March 7, 2016

Wildfire by Karsten Knight Review!

 
Author: Karsten Knight
Genre: YA Paranormal/Mythology
Date Published: August 28th 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Page Number: 393
 
Synopsis:
Every flame begins with a spark.
Blackwood Academy was supposed to be a fresh start for Ashline Wilde. A secluded boarding school deep in the heart of California's redwood forests, three thousand miles from her old life - it sounded like the new beginning she needed after an act of unspeakable violence left a girl in her hometown dead.

But Blackwood is far from the peaceful haven Ashline was searching for. Because terrifying, supernatural beasts roam the forests around campus. Because the murderer from Ashline's hometown - her own sister - has followed her across the country. Because a group of reincarnated gods and goddesses has been mysteriously summoned to Blackwood...
...and Ashline's one of them.
 
Review:

       When I spotted Wildefire’s cover on the shelf, I was instantly intrigued. The cover is simple yet captivating and beautiful, but once I read the synopsis I knew I would like this book. However, I did not know I would love it as much as I did.
 
       Ashline Wilde is the kind of heroine that I go nuts over. She is sassy, sharp-tongued, and quick witted, and that combination is what I go crazy for. One reason I love adult books so much is because they feature sassy heroines who don’t hold back, and I was so happy to find that kind of heroine in this YA book. Basically, by the first scene of Wildefire, I knew I would love Ash.  Ash is introduced to us readers in a blaze of fists and fury aka the best way a heroine can be introduced. Trust me, Ash is a character that you will all love. It’s just an added bonus that she is a diverse character. And how can I forget to mention that she is a freaking goddess?! I won’t reveal what goddess she is because that is part of the mystery of the book, but just know that she is badass and a force to be reckoned with. The rest of the characters are just as cool, even though Ash is my favorite. It is a plus that all of the characters in this book are highly diverse. All of the characters are from different ethnic backgrounds like Haitian, Polynesian, Greek, Japanese, and Egyptian. It’s so cool.

       Speaking of diversity, we also get diversity in the plot. As you can tell from the synopsis, this book is about gods and goddesses, but what you can’t tell from the synopsis is that all the gods and goddesses featured in the book are from different native myths. I am so used to mythology books to be based on Greek mythology because it is widely known, but in Wildefire all different myths from Egyptian to Polynesian, to Greek and Japanese myths are represented, which is rare. I loved learning about more myths that are out there outside of Greek and Norse myths.
 
       In addition to the characters and diversity of the plot, the actual plot line was SO good. This book was extremely easy to fall into and read because of the interesting and steadily paced plot. As I mentioned before, we are immediately thrown into action as soon as the book starts, and after that there was never a dull moment. I love books like this where there aren’t boring/filler scenes, and with Wildefire every scene keeps your attention and interest. There was a steady stream of mystery and action throughout the whole book, and at the very end, Knight throws in a twist that left me screamed and begging for at least another chapter. I never saw that twist coming, and I swear that my heart stopped. I hate it when books leave me with a terrible cliffhanger, but I love it when they surprise me. There was no indication of that twist coming at all so I was shocked as hell when it happened. I just have to talk to someone about it because it broke my heart and immediately made me want to go out and buy the next book. I have to hand it to Knight for thinking of that plot twist and executing it so beautifully. Way to hurt a reader’s heart!

       It is safe to say that this book started off my 2016 with high expectations for my future reads. I am so glad I picked up this book on a whim because it quickly became one of my favorites. If you love mythology, sassy heroines, plot twists, and action packed plots then Wildefire is the book for you. I give this book five out of five stars!

March 4, 2016

Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry Chapter Reveal and Pre-Order News!


     Today, thanks to Inkslinger PR, I will be revealing the first chapter of WALK THE EDGE by Katie McGarry, which comes out on March 29th! WALK THE EDGE is the second book in Katie’s Thunder Road series. It can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend that you read NOWHERE BUT HERE, the 1st book in the series first simply because the book is amazing! Below you will find a synopsis of WALK THE EDGE, its first chapter, and the preorder links, which come with special prizes so definitely check those out!


Synopsis:

One moment of recklessness will change their worlds
Smart. Responsible. That's seventeen-year-old Breanna's role in her large family, and heaven forbid she put a toe out of line. Until one night of shockingly un-Breanna-like behavior puts her into a vicious cyberbully's line of fire—and brings fellow senior Thomas "Razor" Turner into her life.
Razor lives for the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, and good girls like Breanna just don't belong. But when he learns she's being blackmailed over a compromising picture of the two of them—a picture that turns one unexpected and beautiful moment into ugliness—he knows it's time to step outside the rules.

And so they make a pact: he'll help her track down her blackmailer, and in return she'll help him seek answers to the mystery that's haunted him—one that not even his club brothers have been willing to discuss. But the more time they spend together, the more their feelings grow. And suddenly they're both walking the edge of discovering who they really are, what they want, and where they're going from here.


     WALK THE EDGE sounds amazing right? As soon as I read Nowhere But Here, the first book in this series, I was instantly interested in Razor’s story, and I am so happy to be getting a sneak peek of it today! If you are as interested in Razor’s story as I am then keep on reading to read the first chapter of WALK THE EDGE! You won’t regret it…well, maybe you will when you realize that it is still a few weeks until WALK THE EDGE comes out and you are desperate to get your hands on the book after reading the first chapter. Just me? Oh well. Enjoy this sneak peek of Razor’s story!

WALK THE EDGE Chapter One:
 

THERE ARE LIES in life we accept. Whether it’s for the sake of ignorance, bliss or, in my case, survival, we all make our choices.

I choose to belong to the Reign of Terror Motorcycle Club. I choose to work for the security company associated with them. I also choose to do this while still in high school.

All of this boils down to one choice in particular—whether or not to believe my father’s version of a lie or the town’s. I chose my father’s lie. I chose the brotherhood of the club.

What I haven’t chosen? Being harassed by the man invad­ing my front porch. He’s decked out in a pair of pressed kha­kis and a button-down straight from a mall window. The real question—is he here by choice or did he draw the short stick?

“As I said, son,” he continues, “I’m not here to talk to your dad. I’m here to see you.”

A hot August wind blows in from the thick woods sur­rounding our house, and sweat forms on the guy’s skin. He’s too cocky to be nervous, so that dumps the blame of his shiny forehead on the 110-degree heat index.

“You and I,” he adds, “we need to talk.”

My eyes flash to the detective badge hanging on the guy’s hip and then to his dark blue unmarked Chevy Caprice parked in front of my motorcycle in the gravel drive. Twenty bucks he thinks he blocked me in. Guess he underestimated I’ll ride on the grass to escape.

This guy doesn’t belong to our police force. His plates suggest he’s from Jefferson County. That’s in the northern part of Ken­tucky. I live in a small town where even the street hustlers and police know each other by name. This man—he’s an outsider.

I flip through my memory for anything that would jus­tify his presence. Yeah, I stumbled into some brawls over the summer. A few punches thrown at guys who didn’t keep their mouths sealed or keep their inflated egos on a leash, but noth­ing that warrants this visit.

A bead of water drips from my wet hair onto the worn gray wood of the deck and his eyes track it. I’m fresh from a shower. Jeans on. Black boots on my feet. No shirt. Hair on my head barely pushed around by a towel.

The guy checks out the tats on my chest and arms. Most of it is club designs, and it’s good for him to know who he’s dealing with. As of last spring, I officially became a mem­ber of the Reign of Terror. If he messes with one of us, he messes with us all.

“Are you going to invite me in?” he asks.

I thought the banging on the door was one of my friends showing to ride along with me to senior orientation, not a damned suit with a badge.

“You’re not in trouble,” he says, and I’m impressed he doesn’t shuff le his feet like most people do when they arrive on my doorstep. “As I said, I want to talk.”

I maintain eye contact longer than most men can manage.

Silence doesn’t bother me. There’s a ton you can learn about a person from how they deal with the absence of sound. Most can’t handle uncomfortable battles for dominance, but this guy stands strong.

Without saying a word, I walk into the house and permit the screen door to slam in his face. I cross the room, grab my cut off the table, then snatch a black Reign of Terror T-shirt off the couch. I shrug into the shirt as I step onto the porch and shut the storm door behind me.

The guy watches me intently as I slip on the black leather cut that contains the three-piece patch of the club I belong to. Because of the way I’m angled, he can get a good look at our emblem on the back: a white half skull with fire raging out of the eyes and drops of fire raining down around it. The words Reign of Terror are mounted across the top. The town’s name, Snowflake, is spelled on the bottom rocker.

He focuses on the patch that informs him I’m packing a weapon. His hand edges to the gun holstered on his belt. He’s weighing whether I’m carrying now or if I’m gun free.

I cock a hip against the railing and hitch my thumbs in the pockets of my jeans. If he’s going to talk, it would be now. He glances at the closed door, then back at me. “This is where we’re doing this?”

“I’ve got somewhere to be.” And I’m running late. “Didn’t see a warrant on you.” So by law, he can’t enter.

A grim lift of his mouth tells me he understands I won’t make any of this easy. He’s around Dad’s age, mid to late forties. He gave his name when I opened the door, but I’ll admit to not listening.

He scans the property and he has that expression like he’s trying to understand why someone would live in a house so small. The place is a vinyl box. Two bedrooms. One bath.

A living room–kitchen combo. Possibly more windows than square footage.
Dad said this was Mom’s dream. A house just big enough for us to live in. She never desired large, but she craved land. When I was younger, she used to hug me tight and explain it was more important to be free than to be rich. I sure as hell hope Mom feels free now.

An ache ripples through me, and I readjust my footing. I pray every damn day she found some peace.

“I drove a long way to see you,” he says.

Don’t care. “Could have called.”

“I did. No one answered.”

I hike one shoulder in a “you’ve got shit luck.” Dad and I aren’t the type to answer calls from strangers. Especially ones with numbers labeled Police. There are some law enforcement officers who are cool, but most of them are like everyone else— they judge a man with a cut on his back as a psychotic felon.

I don’t have time for stupidity.

“I’m here about your mother.” The asshole knows he has me when my eyes snap to his.

“She’s dead.” Like the other times I say the words, a part of me dies along with her.

This guy has green eyes and they soften like he’s apolo­getic. “I know. I’m sorry. I’ve received some new evidence that may help us discover what caused her death.”

Anger curls within my muscles and my jaw twitches. This overwhelming sense of insanity is what I fight daily. For years, I’ve heard the whispers from the gossips in town, felt the stares of the kids in class, and I’ve sensed the pity of the men in the Reign of Terror I claim as brothers. It’s all accu­mulated to a black, hissing doubt in my soul.

Suicide.

It’s what everyone in town says happened. It’s in every hushed conversation people have the moment I turn my back. It’s not just from the people I couldn’t give two shits about, but the people who I consider family.
I shove away those thoughts and focus on what my father and the club have told me—what I have chosen to believe. “My mother’s death was an accident.”

He’s shaking his head and I’m fresh out of patience. I’m not doing this. Not with him. Not with anyone. “I’m not interested.”

I push off the railing and dig out the keys to my motor­cycle as I bound down the steps. The detective’s behind me. He has a slow, steady stride and it irritates me that he fol­lows across the yard and doesn’t stop coming as I swing my leg over my bike.

“What if I told you I don’t think it was an accident,” he says.

Odds are it wasn’t. Odds are every whispered taunt in my direction is true. That my father and the club drove Mom crazy, and I wasn’t enough of a reason for her to choose life.

To drown him out, I start the engine. This guy must be as suicidal as people say Mom was, because he eases in front of my bike, assuming I won’t run him down.

“Thomas,” he says.

I twist the handle to rev the engine in warning. He raises his chin like he’s finally pissed and his eyes narrow on me. “Razor.”

I let the bike idle. If he’s going to respect me by using my road name, I’ll respect him for a few seconds. “Leave me the fuck alone.”

Damn if the man doesn’t possess balls the size of Montana. He steps closer to me and drops a bomb. “I have reason to believe your mom was murdered.”
 

     If that first chapter didn’t catch your attention then I don’t know what will. I know one thing for sure is that I will be hounding my local bookstore until they have this book on the shelves! If you are as anxious as me to get WALK THE EDGE then pre-order it now so that you can get it when it is released on March 29th! There is even a special prize if you pre-order WALK THE EDGE too!


     Pre-Order WALK THE EDGE, Register your Pre-Order and receive an exclusive Echo and Noah short story and a chance to be in the next Thunder Road novel!  Register at https://offerpop.com/campaign/796530.

     Whoa. A chance to be in the next Thunder Road novel?! A chance to be fictionally surrounded by badass bikers who secretly have a soft spot? SIGN ME UP. Seriously.

     WALK THE EDGE preorder links: Amazon Ι Kobo Ι Barnes and Noble Ι iBooks Ι IndieBound

     Also, don’t forget to add WALK THE EDGE to Goodreads and let everyone know you’re reading it!


     Don’t miss the first book in the Thunder Road series, , NOWHERE BUT HERE! Trust me, this series is not one you want to skip.


About Katie McGarry:

Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan. Katie is the author of full length YA novels, PUSHING THE LIMITS, DARE YOU TO, CRASH INTO YOU, TAKE ME ON,  BREAKING THE RULES, and NOWHERE BUT HERE and the e-novellas, CROSSING THE LINE and RED AT NIGHT. Her debut YA novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS was a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction, a RT Magazine's 2012 Reviewer's Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel, a double Rita Finalist, and a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick. DARE YOU TO was also a Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Young Adult Contemporary fiction in 2013.

Don’t forget to check out all of Katie’s social media links!

March 3, 2016

How I Edit My Bookstagram Photos!


Bookish Instagrams are all the rage right now, especially ones with themes. A theme is a common editing style, prop, style, etc. that sets bookish accounts apart from each other. For example, my bookstagram theme consists of dark backgrounds and cool/blue tones. There may be themes that are similar to mine; however, no one exactly edits their photos the way I do, and no one has the same background as I do. 
  
     This post contains my tips, tricks, and advice on how to edit your photos. I am not a professional photographer or photo editor, but the apps I use make it easy to edit my photos how I like them. That being said, this is what works for me, and I hope it will work for you. Since I use my iPhone to take my Bookstagram pictures, the two apps I use to edit my photos are really convenient.

     The two apps I use to edit my photos are VSCO and Watermark P (optional but recommended). All of these apps are free so this post is very broke girl/guy friendly. There are roughly five steps I take to completely edit my photos, and hopefully I can explain them all clearly!



1. Determine A Signature Theme

    As I mentioned above, themes are taking bookstagram by storm, but that doesn’t mean that they are necessary. I choose to feature a theme because I love the look of a matching bookstagram feed and it allows my photos to stay consistent.

    There are so many themes on Instagram but they all can be categorized into two broad themes: light and dark.

Here are some examples:

  
    They are beautiful right?

     My bookstagram feed, OriginalQueenofBooks, is obviously dark. However, we all know the famous light themes on Instagram that usually show a book on a bed, a cup of tea/coffee, and the ever famous sock covered legs. That signature theme is used often on bookstagram because it is simplistic, eye-catching, and light.

    Bookstagram pictures with a theme also usually have the same or a similar background (i.e. a table top, bed, bookshelf, outside, etc.) which also adds to an accounts signature look. I based my theme solely around my beautiful black bookshelves and there are usually the background to all of my photos. I choose a dark and cool toned theme to compliment my bookshelves because I knew that would be my background. Plus, I wanted my account to stand out from the usually light bookstagram photos.

2. Take Your Picture


    1) The biggest part of this step is lighting. Diffused lighting is your friend here. What do I mean by diffused light? I mean taking your picture in front of a window with the blinds slightly closed or taking the photo on a cloudy day. Harsh lighting will be your enemy when it comes time to edit.

    2) Don’t worry about how the picture looks right now. Everything will look average at this stage. All you have to do is make sure that your picture isn’t blurred and your iPhone is focused on the main object you want shown. However, if your picture isn’t as clear as it possibly can be, you can fix it in editing.

    3) My next tip is to take as any pictures as you can until you feel like you have a good variety to choose from. I would also suggest changing the layout and moving the book(s) around until you are happy with their position.

    4) My last tip for this step is to not be afraid to use props. For example, I will often use the swords I have as props when I photograph fantasy novels like Queen of Shadows, or I will use a fake flower just to add another element to the photo. It can get boring when you just post pictures of a book without a prop to look at. Move those around too until you find the position that best frames the book. Then go through your camera roll and delete all of the pictures that you don’t like, that are too blurry, or pictures where the lighting is off.

3. Editing Your Photo

    This is where I realized that VSCO was my best friend. VSCO comes with a few filters and one of them happened to be what I wanted my theme to be. I also love this app because it has a library of its own that holds all of your edited photos and you can easily tell if your photos match your theme. (P.s. I always crop my photo to the square format in my camera roll editing tab before I even start editing in VSCO)
 


    1) The very first thing you should do is play with the filters and figure out which one you like. I found out that the filter P5 on VSCO was the perfect filter for me because it had dark and cool tones in it, and it also had that slightly cloudy look that I like. Some people would leave it at that, but I like to customize the filter so that it looks better. I will layout the steps I take to edit my photos below:


    • Exposure: Exposure controls the amount of light in a photo. Decreasing the exposure decreases the amount of light in a photo. I usually decrease the exposure by 1 or 2 since my Bookstagram theme is dark.

      -Increasing the exposure is usually best for the lighter themes.

    • Contrast: The contrast controls the scale of black and white in your photos. By reducing the contrast, I am adding more white into my photo and dulling the bright colors so that my theme remains dark.

      -I usually decrease the contrast by 1 or 2, at the most. Doing so gives me the slightly gray and cloudy look that I like.

      -If you want to add more shadows and increase the brightness of the white in your photo then increase the contrast.

    • Sharpness:  Sharpness controls the resolution of your photos. I always increase the sharpness of my photos, but the number I increase it by isn’t always consistent. I never want to make the photo look grainy so I always test it to see what works the best.

      -You always want to sharpen your pictures, but if you want a soft look to your  pictures then you want to keep the sharpness on low.

      -All you want to do is make the small details that are lost in the picture stand  out.

    • Saturation: Saturation enhances the difference between the colors in a photo making them appear brighter or duller. It is essential for me to decrease the saturation of my photos because I don’t want bright colors in my theme.
      -I usually only need to decrease the saturation by 1 or 2. Anything more than that will cause my photo to start looking black and white.

      -For lighter themes, I suggest increasing the saturation slightly to bring out the colors in your photo so that they will stand out.

    • Temperature: Changing the temperature of a photo changes that tone of your photo to warm or cool. If you decrease the temperature you are left with a cool toned photo, but if you increase the temperature then you are left with a warm toned photo. Adjusting the temperature of my photo is the last step I take in the editing stage. This is how I achieve that cool toned/blue tint in my pictures.


      -I always decrease the temperature of my photo by 1 or at the most 3. My theme is dark and cool so decreasing the temperature is essential.

     -If you have a lighter theme then you might want to increase the temperature and bring out the warmth in your photo unless you are going for a grungy look.

     Now you can save your photo to your camera roll, and move on to the last step!


4. Placing Your Bookstagram Name On Your Photo

     This step is optional. In fact, I didn’t start doing it until recently, but it helps to make your theme unique. Watermark P is the app I use to put my stamp on my photos and it is so easy. The app features a ton of fonts to choose from which is so cool.



    1) Choose the font that you love the most or the font that you feel goes with your theme the best. My front is very elegant, which I feel like matched my theme perfectly.

 
 
    2) Place your signature wherever you like in the photo. Most bookstagram accounts like to hide their signatures among the subjects of their photo like under a coffee cup or under a bookshelf, but I like to put mine close to the book(s) in the picture or in the corner.


 

    3) Also, I always decrease the opacity to about 60% visibility so that my signature doesn’t completely stand out and it isn’t stark white against my dark background. I also make my signature fairly small, but not small enough that you can hardly read it.

    4) Now you are ready to save your photo to your library!



     That is it! That is how I edit my photos for my Bookstagram account! I really hope you guys found this post interesting and helpful! Remember, I am not an expert by any means, but I know what I like in my photos so I had to share my tips and tricks. Let me know if you found this post helpful, and leave your bookstagram accounts below or follow my bookstagram account by using the link in my sidebar! I would love to see more beautiful pictures of books!

Until next time, read some good books and take some gorgeous pictures for me!

Cheers!