Waiting on Wednesday #22: Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta

Hi everyone! Welcome to another "Waiting on Wednesday" post (meme hosted by Breaking the Spine!). 

This week I am waiting on:

Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta
August 8th 2017, Margaret K. McElderry Books
YA Fantasy
To save her sister’s life, Faris must smuggle magic into a plague-ridden neighboring kingdom in this exciting and dangerous start to a brand-new fantasy duology.

Faris grew up fighting to survive in the slums of Brindaigel while caring for her sister, Cadence. But when Cadence is caught trying to flee the kingdom and is sold into slavery, Faris reluctantly agrees to a lucrative scheme to buy her back, inadvertently binding herself to the power-hungry Princess Bryn, who wants to steal her father’s throne.

Now Faris must smuggle stolen magic into neighboring Avinea to incite its prince to alliance—magic that addicts in the war-torn country can sense in her blood and can steal with a touch. She and Bryn turn to a handsome traveling magician, North, who offers protection from Avinea’s many dangers, but he cannot save Faris from Bryn’s cruelty as she leverages Cadence’s freedom to force Faris to do anything—or kill anyone—she asks. Yet Faris is as fierce as Bryn, and even as she finds herself falling for North, she develops schemes of her own.

With the fate of kingdoms at stake, Faris, Bryn, and North maneuver through a dangerous game of magical and political machinations, where lives can be destroyed—or saved—with only a touch. 
I was updating my Goodreads TBR earlier today (adding books, the usual), when I stumbled into this one! The cover is what first caught my eye because it's so shimmery (like the title!) and overall very pretty, but after reading the blurb I think this is one read I might enjoy. Magic, a quest, a villain forcing one's hand (and potential ally???), a prince, and a handsome magician -- doesn't this sound good? Tropey, but the kind I like :D

What are you waiting on this week? :)

First We Were IV Blog Tour: The Order of IV Apple Pie Recipe + Giveaway!

Hi everyone! Welcome to our stop in the First We Were IV Blog Tour hosted by Brittany of Brittany Book Rambles! First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy is a YA Mystery/Thriller to be published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on July 25th. This book is such an intriguing read, because not only does it have mystery, but it's full interesting facts and a gripping storyline that my sister & I certainly love in books. With that said, we are super thrilled for our stop to share with you a recipe inspired by First We Were IV plus a tour-wide giveaway that can be found at the end of this post. Enjoy!!!

First We Were IV
by Alexandra Sirowy
YA Thriller
July 25th, 2017 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 
A group of friends start a secret society in this out-of-control thriller from the author of The Telling and The Creeping that examines the all-consuming love of lifelong friendship—and what someone is capable of when they’re afraid of losing it.

Izzie loves nothing more than her three best friends, Viv, Graham, and Harry, and the bond the four of them share. And she’s terrified of their friendship falling apart next year when they go off to college. To bind them together, she decides to create that will belong only to them, a special thing that they’ll always share between the four of them. And so they dream up the Order of IV, a secret society devoted to mischief that rights wrongs and pays back debts. At first, it works like a charm—but when the Order of IV’s escapades get recognition beyond their wildest expectations, other people start wanting in. And soon, what started as a game of friendship is spiraling into something dangerous and beyond their control—and before it’s over, they’ll pay the ultimate sacrifice.

The Order of IV Apple Pie!

The inspiration behind this recipe is because in First We Were IV, the four main characters hang out (on most of their free time) in a Barn in the middle of an Apple orchard ever since they were kids. In this place is where they feel at home, where they truly can be themselves, and where eventually they decide to create the Order of IV (their secret society). Apple pie is the first thing that usually pops up into our minds when we have a lot of apples at hand, and we like to imagine that this pie recipe comes from the very apples from their Orchard, their safe haven, and fortress. The very witness to their strong friendship and the Order of IV.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
5.3 oz salted butter cut into small squares
1 oz vegetable shortening
3 tbsp light brown sugar
6 tbsp cold water

3 big apples 
1 tbsp Lemon juice 
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Apple juice reduction

Apple Juice Reduction:
11.32 oz Apple juice (any sweetened favorite brand)
2 tbsp Cornstarch
2 tbsp light brown sugar (optional: add more or less depending on your sweet tooth)

1 egg
1-2 tbsp of light brown sugar


Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F 10 minutes before baking.

For the crust, measure and prepare all the ingredients. In a bowl, add the flour and sugar and mix them together. Then, add the butter and shortening and knead by hand until you come up with crumbs. By that time, add the water and knead just enough to form a ball of dough. Wrap the dough in plastic and store in the freezer until needed (at least an hour). 

For the apple juice reduction, place a saucepan with the juice, sugar and cornstarch in low heat. Stir very quickly to dissolve the cornstarch then let it simmer for about 5 minutes or until it thickens. It should be about a cup.

For the filling, wash the apples very well and cut them into four pieces (forming wedges), remove the stems and the seeds. Slice the apples very thinly and in vertical, place them into a clean bowl and toss them around along with the lemon juice, the apple juice reduction, and the cinnamon. Reserve. 

To prepare the pie for baking, roll out the crust dough (about 1/4 inch thick) into the 8 inch baking pie plate, poke the crust several times with a fork, arrange the apple pie filling and use the leftover crust for decorations. Brush the pie with egg wash for a golden effect and sprinkle with sugar if desired. Place in the oven for 1-1.5 hours (depends on oven).

When the pie is baked, let it cool, then decorate with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream or with anything of your choosing. This time, we decorated with a crust shaped like the number IV in honor of the Order of IV!


One signed ARC of First We Were IV

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule: 

Week 1
March 27: Brittany's Book Rambles - Intro Post + Excerpt
March 28: YA and Wine - Most Mischievous YA Characters 
March 29: Rattle the Pages - Nail Art
March 30: Book Nerd Addict - Inventing A Secret Society
March 31: Fables Library - YA Books with Secret Societies

Week 2
April 3: Emily Reads Everything - Fancast 
April 4: The Eater of Books - History of Secret Societies
April 5: It Starts At Midnight - Author Guest Post: FIRST WE WERE IV vs. Alexandra's Previous Books
April 6: BookCatPin - Mystery YA List
April 7: A Book and a Cup of Coffee - Moodboard

Week 3
April 10: The Book Buzz - YA Thrillers You Need to Know About
April 11: The Candid Cover - Bookworm Initiation Quiz
April 12: Girl in the Pages - Book Recs for First We Were IV Characters
April 13: Stories and Sweeties - Author Guest Post - Story Behind the Title
April 14: Little Lillie Reads - Playlist

Week 4
April 17: Literary Legionnaire - Favorite Quotes 
April 18: Chapter by Chapter - Author Guest Post: Secret Society Initiation Rituals
April 19: Tales of the Ravenous Reader - Secret Societies You Never Knew Existed
April 20: YA Book Central - Author Guest Post:  3 Favorite Books About Secret Societies
April 21: The Bookish Feels - Author's March Favorites

Week 5
April 24: Waiting For Wentworth - Author Guest Post: Secret Society Rules
April 25: The Reader and the Chef - Book Inspired-Recipe (us!)
April 26Forever Lost in Literature - Author Guest Post: What We Do For Friendship
April 27Flying Through Fiction - Favorite YA Friendships
April 28One Way or an Author - Phone Wallpapers

About Alexandra Sirowy

Alexandra Sirowy is the author of the young adult thrillers THE CREEPING, the Bram Stoker Award® Nominated THE TELLING, and the upcoming FIRST WE WERE IV. Alexandra attended a women's college as an undergrad and received her graduate degree in International Studies. When she isn't writing, she loves to travel, read, eat, and get into mischief. She lives with her husband in Northern California.

The Week's Entrée #147

Hi everyone! Welcome to another edition of The Week's Entrée!

I'm pretty excited for this week because we have awesome things happening on the blog and on our bookstagram!

First up, tomorrow we'll be hosting our stop in the First We Were IV blog tour hosted by the lovely Brittany from Brittany's Book Rambles and we'll be sharing something yummy with you here!

And on Friday, I get to finally reveal the character portrait of Tristan (from Stolen Songbird/The Broken Ones) on Instagram! Make sure you follow us there to see it!!!

We'll also have other stuff posted (hopefully) but for now, those are the two big things happening and I'm excited to share! ♥

New books!
{For review}
From publishers, authors, Netgalley/Edelweiss, etc.

Guuuuys! I screamed when I received an ARC of Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco from Hachette/Little Brown! I almost NEVER receive physical ARCs, let alone directly from the publisher since I'm INTL and I hardly ever request. It's so beautiful and lovely and aaaah ♥♥♥. Cannot wait to read it! Perhaps this week? ;)

Huge thanks to the publishers for granting me access to Piglettes by Clementine Beauvais and Den of Shadows by Christopher Byford! Both sound amazing. ♥


I also snatched a copy of Red Rising by Pierce Brown while it was on sale and will be buddy reading it with Danielle L. Jensen soon! It's so much fun to buddy read with an author because it gets really interactive as we discuss further into characters, plots, and overall writing style. Highly looking forward to it!
To Read This Week:

My sister & I are both reading First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy and it's turning into a good read. Pretty interesting stuff! Next up is Noteworthy by Riley Redgate. This book looks like so much fun and I have to read it before its release on May 2nd!

And that's it for The Week's Entrée! What are you all reading? :)

Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott Playlist

Hi everyone! Today I'm super excited to share with you the official playlist for Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott! This YA Psychological Thriller releases on May 16th from Entangled Teen and I cannot wait to get my hands on it. Victoria Scott is an AMAZING writer (I read and loved her Dante Walker series ♥♥♥) so I know this book will also be a great hit!

Before you check out the epic playlist (seriously, so great!), I've included below the synopsis for Violet Grenade so you can see what it's all about (in case you don't know yet). Enjoy!!!

Violet Grenade
by Victoria Scott
May 16th, 2017 from Entangled Teen
YA Psychological Thriller
DOMINO: A girl with blue hair and a demon in her mind.

CAIN: A stone giant on the brink of exploding.

MADAM KARINA: A woman who demands obedience.

WILSON: The one who will destroy them all.

When Madam Karina discovers Domino in an alleyway, she offers her a position inside her home for entertainers in secluded West Texas. Left with few alternatives and an agenda of her own, Domino accepts. It isn’t long before she is fighting her way up the ranks to gain the madam’s approval. But after suffering weeks of bullying and unearthing the madam’s secrets, Domino decides to leave. It’ll be harder than she thinks, though, because the madam doesn’t like to lose inventory. But then, Madam Karina doesn’t know about the person living inside Domino’s mind.

Madam Karina doesn’t know about Wilson.
*Violet Grenade Playlist*

Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked - Cage the Elephant: While this song could fit a few aspects of Violet Grenade, it mostly makes me think of Dizzy. 

 Time to Dance - Panic! at the Disco: Fast and upbeat and kind of dramatic, this song fits several parts in Madam Karina’s Home for Burgeoning Entertainers.

 Mama - My Chemical Romance: Domino has...mother issues. Which are delved into in Violet Grenade, so I’ll just suffice it to say that this song fits that. 

 Careful - Paramore: This song definitely represents Domino around the end of the novel. She sees what she wants and goes for it.

 Heathens - twenty one pilots: This one touches on all of the characters -- Dizzy and Madam Karina and Poppet and Cain and of course Domino. 

 Miss Atomic Bomb - The Killers: The title alone. Soooo Domino. 

 Blank Space - Taylor Swift: This song doesn’t connect so much in exact words, but the obsessive tone to it is very WILSON. 


Ahhh, I love this playlist and now I cannot wait to listen along while I read Violet Grenade! Thanks Victoria Scott for sharing this with us. I love book playlists and even more when they are created by the authors. Much more special ♥. And friends, I took the freedom and created a Youtube playlist for Violet Grenade with all these songs so you can play them back to back. Oh, and of course, don't forget to add Violet Grenade to your TBR!


About Victoria Scott

Victoria Scott is the acclaimed author of eight books for young adults. Her most recent release, Titans, received two starred reviews, and Fire & Flood is a 2017 Spirit of Texas Reading Program book. Victoria’s novels are sold in fourteen different countries, and she loves receiving reader emails from across the world. You can find her online at VictoriaScott.com.  

Book Review: The French Impressionist by Rebecca Bischoff

Title: The French Impressionist
Authors: Rebecca Bischoff
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Amberjack Publishing
Publication Date:  December 6th, 2016
Page Count:  250 pages
Format:  eARC
Source: Netgalley

Rosemary is fifteen and gloriously free, on her own for the very first time. Part of an exchange program for aspiring artists, she arrives in southern France with one goal: she doesn't plan to leave, ever. She wants a new life and a new identity. But her situation, crafted from lies big and small, is precarious. As Rosemary struggles to hide her lack of artistic talent and obvious communication disorder from her new family, she must ultimately choose whether or not she'll tell the biggest lie of all, even if it means destroying the life of someone she cares about.
*The Reader's Review*
My rating: 4/5 stars
I rarely pick up books and start reading them immediately just because of a cover, but this happened with The French Impressionist. It was a "love at first sight" kind of thing that I knew I had to read and I'm glad I did since I ended up enjoying it. 

What I Liked:

This is the first time I read a book where the main character has a communication disorder and it was interesting to learn about it along with how the character handles it. Rosemary's struggle is that when she tries to speak, her words come out tangled and not always understandable. She even practices in her head exactly what she's going to say in an effort to get it right, but most often than not, it still doesn't come out the way she wants them to. This impediment is something that weighs heavily on her and what drives her to do the stuff she does in this book, yet I like how it doesn't stop her from having a lively personality, the need to learn and practice a foreign language, or to try out new things. 

I also enjoyed The French Impressionist's setting. This book takes place in the beautiful city of Nice, France, where there's a perfect balance of old and modern architecture, a great deal of sunshine, and vibrant shops and markets. It was a true joy to explore this colorful city in Rosemary's shoes, especially Sylvie and Emile's shop and apartment. It was a nice change visiting a different destination in France!

What didn't do it for me:

Most of the characters in The French Impressionist are likeable and/or interesting, but I had a hard time accepting Rosemary's mother and her boyfriend. Mostly because I feel that they deserve another ending and not the "nice" one they get. At least her mother since her attitude is simply unacceptable, despite her reasons.

And, while I do like Rosemary, I can't deny the fact that in some parts she disappoints me too. It's just that her need to keep hold of her freedom makes her say and do stuff that are not okay at all, making it too hard to pass them up for young age. I expected more from her.

Final Verdict:

There are a few things that I disagree about in The French Impressionist, but I still had a great time reading it. The writing is great and the story is quite vivid-- perfect read for a day at the beach!

Waiting on Wednesday #21: Den of Shadows by Christopher Byford

Hi everyone! Welcome to another "Waiting on Wednesday" post (meme hosted by Breaking the Spine!). 

This week I am waiting on:

Den of Shadows by Christopher Byford
May 12th 2017, HQ Digital
YA Fantasy
The Gambler’s Den weaves its away across the desert… But will it stop at your station?
While fighting off poverty in the blistering desert heat a travelling casino offers one night of solace. One night to forget all your troubles. But once on board there is more to the show than meets the eye: enter Franco, the elaborate ringleader, Wyld the stowaway thief and Misu the fire breathing showgirl.

In a kingdom ruled by the law Franco ensures his den remains in line, ruling with an iron first. But when he’s faced with saving the fate of the train, and those on board, he may be forced to break his own rules. Life on the den isn’t just a job but a way of life. And now you’re about to find out why!

Welcome to the den…
Den of Shadows is promoted as "Perfect for fans of Caraval, Rebel of the Sands, and The Night Circus" so I'm pretty intrigued! I have not read Caraval yet and I'm barely 1/4th into The Night Circus (loving the audiobook!) but this kind of magical reads always pull me in and I know it will be a great read. Also, A TRAVELLING CASINO. Doesn't that sound so cool?????

What are you waiting on this week? :)

The Week's Entrée #146

Hi everyone! Welcome to another edition of The Week's Entrée!

So I'm currently translating to Spanish my favorite book, Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen, so mom can read it and whoa, what did I get myself into?! It's not that it's turning out to be very hard (I'm just a bit slow) but because mom is demanding chapter after chapter and my neck hurts from all the work LOL. But I'm excited that mom is liking it! ♥♥♥ Now wish me luck so I can finish it faster. (Also huge thanks to Danielle for giving me permission to do so!)

Speaking of Stolen Songbird, I'll be participating in the Character Trading Card reveal for The Broken Ones over on Instagram along with other awesome bookstagrammers! These character cards are an incentive for all the lovely people who preorder The Broken Ones! If you preorder, go to Danielle L. Jensen's website and submit proof to claim the incentive! Besides cards, you will also be getting swag, including a signed bookplate. OPEN INTL. :D


(Just kidding, it's never over.)
New book!
{Kindle freebie}

I managed to snag a copy of A French Girl in New York by Anna Adams while it was free on Amazon! It looks super cute and I hope I can read it soon. YA + NYC + A bit of Paris? Yes please! ♥
To Read This Week:

I still need to read The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. WHY CAN'T I CATCH UP, WHYYYY. So yeah, this will be the only book I will state that I am reading because I never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever.... read the ones I say I will. I suck, I know. I promise, this week will be my week! 

And that's it for The Week's Entrée! What are you all reading? :)

Book Review: The Purple Saxifrage by Sieana Makeshift

Title: The Purple Saxifrage
Author: Sieana Makeshift
Genre: Young Adult
Published: January 23rd 2017
Page count: 230 pages
Format: Paperback
Source: From author in exchange of an honest review

Book Summary:
Ariel lives in a high-tech city buried deep underground. They have long forgotten about the world outside. She is inadvertently pulled into a radical anarchist movement. Who can she trust when the one she loves betrays her? Where can she turn when her life is just 1s and 0s that can easily be hacked?

Talia lives a nomadic lifestyle in the dangerously unpredictable wilderness above ground. But she is not at all ready to be married off. Can she survive alone?

Their futures are unknowingly intertwined.

*The Chef's Review*
    Actual rating: 3.5/5 stars
The Purple Saxifrage is an intriguing dystopian young adult book. It was a very quick read which left me wishing for more. 

What I liked:

The plot of this book is interesting. It talks about the way humans were forced to live in order to survive the future and its limitations. Talia, one of the main characters of this book, lives on a kind of campground civilization. They move around a lot and the people divide their work with basic needs and also classify themselves with colors for the different tasks and fuctions they each do. Meanwhile Ariel, the other main character, lives underground in a city with all the technology the human civilization has created up to date. 

I love the way the chapters kept changing back and forth between the two main characters. It felt like I was reading two very different stories and where fate brings those two together. Ariel and Talia live in  very different realities without truly knowing that they exist and both of them have their doubts and question the society in which they live. That same uncertainty is what pushed them into taking alternative decisions to alter their lives.

What didn't do it for me:

Even though I liked the plot and the characters, I felt that the story needed to have more details and explanations as to the hows and whys the society came to be the way it is. I needed to know more to truly understand each of the characters' situation. It's such a shame because it had some very interesting characters that the story introduced that gave color to the plot in a funny, sassy, and quirky way. Ahh! So much potential!

Final Verdict:

The Purple Saxifrage is an interesting read albeit a bit on the short side. I'm not sure if this is part of a series (this book ends well by closing a few of its major plot points) but there's definitely a lot of room left to explore if it were to continue with a sequel. I'd be tempted to check it out if it did!

Happy reading! -- The Chef