other when it comes to the big picture. Her parents can be a bit embarrassing but in ways that show that they care about their kids and like to have fun. It’s typical silly parents behavior that can embarrass a teenager but I loved how I could just feel the love from the whole family!

And of course there were the SWOONS. (This is the part where you avert your eyes if you don’t want to know who the mystery note-writer is!) I absolutely adored the romance in this book. First off, the letter writing reminded me SO MUCH of some of my high school experiences. We used to exchange notes back and forth all the time in classes in high school. I think I even still have the box of notes that I kept from high school somewhere (you know, if I ever want to re-live those embarrassing world’s-shortest-relationships) and memories of many, many text and instant message conversations with crushes. The beauty of this book was the hate-to-love relationship. Oh yes, I’m talking about how Lily’s mortal enemy #1 Cade ends up becoming the love interest. It was done so well because I spent the first half of the book suspecting the note-writer might be him (he was the prominent male character even in the first half of the book) and wondering how in the world he was going to be turned around into someone I would actually like and it so worked. Everything that Cade did and said truly had a reason behind it and it just goes to show you that you never know what’s going on in someone else’s life and where they’re coming from. The characters really reminded me of myself and some things I had gone through during high school and it also just makes me wonder what sort of things I was missing in other people’s lives because I was too absorbed in my own. I won’t spoil everything here but I will say that these swoons just totally took me by surprise and this relationship ended up being amazingly cute. When the reveal happened and these two characters came together… GAH. I just melted.

Not to be missed in the midst of the swoons was the friendship between Lily and Isabel. They come from a totally different family life, like plenty of different things, and enjoy different hobbies but they’re still best friends. Although a lot of people find friends based on similar interests, not ALL of their interests have to intersect and I really liked that about this friendship! The girls are different in many ways but they’re so supportive of each other no matter what, even when a boy threatens to come between them. (Gasp! Never!) I just loved the maturity of their friendship and also how it continues to grow throughout the book. Lily often has to take care of family matters before hanging out with friends and especially as a teenager that can be hard to understand but the girls end up making it work and hang out when they can. I love that by the end of the book, they understand each other even more than they already did and learned a little something about themselves too.

P.S. I LIKE YOU definitely shot straight into my favorites from Kasie West! (Although isn’t that really all of them? Don’t make me choose!) The beginning started off a little slower for me than previous books but the middle and ending were oh-so-rewarding and just so darn cute. Kasie West never fails to deliver a cute contemporary and characters that are so incredibly relatable. She continues to be an auto-buy author for me and even though I just finished this book, I can’t wait for more!! 

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!



Kept Me Hooked On: Letters in books. I just love when letter-writing is a big part of a book. Emails, letters, texts, you name it. It just reminds me so much of writing back and forth with crushes in my youth and it brings back fun memories and feelings!
Left Me Wanting More: Time with the reveal. I did enjoy that Lily’s mystery man stayed a mystery for about half of the book… but I also could have used more time knowing who he was so we could see more of that crossover time! All of those little moments where they almost find out about each other… And more time of them together and swooning!

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

I simply adore Kasie West. Her contemporary novels are perfection and I will instantly buy any single one of them and so should you.



(Click the cover to see my review!)


Fast Five Friday | Thieves, Spies, and Espionage

fast five friday

I love blogging and writing and recommending books… but I know that I tend to get a little long-winded in my blog posts! FAST FIVE FRIDAY is a means for me to recognize some favorite books and round them up for recommendations without talking your ear off. 


I recently read the first two books in Maggie Hall’s Conspiracy of Us series and I am all wrapped up in espionage, political thrillers, and thievery. CONSPIRACY OF US and MAP OF FATES are more international thrillers than espionage but they do have kind of the same “secret” feel (secret society, secret agents… they’re along the same line, right?) and I just can’t get enough! I have a bunch on my TBR for the upcoming months and some great-sounding titles for 2017! Today I’m recommending five of my favorites if you’re in the mood for cons, heists, and spies!

Heist SocietyAlso Known As - Robin BenwayThe Lies of Locke Lamorasix of crows

What: Heist Society (Book one of the Heist Society series)
Who: Ally Carter
Why: Ally Carter is kind of the queen of YA heists and espionage. HEIST SOCIETY is my first series from her but her books are so much fun! Think Ocean’s 11 meets TV’s Leverage. 
Where: Goodreads | Review

What: Also Known As (Book one in the Also Known As duology)
Who: Robin Benway
Why: These books were my first from Robin Benway and they’re amazing read-alikes for HEIST SOCIETY! A little less con, a little more spy.
Where: Goodreads | Review

What: The Lies of Locke Lamora (Book one in the Gentleman Bastard series)
Who: Scott Lynch
Why: Fantasy cons! Thievery! Debauchery! Swearing! Bromances! Scott Lynch’s books are the best. They’re a riot and if you’re ready for some amazingly fun and also complex adult fantasy, this is the series for you.
Where: Goodreads | Review

What: Six of Crows (Book one in The Dregs duology)
Who: Leigh Bardugo
Why: Bardugo is queen and things get a little heistier in this Grisha companion series. (Spellcheck thinks heistier is a word. Cool.) Check out the dregs of society but heroes of our hearts pulling off their biggest con yet in SIX OF CROWS!
Where: Goodreads | Review

What: Scarlet (Book one in the Scarlet trilogy)
Who: A.C. Gaughen
Why: Gender flipped Robin Hood retelling! Well, Robin is still male but Will Scarlet (Scarlet) is female. The darker side of the Robin Hood tales, a terrible villain, and Scarlet making a name for herself and standing up for her crew.
Where: Goodreads | Review

That’s my fast five for today! What are your favorite books featuring thievery, spies, and general espionage? How about political thrillers? International affairs? What books are you looking forward to in 2016/2017?

Book and a Beverage [153] – Raisa from Wonderland Novels

Book and a Beverage

Welcome back to BOOK AND A BEVERAGE!

In case you don’t know the deal about Book and a Beverage, it’s a very simple yet fun feature: We read books, we drink beverages, we take pictures of them and then I share your photos and a little about you to the blogging world!

Give a big welcome to Raisa from Wonderland Novels!

Untitled      Untitled2


Name & Blog Name: Hey I’m Raisa and I’m a blogger at Wonderland Novels.
Tell us a little about your blog! My friends Alice and Yiling made the blog actually. Alice came up with the name – Alice in Wonderland = Wonderland Novels! They invited me to guest post after awhile, and then I’ve been promoted to main blogger. Since I’m the one mainly posting now I’m trying to think of new features, like comparing books with their movie versions.
What’s been your favorite post you’ve written so far? (Link us up!) I did an interview with myself for “Get offa that blogging slump” and it was really entertaining to write.
Got anything special coming up we should know about? I don’t really have a fancy name for it yet, but books vs. movies! My first book vs. movie will be The Princess Bride.


Whatcha reading? The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine
Where did it come from? (Library, purchased, publisher, etc): Got it from Bookoff and it was a real deal for 5$!
Any special reason you chose to feature this book? No special reason; it was the book I was reading at the time!
What’s important that we should know about this book? Would you recommend it? The protagonist, Elli, experiences so much character growth over the course of the novel, and I was rooting for her as she had to adjust to her new surroundings. She’s extremely determined and I admired that she never gave up. I definitely recommend it!


Whatcha drinking? Mango green tea with nata jelly, mango jelly, and tapioca pearls.
What’s your favorite thing to drink while reading? Honestly, if there was a bubble tea place near my house, I’d have it more often! I usually drink water though. Or just iced tea.
Favorite beverage of all time. Go! Mango green tea – I try to have Mango Green tea Mondays when I’m near Kung Fu Tea or any other bubble tea place. Bubble tea is big in NYC.


What are your top three books you would recommend to other people? I always talk about Kamikaze Girls by Novala Takemoto. And I’m cosplaying Lila Bard for NYCC, so A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab is the second book. For the third book, I’m a Ruta Sepetys fan, and my favorite book by her is Salt to the Sea.
What’s your proudest blogging/reading/writing moment? My growth as a blogger over the year has been tremendous, in terms of getting myself out there and talking to people and also maintaining a constant (somewhat!) flow of posts. I still have a long way to go, and I’m proud that I’m continuing to blog as it has become one of my passions (as with reading).
Anything else you’d like to share?  I love to make new friends, so please say hello on Twitter! I’m a bit shy, but let’s talk books and other things!

 Thanks, Raisa!! Ooh yes, I loved THE IMPOSTOR QUEEN and Elli’s character growth as well! I’m so excited for its companion to come out soon! 

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Raisa! Connect with her at the links below!
Blog // Twitter // Goodreads

If You Liked… The Winner’s Curse

Ever since I read the conclusion to The Winner’s Trilogy, I’ve been thinking how much I loved these books and what a great series it was. I absolutely loved the forbidden love, strong characters, political intrigue, and a fantasy world without magic. The Winner’s Trilogy has grown to be a fan-favorite within the YA community and if you’re a fan of the series, I wanted to share some of my personal recommendations on what to read next!


if you liked the winner's curse


Try… SCARLET by A.C. Gaughen.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

I think SCARLET and this Robin Hood-retold series is a great read for those who liked THE WINNER’S CURSE. Since it’s based on Robin Hood, it has that fantasy world but there’s no magic involved in the story. SCARLET also features a very strong female main character (named, well, Scarlet) who has her own hardships but learns to overcome. There’s also a bit of — well, I guess I wouldn’t call it forbidden romance — but the characters essentially hem and haw and don’t quite feel it’s right to be together. The books in this series are just really well done. I read them back-to-back-to-back!

Review // Goodreads // Amazon

I had a similar experience reading THE IMPOSTOR QUEEN as I had reading THE WINNER’S CURSE — the book wasn’t slow to start but it took me a while to really get in the swing of things, but once I did, oh boy. The book was good. The characters really grow, the romance becomes intense, and there’s some really interesting world building throughout that provides insight to secret motives and a whole lot of political conflict. THE IMPOSTOR QUEEN was the first book I read from Sarah Fine but it really got quite interesting and I loved how it turned a few tropes upside down.

The Scorpio Races paperback coverTry… THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
THE SCORPIO RACES isn’t really like THE WINNER’S CURSE but I like its original feel, similar to what I felt when I read The Winner’s Trilogy. It walks a line between fantasy and magical realism (I’d say more on the side of magical realism since it does mention real places and it is largely realistic aside from its one magical element — the water horses). It’s a little bit fantasy in the sense that the book takes place on the fictional island of Thisby, similar to the fictional regions in The Winner’s Trilogy. THE SCORPIO RACES is much more character-driven than action-driven but I think that’s also what makes it so special. You really get to know the characters and that’s something I liked about Sean and Puck in THE SCORPIO RACES as well as Arin and Kestrel in THE WINNER’S CURSE.

The Wrath and the Dawn coverTry… THE WRATH AND THE DAWN by Renee Ahdieh.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
THE WRATH AND THE DAWN was an intimidating book for me, having received so many amazing reviews before I had even read it. This one took me a little bit to get the hang of as well but the set-up and intro is really necessary to everything that follows, which sets up a wonderfully sweeping romance, gorgeous descriptions of setting, and some truly interesting and complex characters. I love how much influence even secondary characters had on the plot of this book and it really shows how even the smallest of actions can affect and entire kingdom. The end of the book really started to dip into those magical elements as well so this would be a great selection for fans of THE WINNER’S CURSE who are just dipping their toes into the fantasy world.

The StoryspinnerTry… THE STORYSPINNER by Becky Wallace.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
I loooved THE STORYSPINNER when I first read it. There was just something special about this book that had me diving in head first. The book has a Portuguese influence which really made it feel unique and quite distinct from so many fantasy books that usually venture to Iberian influence through Spanish adaptations and not Portuguese, if they venture there at all. I also really loved all of the different character POVs. There were quite a few (at least six) for each of the main characters in the crew but I didn’t feel confused by the switches or inclusion of any of them. I really loved the overall feel — and the series is only a duology so you can read both books back-to-back!

Grave MercyTry… GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

I selected GRAVE MERCY largely for its political plot and its slow burn romance. This series from Robin LaFevers is actually a trilogy of companions that all revolve around the same political plot and each lead in their respective books play a certain part in the on-going conflict. Based on some real-life history, GRAVE MERCY can technically be categorized as historical fiction but it’s also a bit fantasy hedging on the side of mythology, the basis of which revolves around the god of Death. I’m not big on historical fiction but these books are so well written that it’s easy to get caught up in the story! The slow burn romance is also top notch and I love the gradual yet amazingly strong connection that the characters make with each other.

The Kiss of DeceptionTry… THE KISS OF DECEPTION by Mary E. Pearson.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

This is a series I still need to continue but so many people love it! Where the first book left off, there was just a hint of the magical elements that were to come into play so it’s a nice push into the fantasy world, still getting the basis of world-building with the (current) absence of of magic, for the most part. The book was quite interesting with some really clever twists! I think this is a fantastic read-alike for those who were fans of The Winner’s Trilogy and personally, I’m looking forward to continuing on with the series! I was waiting for the very last book to come out so I could read the second and third one right after the other because I have a feeling I won’t want to wait!

GracelingTry… GRACELING by Kristin Cashore.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
GRACELING was one of my first forays into fantasy and I instantly fell in love! I had no idea what fantasy was all about when I first picked up this book. My first experience was The Lord of the Rings and I just really had a hard time with Hobbits and orcs and the like. Once I got more into high fantasy that felt a little more… realistic, I guess, I really started getting into it a lot more! GRACELING opened that door with a little bit of magic and a whole lot of amazing including characters, setting, and some really creepy villain-types.

the crown's gameTry… THE CROWN’S GAME by Evelyn Skye.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

I adored THE CROWN’S GAME. I wouldn’t say it has a slow start but the build is gradual and totally rewarding. I loved getting to know a new setting (based on actual events, although the book is not really historical fiction) as well as the two characters and how their worlds collided. It’s one of those amazing and yet terrifying books that basically makes you fall in love with two characters but promises to destroy one (no spoilers there… that IS “the Crown’s Game”) so I spent the whole book basically holding my breath… as I had with The Winner’s Trilogy! I love the dashes of magic and this forbidden romance just had me all aflutter.

rebel of the sandsTry… REBEL OF THE SANDS by Alwyn Hamilton.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
REBEL OF THE SANDS was another 2016 favorite that I just loved all around. It definitely has a lighter feel and a bit more snark than The Winner’s Trilogy but I think it’s a great recommendation despite its different feel. If you loved the writing and strong characters of The Winner’s Trilogy, REBEL OF THE SANDS is a great fantasy read to jump to for a little more action, some fast-talking (and fast-shooting) characters, and a bit more magic. I also loved how there was a clandestine identity (ooh, in more ways than one) and how two very different characters ended up being quite similar. This book was just great and I’m highly anticipating its sequel!

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)Try… THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

Sarah J. Maas has grown to be quite a household name by now with huge hit series like Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses. Even though I’m sure most fantasy readers have picked this one up by now, I wanted to include THRONE OF GLASS in my recommendations today because I love Sarah’s storytelling and her incredible ability to really build things up throughout the course of a series, much like how I felt with Marie Rutkoski’s books. I love the feeling that the books are really going somewhere and that they’re so connected throughout. The character growth is also monumental and I appreciate that things don’t always go the “right” way just to please an audience. They truly feel like realistic situations and feelings/maturity/strengths change over time.

Try… SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

Leigh Bardugois basically queen and if you haven’t read any of her books yet, YOU MUST. SHADOW AND BONE kicks off one of my favorite series ever, The Grisha Trilogy, and although it’s a world based largely in magic — ahem, small science — I think it’s a great read alike for THE WINNER’S CURSE even though Marie’s books don’t contain magic. Alina does some serious growing throughout the books and really comes into her own abilities, much like Kestrel. Both leading ladies are forced to face what their strengths really mean in terms of their future and how they’re going to help their country. It’s quite an excellent journey to witness!

So what do YOU think? Which books would you recommend for fans of The Winner’s Trilogy? Are there any favorites of yours on this list?

I hope you enjoyed the post! If you’re looking for more reading guides or recommendations or more posts about The Winner’s Trilogy, check out some of my links below! 

More reading guides and/or recommendations: 

More posts about The Winner’s Trilogy

Blog Tour: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West | Book Scents

Blog Tour: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West | Book Scents

Welcome to the blog tour for
P.S. I LIKE YOU by Kasie West!

I’m SO excited to share my blog tour post for P.S. I LIKE YOU today! I simply adore Kasie West, no matter what she writes, but I especially love her contemporary novels and P.S. I LIKE YOU may be one of my favorites yet. The books was absolutely wonderful through and through… but I’ll post a review sometime later! Today’s blog tour stop is all about BOOK SCENTS! Thanks to Hannah from Irish Banana Blog Tours and Scholastic for making this blog tour happen!

Before we jump into the tour, let’s take a second to check out some details about the book:

Blog Tour: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West | Book ScentsTitle: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Publishing Info: July 26, 2016 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 14, 2016
Related Posts: Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1), The Distance Between Us, On the Fence, Split Second (Pivot Point #2), The Fill-In Boyfriend, P.S. I Like You

What if the person you were falling for was a total mystery?
While Lily is spacing out in Chemistry one day, she picks up her pencil and scribbles a line from one of her favorite songs on the desk. The next day, someone else has written back to her on the desk! Soon enough Lily and the mystery student are exchanging notes, and lyrics, and even sharing secrets. When Lily finds out that her anonymous pen pal is a guy, she's flustered -- and kind of feels like she's falling for him. She and her best friend set out to unravel the identity of the letter writer -- but when the truth is revealed, the guy is the LAST person Lily could have ever imagined it to be. Now that Lily knows the truth, can she untangle her feelings and gather the courage to listen to her heart?
From beloved author Kasie West (The Distance Between Us) comes an utterly charming story about mixed messages, missed connections, and the magic of good old-fashioned secret admirer notes.

LINKS: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks | The Book Depository



I write YA. I eat Junior Mints. Sometimes I go crazy and do both at the same time. My novels are: PIVOT POINT and its sequel SPLIT SECOND. And my contemporary novels: THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, ON THE FENCE, THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND, PS I LIKE YOU, and BY YOUR SIDE. My agent is the talented and funny Michelle Wolfson.

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook


Ever since I started making candles, I’ve been so much more in tune with the sensory notes in the books that I read. I feel like aromas in a book are easily skipped over and forgotten once a reader has finished because noticing and committing a smell to memory is such a unique experience that it’s harder hang onto if you haven’t experienced it first hand. I know at least for me, when a book draws on a familiar smell, I’m instantly hit with memories and nostalgia that have the potential to tie me to a book more than any other scenic description so I feel like those smells that add to the atmosphere are not to be overlooked!

Drawing upon my newly heightened awareness, I’ve started keeping tracking of specific scents described in book and how they really paint an even more vivid picture for a reader! Today on Book Scents, I’m sharing some of my favorite aromas from P.S. I LIKE YOU! They immediately had me thinking back on what fragrances I would use to mimic each experience and I’ve included each one below. (Now how do we make these posts scratch and sniff?)

The kettle corn cart was closer to our booth than normal and the sweet smell in the air almost made up for what I’d discovered upon arriving at the Fall Fest.

Inspiration: Kettle corn, Fall Fest
Fragrances: Fresh popcorn, sugar, apple pie and pumpkin pie spices

Is being considered crazy a tradition? Because that’s what our tradition is. Okay, we actually have a real one: The double-blind taste test. First, both my mom and dad make pumpkin pies. Different ones, mind you, but both pumpkin. Then they cut the pies in the other room and put pieces on different places. One each for everyone there. Then they force us — force us — to eat it blindfolded. then we have to tell them whose is better. 

Inspiration: Thanksgiving, pumpkin pie
Fragrances: Pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, whipped cream

It would seem awkward to step back now, like he affected me in some way, so I didn’t. Because he didn’t. But his musky scent sure was doing a number on my breathing.

Inspiration: Musky boy scent
Fragrances: Cool clear water, pine, oakmoss, moon lake musk 

He tasted like mint gum and all my hopes and dreams.

Inspiration: Mint gum
Fragrances: Spearmint, vanilla, sugar

So what do you think?! Which scents do you think are the strongest sensory inspirations? Which are your favorites?

Don’t miss the rest of P.S. I LIKE YOU blog tour stops!


TWO lucky winners will receive a finished copy of P.S. I LIKE YOU! Enter through the Rafflecopter form below and good luck!! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway