Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Defy the Stars (Giveaway)

Hello friends! It's still stayed quiet around the blog, though I'm slowly but surely bringing myself back into a regular routine. That being said, I'm really grateful for the opportunity to host another giveaway for all of my lovely readers. Thanks to the lovely people at Little, Brown, one person has the chance to win a finished copy of Defy the Stars, as well as a couple of additional goodies.

Defy the Stars book cover
Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
Series: Defy the Stars #1
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Twitter | Instagram)
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Buy the Book: Book Depository | Amazon | IndieBound

Our worlds belong to us.

She's a soldier.

Noemi Vidal is seventeen years old and sworn to protect her planet, Genesis. She's willing to risk anything--including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she's a rebel.

He's a machine.

Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel has advanced programming that's begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he's an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they're not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they're forced to question everything they'd been taught was true.

About Claudia Gray: Claudia Gray is the author of the bestselling Evernight series, Fateful, the Spellcaster trilogy, and the Firebird trilogy. She is also the author of the young adult Star Wars novels Lost Stars and the forthcoming Bloodline. She has worked as a lawyer, a journalist, a disc jockey, and a particularly ineffective waitress. Her lifelong interests include old houses, classic movies, vintage style, and history. She lives in New Orleans. Find her on Twitter.

I'm thrilled to be able to offer one lucky winner the chance to win a prize pack inspired by Defy the Stars, again thanks to the lovely folk over at Little, Brown, who are sponsoring the giveaway!

Take an Interstellar Adventure!

One (1) winner receives:
Copy of Defy the Stars
Nebula ear studs
Constellation ear cuffs

Giveaway open to US addresses only.
Prizing and samples provided by Little, Brown & Co.

Table for Two #4

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 the fourth month of Table for Two, I wanted to highlight one of our favorite places to grab a quick bite - Luke's Lobster. But before I go into details about dinner, let me just take a quick second to mention that Rachel is talking about where we went for dessert, Bibble and Sip, which is also another spot we really like. 

So, back to Luke's Lobster. I'm fairly confident that Rachel was actually the person who first took me to a Luke's Lobster ages ago for one of our Christmas dinners. These days, she and I like to visit their stall in City Kitchen (a spot that resembles a food court with a bunch of different offerings near Times Square) to satisfy our lobster roll cravings. Admittedly, it's not always an ideal spot to just sit and have a chat, since it's smack dab in the middle of the touristy part of New York City and there are usually a lot of people. But when you do snag a seat, whether it's on one of the barstools up against the windows, or at the tables sprinkled all throughout, it's definitely worth it. Luke's Lobster has a fairly unassuming stall, heralded by their logo on the carpet in front of it. The stall is all white brick, wooden crates and chalkboard menus, which work in harmony to give off a nautical vibe (at least, it does to me). 

They have a pretty staple menu of seafood offerings, with a couple of seasonal ones (grilled cheese, as well as macaroni and cheese, to name a few). But Rachel & I always get the same thing when we go: a lobster roll, a bag of potato chips and a Mexican cola. It's our staple favorite, and that's because it's delicious. I can already tell you that this lobster roll is my favorite I've had in the city. I go there specifically just to have it, because the taste is unparalleled by any other that I've tried. It's also the perfect portion, as I can easily finish the roll, the soda and the chips by the time dinner ends.

Clearly, I would tell you that you should pay a little visit to Luke's Lobster if you get the chance! They have multiple locations around the city, though the most easily accessible are the stall in City Kitchen on 700 8th Avenue (at 44th St.) and the Midtown East location on 207 E. 43rd St.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Maps and Myths • The Girl of Ink & Stars

I honestly cannot remember who I heard talk about The Girl of Ink & Stars first, though I know for sure it was on YouTube. But the minute I caught a glimpse of that cover - seriously, take a minute to admire how lovely it is - I immediately added it onto my list of books to buy. I did end up purchasing it, but it sat on my TBR for ages. Thank goodness for this reading challenge because it motivated me to finally pick it up to read... and I really enjoyed it!

The Girl of Ink & Stars is about a girl named Isabella Riosse, daughter of a cartographer who longs to travel to the faraway lands her father once mapped but finds herself instead trapped on her island home under the harsh rule of the Governor. When her closest friend disappears into the Forbidden Territories, she volunteers to be a part of the search and rescue team. Armed with her mapmaking skills and stories her father told her, Isabella discovers that there's more to her journey than just finding her lost friend than she could have ever dreamed there would be.

I devoured The Girl of Ink & Stars. Hargrave's writing is engaging from the very first line - "They say the day the Governor arrived, the ravens did too." (p.3). Each successive word, phrase, sentence draws the reader deeper into Isabella's story, breathing life into the characters and the island and the legends that surround it. Though I didn't necessarily come to love any of the characters in particular, I did love the story itself. It had the feel of a myth, a legend of old, about a place that might have once existed but no longer does... or at least, it can no longer be found. It has a very simple plot, true, but because of the colorful details woven into it, Hargrave succeeds at making it extraordinary. In case you couldn't tell, I really liked The Girl of Ink & Stars. Brief though it may be at under 250 pages (288 pages in total, to be precise), it was still a story that felt finished. I'm truly happy that I finally dove into this one, and I can't wait to read more stories from Hargrave in the years to come.

(Here's a bonus observation for you: this story made me think of the Disney film Moana quite a few times. There are certainly similarities between the two - a smart, stubborn girl who lives her entire life in the confined space of an island, the discovery that the legends that were told might have a real basis, the way magic plays a big part in each of their stories. If you enjoyed Moana like I did, then you'll probably want to read this book!)

The Girl of Ink & Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Publisher: Chicken House | Publication Date: May 5, 2016
Source: Paperback purchased via Book Depository
Buy the Book: Book Depository | Amazon | IndieBound

This novel was my third read for The Picky Pledge Reading Challenge! I'm really loving that this challenge is specifically helping me to actually read the books on my TBR, and I'm especially pleased that it was another book I really enjoyed. (That makes 3/3 books I loved for my PPRC reads so far.) Apart from reading one TBR book each month and reviewing it, Hannah & I are also answering a set of questions related to the month's category.

1) How long has this book been on your TBR? I believe that I've had this book on my TBR since January of 2017 (based on what I see on Goodreads), so it's actually not been on there for very long. Yay for reading books on my TBR sooner!

2) What about this book made you want to read it immediately? I was drawn to the book because of that stunning cover, but it was the premise that sealed the deal for me. I've always been fascinated by stories of mapmakers and adventure stories, and this book combined both in its story. 

3) Why did you end up waiting to read this book? I honestly think it was an 'out of sight, out of mind' sort of thing that prevented me from reading this one sooner. I hadn't properly organized my TBR at the start of the year, and only remedied that in March - which is when I realized I had this on there, and decided I needed to make it a point to read it sometime soon.


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