“Soundtrack to Your Life” is a feature that will have authors list 5 songs/artists/albums that ______ (changed their life, made them cry, make them want to be a rockstar, anything the author picks!) I have Samantha Shannon, author of The Bone Season, on the blog today!

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Hello! I first kicked off this wallpaper feature with one for Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. But it kind of makes me cringe now and I thought, “I’M BETTER NOW. I CAN MAKE IT PRETTIER.” Who knows if I succeeded but I re-made it anyway! Let me know what you think. P.S. If you’re interested, I’m running a Twitter giveaway for an ARC of Since You’ve Been Gone.

morgan matson – amy and roger’s epic detour

1280×800 • 1440×9001680×10501920×12002560×1400iPhone • iPhone 5 • iPad

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where we list our top tens! This week’s topic is “top ten characters who X” and I chose characters who I’d like to go shopping with!

top ten tuesday

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the ring and the crown by melissa de la cruz

Release Date: April 1st 2014
Source: Review copy (Thanks, Small Girls PR!)
Add It: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon, Indiebound

Magic is power, and power is magic… Once they were inseparable, just two little girls playing games in a mighty castle.

Now Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the mightiest empire in the world, and Aelwyn Myrddyn, a bastard mage, face vastly different futures. Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second. With the help of her Merlin, Eleanor has maintained a stranglehold on the world’s only source of magic. While the enchanters faithfully serve the crown, the sun will never set on the Franco-British Empire. As the annual London Season begins, the great and noble families across the globe flaunt their wealth and magic at parties, teas, and, of course, the lavish Bal du Drap d’Or, the Ball of the Gold Cloth.

But the talk of the season is Ronan Astor, a social-climbing American with only her dazzling beauty to recommend her. Ronan is determined to make a good match to save her family’s position. But when she falls for a handsome rogue on the voyage over, her lofty plans are imperiled by her desires.

Meanwhile, Isabelle of Orleans, daughter of the displaced French royal family, finds herself cast aside by Leopold, heir to the Prussian crown, in favor of a political marriage to Marie-Victoria. Isabelle arrives in the city bent on reclaiming what is hers.

But Marie doesn’t even want Leopold—she has lost her heart to a boy the future queen would never be allowed to marry. When Marie comes to Aelwyn, desperate to escape a life without love, the girls form a perilous plan that endangers not only the entire kingdom but the fate of the monarchy.

The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz is an alternate history fantasy set in the early 20th century where magic is the reason why the Franco-British Empire is so successful. The major event in the book is the merging of the Franco-British Empire and the Prussian Empire through the marriage of Princess Marie-Victoria and Prince Leopold.

This all sounds like a mouthful and it will seem even more so when I tell you there are like, five POVs in this book. I know, I know. Don’t fear though because even I, as a reader who is not very astute, managed to keep track out of all the POVs and not be confused at ALL. It was because de la Cruz writes each characters so distinctively that they’re really easy to tell apart. Hooray for that! I also liked pretty much all the characters because they are understandable to me.

Marie-Victoria and Aewlyn were best friends until Aewlyn has a very Elsa-like from Frozen accident that makes them reunite only in their teen years. Even though Aewlyn is jealous of Marie-Victoria’s status as a princess, there is not animosity among the girls and they’re actual friends. Which made me happy! Ronan has a from riches-to-rags tale and is determined to marry well for her family’s financial state. She’s certainly ambitious and admirable for her tenacity. Same goes for Isabelle, who is in love with Leopold but honestly, you don’t really need a spoiler alert to know this doesn’t end well. Isabelle has the most tragic story, for sure, so even though she may not seem the nicest, it’s for reasons. To round off our cast of characters, there’s Wolf, an underground fighter slash prince. Typical princely hobbies.

de la Cruz’s writing contains a lot of descriptions, particularly waxing poetic on gowns and jewelry and palaces. I know that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I love really detailed descriptions about superficial things, okay. It made me get really immersed in the world! The Ring and the Crown is very frothy overall and fantasy-lite. The part I wasn’t as keen on was the ending which had a lot of information at once and made go, WHAT? IS THIS A SERIES?! I still don’t know the answer! I mean, the book wraps up pretty neatly with an ending for everyone but not the ending I would like. However, I can see why it happened though because a main theme of this book is how life isn’t like a fairytale. Le sigh. At least you can look killer in a crown though.

Sound: Metric – Gold Guns Girls
All the gold and the guns in the world
(couldn’t get you off)
All the gold and the guns and the girls
(couldn’t get you off)
All the boys, All the choices in the world

I remember when we were gambling to win
Everybody else said better luck next time

Fun fact: this book actually contains epigraphs from Beyoncé and Lorde. This song immediately played in my head after finishing the book though because choices play a huge part in the book. Whether it’s a choice between your personal happiness or for your kingdom.

to all the boys i've loved before by jenny han

Release Date: April 15th 2014
Source: ARC (Thanks so much, Ksenia!)
Add It: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon, Indiebound

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once? 

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved–five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han is like the perfect cake slice: light, sweet but not too sweet, perfectly fulfilling but you would definitely not turn down seconds. (Spoiler alert: you won’t because there is a companion to this book. Just thought you should know, right off the bat.)

I want to go the clichéd route and say “to all the ways I’ve loved this book” but it will be evident soon enough. I loved everything about this book! It hits all my sweet spots: a strong bond between family, a darling heroine, a dashing gent, letters, and most importantly: FOOD. The food descriptions were parfait from mocha sugar doughnuts to black-cherry sodas to rice balls. I love, love the way Jenny Han writes. I tried to think hard about how I would describe her writing style because it’s airy but not without substance. Then I realized: it sort of reminds me of Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto (especially the food)! Really gentle writing that sticks with you.

Lara Jean is someone I want to be friends with, not only for her baking skills. By that I mean, it’s ALSO for her killer fashion sense. We can totally swap clothes and look at Asian fashion blogs together. I digress! Lara Jean is ridiculously charming and funny too. There were many times where I laughed out loud at something she said or did, which I never do because I don’t have a sense of humor. HAHA JOKES! (I do have a sense of humor, JUST A TERRIBLE ONE and Jenny Han manages to surpass that! It is genuinely funny, I promise) Lara Jean is the middle Song girl so she’s not always as nice as her older sister, Margot, but she is so sweet anyway. Oh my gosh, those Song girls are amazing. Margot, who moves to Scotland in the beginning of the book, is studious and motherly. Lara Jean is dreamy eyed. Kitty, the youngest, is well, young because she’s nine and desperately wants a puppy more than anything. I looooooved their bond in this book! Obviously, their relationship wasn’t always perfect because hi, they’re siblings but even through fighting or bickering or anything, there was clearly love underneath it all. Pretty sure I won’t be the only reader who wants to be a Song girl after reading this.

V important to note: Lara Jean is half-Korean and Jenny Han portrayed this so effortlessly. It’s the perfect example of it being a part of a character’s identity, not their WHOLE identity. There are moments like when Lara Jean’s dad still cooks them Korean food because he wants them to remember their mother. Even if his bossam came out too salty. Or when Peter, the boy Lara Jean pretends to date in the book, asks, “You guys are a no-shoes house, right?” I want more characters like Lara Jean. I would have LOVED this book as a teenager and I’m so thankful for Jenny Han.

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