Friday, December 2, 2016

#ReadIndie Book Review: Empath by S. Usher Evans


Title: Empath
Author: S. Usher Evans
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: Sun's Golden Ray Publishing
Pages: 244
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Lauren Dailey is in break-up hell.

Stuck between moving on and letting go, she puts on a brave face while crying herself to sleep at night. But when a mysterious voice promises escape from her sadness, she is suddenly transported to a new world. And in this place, the slightest touch pulls her out of her tortured emotions into the mind of another - an empath.

The villagers - sweet Aerona and her mischievous twins, wise Siors, and hunky Cefin - welcome her and the blessings her empath powers bring. But this world is not without its dangers. The Anghenfil, a fire-breathing monster, has haunted the village for decades, and has a taste for empaths. And that mysterious voice promising escape from sadness? It's sounding more like a whisper tinged with smoke and embers.

Can Lauren keep the monsters in the mountain and in her head at bay? Or will she succumb to the darkness like the empath before her...

Lauren Dailey has been having a rough couple of months. She has ended things with her boyfriend after realizing that he wasn't interested in marrying her. She is stuck in a boring, dead-end job. She keeps replaying her breakup in her head, wondering why she couldn't make it work. And worst of all, it seems that everyone around her is happily in love and rubbing it in her face. She feels like she has hit rock bottom...until she is transported to a different world with no running water and a dragon hiding in the mountains. Oh, and she's also an empath.

Anyone who has been through a breakup knows that it usually feels like the end of the world. And in a small sense, it is; it is the end of a big part of your life and it often comes as a shock to the system. Not quite as much of a shock as being transported to a new world and becoming an empath, however, as Lauren quickly learns. She has spent months after her breakup burying her feelings and pretending that she is ok. But now, suddenly, she cannot touch another living thing without being overwhelmed by an onslaught of emotion.

It took me a little while to connect to the characters in Empath, but I eventually grew to care about all of them. Sometimes I was so frustrated that Lauren wouldn't share her true feelings with people, but I understood her anxiety and was able to relate to her thought process. I have been there before - not giving people a chance to grow to love the real me because I assumed they wouldn't like me. I loved that Lauren was able to encounter other characters with the same fears, so she could learn that numerous people, no matter what walk of life or world they live in, struggle with the same worries and anxieties.

Empath was written as a response to a time in S. Usher Evans' life when she felt a lot like Lauren. The story comes across as very personal, but not like a diary entry. You can easily get lost in the adventure and dragon fighting, but you are still left with a wonderful and personal message. Anyone who has lived with anxiety or depression (whether related to a breakup or not) can empathize with Lauren's story. It is a lovely lesson in learning that sometimes you can admit that you aren't ok - and that is ok.

Empath is the sixth S. Usher Evans book that I have read. While I have truly enjoyed them all, Empath has now become my favorite. I hope you will give it a try and enjoy it as much as I did.




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Thursday, December 1, 2016

#ReadIndie Kickoff & Giveaway


Welcome to day one of #ReadIndie! This event is all about promoting indie authors and their work! If you haven't signed up for the challenge and you want to join in sharing your favorite indies, you can still sign up HERE!

For the next two weeks this blog is going to be totally taken over by independently published titles. We will be posting reviews, indie lists, and hosting several awesome giveaways! Make sure to check out my co-host Christina's blog, Books & Prejudice, for other fun stuff including exclusive interviews!

Christina and I have also recruited an amazing team of reviewers to help with this event! You can check out their blogs and indie reviews here over the next two weeks:


Stephanie @ Bookfever


If you've already signed up for the challenge, thank you!! You will have a chance to gain extra entries in our giveaways for each indie review you post between today and December 16th. Please share your progress on Twitter using #ReadIndie!



GIVEAWAY 

We're kicking off #ReadIndie with a bang by giving away books by two amazing indie authors: paperback copies of The Outlaw and Infected by Alan Janney, as well as paperbacks and eBooks of Just a Few Inches by Tara St. Pierre!



A masked vigilante stalks the streets of downtown Los Angeles, disrupting crime and creating havoc. After being spotted on security cameras and thrust into the national spotlight, he is pursued by both the media and powerful new enemies. Little does the world know the Outlaw is just High School junior Chase Jackson wearing a mask and hoping the beautiful brunette down the street notices.
 
 The Outlaw series, winner of the 2016 NIE Awards in Science Fiction
"Janney's pacing is excellent, as are the action sequences" - Kirkus Reviews
"The Outlaw shines" - San Fransisco Book Review
 
Book One of the must-read, young adult, super charged, paranormal (ish), adventure romance Outlaw Series.



Goodreads Amazon B&N iTunes

All Carrie Roberts wants is to be a little bit smaller.

To fit into the perfect dress for the Valentine’s Day Dance. To look beautiful for her boyfriend, the school’s star basketball player. To keep his jealous ex-girlfriend, a rival cheerleader, away from him. And to be noticed by her classmates.

Exercising and dieting don’t work, but an advertisement for weight loss pills promises a quicker solution to her problem. As time runs out, she takes more than the recommended dose until she’s just a few inches slimmer. Heads turn when she arrives at the dance, and the wonderful night with her boyfriend is beyond what she dreamed it would be.

Days later, Carrie discovers that her body is changing in ways that should be impossible. While her doctor searches for a cure, she desperately turns to her friends and family for support. Everyone is noticing her now whether she likes it or not, and even the media is intrigued by her incredible story. Getting everything she once wanted has created new problems—problems that are growing more terrifying every day.

Because Carrie Roberts is shrinking.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Release Day Blitz & Giveaway: Vampire Academy 10th Anniversary Edition


Title: Vampire Academy 10th Anniversary Edition 
Author: Richelle Mead
Publication Date: November 29, 2016
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 480
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Richelle Mead celebrates 10 years of Vampire Academy with an exclusive, never-before-seen collection of stories that sheds new light on the world and its players:

  • » The Turn and the Flame takes a deeper look into the dark stain on the Ozera dynasty...
  • » Hello My Name is Rose Hathaway tracks the shenanigans that ensue when Rose and Dimitri become unlikely teammates in a high-stakes scavenger hunt...
  • » The Meeting gives us a glimpse of Rose Hathaway through Dimitri's eyes...
  • » From the Journal of Vasilisa Dragomir unearths the princess's private thoughts from a transformative period of her life...

St. Vladimir's Academy isn't just any boarding school--it's a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They've been on the run, but now they're being dragged back to St. Vladimir's--the very place where they're most in danger...

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy's ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi--the world's fiercest and most dangerous vampires--make Lissa one of them forever.

So here's the kind of embarrassing truth - I've never read this series. Way back in the day when this series came out, just after I'd graduated from high school, I had never even heard of young adult fiction! (My library sucked.) I WISH I had known about Vampire Academy! It was around the same time this series was being published that I was devouring adult vampire romance novels. I'm so disappointed I didn't know about this!

As a 28 year old adult I read YA almost exclusively, although I admit that I've never gone back to read this one. But have you seen thave cover? I've heard so many amazing things! Badass heroines? Swoon-worthy romance? I am absolutely committing to finally reading Vampire Academy. And now, with all the extras being included for the anniversary edition, how can I say no?

Have you read this series? Did you love it? Let me know in the comments!



GIVEAWAY 

Enter for a chance to win one of five (5) paperback copies of Vampire Academy 10th Anniversary Edition by Richelle Mead (ARV = $11.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 9:00 AM Eastern Time on November 29, 2016 and 11:59 PM Eastern Time on December 5, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about December 12, 2016. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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Top Ten Tuesday #124: books for the littles in your life


Today's Topic: 
Books to Buy the awesome
Young Readers In Your Life


Okay, so no I don't have kids... BUT I have a niece and nephews galore. My niece is 9 years old and loves to read so I've actually had to think about books she might enjoy reading. I've already sent her a couple of these and I've enjoyed every single book on this list myself. Maybe the littles in your life might like some of them too!



Book of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
House of Secrets by Chris Columbus & Ned Vizzini



The Land of Elyon by Patrick Carman
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
Peter & the Starcatchers by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
Serafina & the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
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Monday, November 28, 2016

Book Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch


Title: Dark Matter
Author: Blake Crouch
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Publisher: Crown
Pages: 342
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“Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable--something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe. 

Earlier this year I read Pines by Blake Crouch and LOVED it! Although I didn't know anything about this book, I picked up Dark Matter solely based on the fact that the author had really impressed me in the past. The cover isn't much to look at if I'm being honest, but the synopsis sounded super interesting! Based on my past experience, I fully expected to be blown away and I wasn't disappointed.

Jason is the protagonist of this story and he has a pretty all right life, thank you very much. No, he isn't a huge success in his field, but he has an incredible wife and kid and is quite content. Unfortunately, he's snatched from his world and unwillingly thrown into another one. Jason was an amazing character who was extremely intelligent but also able to explain all the science-y things in a way that didn't make him irritating. It was easy to sympathize with him as he did everything in his power to make it home to his wife and son.

From the moment Jason was taken, the ride was breakneck. I was constantly wondering what the heck was going on, which is honestly my favorite way to spend a book. We find things out along with Jason and there's a lot of uncertainty surrounding where he is, how he got there, and how he will get home. As things began to unravel and the twists were revealed I found myself truly shocked more than once - exactly what I expected in a book by Blake Crouch. Dark Matter isn't just your average mystery though. This book presents deep questions and explores them in thought provoking ways that may make you examine your own life.

Although this book has a contemporary setting, there were a lot of other components to the world building that the author really did a fantastic job with. I loved the way he melded the sci-fi elements of the story into the "real world" in a way that felt completely believable. A sense of unease surrounded everything and made the twists that much more exciting!

My complaints about Dark Matter are few, but I did feel that there was a bit too much repetition at times and not enough explanation. There were locations visited briefly on Jason's journey home that I would have loved to know more about. I also wish there had been some kind of follow up after he and his travel buddy went their separate ways. These issues weren't enough to ruin the experience, though.

Dark Matter is the kind of book that I really can't say much about without spoiling, so I'm going to have to cut this short. This book wasn't perfect (like Pines was), but it was immensely enjoyable and was really just a thrilling ride. I enjoyed going with Jason on his journey to find his wife again and loved figuring out the pieces of the puzzle along the way. If you're a fan of sci-fi and huge twists, this is definitely the book for you!




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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Weekly Recap: 11/20 - 11/26



Tracy's Happenings Off the Blog

This week was unusually exciting! The week began with a new co-blogger! In case you missed it, MC is here now and will be posting regularly on the blog! I'm so excited to have her around and I'm looking forward to everything she's going to bring to Cornerfolds.

Later in the week I had the opportunity to go to an amazing Christmas dessert party at Disney's Hollywood Studios. There was a ton of food and an incredible projection and fireworks show at the Chinese Theater.

Thanksgiving came and went with a simple meal and a Poldark binge. I didn't do much Black Friday shopping at all, though. I prefer to skip the crowds... On Saturday we went to Epcot for Jim Shore signing and then spent the evening at Disney Springs for their new Christmas drone show! I expect things to return to boring immediately.


New Books

Library:

Trades:


This Week I Read




MC's Happenings Off the Blog

Well, the most exciting thing that happened this week was announcing that I would be a co-blogger here at Cornerfolds! It has reignited my love for blogging and I have been working on organizing and planning ever since!

This week was also a very short work week for me, so I have been spending a ton of time with friends and family. It has been absolutely amazing, but I haven't been doing very much reading at all. I'm currently listening to Cinder while I'm driving around in the car and I am slowly working my way through Heartless as well. It has been a Marissa Meyer kind of week! I am also reading Empath by S. Usher Evans in preparation for #ReadIndie!


New Books

For Review:

Purchased:


This Week I Read




In Case You Missed It

Monday audiobook review of The Young Elites
The topic was a Thanksgiving freebie for Top Ten Tuesday
On Wednesday I introduced my new co-blogger, MC
Friday audiobook review of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
On Saturday I ate a lot of gingerbread for Disney For the Weekend


Upcoming Reviews



I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Disney For the Weekend: reviewing all the gingerbread


//Disclaimer: I am not a food critic and I don't know what I'm talking about//


It's the most wonderful time of the year: Christmas at Disney World! It's at this time each year that the most magical place on earth gets just a little more magical with the addition of holiday touches everywhere you look. One of my absolute favorite parts of a Disney Christmas is the gingerbread! Last weekend my husband and I headed over to the Magic Kingdom to have dinner and ride all three mountains and on the way out we decided to stop by the Contemporary Resort for gingerbread.

Each year in November resorts around Disney property create incredible displays from gingerbread. The Contemporary Resort builds a two-dimensional castle (this year the theme was Frozen, shockingly), while two others go for three-dimensional structures. The Grand Floridian is the most impressive with its massive gingerbread house, made even cooler by the fact that the house is an actual store that sells gingerbread! Over at the Yacht Club Resort you can find a giant carousel made of gingerbread that's nearly life-size!

While I've always known that gingerbread can be purchased at each location, it wasn't until this year that I realized each resort has a very different recipe for their gingerbread. I made it my mission to get all three and try them out!


As you can (maybe) see from the ingredients list, they each have slightly different ingredients and, presumably (based on the order of ingredients), recipes. I didn't know how many different ways gingerbread could possibly taste, but I set out to test each one. For science!


Exhibit A

First up was Olaf, the gingerbread shingle from Disney's Contemporary Resort. This little guy is what the gingerbread castle is made of and I expected him to be fantastic for obvious reasons. The first thing I noticed was that this gingerbread shingle was really hard to break. It was super flexible and took a few tries. This gingerbread was very dense and tasted very strongly of ginger. (It was almost tangy.) While it was okay, I don't think I'd buy this one again. I like my gingerbread to be a little less spicy.


Exhibit B

The next gingerbread I sampled devoured came from Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. This is what the entire gingerbread house/shop is made out of and it's amazing to see in person! While this gingerbread is the plainest of the bunch, don't let it fool you! There's a thick slab of dark chocolate on the bottom that makes it even more delicious. The first thing I noticed about this one is that it smells just like the cookies my relatives send from Germany (you know, these). It was much less dense and had a much more cake-like texture. It was also a little sweeter and much less gingery than the first! I'll definitely be going back for more of this one.


Exhibit C

The last gingerbread shingle I had to hunt down was at Disney's Yacht Club Resort and I really had to hunt. Instead of being sold at the gingerbread carousel, this one can only be found in the Marketplace, a small store off the lobby. The Yacht Club's gingerbread is much, much thinner than either of the other two and it's also the sweetest. There's a sweet glaze on top and a thin layer of chocolate brushed on the bottom. There's also a white chocolate Yacht & Beach Club logo over much of the top. The ginger in this one was definitely overpowered by the sweetness, not that I'm complaining. This one was also the least bang for your buck. I'll probably buy another one though, because it's already gone.



So there it is, folks. I purchased and ate three different types of Disney World gingerbread just for you. If I had to rank them, the Yacht Club gingerbread would be my favorite (because sugar) and the Contemporary would be my least favorite (because spice). I see more Disney food projects in my future...


Do you prefer your gingerbread full of more sugar or spice? 
What's your favorite holiday treat?
Let me know in the comments!




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Friday, November 25, 2016

Audiobook Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli


Title: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: Becky Albertalli
Narrator: Michael Crouch 
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
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Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met. 

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda has received a heck of a lot of hype since it's release in 2015, and after listening to this audiobook, I am jumping right on that hype bandwagon. The praise this book has received is so well-deserved, and Simon vs. has become one of my go-to contemporary recommendations now.

Simon Spier is gay, and not exactly out yet. The story opens with Simon being confronted by Martin, a classmate who has stumbled upon some email conversations between Simon and his anonymous internet friend, Blue. Martin threatens to out Simon and Blue unless Simon helps him get a date with the girl he likes. And thus, calamity ensues. We get to watch Simon and Blue falling in love (which is one of the most adorable things in the universe) and discovering what kind of person they want to be. Meanwhile, Simon has to deal with Martin (who is seriously annoying) and the chances of his friends and family finding out about his sexuality before he is ready.

There are so many things to love about this book. The writing was quirky and funny and lighthearted, despite dealing with sexual identity and the acceptance (or lack thereof) of homosexuality in a high school setting. Important and serious topics were dealt with, but not in a way that made them feel like they were the only aspect of the book. Which is exactly as it should be. The LGBT aspects of the story were mixed right in with everyday things like discussions of Oreos and Simon's favorite singer, homework and drama rehearsal. Yes, Simon vs. is a story about a gay teen. But Simon is so much more than his sexual preference.

Simon is....well, he's pretty much awesome. I think literally everyone can find something in Simon that they can relate to. Whether it's his sexual identity or his fear of his mom finding his dirty magazines, his odd sense of humor or his desire to be loved and accepted the way he is. Simon says things throughout the story that most of us have thought as some point in time, no matter our age, gender, race, or sexuality. Simon is in all of us. And he can help us to recognize that no matter who we are, we all just want a little happiness (and maybe some Oreos).

If you haven't figured it out already, I absolutely adored this book. I am normally someone who goes into a contemporary book kicking and screaming; I really don't enjoy romance and I have found very few contemporaries that I actually enjoy. But, boy oh boy, this one melted my ice cold heart. I still get a warm and fuzzy feeling thinking about Simon and Blue. I feel like they are friends of mine that I will never forget. If you love cute romances, this is definitely the book for you. But even if you are a cynic like me, I think you will really like this one. Give it a try and let me know what you think!



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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

My co-blogger has arrived - Meet MC!

Happy almost-Thanksgiving, everyone! Today I have a happy announcement to share! My co-blogger search has come to an early end after a good friend applied and was a perfect fit for the position. I am so excited to welcome MC to the blog! Look out for some changes coming to the blog as we work to integrate her into Cornerfolds! MC has experience reviewing and blogging in her own corner of the blogosphere and will be contributing here weekly. Here she is to introduce herself!


Ahhhhh!!!! Hi everyone!!!!!!! I'm so excited to be here! Alright, now that I've gotten all that celebration out of my system, let me tell you a bit about myself....

I'm MC (only those who meet me in person get the privilege of knowing what that stands for) and, obviously, I love books! I am quite proud of my never-ending TBR pile, and I have no intentions of ever trying to decrease the number of books on my shelves. I love being surrounded by books, both read and unread. It makes me feel like I am filling my home with beloved friends and endless possibilities.

I love to read anything that can help me escape from everyday life, so fantasy and sci-fi are genres that I always reach for. I do read a bunch of adult and middle grade books, but YA will always hold a special place in my heart.

I started my own blog, Blame It On The Books, in June of 2015 and it was the best decision of my life! I found such amazing friends in the online book community and I've never looked back. I "met" Tracy this summer just after ALA in Orlando. Unfortunately, we weren't able to meet in person, but I'm hoping that can happen really soon! As soon as we met, we fell right into a great friendship and we have been talking just about every day since June!

I'm so incredibly excited to become a part of Cornerfolds and I can't wait to start sharing my thoughts with all of you! I absolutely love making new friends, so don't be shy! I would love to talk to you!

Here are all the places you can find me on the Internet:
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