Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Phantoms & Fairytales • RoseBlood + The Bear and the Nightingale

RoseBlood book cover
RoseBlood by A.G. Howard
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thanks!)
(I'm a Book Depository affiliate! It would be lovely if you used my referral link if you wanted to buy this book, as I get a very small commission from it and will be putting that cash towards giveaways and other blog-related things.)

Rune Germain is in possession of a gift: a talent for opera that is unsurpassed by any other. In an attempt to help Rune overcome her stage fright and train her voice, her mother sends her to a French arts conservatory located in an opera house that is rumored to be connected to The Phantom of the Opera. It is there that Rune meets Thorn – an elusive young man who helps her through her musical transformation and also understands her in a way that no one else can. But Thorn has a secret, and it is this that will lead to the crucial decision he will be forced to make - Rune’s safety or the wrath of the phantom that has been like a father to him all these years.

If you’re anything like me and you find The Phantom of the Opera fascinating, I think that you’ll enjoy RoseBlood. It’s an odd book filled with strange coincidences and eerie details, but these seem sensible things considering the source material Howard drew on. It doesn’t mean I didn’t roll my eyes a time or two, particularly when details were a little too pointed or convenient, but it definitely didn’t hinder my reading experience. In fact, the weirdness was what kept me reading! No, what actually proved to be bothersome in the end were the characters. I just could not find it in me to really care about any of them, even though I could see the effort put into giving them unique personalities. Still, Howard deserves credit for writing a tale that perfectly captures the feel of The Phantom of the Opera while also being an oddly fascinating story that stands all on its own.

The Bear and the Nightingale book cover
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: January 17, 2017
Source: e-ARC downloaded from NetGalley (Thanks!)
(I'm a Book Depository affiliate! It would be lovely if you used my referral link if you wanted to buy this book, as I get a very small commission from it and will be putting that cash towards giveaways and other blog-related things.)

Vasilisa lives with her family at the edge of the Russian wilderness, content to spend her nights listening to her old nurse tell fairytales by the fire. But when her mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings back a new wife – a wife who is city-bred, fiercely devout and deathly afraid of the spirits that linger in the house. Vasilisa is the only one who keeps up the rituals to honor the spirits, but her efforts are not enough to battle the tide of darkness and misfortune that threatens to overwhelm the village. With a stepmother determined to tame her by marriage or by convent, and the threat of death and destruction looming over her, Vasilisa must discover her own strength in order to defend the home and people she loves the most in the world.

The Bear and the Nightingale is a perfectly dreamy sort of read best suited to be read in the cold of winter, curled up under a comfortable blanket and with a warm drink at hand. It took me a couple of chapters before I settled properly into the storytelling style Arden employs, though in hindsight, I recognize its similarities to the telling of a fairy tale. But once I was hooked, I was hooked. I was content to allow each chapter to unfold, simply curious to discover what would become of Vasilisa and her family. It certainly helped that it was all too easy for me to feel predisposed towards caring about Vasilisa, who was the sort of brave young lady devoted to what she knows is right that I tend to gravitate towards. Magical and imaginative and utterly transporting, I enjoyed this novel, and believe that others will as well.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Table for Two #1

I'm really excited that Rachel of Hello, Chelly and I have teamed up once more to bring you a brand spanking new collaboration that involves two of my favorite things - New York City and food. We're proud to introduce Table for Two, where the two of us will be highlighting restaurants and dessert spots in New York City. You'll be hearing our personal opinions on the place and the food, as well as where you can go to try it out for yourself.

For our inaugural edition of Table for Two, Rachel & I had dinner at Burger & Lobster (and you can read all about that on Rachel's blog) and then finished off the night with dessert at Dough, which is personally one of my favorite doughnut places in New York City.

We paid a visit to the Flatiron branch of Dough, a branch that only opened in October 2014. It's a tiny little place with lots of natural brick walls, a long wooden table and chairs where people can sit while they eat doughnuts and have coffee, and a little barstool type situation right by the window. Their simple set-up is in tandem with their classic doughnut selections, coffee choices and decoration.

In case you hadn't guessed, I really love their doughnuts - and Rachel does too! They make their doughnuts on a regular basis throughout any given day, so you're always guaranteed to be having something fresh from the oven. Unlike majority of the doughnuts I've tried from other places, the size of these doughnuts are pretty darn substantial. I usually eat half in one sitting, and save the other half for later (which is what happened when we visited)! They have a variety of flavors ranging from the classic (glazed, cinnamon sugar and chocolate cocoa nib, to name a few) to the more adventurous or sweet (hibiscus, passion fruit, mocha-almond crunch, among the many) to the seasonal choices.  I went with a plain glazed, which is my favorite from them, and paired it with a latte. (The coffee they offer in their Flatiron branch is actually Intelligentsia Coffee, and I'm particularly fond of their lattes and iced coffees in general.)

I absolutely love Dough, and will continue to frequent their shop, whether as a random snack stopover, an early morning breakfast stop or a dessert option on any given day. The price is right for their doughnuts, considering the size and taste! You can find Dough on 14 W 19th St. (at 5th Ave.), as well as in City Kitchen on 700 8th Avenue (at 44th St.) and UrbanSpace Vanderbilt on 230 Park Ave (at 45th St.).

2017 Love-a-Thon

Our new logo was created by Rachel of Hello, Chelly!
I’m so pleased to be able to announce today that the 2017 Love-a-Thon is happening - and official sign-ups are open today. I’m really excited to be hosting this event again, particularly as I’ve got a great team of co-hosts I’m working with - Cee of The Novel Hermit & Mel of The Daily Prophecy (who you’ll remember from last year), and Kristin of Super Space Chick (who will be joining us for the first time)! We’ve come up with some really fun ideas to challenge you creatively, and to encourage you to develop and strengthen the positive friendships you’ve formed in our online book community. Whether it’s a blog, a Twitter account, an Instagram account or a YouTube channel, we’re so excited to invite you to help spread the love again this year!

The Love-a-Thon is an event dedicated to spreading positivity and love. It’s time dedicated to visiting other bloggers/Instagrammers/BookTubers, leaving a comment or two, making new friends and fostering positivity among the members of our amazing community. As in the previous years, the event will include mini challenges, Twitter chats and giveaways galore! The full schedule will be sent to you when you’ve signed up, so you can start preparing your posts in advance. 

We’re really looking forward to seeing everyone participate in sharing love, encouragement and inspiration all over the bookish communities on the blogosphere, Instagram and YouTube! And, of course, we hope everyone will have fun. If you’re interested in participating, please fill in the sign-up form below. Once that’s done, you can consider yourself an official #LoveAThon participant!


Who can participate in the Love-a-Thon? All book bloggers, Bookstagrammers, BookTubers, and authors are welcome to jump in! We have challenges spanning three different platforms (blogs, YouTube & Instagram), and you can participate as much or as little as you’d like. (Everyone is invited to join in on the Twitter chats though!)

When is the Love-a-Thon happening? We’re going to be maintaining the two day schedule, with the event taking place from February 18, 12:00AM EST to February 20, 12:00AM EST. 

How can I sign up? All you need to do is fill out the form below! You can grab the banner up top to share on your sidebar or your social media platform of choice. Sign-ups will be open up until February 18, though it’s recommended that you sign up early so that you receive the schedule and can plan ahead.

How can I help? There are two ways you can choose to help. First, you can help us spread the word! Last year’s number of participants was above and beyond anything I could have imagined. I’m hoping there are even more of us this time! Second, you can donate to the giveaways! If you want to donate ANYTHING – books, swag, services – please email with details.

Twitter? Use the official hashtag (#LoveAThon) when tweeting about the event. I’ll be checking on it every now and then, so use it if you want me to see your tweets!

Questions, comments, concerns or suggestions? If you have any other concerns that were not answered here, feel free to send an email to or to tweet any of us (@alexalovesbooks • @tnhcee • @superspacechick • @dailyprophecy). 

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up to participate in the 2017 Love-a-Thon today! If you do sign up, please know that we are so grateful and so excited to have you joining us this year. This community is really wonderful, and constantly growing, and is made up of such unique individuals. It’s truly awesome to be able to celebrate it, and to celebrate each other too!

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Haul-y Jolly Christmas

In case you're new around here, I'll let you know now that I'm big on being silly. This is especially true when it comes to giving my book haul videos a title, as you can see. Anyway, I'm finally giving you guys a glimpse of all the books that came my way in December, whether they were from publishers, friends or my own shopping. Hope you enjoy! Thank you to all the generous folk who sent these books and review copies my way.

Books I Bought
Gotham Academy, Vol. 3: Yearbook by Brenden Fletcher, Dustin Nguyen, Derek Fridolfs, Raphael Albuquerque
The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee
Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

Books I Got From Home
The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Books I Got From Publishers (and a massive thank you for all of them!)
Four Weddings and a Sixpence by Julia Quinn, Elizabeth Boyle, Stefanie Sloane & Laura Lee Guhrke
Losing the Light by Andrea Dunlop
Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken
The Cursed Queen by Sarah Fine
The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
Dreamworld by Kit Alloway
Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
Windwitch by Susan Dennard
To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough
Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza
Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Gauntlet by Holly Jennings
The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman
The Map That Leads to You by J.P. Monninger
Kiss Cam by Kiara London
The Nerdy and the Dirty by B.T. Gottfred
Enter a Glossy Web by McKenna Ruebush
At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson
Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Chloe Snow's Diary: Confessions of a High School Disaster by Emma Chastain

Books From Friends & Family (and a massive thanks for all of them!)
The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows
Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder
101 Grimms Fairy Tales
Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix
The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen
Beauty and the Beast illustrated by Kinuko Y. Craft
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
The Second Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares
Girls in Pants by Ann Brashares
Forever in Blue by Ann Brashares
Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (German paperback ed.)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (German paperback ed.)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (French paperback ed.)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling (UK paperback ed.)
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Chinese ed.)
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (Chinese ed.)
Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas (Chinese ed.)
Naruto Box Set 2: Vol. 28-48 by Masashi Kishimoto
Naruto Box Set 3: Vol. 49-72 by Masashi Kishimoto

(P.S. If you wound up wanting to buy any of these books, it would be great if you used my referral link as I'm a Book Depository affiliate. I get a very small percentage from your purchase, and will be putting that cash towards giveaways and other blog-related things.)

What books have you acquired recently?

All Good Things #2

While I was in the office last Friday, the first official work Friday of the new year, I was struck with a blend of anxiety and panic. I traced its origins to a combination of sleep deprivation (I'd had a late night prior) and clutter stress (from the mounds of paper taking up desk space and making me feel trapped), leading into feeling generally anxious about my life and the future. I don't know, but it occurred to me to bring back something I'd done last year - a list of all the good things that make me happy at the moment. It's a great way to remind myself that things aren't all bad, and that there are definitely things to celebrate! I'd highly encourage making your own list, especially if you're prone to anxiety like I am.

newly rearranged book shelves
walking through Central Park on a sunny afternoon
the Shroom Burger from Shake Shack
festive lights in our living room
life organization and to do lists
savoring a really good book
wearing cozy socks
watching the snow fall outside my window
three amazing books in a row
feeling eager to blog again
watching movies that inspire me creatively
Dunkin Donuts hot chocolate
Castle on the Hill
finding out Michelle Branch is going to release a new album
being surrounded by people who inspire me

What good things are you grateful for right now?


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