Sunday, December 2, 2018

Returning to the Book Community + Dealing with Loneliness and Depression

Hi everyone,

Wow, it's been about a year or more since the last time I posted on my bookstagram account and on this blog. To start, let me tell you that it's been quite the year; saying it's been a rollercoaster would be an understatement. You'll read below the good, bad, and everything in between that has happened this past year and why I'm finally ready to come back to the community that had felt like a second family to me. I felt terrible for stepping away from this family but also glad that I did, because I've learned a lot about myself and had to confront some things that I wouldn't have been able to do in the past. So, dear reader, I thank you for coming to my blog to read this post and hope that something I say below connects to you.

Lets start from August 2017, the month I started my first job straight out of college. Landing that job, the one I'm still currently in, felt like a damn miracle when I got it. Like any other college graduate, you immediately worry about your future and stress about finding a job as fast as possible in order to start being an actual adult in this competitive, chaotic world of ours. But when I got the job, I was over the moon, beyond grateful and amazed at myself for getting it less than two months after graduating from college (I still am thankful and proud of myself). And I hadn't even turned 22 yet and felt like I was on the right track. But that was the beginning of the domino effect that led to (what felt like) a never-ending book slump and my hiatus from bookstagram, as well as the book community.

I'll start with some good things that have happened over the course of the year: Went to concerts performed by Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Maroon 5 (#1 favorite band), and Panic! At the Disco (twice!); attended (and still go to) events through my job; celebrated New Year's Eve with a close friend from college; gushed over Love, Simon and To All the Boys I've Loved Before movies; visited Korea for the first time with my parents and cousin; took a day off work to celebrate my BFF's birthday (her b-day is the day before mine!); and more highlights that I can't think of at the top of my head right now.

And now, here are the not-so-good things that happened while I was away: Mourned the sudden death of a close family friend who I loved like an aunt, learned my grandma has cancer, found out that my dad might also have cancer (doing more tests soon), learned that I have a lot of ovarian cysts and might not be able to have kids in the future, said goodbye to close coworkers as they changed careers, fell back into my six-year-old self's state of depression too many times this year, plagued with nightmares at least once a month of my parents dying and me being left completely alone, and a few other (not as heavy) things that just kept piling up and weighing on top of me.

I know, it's a lot—to say the least. But in the in-between, I had time to process and to understand this new version of myself, to figure out where I want my future to go, to accept parts of myself that I hated, to be more confident. But I'm still learning and growing, as I'm sure everyone else is.

As for the initial reason for stepping away from the book community (apart from being Twitter to mostly see what's been happening), this part might connect with some of you out there. Where I found comfort in reading and communicating with readers in the book community via Instagram, I had instead found myself wanting to go cold-turkey and had shut myself out. There's probably a good amount of bookstagrammers that may understand how there comes a point when posting on Instagram gives you a bit—or a lot in my case—of anxiety and/or starts to stress you out. Either it's because you're worried that if you don't post everyday you'll lose followers, or it's because you're worried about not getting a bunch of followers if you don't make your photos look original and unique and eye-catching—or maybe something else entirely different.

But I had officially hit that point last December with bookstagram, and it didn't help that I was just getting my bearings on my new job and would come home every night feeling completely drained and unmotivated to take, edit, and post photos on bookstagram. I felt like an empty shell and completely lost interest in reading, reviewing, and posting on Instagram, as well as keeping up with everyone else's posts and "liking" + commenting on the ones I liked, which was almost all of them.

This was the point where I knew I need to step away and reevaluate the things that I valued. I didn't want to continue to force myself to post things and to read and then end up hating everything to please my followers to prove something. I never want to hate reading or to hate books in general (which might sound completely insane), so I knew it was time for me to stop and refocus my attention on my values and to get a grip on myself.

As far as everything that happened after I went cold turkey with bookstagram and the book community, I directed my attention to taking care of myself, but also heavily on my job since it was my first one out of college, and I didn't want to disappoint my boss who put so much faith in me to take on this position that juggles at least three different roles in the company. One of the perks that helps make my job more enjoyable includes getting invited to media events. And while I love being able to go to these events, such as restaurant/store openings, seasonal menu tastings, networking get-togethers, etc., I felt myself start to become a bit of an air head. I can honestly say that before starting this job, I've never (and anyone in my personal life knows this) had an ego or bragged about things or tried to make others feel bad for not having things that I did.

In fact, I've always tried so hard to put others before myself, to try to please everyone, to help anyone whoever asks or doesn't ask for it, to do anything that would make others accept me. Ever since I was a kid, my mother told me this, and it has been my mantra ever since: Treat others the way you want to be treated. But I've started to feel that slipping from me. No matter how many events I attended or new people I got to network with or dishes I got to indulge in, I posted those on my personal Instagram stories to show people—majority of which are people who were friends or acquaintances back in high school and haven't had communication with since then—that I'm doing well for myself, that I'm getting to go to these exclusive events and eat so much delicious food and view things before the public. All because I never got to do that for myself in the past, ever.

I got so caught up and consumed with making people think that "I should've stayed friends with her because look at all the cool events and places she gets to go to" to hide the fact that I've been feeling more alone than ever. And it sucks. I hate feeling this way because, first of all, it's shallow and childish (regarding posting only to make others jealous or wish they were still my friends), and, secondly, I've been lonely (and was depressed) for a large part of my childhood and hoped to never to feel it on that level again—but it did. So I felt like I lost myself and my bookstagram friends after I had stopped posting, and then I felt like I didn't have any friends in my personal life to socialize with since I've been wanting so badly to go out to do fun things and make memories with people while I'm still alive and in my early 20s. It also didn't help that I had come to realize over this year was that when my parents pass away, it will just be me. No siblings. No nieces or nephews. Possibly no biological children of my own. And it's been so terrifying thinking about that, which is probably what's causing me to have these horrible nightmares about my parents dying and waking up with a near panic attack every time.

Sorry to dump all of this heavy, personal stuff out in the open with little to no organization (sorry for any grammatical/spelling errors; I'm typically a stickler when it comes to that). While it felt safer to keep everything inside, I feel so much better now writing this all out and sharing it, because I've finally come to the understanding that I am not the only one who feels like this. I've been thinking all year that there's no way anyone else could possibly feel what I feel and that was pretty (as I've said before) self-absorbed of me to think. But I know that there are others who are feeling the same way or even worse than I do (probably the latter). So I want to say that I'm here and more than happy to chat with anyone who needs to talk since I want to get to know more people and be helpful in any way I can.

Overall, I'm happy to say that I've focused on myself this past year, for the good and bad. I've been learning to love and accept myself. To educate myself on things happening in the world. To think about my health. To speak up for myself. To not second-guess myself nearly as much as I did in high school and college. And now I'm promising myself to stop stressing over things I have no control of and to just live my life as it is. So, despite all of the not-so-good things, I feel like I'm ready to ease myself back to bookstagram and book blogging, because books saved 12-year-old me when I had felt completely isolated and alone, and books have never let me know when I needed them most.

So I'm looking forward to reading and chatting with book community again, as well as excited to see what everyone is currently reading and what all of your posts look like!


Whitney Lauren

P.S. Now that I'm getting back into reading, I've decided to start with Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones since it seemed like an appropriate book to start during this chilly season, and I have heard nothing but AMAZING things—so I'll be making updates on Goodreads as I'm reading.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

BOOKNERD ADDICT BLOG TOUR: Book Review of "The Color Project" by Sierra Abrams

My rating: ★★★★★

Author: Sierra Abrams

Series: Standalone

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Page Count: 462 (Paperback)

Release Date: July 18th, 2017

Publisher: Gatekeeper Press

Places to order:

Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

Add to:

About Sierra:
At 7 years old, Sierra Abrams decided that one day she would publish a book. For over a decade, in between exploring other career options, she kept coming back to that very first dream. Now her life consists of writing books of all kinds... Kissing books, angsty books, killing books, whimsical books, and sometimes books that are all of the above. When she's not writing, you can find her reading, traveling, consuming sushi, or daydreaming about Henry Cavill.

Bernice Aurora Wescott has one thing she doesn't want anyone to know: her name. That is, until Bee meets Levi, the local golden boy who runs a charity organization called The Color Project.

Levi is not at all shy about attempting to guess Bee’s real name; his persistence is one of the many reasons why Bee falls for him. But while Levi is everything she never knew she needed, giving up her name would feel like a stamp on forever. And that terrifies her.

When unexpected news of an illness in the family drains Bee's summer of everything bright, she is pushed to the breaking point. Losing herself in The Color Project—a world of weddings, funerals, cancer patients, and hopeful families that the charity funds—is no longer enough. Bee must hold up the weight of her family, but to do that, she needs Levi. She’ll have to give up her name and let him in completely or lose the best thing that’s ever happened to her.

For fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson, THE COLOR PROJECT is a story about the three great loves of life—family, friendship, and romance—and the bonds that withstand tragedy.

My review:

First and foremost, a HUGE applause to my dear friend Sierra Abrams for writing a spectacular novel. I am SO FREAKING PROUD and SO EXCITED for TCP to finally be out in the world this July for everyone to read and flail over! And a big thank you to Sierra for sending me an ARC back in December and for letting me spam you with a million texts after finishing it hahaha. MASSIVE thank you (x10000) to Helena and Receba from Booknerd Addict for letting me be a part of this blog tour and for the latest e-ARC of TCP! Now, on to the *non-spoiler* review!

When I first read TCP back in December 2016, I was a complete mess after reading it.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Like most of my reviews, I will be writing about each individual character (*non-spolier*) and then talk about the overall story! First off, we have Bee!

Bee. It didn't take long for me to absolutely adore Bee; for me, she has to be one of the easiest characters I was able to relate to (besides Lara Jean). Her inner monologue made me laugh through most of the book, because on more than one occasion in the book, I would think the same thing as Bee. But besides that, one thing I found really meaningful in TCP was how Bee has a close relationship with everyone in her family, especially her father, which is something I really admire since there aren't too many YA books that I've read that have a focus on the family dynamic. And the fact that she flails and gets easily flustered made this book so much more enjoyable, because who doesn't love a main character that flails when she sees a cute boy or gets angry at herself for doing something embarrassing? Again, relatable.

Levi. Omg this boy had my heart from the start. It was hard not to love Levi once he came into the story, because like Bee, he also had a quirky side; he wears really bright colored clothes and is super cute whenever he is around Bee. It does not go unnoticed that he is privileged, but he uses his privilege for good, which is more than I can say for most people. I can't even imagine starting up a charity, but he did and he's using it to help others. He is truly selfless and has a heart of gold. And even if he is all smiles on the outside, there are a few hardships that he's going through on his own as well. This is another thing I like about Levi: he is a multi-dimensional character instead of a surface-level one.

Gretchen. If you don't have a friendship like Bee and Gretchen's, y'all need to find one (I'm kidding, sort of). I love how that despite how far apart these two are from each other, Gretchen has no filter and says (most of the time) what's on her mind. They have the strangest conversations and flail hardcore with each other despite the long distance friendship. She is someone that Bee talks to about Levi and her troubles and is always there for her when she needs it. I can see my best friend in Gretchen, but at the same time, there is no one else like Gretchen.

I know I only talked about these three characters, but that's because I want to talk about the book as a whole and mention the other characters collectively. In regards to family, Bee has three other siblings (Tom, Astrid, and Millicent) and loves them all dearly and with all her heart. I don't have any siblings myself, but I would like to imagine having siblings like Bee's siblings. When it comes to her mom and papa, it's not hard to tell that Bee admires their relationship with one another and loves them both so so much. But Bee was also very aware that something was going on with her parents that she was too afraid to ask or talk about—that, I can relate to. Aside from her family, I really enjoyed Bee's other friends (mostly Tom's friends) who work at the garage, because in a way, the guys were like brothers to her too, especially Michael and Keagan since they tries to look out for her when Tom isn't around. Speaking of friends, Levi's group at The Color Project charity are a lively bunch. Albert is a favorite since he has a strange love for glitter and throwing it a rude people LOL.

Overall, there are a bunch of characters that any reader might be able to relate and enjoy reading about. Personally, I loved the relationships Bee had with her papa, Gretchen, and Levi the most because the scenes she had with these characters showed different dimensions of herself that made her even more lovable and relatable. Now that I've talked about the characters, here is a list of pros and cons to help you, as readers of this post, see what I saw (and loved) while reading TCP.


  • Story is equal parts family and romance
  • Bee's internal monologue
  • Well-rounded cast of characters
  • Unique and interesting storyline (girl works at flower shop, boy works at a garage and runs a charity.... that's pretty interesting to me)
  • The heart in this story (idk how much I cried, but IT WAS A LOT)
  • Cant' really think of anything, so just get this book because you won't regret it :)
"The Color Project" is not merely a story about falling in love; it's about family and going through hardships that life throws your way. Bee is a strong character and has an incredible life, but like any other person, she faces more than a handful of obstacles that she has to learn to overcome and survive through. In all honesty (and aside from being Sierra's friend), TCP is truly one of my favorite contemporary novels to date. I haven't been able to relate to a main character like Bee since Lara Jean when I first read "To All The Boys I've Loved Before." And there aren't many books out there (from what I've read) that circles around family and the joys and sorrows that families (not all) face together. If anything, this story is about celebrating life and living to the fullest through the pain to find happiness.

Again, a huge thank you to Sierra (for creating the story and sharing it with the world) and to Helena and Receba for hosting this blog tour! I can't wait for its release in just a few short weeks, so make sure you pre-order! I promise you that this book will deliver and tug at your heart. It is truly a colorful story (PUN INTENDED). And it's only fitting that I end this post with a Henry Cavill gif, so here yah go.

Happy reading!
Whitney Lauren

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

"Gates of Thread and Stone" by Lori M. Lee

My rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5/5)

Author: Lori M. Lee

Series: Book #1 (Gates of Thread and Stone series)

Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Romance, Young Adult

Page Count: 333 (hardcover)

Release Date: August 5th, 2014


Places to order:
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

About Lori:
She has a borderline obsessive fascination with unicorns, is fond of talking in capslock, and loves to write about magic, manipulation, and family. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, kids, and a friendly pitbull.

In a city of walls and secrets, where only one man is supposed to possess magic, seventeen-year-old Kai struggles to keep hidden her own secret—she can manipulate the threads of time. When Kai was eight, she was found by Reev on the riverbank, and her “brother” has taken care of her ever since. Kai doesn’t know where her ability comes from—or where she came from. All that matters is that she and Reev stay together, and maybe one day move out of the freight container they call home, away from the metal walls of the Labyrinth. Kai’s only friend is Avan, the shopkeeper’s son with the scandalous reputation that both frightens and intrigues her.
Then Reev disappears. When keeping silent and safe means losing him forever, Kai vows to do whatever it takes to find him. She will leave the only home she’s ever known and risk getting caught up in a revolution centuries in the making. But to save Reev, Kai must unravel the threads of her past and face shocking truths about her brother, her friendship with Avan, and her unique power.
My review:

I received a e-copy of "Gates of Thread and Stone" from Netgalley and Skyscrape in exchange for an honest review! This review will have a non-spoiler and a spoiler section since this was released 3 years ago and so that anyone can read this! Hope you all enjoy it! 

It took me a long time to finally pick this book up, but on August 7th, 2016, I was able to start and finish this book in less than 4 hours because IT WAS AMAZING AND GAVE ME ALL THE FEELS AND RIPPED OUT MY HEART! So, to start off my review, I will do the non-spoiler section for those who have not read this book yet and then I'll have the spoilery section below! 


When I initially started this book, I didn't reread the synopsis (I did read the synopsis long ago, but chose not to reread it) and went into it with an open mind, which got me to pay more attention to the details of the story and world building!

In the beginning, we see that the story is told in first person by Kai, our main protagonist. The setting definitely reminded me of the book "Of Metal and Wishes" by Sarah Fine since Lori's novel *almost* gave off a steampunk kind of feel, and the world felt similar to Sarah's "Of Metal and Wishes" world.

As usual, I wrote small sections about the main characters, but I also keep in mind not to do spotlight sections for characters that might be part of a spoiler.

Kai. Early in the book, we—as the readers —are told that Kai doesn't remember anything before the age of 8 and that Reev found her one day and decided to become her adopted older brother, making them family. It's really refreshing to read books with characters that have an extremely strong relationship with their siblings, and even if they aren't blood, it makes them ever closer. As it says in the synopsis, Reev disappears 

Reev. My heart swelled a bit while reading and learning about the things he does for Kai and their relationship with one another. They have such a strong bond and loyalty to one another that made me really happy to see in a YA novel since there aren't very many YA novels that I can think of at the top of my head that have such a strong sibling relationship. Reev found Kai when he was around 18 years old (she was around 8 years old at that time) and instead of leaving her on the streets, he helped her and loved her as his sister. Despite that she didn't share blood with him, he treated her like any older, protective brother would treat his younger sister. I'm excited to see more of his character development in the next book since there are things that happen in this book that will change him in a way that will allow us (as the readers) to see a different side of him.

Avan. Oh my word, would I like to be "friends" with him *wink wink*. Avan is a year older than Kai since he graduated from school a year before she did, and he is Kai's only friend. I can't blame for her having a crush on Avan because DAYUMM. He's got tattoos on his neck, shoulder, AND CHEST, plus he has an eyebrow piercing *passes out*. He's secretive, brooding, quiet, kind, and loyal... and I love all of these aspects about him *GRINS*. But on a serious note, he is one of those complex characters that you don't realize contribute a fair amount to the story until later. His relationship with Kai is much more than romantic (that's later)—they have a deep sense of trust between each other and remain loyal to one another. 

  • Strong sibling relationship (KAI + REEV)
  • Not super heavy on romance 
  • Even and steady pacing (never felt too slow or too fast, in my opinion)
  • Great world building (never got confused about the magical aspects or creatures in the book)
  • Briefly explores the sexuality of a certain character (I think the character is bi, as far as the book explains it in a few lines)
  • Unique idea about the Infinites 
  • Wishing sexuality could have been explored more for that certain character or for other characters (maybe that will be in the next book?)
  • Introduced one or two characters that could have been introduced in Book 2
Books that reminded of GoTaS
  • Of Metal and Wishes (by Sarah Fine)
    • The tones seemed somewhat similar—in my opinion
  • Percy Jackson Series (by Rick Riordan)
    • Gods and demi-gods parallel the Infinites and mahnos in the GoTaS
Regarding the plot and overall concept of this book, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed reading about this world and learning about the Infinites and mahnos (you learn about these two in the book). Kai is a character that I feel a lot of people will root for, because she has went through various hardships and was brave enough to travel across lands to find her family, despite the dangers that lurked in those lands. I think that this series has great potential to grow and expand since it is a new world, and there's potential to have (or create new) characters that



OKAY, I'm not going to lie and say that it wasn't hard to figure out that Reev was a sentinel and that Kai was the daughter of Time since, you know, she can literally BEND TIME, and we find out about other "Infinites" such as Irras (Famine), Kalla (Death), Star (Strife), and who each represent a specific power or whatever. I was really impressed with the idea behind this story regarding the Infinites and mahnos, because Lori created a new world with multi-dimension characters and was able to execute the plot well. 

Also, did anyone else kind of get Percy Jackson vibes while reading about the Infinites and mahnos? They reminded me of gods and demigods (or the horsemen of the apocalypse) since Infinites were immortals and had offspring/descendants with powers called mahnos. Interested to find out who Kai's mother is (The River?) and what she is—since she's neither an Infinite nor a mahnos since her true form in not human.

Anyone else die a little bit when Reev was brainwashed and almost killed Kai? Because I did and it was so painful to read him fighting her and not remembering her. I figured out that Kai would be fighting Reev when it was shown on the board that she would be fighting someone named "Number 22," because I'm pretty good at predicting sad scenes like that hahaha. But it was hard to read them fighting each other since they have such a strong bond and since Kai had JUST found him UGH MY HEART.

Not sure how I feel about the reveal of Kai's father (aka Kronos, or known otherwise known as Time), because I wasn't expecting him to appear until the sequel, and it felt like he was introduced too early, if that makes any sense. I did, however, like the reveal of Kalla and how she played a role in Kai's life since the beginning of book when Kai encountered her in the alley and then again at the Raging Bull in a different form. When Kalla gave her the knife then, I was a little suspicious about that scene since I found it strange for a woman at the Raging Bull to be carrying around a knife and then again when the Sevs stopped pursuing Kai (and Avan) in the Void while she was holding the knife. So I knew the knife played an important role but the fact that its true form is a scythe was pretty cool.  

Now here's the part where I talk about THE SCENE (aka when Avan dies because of Kronos). OH MY SWEET LORD, my heart was ripping into pieces and being set on fire because that was just TOO MUCH FOR ME.

I think it did occur to me in the very deepest part of my conscious that Avan could be Kai's guardian, but I never gave it a second thought, so you can imagine my surprise AND PAIN when I found out that KRONOS made Avan her guardian and that he had to die because Kronos altered time on his life UGHHH. And when Reev had to hold Kai back to keep her from going to Avan.... THAT WAS JUST TOO CRUEL, LORI. HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO MY FRAGILE HEART.

I was sitting on a bus to my house from the airport while finishing this book as was literally crying quietly in the back because of this scene (you'll see the GIF above as an accurate representation). It was pretty damn depressing and after all the crap that she had to go through. Thank god I had napkins in my backpack or else I would've had to wipe snot and tears on my Captain American zip-up jacket and lord knows THAT wouldn't happen lol. 

One of the things I'm dreading that could possibly happen in book 2 is that Avan won't remember her for a really long time and that Kai will get together with Mason, because she couldn't wait for Avan to remember anymore AND THEN Avan will all-of-a-sudden remember everything and shit hits the fan. It seems like a cliche but if it did happen, it would be entertaining and rip me apart AGAIN.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book for all sci-fi and fantasy readers. It has a great pace and lots of different aspects to love (i.e. sibling relationships, romance, magic, action, etc.). After finishing this book, I immediately went onto Amazon and bought the sequel because I COULDN'T WAIT ANY LONGER. Interested to see how the sequel is compared to this book since A LOT of things have changed and if this book will carry a heavier sense of intensity (if you catch my drift).

Hope you enjoyed this review! I'll be sure to post more reviews soon (and more often)! :D

Happy reading!
Whitney Lauren 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Spotlight Post: "Arcana Rising" (ARC Review + Excerpt)

Welcome readers!

Today is the official release date of Arcana Rising, the fourth book in the Arcana Chronicles series by Kresley Cole! If you are unaware of this series, I'll briefly explain what the first book, Poison Princess, is about! But then afterwards, I highly advise that you do not continue reading this post because you will get spoiled for the previous books since this post includes the synopsis of this fourth book... YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Thank you so much to Caroline from Sullivan and Partners, LLC for contacting me, sending an e-ARC of this beautifully, painful book, and allowing me to do this special spotlight post!

Anyway, this spotlight post includes the product details of this book, online links of where to purchase this book, my *non-spoiler* review, and an excerpt of Arcana Rising at the end!

DISCLAIMER: If you have not read the previous books (Poison Princess, Endless Knight, and Dead of Winter), I highly recommend you do not continue reading this post.

Here is the cover!









Down below includes detail of Arcana Rising, my *non-spoiler* review, AND an excerpt from the book!

My rating: ★★★★

Author: Kresley Cole

Series: Book #4 (The Arcana Chronicles)

Genre: Dystopian, Paranormal, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Young Adult

Page Count: 280 (paperback)

Release Date: August 15th, 2016

PublisherValkyrie Press

Places to order:
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
Google Play

About Kresley:

Kresley Cole is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the electrifying Immortals After Dark paranormal series, the young adult Arcana Chronicles series, the erotic Gamemakers Series, and five award-winning historical romances.
A master's grad and former athlete, she has traveled over much of the world and draws from those experiences to create her memorable characters and settings. 
Her books have been translated into twenty foreign languages, garnered three RITA awards, and consistently appear on the bestseller lists, in the U.S. and abroad.

Website // Facebook // Twitter 


Losses mount and deadly new threats converge in this next action-packed tale of the Arcana Chronicles by #1 New York Times bestseller Kresley Cole.

When the battle is done . . .
The Emperor unleashed hell and annihilated an army, jeopardizing the future of mankind--but Circe struck back. The epic clash between them devastates the Arcana world and nearly kills Evie, separating her from her allies.

And all hope is lost . . .
With Aric missing and no sign that Jack and Selena escaped Richter's reach, Evie turns more and more to the darkness lurking inside her. Two Arcana emerge as game changers: one who could be her salvation, the other her worst nightmare.

Vengeance becomes everything.
To take on Richter, Evie must reunite with Death and mend their broken bond. But as she learns more about her role in the future--and her chilling past--will she become a monster like the Emperor? Or can Evie and her allies rise up from Richter's ashes, stronger than ever before?

My Review

I don't think I've ever been this torn between two guys since the Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare. And that's saying A LOT. Somehow, Kresley (author) does an incredible job making it impossible for me to pick between the two love interests in this book for the main protagonist, Evie Greene. But since this is a non-spoiler review, I won't say much more about the love interests, just in case. HOWEVER, I will say that both men are extremely swoon worthy... enough to melt you heart a thousand times over, and of course, making it nearly impossible to pick between the two!

Side note: if you've read the first three books (Poison PrincessEndless Knight, and Dead of Winter), I highly suggest you read the companion guide (Day Zero) before reading Arcana Rising, because this guide gives you insight on characters who are part of the Major Arcana that have already been introduced in the books prior to Arcana Rising and sneak peak information about the new characters that are introduced in Arcana Rising.

Because I can't really go into detail about the pros and cons I had with this book in case of spoilers, I've decided to make a list with bullet points!

  • Introduction to new characters 
  • Increased complexity and intrigue of some characters/villians
  • Crazy love triangle drama (if you're not a fan of love triangles, you might get irritated with this series... fair warning)
  • STEAMY *fans self*
  • Hints at more plot twists to come/secrets to be revealed in the next book
  • Drags on during some parts of the book
  • Not as many arcs or action as I'd hoped
  • It's shorter than I expected (previous books were over 300 pages while this one was only 280 pages--the first book in paperback was 400 pages according to Amazon.... so this kind of irks me)
I would recommend this series to people who enjoy:
  • Fantasy/Paranormal series
  • Intense love triangles
  • Fast read 
Sorry that it was a short review! I wanted to write more but because this book was just released as of today (August 15t, 2016), I had to/wanted to make it a *non-spoiler* review so that people who have read the previous books can read about how I liked it without worrying if I'll spoil the book.

For those of you who have read the previous books, here is an excerpt down below just for you guys! Hope you enjoy it!!

Excerpt from Arcana Rising

Day 382 A.F.

Death kept taking me farther from Jack. I stretched my arms out, fingers splayed toward the heat. "He can't be dead." I sobbed. "Can't. NO, NO, NOOOO!"

    "You want to follow the mortal? Get your revenge first. The Emperor mocks your pain."

    I could hear that fiend in my head--laughing.

    The red witch exploded inside me, a force that could never be contained. I shrieked, "You will PAY!"

    As the Emperor laughed, Death murmured in my ear, "I have your grandmother, Sievā. That was the gift I spoke of. We'll teach you how to kill the Emperor. You'll avenge Deveaux."

    "Don't you understand? Jack's not DEAD!" I screamed that over and over. "He's alive!"

    With my mind teetering on the brink, I spied something in the skies above us. I gaped, disbelieving.

    Real? Unreal? Just before oblivion took me down, a mountain of water curled over our heads, racing toward that hell of flames. 

    Circe's towering wave. Taller than a skyscraper.

    -Quake before me!-

    -Terror from the abyss!-

    Richter and Circe's calls boomed in my mind, jolting me back from the blackness.

    "Come!" Aric snatched me into his arms and sprinted from the clash. "When they meet, the blast and then the flood..."

    I stopped fighting him; the need to turn Richter's laughter into screams clawed at me, which meant I had to survive.

    Aric gave a sharp whistle, and a horse's nickering answered. Thanatos. With me secure in his arms, Aric leapt into the saddle, and spurred the warhorse into a frenzied gallop.

    We all but dove down a slope, then charged up the next. 

    I gazed over Aric's shoulder as that tidal wave crested above Richter's lake of lava.

    Heaving breaths, riding faster than humanly possible, Aric kept Thanatos at a breakneck pace. Up another mountain face. Down its slope--

    Circle struck.

    A hiss like a giant beast's. A detonation like a nuclear bomb.

    The shock wave was so loud my ears bled. As loud as the roar preceding the Flash.

    The air grew hotter and hotter. The ground rocked as a blast of scalding steam chased us.

    BOOM! The force sheared the top off the mountain just behind us. Boulders crashed all around as we careened into yet another valley. Still we rode.

    Aric grated, "Surge comes next."

    The ground quaked from the weight of an ocean of water. I could hear the surge shooting toward us."Aric!"

    He got as far as he dared, as high as he could. "Hold on." Clutching me tight, he dropped from Thanatos who kept running.

    Behind the cap of another mountain, Aric braced for impact. He wedged his metal gauntlet between boulders, wrapping his other arm around me.

    Gaze locked on mine, he yelled "I'll never let you go!" We each sucked in a breath.

    The searing water hit. The explosive impact ripped me from his chest, but he caught my arm, clenching his fingers above my elbow. 

    Death's grip. The ungodly force of the flood. My watery scream...

    Aric never did let me go--

    My arm...gave way.


Friday, August 12, 2016

Spotlight Post: "Day Zero" by Kresley Cole

Hello readers!

Today's blog post is a special "spotlight" post for Kresley Cole's newest release to her Arcana Chronicles series, Day Zero! This book was released on August 1st and is said on Goodreads to be Book #3.5 of the series, which I'm assuming means that it's a novella--especially since it's significantly shorter than the other novels in the series and isn't really a full continuation after Dead of Winter (Book #3).

HUGE thank you to Caroline from Sullivan and Partners, LLC for contacting me and allowing me to do this spotlight post for this book as well as sending me an e-copy of Day Zero! Very excited to start it once I finish Dead of Winter!

ALSO, the fourth book to this series Arcana Rising is set to be released on August 15th, 2016! To those who haven't read this series before, I highly recommend you pick up the first book Poison Princess because it really is a great series about the Major Arcana (a set of cards from a tarot deck) and has some swoon worthy romance! And to those who have read the first three books, don't forget to pre-order or buy Arcana Rising at you bookstore next week!!

Now here is the cover!









Down below are some details regarding Day Zero, the author, AND an excerpt from the book! 

Author: Kresley Cole

Series: Book #3.5 (The Arcana Chronicles)

Genre: Paranormal, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Young Adult

Page Count: 180 (paperback)

Release Date: August 1st, 2016

PublisherValkyrie Press

Places to order:
Amazon Kindle
Barnes & Noble
Google Play

About Kresley:

Kresley Cole is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the electrifying Immortals After Dark paranormal series, the young adult Arcana Chronicles series, the erotic Gamemakers Series, and five award-winning historical romances.
A master's grad and former athlete, she has traveled over much of the world and draws from those experiences to create her memorable characters and settings. 
Her books have been translated into twenty foreign languages, garnered three RITA awards, and consistently appear on the bestseller lists, in the U.S. and abroad.

Arcana means secrets, and these Arcana Chronicles short stories from #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole are filled with them. Experience firsthand the beginning of the end and behold the apocalypse through the eyes of characters you only thought you knew. 

Ashes to ashes . . .
Evie Greene’s story of the Flash is just one of many. All over the world, those connected in some way to the lethal Arcana game—like Death, Jack, and Fortune—must first survive a horrifying night of blood and screams. 

We all fall down.
Some will have to grapple with new powers; all will be damned to a hellish new existence of plague, brutality, desolation, and cannibalism. Find out who they lost, why they endure, and what they sacrificed in order to live past Day Zero. . . . 

Here is a link to an excerpt of Day Zero below!

Sorry I couldn't post pictures of this PDF file; for some reason I couldn't insert the images ughhh. But hope you all enjoy it!

Thanks for reading this post! Stay tuned for Monday for another post + a book review! *wink wink*

Happy reading everyone!
Whitney Lauren xoxo

Thursday, July 14, 2016

"The Neverland Wars" (ARC Review)

My rating: ★★★★☆

Author: Audrey Greathouse

Series: Book #1 (The Neverland Wars series)

Genre: Retelling, Fantasy, Young Adult

Page Count: 302 (paperback)

Release Date: June 6th, 2016

PublisherClean Teen Publishing

Places to order:
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

Meet Audrey:
Audrey Greathouse is a lost child in a perpetual and footloose quest for her own post-adolescent Neverland. Originally from Seattle, she earned her English B.A. from Southern New Hampshire University's online program while backpacking around the west coast and pretending to be a student at Stanford. A pianist, circus artist, fire-eater, street mime, swing dancer, and novelist, Audrey wears many hats wherever she is. She has grand hopes for the future which include publishing more books and owning a crockpot.

Magic can do a lot―give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That's what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home.
However, Gwen doesn't know this. She's just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn't know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though―and when she does, she'll discover she's in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality.
She'll be out of place as a teenager in Neverland, but she won't be the only one. Peter Pan's constant treks back to the mainland have slowly aged him into adolescence as well. Soon, Gwen will have to decide whether she's going to join impish, playful Peter in his fight for eternal youth… or if she's going to scramble back to reality in time for the homecoming dance.

My review:

Thank you Audrey for sending an e-ARC copy of your wonderful book in exchange for an honest review! This book definitely satisfied the child in me as well as the young adult in me too!


I really enjoyed this book! Truthfully, I've never read Peter Pan, but I did grow up watching Walt Disney's Peter Pan, Hook (1991), and Peter Pan (2003) many times as a kid up until now. Since these three movies are considered remakes (or what I like to call retellings on film), I think "The Neverland Wars" did a good job of separating itself by having a unique plot and changing the focus on certain aspects of the classical tale to make it it's own story, rather than pulling out the big plot points of the Disney's Peter Pan (forgive me, it's the only thing I can compare/reference it to) and making a few small changes and say it's good to go.

The Neverland Wars is a wonderful, young adult retelling of the classic Peter Pan story that follows a teenage girl named Gwen, who travels to Neverland to keep an eye her younger sister Rosemary (who ran away with Peter Pan to Neverland in the beginning of the story), and her adventures all over this strange, fantastical world while a war wages between the real world and Neverland. As Gwen starts to get drawn into Neverland, her internal struggles about what the right thing to do is proceeds throughout the course of her journey as she deals with the ultimate decision: to go back to the real world and grow up or stay young forever in Neverland.

If you are unfamiliar with the original Peter Pan story that this book is based on/a retelling of, I recommend that you look it up or watch the Disney movie version of Peter Pan because explaining it here will take up a lot of space and I want to focus on TNW. 

I'll start with some problems I had with this book then save the stuff I really liked about this book for the end! 


1.) (minor) The beginning is pretty slow--To be fair, I understand that as a retelling, the book kind of had to start slow to warm the readers up to Gwen and her younger sister Rosemary as well as the setting the story/timeline, but I was hoping that the book would jump right into some action followed by some more action (but it could also just be me, asking for too much).

2.) Not as much action as I was hoping for--I mean there was that one scenario on the ship that scared the crap out of me (because I was quietly reading in the dark...), but other than that, there weren't many scenes where my palms were sweating or my heart was racing. 

3.) Wording of the stories sounded a tiny bit complex for children--Whenever Gwen told the Lost Brigade (basically Lost Children since there are boys AND girls) a story, I thought Gwen could have told the stories in a simpler, exciting manner since as children, it's fun to tell stories dramatically and colorfully so that they can have a clear image of your story and be fully engrossed in it. But the way Gwen spoke sounded more like a fit for children between the ages of 12+years old and not to children younger than that. From the book, the oldest girl is no older than 12 years old, but then again, she wasn't raised in the real world (I assume) so I'm also assuming that she hasn't finished her schooling during which children begin to learn more proper writing, speaking, and reading. I, by no means, am not saying that Gwen's storytelling wasn't good! In fact, it was really well done, but it seemed a bit too well done for the children from Neverland, who haven't been to the "real world" much to go to school and learn proper vocabulary and whatnot there. But I could also be completely wrong and not be making any sense to those of you who have read this book already, so I apologize if you don't understand how my brain works when it comes to these things *insert nervous laughing emoji*

4.) Not much war going on--One of the things that caught my attention when I looked up this book here on Goodreads was the title "The Neverland Wars," because it initially sounded like I would be a more intense, action driven read with lots of action-packed scenes or heart pounding scenarios because of this war that's happening in Neverland, judging from the title. But I felt there wasn't enough about the war. As the reader, you do learn about what war is happening and why it's happening, but there isn't much else. The book has a scene that shows the effect of war on Neverland, but after that, there isn't much about the opposing sides meeting and battling or fighting or disputing. It feels more like that backside of the story and seemed to focus more on Gwen's adventures and all the things she's learning while in Neverland rather than having more of the focus on what's happening on both sides of the war or if we, as the readers, get to see any both parties in one scene together fighting each other.

POSITIVES:1.) Love the originality of this retelling--The main character that this book follows is Gwen, a teenage girl who is dealing with the typical teenage girl problems: high school, prom, boys, and drama.But when she goes to Neverland, she's almost relearning how to be a kid again while having the midst of a teenage girl. 

2.) Very minimal romance--As the reader, you start off by being introduced to Gwen's life in the "real world" where she has a guy that she likes, which didn't bother me at all. And when she gets to Neverland and meets Peter, I am SO GLAD that there wasn't any insta-love or immediate romantic feelings she might be having for him and vice versa. If there is a sequel, I don't think I would mind Gwen and Peter falling in love, since Peter is aged up.

3.) As much as I like Captain Hook and Tinkerbell, I'm so glad they weren't in TNW--There are pirates and fairies in TNW, but there aren't specific characters that are an exact reinterpretation of those iconic characters from the original story, which is something I really appreciate that shows more originality. I enjoyed how there wasn't a "Captain Hook" in this book to be the main antagonist to Peter and how the book changed the antagonist to adults in the "real world." 

4.) YAASSS for mermaids!--So glad that this book had a lot of focus on mermaids instead of pirates, because Audrey did a great job of tying in their importance and how they have an impact on the plot and on Gwen especially. I love Gwen's interaction with them and her curiosity because as the reader, you're also curious about these mermaids, especially if you've watched different Peter Pan movies that don't really have too much of a focus on mermaids.

5.) The maturity--Because the story of Peter Pan typically has a much younger audience (due to the widely known Disney version of Peter Pan), the amount of maturity I've seen in movies based off of Peter Pan don't really branch out. What I mean by this is that we don't see a lot of internal character development from the main protagonist in the various Peter Pan movies (maybe in "Hook"), but with TNW, we get to see Gwen's development and internal struggles as a teenage girl in a world where people don't age.



Alright, for those of you who have read this book already (or just like reading spoilers for the fun of it), can we talk about how happy I am that there wasn't a "Captain Hook" in this book aka being the main antagonist?! *happy dances* YAS this is what I like about this retelling because sometimes books that are retellings either nails it in terms of originality but others can totally miss the mark and seem like a replica of the original tale or story. 

Again, I was hoping for more action. But I did get scared when that crocodile popped out of nowhere from the bottom of the abandoned pirate ship! Maybe if (referring to the scene where Lasiandra took Gwen underwater) there was a huge ass shark that tried to eat Gwen, that would have been a fun, heart racing scene similar to the crocodile scene. Or if there was a scene where the adults actually invaded Neverland and started wrecking the place/looked to capture Peter (but hey, that could all be in the sequel if there is one!)

Speaking of MERMAIDS, I looooved how Audrey wrote a solid portion of the book to focus on the importance of mermaids and how they live and what they can do! It was fun to read about how much they like land fruit because it makes sense that they love land fruit since they live in the water! It was also cool to read about how mermaids are like star readers/fortune tellers! When Gwen had to strip down because she didn't want to get her clothes soaking wet, Gwen had an appropriate, reasonable level of maturity for a teenage girl in that scenario. I think it's important to readers to look at that scene and get a feel for how Gwen was in that situation and how she--despite being in a land where children never grow up--acted in a grown-up, mature way that gave the book a nice touch. *claps* Well done, Audrey!

If you think about the original story of Peter Pan (or in my case, the Disney movie version), there are Native Americans in the book, and I think Audrey made a pretty good message about race and being mindful of what one calls others. In TNW, Gwen grew up being taught that calling Native Americans "redskins" was offense and racists, but when she gets to Neverland, Peter takes her to meet the "Redskins," which makes her uncomfortable and hesitant. It's totally reasonable in this day and age that people are trying to be considerate other peoples' race and what language is appropriate or not--which also circles back to maturity (which is one of the many things I appreciated in this book!). At first, Gwen was super uncomfortable and embarrassed because she thought that calling the Redskins "redskins" was offensive, but in Neverland, who's to say that calling the Redskins "Native Americans" is offensive in their magical land? But the Redskins didn't mind that Gwen was confused and trying to be considerate of them because they understand that they come from two different worlds where they were taught different things.

Ok, I don't know about you guys, but I loved the fairies in this book. Again, very very happy that there wasn't a "Tinkerbell" in this book and that there were 3 main fairies that we got to meet and love. Hollyhock, Bramble, and Dillyweed. OMG MY HEART WHEN BRAMBLE DIED UGHHH. But I loved the scene where Gwen followed Peter to the fairies home and got to say goodbye to Bramble. ALSO, I think it was super neat of Audrey to make the popular quote, "I do believe in fairies," mean goodbye, in a sense, instead of having that saying somehow bring Bramble back from the dead--it made the saying feel more meaningful and close to the heart. 


I really do hope that there is a sequel because the book ended in a way where you just sit there and go "wait, what just happened?" kind of feeling. If there is a sequel, I would looove to see more action scenes about the war itself since The Neverland Wars mostly shows the author's interpretation of Neverland and getting the readers to understand how this land works n Gwen's POV (instead of thinking about the typical, original Neverland that one might think of). 

All in all, I do recommend that people should read this book because it is a unique take on the classic story of Peter Pan and it would be awesome to support Audrey because if people read her books and like them + review them, then maayyybbeee she'll write a sequel? * crosses fingers* because despite my problems with it, I enjoyed the book and loved how different it was!

EDIT: omg Audrey told me that there IS going to be a sequel THANK YOU SWEET LORD AND AUDREY AND CLEAN READS PUBLISHING! *throws confetti*

Happy reading everyone!
Whitney Lauren