Wildcard by Marie Lu

Title: Wildcard
Author: Marie Lu
Release Date: September 18th, 2019
Pages: 352 pages 
Source: Hardcover 
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo's new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she's always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side. Determined to put a stop to Hideo's grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone's put a bounty on Emika's head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn't all that he seems--and his protection comes at a price. Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?
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Marie Lu has done it again,

Whenever I begin a new book by Marie Lu, I clear out my day’s schedule and prepare myself for the rush of adrenaline that’s sure to follow, because I already know that it’s going to be out of this world. It’s sort of like getting ready for a special occasion. I started and finished Wildcard in a little over a day and good gracious, even my dreams started happening in Warcross.

The characters in Wildcard are as witty and as clever as they were in Warcross, and the world building was just phenomenal. In this duology, Marie Lu has not only triumphantly constructed an incredibly vibrant game universe--that is easily accessible--but has also reimagined a mystical future. Marie’s descriptions of the Warcross realm are detailed enough that the foundations feel sturdy, yet also loose enough that it allows for the reader to cultivate their own interpretation of the game’s many details.

Going back to the cast, I felt that all of the characters’ arcs grew tremendously throughout this finale. There were so many motives and faces to Marie’s characters, that I was constantly torn between whose side to choose. Ultimately, it took getting through a good chunk of the novel to realize who the true villain was--and what a classic plot twist! We learn so much more about Hideo’s backstory in this sequel, which almost made this story feel more like Hideo’s than Emika’s. I loved (almost) all of the new characters whom we were introduced to and despite the book being of an average novel length, I felt that the character descriptions were sufficient enough to provide a solid understanding of even the newest characters.

This conclusion packed so much emotional torment and adrenaline into 300-some pages that I didn’t regret losing sleep to finish it. As much as it took out of me to read Wildcard, every minute that I spent with this book was totally worth it. I loved Wildcard way more than Warcross, because it was so much more emotional with twists that no one could have predicted. Although I was left satisfied with the ending, I was certainly also left wanting more of the story, more of Emika and Hideo, and more details regarding the technologies.

Every time I read a new Marie Lu book, my expectations are that this new read could not possibly top the last one. And every time, I’m left with a new favorite. Marie Lu’s stories are always filled with incredible amounts of fine details and creative plots. Her characters are dimensional and their personalities are easily relatable. After Wildcard, I simply cannot wait for what Marie Lu has in store for us next.



BLOG TOUR: Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye | Transforming Into a Taiga

Title: Circle of Shadows
Author: Evelyn Skye
Pages: 400 pages
Release Date: January 22nd, 2019
Source: Hardcover from the publisher
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied behind his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.

As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging to the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark. So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group.Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.

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Welcome to the last stop of the Circle of Shadows blog tour!! In a new fantasy world crafted by Evelyn Skye, there are gifted individuals known as Taigas who were blessed with magic from the gods and swore an oath to protect Kichona. The magic system of this book is really what gives it flare. I enjoyed reading about the magic and how it manifested throughout the story depending on who wielded it. In this world, your magic is a reflection of your personality. Taigas are assigned a name when they become taiga's apprentice. I found these names to be super unique to each character. Our main characters Sora and Daemon are named Spirit and Wolf. Sora named Spirit for her untamed and reckless spirit. She has a knack for not listening to authority and causing trouble. Daemon is named Wolf because of how his brute physical fighting skills outweigh his ability to perform magic. After immersing myself into this world for a good few days, it got me thinking...


What if I was a taiga in this world? 


If I was a taiga, my name would probably be Sea. My taiga name is supposed to be a reflection of myself, and I believe like the sea, I am free and also it's related to my love for marine biology and the ocean. If I could only conjure up one word to describe me, it would be Sea.

As for powers, Katara's water-bending skills immediately come to mind. I've always wanted the power to control water and possibly transform myself into marine creatures. Some people want to fly and some want to read minds, but I would like to have the ability to shape water and throw it at people. I would also totally love the ability to breathe underwater for hours on one breath. 

Now for the giveaway... 

The giveaway is opened internationally: one winner will get a hardcover of the book along with the designed tote bag (below). 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

How I Got An Internship At HarperCollins | Part 1

Hello, my name is Gabby (short for Gabrielle). I am one of the co-bloggers at The Book's Buzz. You've probably seen some of my reviews floating around on the blog, but today on a more serious note, I will be talking about my experience working at the publishing behemoth, HarperCollins. 

Last year, I interned at HarperCollins during the fall semester of my senior year. The program spanned over 10 weeks. At HarperCollins, I was the Editorial and Design intern for Harper Design. The imprint specializes in “fashion, television, art and popular culture, music, crafts, lifestyle, and interior design” which was a perfect match for me! My internships in the past have also been in design but in different fields such as fashion and media. Little by little, I built up my design experience in and out of school. In this 3-series post, I will be explaining my experience from the initial application to my time at HarperCollins.

This was actually my third round applying for publishing internships. I was studying Packaging Design and torn between working in branding or publishing for my first job out of college. I was lucky to have a schedule with two days off (even though I had a night class on one of them) and thought it was now or never. I knew I wouldn’t be able to have another chance to apply for a publishing internship once I finished school.

For my application, I filled all the required information and included a cover letter and resume (also required). In my one-page cover letter, I wrote about why I wanted to work at HarperCollins (as opposed to other publishers), the skills and experience that proved my capabilities for this role, and my dual love for design and books. Since I was applying for a design position, I also submitted my portfolio (PDF) and website. I would recommend sending a portfolio of your work whether that be writing samples or mock projects that proves your skills and strengths beyond what you say. As I mentioned earlier, I was in Packaging Design and therefore lacked publication work. To supplement my packaging projects, I joined Blush, a “student-run beauty and fashion publication” at school, where I was a layout designer. As a result, I had branding/packaging and publication work, thus I had a lot of projects that I could and pick and choose to include. Participating in the magazine allowed me the unique experience of collaborating with writers and working with an art director (who is an amazing designer and happens to be my BFF!)

I wasn’t betting on anything and to be honest I was afraid of the stress that the internship would bring. However, I received an email from HarperCollins asking me for a quick phone call. Holy crap! This was big! The fact that they even contacted me was a shock.

I remembered taking the call between the shelves in the library filled with nervousness. The recruiter explained to me that the position would be on the adult side with Harper Design. It was a short call about the responsibilities and tasks I would be taking on as an intern. After letting her know that I was still interested, we scheduled a meeting for my interview.

Research your interviewer and the company beforehand so you can go in with some knowledge. I looked at her Linkedin, social media, published work, etc. and found an old article that she wrote about on how to land a job at HarperCollins. I also researched any recent news I could find about the company and imprint. Having background information prepared me for the interview; for example, I could mention the article that she had written. However, I wouldn’t recommend speaking about information found exclusively the interviewer’s social media.

On the day of the interview, I saw Adam Silvera in the lobby which was a nice surprise! When I met with the recruiter, we talked about why I wanted to work here and my experience thus far. An important thing to do at all interviews is to ask questions. What are my responsibilities? Who do I report to? What your favorite part about working here? Engaging with them demonstrates that you are serious about the position and it also helps to clarify any confusion you may have. I actually had a small hiccup in the interview, which I apologized and then took a second to recompose myself. A small mishap is okay — don’t rush, take your time to absorb as much information out of the interview and show them why you are the best person for this job.

Afterward, I met with a member of the Harper Design team. We had a brief conversation about my skills, where I was at currently in school, and I also presented my portfolio. Again, I asked questions such as about the size of the team and the workload. Lastly, I sent a thank you note to both thanking for their time, reiterating my appreciation, and a detail from the interview. A personal detail goes a long way in helping them remember who you are because they interview a lot of people.

...And a day later, I received an email asking for me to call them, so I knew this had to be good news! They called letting me know that I received the internship and I was stunned! I didn’t believe it, really. Immediately after, I messaged Alex letting her know who freaked out a lot more on my behalf.

The whole process took around a month from the initial contact to my starting day. In the next post, I’ll be discussing my experience during the internship. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments and I’ll round them up for a Q&A post at the end!




The Geography of Lost Things by Jessica Brody

Title: The Geography of Lost Things
Author: Jessica Brody
Pages: 458 pages
Release Date: October 2nd, 2018
Source: Hardcover from Simon Teen
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
After Ali’s father passes away, he leaves his one and only prized possession—a 1968 Firebird convertible—to his daughter. But Ali doesn’t plan on keeping it. Not when it reminds her too much of all her father’s unfulfilled promises. So when she finds a buyer three hundred miles up the Pacific coast willing to pay enough money for the car to save her childhood home, Ali can’t wait to get going. Except Ali has no idea how to drive a stick shift. But guess who does?

Ali’s ex-boyfriend, Nico. And Nico has other plans.

He persuades Ali that instead of selling the car, they should “trade up” the items they collect on their trip to eventually reach the monetary amount Ali needs. Agreeing with Nico’s crazy plan, Ali sets off on a unique adventure that is unlike anything she ever could have expected.

And it’s through Ali’s travels, through the strangers she meets and the things that they value—and why they value them—that Ali eventually comes to understand her father and how his life may not have been as easy and carefree as she previously thought. Because just like the seemingly insignificant objects Ali collects, not everything is exactly as it appears.


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**I received an unsolicited copy of this book from the publisher. This has not affected my opinion of the book.**

Road trip contemporary stories are my kryptonite. This book tickled my desire to read a cute contemporary story about a road trip but also delivered in other aspects. I despise how I initially thought this was going to be yet another "road trip romance book", fitting the mold of all the road trip contemporaries I had read in the past. Beyond the surface, it is so much more. In fact, this book is one of the strongest contemporaries I've ever read.

I love contemporaries that are good at being cute and romantic, but I also appreciate when they succeed in teaching me valuable life lessons. I mean, going on a road trip with your ex-boyfriend? Straight from the start, I knew this book was going to be juicy! However, I did not think I was going to tear up, much less feel any emotional attachment to the characters in this story.

The relationships in this book are fragile and complex. In fact, there were so many relationships that could have each had their own books written about them! Ali and her father, Ali and her mother, Ali and Nico, Nico and his mother... Too many to name! I cared for these characters' well-being and carried their emotional burdens with me as I read on. I found the ex-boyfriend, Nico, to be especially interesting because from the start of the story he's introduced as this mystery.

There are some really small details in this book that I appreciated and GOD, THEY MADE ME LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH MORE. The story is so well thought out and the author pays so much attention to details like the information she puts in at the beginning of each chapter. You're going to have to read the book to find out what I mean. As you can see, I'm trying really hard right now to keep the spoilers out of this review!

There are so many beautiful things about this book, but mostly the true beauty lies in the lessons and message the book imparts. Messages about forgiveness and finding value in things and in relationships. This book isn't your typical road trip YA. It will tug your emotional heartstrings and possibly make you see the world in a new way. Although this book is nearly 500 pages long, it didn't feel that long. It was fast-paced and it almost felt like I was embarking on the road trip with these characters.

I was really nitpicky with my rating, which is perhaps the only reason I didn't end up giving it a 5-star rating. The book alternates from present to past with flashbacks, but I often felt it quite confusing determining whether we were in the present or the past. But overall, this book exceeded my expectations and I couldn't recommend it more. Brody's writing is reminiscent of a Morgan Matson book, which is probably why I flew through this one. For you die-hard contemporary readers, you will devour this book. For those who haven't read much contemporary, this one would also be perfect to start out with.



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