BookTube: My Most Anticipated 2016 New Releases

There are so many amazing books coming out in 2016 that it was really hard to narrow down my list for this video! I say that I chose my top 20, but I actually only listed 19 because apparently I can’t count.  I’m amazed at how many books are being released in January and I’m so thankful for all of the Barnes & Noble and Amazon gift cards I received for Christmas because I’m totally putting them toward my preorders!

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Tea & Book Chat: The Prophecy of Shadows by Michelle Maddow (Elementals #1)

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This is no way swayed my opinions.*

Purchase on Amazon –Elementals: The Prophecy of Shadows

When I heard about Michelle Maddow’s new series, Elementals, I knew I had to read it.  The first book, The Prophecy of Shadows, introduces the reader to a world that combines greek mythology and witchery.  The story follows the main character Nicole and four of her classmates from the unusual homeroom class she’s placed in where everyone is descended from Greek Gods.  Because it’s become less common for Greek Gods to visit Earth and procreate, the offspring in the bloodline consider themselves to be witches since their blood is diluted.  They’re discouraged from becoming involved with humans in an effort to preserve their bloodline.  Being descendants has allotted them some unique abilities and they use colors to channel their energy.  While Nicole is learning everything about her newfound abilities, a comet passes over her town and changes everything.

While I found much of the storyline of The Prophecy of Shadows to be predictable, I still enjoyed reading the story.  The plot is very formulaic and full of common tropes but the story still manages to be engaging and quick paced.  The main character is the normal human with a newfound ability that we learn everything through.  She is pining for a bad boy (Blake) who’s in a relationship with a seemingly awful and possessive female classmate (Danielle – both of whom are in the Elementals group).  Then we have the over-achieving intelligent girl (Kate), and the guy she likes (Chris) who’s more of a nerdy outsider.  It’s almost like a modern day Breakfast Club of Greek Gods descendants, all led by their homeroom teacher Darius, a member of the Elders who helps to regulate magic on Earth.  The group comes together when their powers are exacerbated by a comet and they set out on a hero’s quest to find the meaning of an illusive prophecy while learning about and testing out their powers.

The Prophecy of Shadows

I noticed many similarities between The Prophecy of Shadows and Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan.  Since both deal with Greek Gods, it’s difficult not to draw comparisons between the two series.  While The Prophecy of Shadows is aimed at a slightly older audience, I still found the story to read at more of a middle grade level than a YA level.  While the characters faced their trials and tribulations, it seemed a little too unbelievable to me that they would be able to master their powers so quickly.  I understand that it’s the first book, but their obstacles didn’t seem challenging enough for the situations they found themselves in.  This first installment did a good job of world-building and introducing the reader to the characters which leads me to believe that the second book will have a higher payoff.  The ending already left us with a taste of the excitement to come!

Final Thoughts:  The Prophecy of Shadows by Michelle Maddow is an interesting first installment in the Elementals series.  If you’re a fan of Greek mythology or Percy Jackson, I would definitely recommend giving this series a go.  I had a lot of issues with the book overall but it didn’t take away from the enjoyment of reading it.  The book is full of tropes and the story is formulaic but it’s also quick paced and keeps you interested.  As you can tell, my feelings were very mixed on this one!

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Filled with magic, thrilling adventure, and sweet romance, Elementals is the first in a new series that fans of Percy Jackson and The Secret Circle will love!

When Nicole Cassidy moves from sunny Georgia to gloomy New England, the last thing she expects is to learn that her homeroom is a cover for a secret coven of witches. Even more surprisingly … she’s apparently a witch herself. Despite doubts about her newfound abilities, Nicole is welcomed into this ancient circle of witches and is bedazzled by their powers—and, to her dismay, by Blake—the school’s notorious bad-boy.

Girls who get close to Blake wind up hurt. His girlfriend Danielle will do anything to keep them away, even if she must resort to using dark magic. But the chemistry between Blake and Nicole is undeniable, and despite wanting to protect Nicole from Danielle’s wrath, he finds it impossible to keep his distance.

When the Olympian Comet shoots through the sky for the first time in three thousand years, Nicole, Blake, Danielle, and two others in their homeroom are gifted with mysterious powers. But the comet has another effect—it opens the portal to the prison world that has contained the Titans for centuries. After an ancient monster escapes and attacks Nicole and Blake, it’s up to them and the others to follow the clues from a cryptic prophecy so that they can save their town … and possibly the world. (via Goodreads)

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Makeup Monday: Sephora x Pantone Universe Collection

One of the biggest events in the fashion world every year (besides fashion week of course) is when Pantone announces the official colors of the upcoming year.  I don’t take it very seriously, it’s really more of a fun thing but since I went to fashion school, it’s a thing I look forward to nonetheless.  The colors chosen are always prevalently used in clothing lines, determine makeup trends and generally influence a lot more consumer products than you would ever imagine.  I was thrilled when Pantone announced the colors of 2016 because they’re two of my absolute favorites; Rose Quartz (which is a pastel pink) and Serenity (which is a pastel periwinkle / sky blue blend).  I’m really into pastel colors, especially lately, so I’m ecstatic to buy some more clothing in those colors!  Sephora also recently released a collection celebrating the colors and I’m planning on buying the Rose Quartz lipstick and the eyeshadow palette after Christmas.

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Sephora + Pantone Color of the Year Matte Lipstick in Serenity

While this lipstick comes in the same texture and finish as Rose Quartz, this version of the lipstick is even more daring, yet delicate thanks to its Serenity hue. Color it on your lips for a futuristic effect that wows the present.

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Sephora + Pantone Color of the Year Matte Lipstick in Rose Quartz

In 2016, sweet hues take on a bold attitude and these matte lipsticks deliver the drama with full-color payoff. Swipe on the velvety matte texture in Rose Quartz for a femme look that’s not afraid of being unconventional.

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Sephora + Pantone Universe Color of the Year Modern Watercolors Eye Palette

The shades in this exclusive 15-shade pan palette are all about pleasing the eye. The shimmer and matte formulas are infused with Vitamin E to nurture lids, while the pastel and bright hues can be worn together in a variety of ways to create a visual masterpiece.

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Sephora + Pantone Universe Color of the Year Modern Watercolors Lip Gloss Set

In line with its rule-breaking mantra, the six pastel hues in this lip gloss set are anything but understated. A swipe of the melt-on-your-mouth formula instantly delivers rich color and a dose of conditioning hydration. Your lips will look contemporary, smooth, and unexpected.

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Little Loves #3: Holiday Edition

Hi everyone! I’m back with my next installment of Little Loves.  Little Loves is a post series I created as a way to acknowledge and appreciate more of the little things that are making me happy every day.

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💖 CHRISTMAS – I blogged A LOT about Christmas this month 💖 STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (I love you BB-8) 💖  The holiday decorations at Rolf’s 💖 Pantone’s 2016 colors of the year (Rose Quartz & Serenity) 💖 The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them trailer 💖 The Hamilton soundtrack (still & I’m finally getting the songs stuck in Andrew’s head!) 💖 Passenger by Alexandra Bracken – Time travel, pirates & romance galore 💖 Harper Collins announced that the original cover for The Winner’s Kiss will be released for the final hardcover (I was pretty upset about the new ones) 💖 This designer Spider-Man purse that I will never be able to afford 💖 Dark chocolate peppermint brownies 💖 Andrew agreeing to take these photos with me 💖 Warm mugs of homemade gluhwein 💖 Reading my first Kindle book on my Kindle Fire 3 💖 Alex and Ani’s Star Wars bracelets 💖 The general kindness and generosity of people during the holiday season 💖 Board game nights with friends 💖 The Fresh Balsam candle from Bath & Body Works 💖 My new Harry Potter Signature Edition hardcover box set 💖 Apartment hunting! 💖 Impulsively upgrading my Selection series books to hardcovers because I was weak during a B&N sale 💖 Festive sweater leggings from Target. So warm. So comfortable. 💖 Rainbow cookies 💖 Pecan Pie 💖 Homemade hot chocolate 💖 Spending time with family next to the Christmas tree 💖 Elf 💖

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Kristin

‘Tis the Season: Rolfs in NYC

One of my most recent Christmas season traditions is to visit (and preferably eat at but I’ll get to that in a minute) at Rolfs in NYC.  It’s a German restaurant that draws a huge crowd of Christmas enthusiasts because upon entering you may think that Christmas has exploded inside.  It’s honestly breathtaking.  Andrew and I went last year and even though we waited in the cold for hours our experience was definitely worth it.  This year, we were joined by my brother Bob and while overall, we did have a lot of fun, it became clear just how mismanaged Rolf’s busiest season can be.

We waited on a line outside for about a half an hour only to find out that they weren’t taking table reservations until you got to the front of it.  We put our names down and crowded into the already overcrowded bar to enjoy a warm glass of gluhwein while we waited for our table.  We spent about 3 hours inside squished at the bar and maybe one table was called in that time (with zero effort put forth by the host to find the people called).  We found out that 10PM is their last seating so at 9PM when there were still 7 people ahead of us on the list we decided to bow out and eat some junk food at Penn Station on our way home instead.

I would suggest dropping in for one drink at the bar if you love Christmas as much as I do.  The drinks are overpriced, the restaurant is overcrowded, the staff is pretty obnoxious and walks away from anyone asking them questions but the decorations, quality of their gluhwein and the company you bring with you can still make it an enjoyable experience.  I really loved the potato pancakes I ate there last year and I’m thinking that I may take a day off of work so I can be at 4PM there when they open for my 2016 trip because I cannot picture willingly going in for a repeat of this year.  The only exception would be if I went in with the mindset that I would be having one drink and then leaving.

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Kristin

BookTube: Top 5 Wednesday – Series I Want to Start in 2016

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is series I want to start in 2016.  I had posted one of these videos for 2015 and I’m pleased to say that I either started or completed 4 out of the 5 series I mentioned.  Many of the series I mention in today’s video are perfect to help me toward my goals in the 2016 reading challenges I’ve signed up for so that’s even more incentive to get reading!

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Kristin

Waiting on Wednesday: The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey (The Girl at Midnight #2)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly series hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly awaiting.  This week I’m choosing The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey which is the second book in The Girl at Midnight trilogy.  I have so much love for the first book in the series and I can’t wait to find out what the characters are up to in the next installment!  I had a blast at the launch party at Books of Wonder and you can read my full review here.  I also teamed up with Melissa earlier this year for a DIY galaxy nail art video which is inspired by the cover of the first book.  July cannot come soon enough because I am so over this long wait!

The Shadow Hour

Everything in Echo’s life changed in a blinding flash when she learned the startling truth: she is the firebird, the creature of light that is said to bring peace.

The firebird has come into the world, but it has not come alone. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and Echo can feel a great and terrible darkness rising in the distance. Cosmic forces threaten to tear the world apart.

Echo has already lost her home, her family, and her boyfriend. Now, as the firebird, her path is filled with even greater dangers than the ones she’s already overcome.

She knows the Dragon Prince will not fall without a fight.

Echo must decide: can she wield the power of her true nature–or will it prove too strong for her, and burn what’s left of her world to the ground?

Welcome to the shadow hour. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

‘Tis the Season: Disney x Christmas Movie Mash Up Art

Yesterday while surfing the internet I came across the cutest Disney Christmas artwork by Dylan Bonner and I knew I had to share them here!  He took Disney characters and drew them in scenes of popular Christmas films which is basically my dream mash up.  Of course Home Alone Rapunzel and Elf Ariel, and Polar Express Peter Pan are my three favorites!

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Kristin

My 2016 Reading Challenges

I’m really looking forward to 2016 because of all of the Reading Challenges I’ll be participating in.  Every time I’ve gone to pick up a book this month, I’ve hesitated because I’ve thought about how perfect it would be for one of the upcoming challenges I’m committing to.  I decided to pick 5 challenges in total which I feel are the most in line with my reading goals for the year.  The challenges listed below are all hosted by book bloggers but I’ll also be participating in some BookTube read-a-thons throughout the year (those tend to always be announced closer to the date they’re being held and are not a year long challenge).  All of the challenges mentioned below run from January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016 and most have giveaways on their monthly link-ups.  What are your 2016 reading goals?  Are you committing to any challenges besides the basic Goodreads one, or are you foregoing challenges altogether? I’ll be posting a monthly recap the last week of every month to track my progress throughout the year.  Anyway, without further ado, here are the 2016 challenges I’m partaking in!

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The Challenge: Flights of Fantasy

Hosts: Alexa Loves Books & Hello Chelly

The Goal: There’s no minimum, and the reader is encouraged to set their own goal for how many fantasy novels they want to read in 2016.

Official hashtag: #flightsoffantasy

Additional Info: This year, Alexa and Rachel will also be adding a new element to the challenge.  They’ve started a Flights of Fantasy book club!  The full schedule for the year has already been posted on both of their blogs and I’m so excited to join in, especially for the Robin Hobb and Jacqueline Carey books.  In addition, there will be monthly link-ups and two giveaways!

MY GOAL: 30 books

Some Fantasy Books I Plan to Read:  

1) An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

2) Firefight by Brandon Sanderson (The Reckoners #2)

3) Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #1)

4) Graceling by Kristen Cashore (Graceling #1)

5) Uprooted by Naomi Novik

6) The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (Gentleman Bastards #1)

7) The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman (The Magicians #3)

8) Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

9) Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

10) Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

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The Challenge: Contemporary Romance 2016 Reading Challenge

Hosts: Gone With the Words & Love at First Page

The Goal: There are different levels the reader can chose from for their 2016 goal, both of which can be found on the hosts sites.

Official hashtag: #ContRom2016

Additional Info: There will be monthly link-ups and giveaways!

MY GOAL: Grand Slam – 21+ books

Some Contemporary Romance Books I Plan to Read:  

1) Magnolia by Kristi Cook

2) I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

3) OCD: A Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu

4) Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

5) Austenland by Shannon Hale

6) 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

7) The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

8) Boomerang by Noelle August

9) On the Fence by Kasie West

10) My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

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The Challenge: The Re-Read Challenge

HostsBelle of the Literati

The Goal: The reader chooses their own re-read goal.

Official hashtag: #ReRead2016

Additional Info: There will be monthly link-ups and giveaways!  If you write any re-read reviews you’ll get extra entries into the giveaways.

MY GOAL: 10 Books

Books I Plan to Re-Read:  

1) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling

2) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling

3) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

4) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

5) Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

6) The Archived by Victoria Schwab

7) The Unbound by Victoria Schwab

8) Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

9) The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

10) Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

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The Challenge: 2016 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

Hosts:  Bookish Lifestyle

The Goal:  There are different levels the reader can chose from for their 2016 goal which can be found on the hosts sites.

Official hashtag: #2016TBRPile

Additional Info: There will be monthly link-ups and giveaways!  You can also join the book club (dates listed on Evie’s site) and the books are TBA.

MY GOAL:  Married with Children – 50+ Books

I own all of the books listed under the other challenges so those are some I’ll be reading!

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The Challenge: 2016 Finishing the Series Challenge

Hosts:  Bea’s Book Nook

The Goal:  There are different levels the reader can chose from for their 2016 goal which can be found on the hosts sites.

Official hashtag: None

Additional Info: There will be a monthly link-up.

MY GOAL:  Level 4 (Expert Series Reader) – Complete 3 – 6 series

Series I Plan to Complete:

1) The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski (Books left: The Winner’s Kiss)

2) Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (Books left: Dreams of Gods & Monsters)

 3) The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare (Books left: City of Lost Souls, City of Heavenly Fire)

4) The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater (Books left: The Raven King)

5) The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare (Books left: Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, Clockwork Princess)

6) Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Books left: Queen of Shadows, The Assassin’s Blade, Untitled #5)

7) The Magician’s Trilogy by Lev Grossman (Books left: The Magician’s Land)

8) Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins (Books left: Miss Mayhem, Lady Renegades)

9) The Reckoners by Brandon Sanderson (Books left: Firefight, Calamity)

10) A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Books left: A Gathering of Shadows)

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Kristin

‘Tis the Season: Penguin Christmas Classics

I’ve recently fallen in love with the Penguin Christmas Classics collection of books so I wanted to share them with all of you in case you haven’t seen them on the shelves in your local bookstore!  The line collects a bunch of classic Christmas stories into these beautiful festive editions.  They have red spines with white typography and the covers feature cardinals and are primarily white, gold, green and grey.  The collection includes six books in total:

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by Frank L. Baum

A Merry Christmas: And Other Christmas Stories Louisa May Alcott

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The Nutcracker by E. T. A. Hoffman

Christmas at Thompson Hall: And Other Christmas Stories by Anthony Trollope

The Night Before Christmas by Nikolai Gogol

So far I’ve gotten four of the six but I want to complete my set.  They seem like the perfect coffee table books to decorate with during the holidays and of course, read from while sitting in a cozy armchair!

Penguin Christmas Editions1 Penguin Christmas Editions2 Penguin Christmas Editions3

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Kristin
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