Monday, August 14, 2017

Review: The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski (ARC)

Title: The Wood
Author: Chelsea Bobulski
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Format: ARC

Page Count: 320


After her father goes missing in the woods that they protect, Winter tries to seek the truth in what happened, why the wood is changing, and what it all has to do with the arrival of a mysterious stranger in this thrilling YA debut.

When Winter’s dad goes missing during his nightly patrol of the wood, it falls to her to patrol the time portals and protect the travelers who slip through them. Winter can't help but think there's more to her dad's disappearance than she's being told.

She soon finds a young man traveling in the wood named Henry who knows more than he should. He believes if they can work together to find his missing parents, they could discover the truth about Winter’s dad.

The wood is poisoned, changing into something sinister—torturing travelers lost in it. Winter must put her trust in Henry in order to find the truth and those they’ve lost.

Bobulski’s eerie debut is filled with friendship, family, and the responsibilities we choose and those we do not. (taken from

"There is a quiet strength in a person who can go on and do what needs to be done
even when all hope seems lost."

Okay okay, I know I'm the worst. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an advance review and I totally fell behind. To be fair, my life has been pretty insane lately, but still, I feel terrible that I am reviewing this one after it's already hit the shelves. However, I can kind of make up for my lateness through the positive review you're about to read! And no, I'm not being nice just to alleviate my guilt. The Wood truly is a creative and entertaining ride.

So, essentially, Winter has been trained her entire life to guide lost travelers out of the mystical forest that haunts her backyard. The wood has strange abilities to bridge gaps between different time periods, and without Winter's guidance and protection, people would be able to wander between decades and wreak havoc on space and time. Pretty unique concept, right? She's bound to this fate, as were her ancestors, including her father who disappeared months ago. As Winter attempts to solve the mystery of her father's disappearance, she becomes ensnared in a plot to overthrow the system she has always known. Oh, and she meets a cute guy from the 18th century who helps out (because why not?).

I won't say that The Wood blew me away completely, but it was definitely an intriguing trip. I read the entire thing in practically one sitting. Once the plot got going, it was easy to fly through the story. I snickered, grimaced, and really enjoyed my time with it. Bobulski's wood is both creepy and enchanting, and I immensely appreciated the originality. I'd recommend this one to anyone simply because of that aspect.

How's the romance, you ask? Meh. If you're in search of hot, passionate love affair, then this probably isn't the read for you. However, I kind of enjoyed seeing the romance placed on the backburner. I get sick of other characters in YA novels dealing huge burdens but then also swooning at every little flirtatious conversation. Winter's dad is missing, and she has bigger problems to deal with than falling head over heels for some guy from another century... except she kind of does anyway. It was a cute love story, but nothing to write home about.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with this debut! Check it out if you're in the mood for a creepy forest, a dash of magic, and some 18th-century comedy.

The Wood is just the right blend of unique and creepy, and it stands out as a worthwhile debut.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Author Chat: Jessica Taylor (A MAP FOR WRECKED GIRLS)

"Jessica Taylor adores atmospheric settings, dangerous girls, and characters who sneak out late at night. She lives in Northern California, not far from San Francisco, with a law degree she isn’t using, one dog, and many teetering towers of books.

A MAP FOR WRECKED GIRLS, her first young adult contemporary thriller and a Junior Library Guild Selection, will be published August 15, 2017 by Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin Random House."

(text and photo taken from Taylor's 

Have you always wanted to write a young adult novel?

Definitely. YA is what I gravitate toward most as a reader. I don't know if I should admit this part, but oh well . . . I usually like teens more than adults. Most of the teens I meet have educated themselves about social issues, they're committed to making a difference in the world, they're sensitive to other people's feelings, and they understand that words matter and can make a difference. Most adults I know could learn a lot from the teens in their lives.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what do you listen to?

Yes, I love creating playlists for my books. Lately I've been listening to a lot of Lord Heron and Alvvays while writing.

Are you more of a coffee or a tea person when writing?

I'm totally a Peet's Coffee girl. Their Honey Macchiato with almond milk is my go-to writing drink.

How did you select the names of your characters?

Henri (Henrietta) was the first character I named. I knew I wanted the sisters to be named after too great aunts, but I also wanted the names to feel fresh and not stand out too much in the contemporary story. To name Emma, I spent hours combing through census records from the 1920s to find a name that would complement Henri well.

Did you have a writing schedule while you worked on A Map for Wrecked Girls? What did your average day of writing look like?  

While working on Map, I had another job, so I would sit down every evening and write one chapter. I finished that first rough draft relatively quickly because by the time I got off work, I had thought about the coming scenes and knew exactly what to write.

What is one underrated book you would like to recommend to everyone?

This isn't necessarily underrated because every review I've checked out is deservingly incredible, but I'd love to see more people aware that The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker will be out August 22nd. I loved this book! The main character, Rilla Brae, works on a lobster fishing boat. She's a tough-as-nails protagonist who makes my little feminist heart beat faster. It's also a deliciously creepy and frightening ghost story that explores a historically accurate attempt at cultural erasure. It's such an important book. Everyone should read it!

About Taylor's upcoming release, which will hit shelves on August 15:  

We sat at the edge of the ocean—my sister Henri and I—inches apart but not touching at all. We'd been so sure someone would find us by now.

Emma had always orbited Henri, her fierce, magnetic queen bee of an older sister, and the two had always been best friends. Until something happened that wrecked them.

I'd trusted Henri more than I'd trusted myself. Wherever she told me to go, I'd follow.
Then the unthinkable occurs—a watery nightmare off the dazzling coast. The girls wash up on shore, stranded. Their only companion is Alex, a troubled boy agonizing over his own secrets. Trapped in this gorgeous hell, Emma and Alex fall together as Emma and Henri fall catastrophically apart.

For the first time, I was afraid we'd die on this shore.

To find their way home, the sisters must find their way back to each other. But there’s no map for this—or anything. Can they survive the unearthing of the past and the upheaval of the present? (taken from

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: The Rattled Bones

Waiting On Wednesday was created by Jill over at Breaking The Spine. It's a weekly post for you to share what upcoming books you can't wait for!

Title: The Rattled Bones

Author: S. M. Parker 
Release Date: August 22, 2017

Unearthing years of buried secrets, Rilla Brae is haunted by ghostly visions tied to the tainted history of a mysterious island in this haunting novel from the author of The Girl Who Fell.

Maine-bred, independent Rilla Brae is no stranger to the deep. She knows the rhythms of hard work and harder seas. But when she experiences the sudden death of her father, the veil between the living and the dead blurs and she begins to be haunted by a girl on a nearby, uninhabited island. The girl floats a song over the waves, and it is as beautiful as it is terrifying. Familiar and distant.

Then Rilla meets Sam, a University of Southern Maine archeology student tasked with excavating the very island where the ghostly girl has appeared. Sam sifts the earth looking for the cultural remains of an island people who were forcibly evicted by the state nearly a hundred years ago. Sam tells Rilla the island has a history no locals talk about—if they know about it at all—due to the shame the events brought to the working waterfront community. All Rilla knows for sure is that the island has always been there—an eerie presence anchored in the stormy sea. Now Sam’s work and the ghostly girl’s song lure Rilla to the island’s shores.

As Rilla helps Sam to unearth the island’s many secrets, Rilla’s visions grow—until the two discover a tragedy kept silent for years. And it’s a tragedy that has everything to do with Rilla’s past. (taken from

Why I Need It: 

First of all, I love the simplicity and creepiness of the cover. Secondly, Rilla's story sounds extremely original and a little chilling. Definitely looking forward to this one, which comes out this month! 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Writer Chat: Mary Taranta, Author of SHIMMER AND BURN

"Born the youngest save one in a family of ten, I grew up notoriously quiet but secretly wild, playacting my favorite stories and writing some of my own in the woods behind my family's farmhouse. Originally from a small (very small) town in Ohio, I moved to the larger (much larger) Orlando suburbs kicking and screaming at the age of fifteen. It turned out all right in the end and I'm still here, now with an adorable husband, two useless cats, and an unhealthy reliance on air conditioning. While I'm not old enough to be President, I am too old to sit on the floor without cracking joints when I stand. As a Midwestern Southerner, I've attained Level 9 Politeness and prefer my iced tea sweet.

Still notoriously quiet, though. Not nearly so wild."

(text and photo taken from Taranta's

Did you always know you wanted to publish a novel?

Once I understood that being an author was a viable career choice for adults (I was in the third grade at the time), yes! Publishing has always been my goal. It's taken longer than I would have thought as a kid, but on the other hand, I would have been mortified if I had ever published that first book I wrote in the sixth grade....

Besides writing or reading, what is your favorite hobby?

I love walking (and running), cooking, and working with my hands, whether it's doing maintenance-related things around the house, or craft projects. Every few months, I also tend to reorganize the closets and garage... for fun. (I like things tidy!)

Are you more of a coffee or a tea person when writing?

I absolutely hate coffee, no matter what flavor it is or how much sugar and creamer is added to disguise the taste. I prefer black teas or homemade masala chai. Hot cocoa if it's stormy outside!

How do you deal with critiques of your writing?

With time, distance, and hard honesty. When I first started writing seriously and my husband would give me feedback with no sugarcoating, my reaction was to defend, dismiss, and argue against everything he said. That's really not constructive and defeats the purpose of asking for input. Now I listen to feedback, let it percolate for a few hours/days, and then re-evaluate. It's never as harsh the second time I look at it, and by then, I see the merit more than any attack. A lot of times the critique is right, even if I don't like admitting it. ;) Other times, if it doesn't feel right to what I was intending to convey, I discard that specific comment.

How did you choose your characters' names?

Faris was Faris from the first inkling of an idea, because I liked the name Ferris but wanted it to be more feminine. (Afterwards, I realized Ferris means "rock," which suits her perfectly, so that was a happy coincidence.) Princess Bryn is ambitious and wants to be queen, so I had her father name her--the last born of his children--after his kingdom as an indulgence; whereas North was named after the North Star, due to his constancy to his goal. Tobek started off as Tobey, but I added a harsher sounding ending to suit the naming convention of other places/people within the novel.

What is an underrated book you would like to recommend to everyone?

Mimus, by Lilli Thall, a high medieval fantasy written by an art historian. I love characters who come in shades of gray, and the title character, Mimus, was absolutely fascinating and unexpected.

About Taranta's upcoming release, which will hit shelves on August 8:  

To save her sister’s life, Faris must smuggle magic into a plague-ridden neighboring kingdom in this exciting and dangerous start to a brand-new fantasy duology.

Faris grew up fighting to survive in the slums of Brindaigel while caring for her sister, Cadence. But when Cadence is caught trying to flee the kingdom and is sold into slavery, Faris reluctantly agrees to a lucrative scheme to buy her back, inadvertently binding herself to the power-hungry Princess Bryn, who wants to steal her father’s throne.

Now Faris must smuggle stolen magic into neighboring Avinea to incite its prince to alliance—magic that addicts in the war-torn country can sense in her blood and can steal with a touch. She and Bryn turn to a handsome traveling magician, North, who offers protection from Avinea’s many dangers, but he cannot save Faris from Bryn’s cruelty as she leverages Cadence’s freedom to force Faris to do anything—or kill anyone—she asks. Yet Faris is as fierce as Bryn, and even as she finds herself falling for North, she develops schemes of her own.

With the fate of kingdoms at stake, Faris, Bryn, and North maneuver through a dangerous game of magical and political machinations, where lives can be destroyed—or saved—with only a touch. (taken from