Tea & Book Chat: The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey (The Girl at Midnight #2)

**Warning! If you haven’t read The Girl at Midnight which is the first book in the trilogy by Melissa Grey, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

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

The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey is the second book in The Girl at Midnight series which picks up right where book one ends.  The Girl at Midnight was one of my favorite reads of 2015 so I was HIGHLY anticipating The Shadow Hour and I’m so happy to report that it completely blew my expectations out of the water!  At the end of The Girl at Midnight, Echo was just beginning to learn more about herself as the Firebird and in The Shadow Hour we see her explore her past, adjust to her present and attempt to work out how she’ll save the world by ending the age old war between the Avicen and the Drakharin.

In my review of The Girl at Midnight, I already touched upon the fascinating world that Grey built and in The Shadow Hourthe reader gets to explore it further as it continues to develop.  I love that this series allows you to travel the world but it’s roots are planted in New York City.  Each time I read about this familiar world with Grey’s infusion of magic existing beyond what I can see, I feel an even stronger connection the landmarks I pass daily and would otherwise have taken for granted.  One of the most intriguing and well done elements of magic that was added to The Shadow Hour is the introduction of the kucedra which comes to be as result of light (aka the Firebired) attracting a powerful and opposing dark force because one cannot have been brought into the world without the other.  The concept reminds me of season 2 of Legend of Korra (although, I am much more interested in seeing how everything plays out in this particular story line).

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While the world is more than enough to hook me, it’s the lovable band of misfits and should-be-enemies working together for the greater good that really tug at my heartstrings.  Seriously, their squad is goals.  In each decision made, you can feel how strong the connections are between characters and just how irrational they can all be while trying to protect one another.  There’s a new character who is introduced in The Shadow Hour that I totally fell head over heels for but I don’t want to spoil his or her role for anyone so I’ll just leave that at that.  And ah the swoony romance between Jasper and Dorian continues and it is everything despite one frustratingly persistent obstacle.  Another exemplary character worth noting is the new Dragon Prince, Caius’s backstabbing sister, Tanith.  Tanith is one of the best villains in YA and I love that Grey is able to convey just how manipulative and evil she is without shying away from showing us some of Tanith’s most vulnerable moments.

Final Thoughts: The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey is the phenomenal follow up to last years The Girl at Midnight.  I repeat, there is NO second book slump here.  Echo and her squad are faced with new challenges as the kucedra, an ultimate force of darkness and evil, emerges at the same time the Firebird surfaces.  Still caught between the Avicen and Drakharin war, the gang is on the run and attempting to strategize their next step in finding peace.  There is much pain, self doubt, self discovery and of course, the irresistible prose that readers of Grey have gladly grown accustomed to.  If you haven’t started this series yet, you are completely missing out and should probably re-evaluate some life decisions. (Or you know, settle in your favorite armchair for hours of adventure with a warm cup of tea).
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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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Book Look OOTD: The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

This week’s Book Look OOTD couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.  As many of you may know, I adore Melissa Grey’s debut novel, The Girl at Midnight.  I love the story and the main character Echo and Melissa’s writing is just so lovely and engaging (full review here).  I’ve been dying to read TGaM‘s sequel, The Shadow Hour, since the moment there were no more words left for me to consume in book one and last weekend at my bridal shower (which was Harry Potter themed(!) photos to come!), Melissa brought me a copy!! I was basically jumping for joy because there’s no way I would’ve made it until July to find out what happens next.  For anyone who’s as in love with the gorgeous cover of The Girl at Midnight as I am, you’ll be pleased to know that this isn’t my first fashion + beauty related post for it.  Last year, Melissa and I teamed up and filmed a BookTube video featuring a galaxy nail tutorial (because in addition to being a fantastic author, Melissa is also a gifted nail guru).  I can’t wait to dive into my ARC and I’m getting so excited for the release because Melissa promised that there’s going to another fabulous launch party at Books of Wonder (here are some photos from last years event!).

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Outfit Details: Dress (Free People)  |  Belt (Forever 21 – N/A)  |  Necklace (Gift from Cassie)

Bracelet (House of Harlow – N/A)  |  Boots (Sam Edelman)

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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: Not-So-Secret Santa Mini Challenge

I was so excited when I saw Alexa Loves Books’s Christmas mini challenge! It’s called the Not-So-Secret Santa Mini Challenge and if you win, you get $25 worth of books from either Amazon or Book Depository!  The challenge is to pick a book character (or several book characters) and tell what you would give them for Christmas!

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Alexa already came up with some great ideas in her post so I’m going to try my best to pick different characters but there is one repeat I couldn’t resist (cough Lara Jean cough).  Here are the top 5 characters I would love to buy Christmas presents for!  Which book characters would you love to shop for if you could?

Lara Jean (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han)

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Lara Jean loves baking just as much as I do so shopping for her would be so much fun.  I think she would adore this pastel pink KitchenAid mixer because it would make her life easier and it completely matches her aesthetic.  Plus, a KitchenAid mixer is the ultimate baker’s dream tool.  I think Peter K. would appreciate this gift too because it would mean more sweets for him!

Cath (Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell)

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Cath is a writer through and through and if there’s one thing a writer always needs (besides a pen), it’s a place to write down their ideas.  I think Cath would really like these flowery Rifle Paper Co. notebooks.  She could keep them with her when she’s traveling back home to visit her dad or when she’s sitting in class so if a Simon and Baz idea comes to her she can jot it down without having to fear it being lost.

Anna (Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins)

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Anna is obsessed with film and writing movie reviews.  It would be easy to get her a notebook as well, or something banana to add to her collection, but I think she would really enjoy this film projector necklace by Betsey Johnson.  It seems like something she wouldn’t think to buy for herself but it would allow her to incorporate her favorite hobby into her everyday wardrobe.

Echo (The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey)

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Echo is a girl after my own heart because she shares an affinity for good food.  We already know she loves macarons and I think it would brighten her holiday to get a giant custom box full of her favorite flavors.  Echo is really busy trying to figure out how to stop the war between the Avicen and the Drakhar so she doesn’t have the most time to be stopping to think about food and she can eat these macarons on the go.

Hermione (Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling)

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Hermione is everyone’s favorite bookworm and what’s better to gift a bookworm than a set of collectible books?  I think Hermione would appreciate this gorgeous collectible set of the Penguin Drop Caps editions and they would look lovely arranged in a central area on her bookshelf to brighten up the area where her neutral colored magic books are displayed.

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Kristin

BookTube: T5W: Top 5 Authors I Discovered This Year

This weeks Top 5 Wednesday topic is the Top 5 Authors I Discovered This Year.  So they’re not necessarily new authors, but they’re new to me! I had so much fun going through my list and seeing which authors I just started reading this year.  What are your favorite new to you authors?

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Kristin

BookTube: A Court of Thorns and Roses DIY Nail Art With Melissa Grey

Melissa Grey and I have teamed up again to bring you some DIY nail art for one of our favorite books of 2015, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas!  ACOTAR is a fairytale retelling of Beauty and the Beast mixed with Tamlin (which is even the lead male characters name).  You can read my full review for A Court of Thorns and Roses here.  I am one of those people that is totally guilty of judging books by their covers so before I even had an inkling of the plot synopsis, I knew I needed ACOTAR because 1) Sarah J. Maas is AMAZING and I am obsessed with her Throne of Glass series and 2) the cover of ACOTAR is absolutely GORGEOUS.  If you follow Melissa and I’s tutorial, please tweet us photos of your nails because we would love to see them!

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Kristin

The Girl at Midnight Launch Party

Last week, Melissa, Cassie, Andrew, Gil and I met up at Books of Wonder to celebrate the release of Melissa Grey’s debut novel The Girl at Midnight.  I’ve already read, reviewed and loved the book, but I was so excited to be able to upgrade my ARC for a fancy new hardcover!

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There were purple cupcakes, purple rock candy (which turned my mouth purple enough to match the book cover but it was SO good that I didn’t mind), popcorn, chocolate covered pretzels and best of all, champagne!  It was so fitting to have such a feast since food is constantly mentioned in the book.  I kept getting hungry while reading every time one of my favorite foods would come up!

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The event kicked off with Melissa reading a passage from The Girl at Midnight and answering audience questions about the story, her writing process and her characters.  Melissa is extremely entertaining and I truly adore her sense of humor so it was really enjoyable to take in all her answers.

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After about an hour, we were all able to line up and have Melissa sign our books!  I know the first one just came out but I seriously cannot wait for book number 2!

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Tea & Book Chat: The Girl At Midnight By Melissa Grey (The Girl at Midnight #1)

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

The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey is one of those rare books that I immediately fell in love with.  It’s about a girl named Echo who is a runaway that has grown up surrounded by an ancient race of people called the Avicen.  The Avicen (a bird-like race of people with feathers for hair) have been at war with the Drakhar (a dragon-like race of people with scales) for ages and Echo is tasked with searching for the mysterious Firebird which as the power to end the war.  Echo is a brazen protagonist and her endless sass is charming.  Her tough exterior is no doubt a result of her childhood which she spent pickpocketing on the streets of NYC and living at the New York Public Library.  While she’s extremely loyal to the Ala (the Avicen who “adopted” her), Echo is able to think big picture and she trusts her instincts which are usually spot on.  Echo may be the title character but the narrative is split between her and the Dragon Prince of the Drakhar named Caius.  Caius is a caring leader with a volatile twin sister.  Typically, when the narrative is split I usually find myself enjoying one over the other but this was not the case at all.

One of the reasons I became so effortlessly immersed and invested in the world of The Girl at Midnight is because of the setting.  The story takes place in New York City near a plethora of my favorite landmarks.  There were moments where I felt like I was actually at Grand Central Station or walking through the Met.  I also constantly found myself feeling hungry while reading because there are several mentions of delicious foods (including some of my favorites ie. pork buns, burritos, macarons from Laduree).  Echo journeys throughout the world with cryptic maps and a locket providing her only clues to finding the Firebird.  The worldbuilding aspect of The Girl at Midnight is entirely enjoyable because it feels realistic.  It’s basically the world we currently live in but with much more magic.

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Another reason I loved The Girl at Midnight as much as I did is because of the relationships throughout the story.  The friendship between Ivy and Echo, the mother-daughter dynamic between Echo and the Ala, the sibling rivalry between Caius and Tanith and the slight love triangles (which I won’t spoil) were all genuine and convincingly written in a way that really made me care about each character.  Even the supporting characters like Dorian and Jasper were so well developed that it was easy to form a connection with them.  Everyone just seemed so real that I kept having out loud reactions to what I was reading.  I still feel quite attached especially to Echo and I cannot to find out where the story will go in the sequel.

Final Thoughts:  Melissa Grey crafts a beautifully told and well thought out story.  Echo and Caius each earned a place in my heart and I was drawn to the mythology of both the Avicen and the Drakhar.  For the vast majority of the book, I felt like I could not stop reading because the story was so compelling, the setting was gorgeously described and the connection I formed with the characters was instantaneous.  Also, I need the second book ASAP.

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Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire. (via Goodreads)

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The Girl At Midnight By Melissa Grey GIVEAWAY + DIY Galaxy Nail Art Video

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I am basically jumping up and down about today’s blog post because I’ve been waiting SO LONG to share it with you all!  You may remember Melissa Grey and I’s first team up back in March for the A Darker Shade of Magic nail art tutorial, but this time we have nail art (and a giveaway!) based on Melissa’s debut novel, The Girl at Midnight, which is being released on April 28th.  If you win the giveaway, you’ll be receiving a finished copy of The Girl at Midnight before its release date!  My full review for The Girl at Midnight will be posted next week, but I can tell you right now that I gave it the highest rating possible.  Oh, and did I mention that Victoria Schwab recently included Melissa’s novel on a list alongside Neil Gaiman and Garth Nix?!  So, yeah, that’s a huge testament to how amazing her book is!

The nail art that Melissa designed is based on the cover of The Girl at Midnight and I am completely in love with the finished result.  They’re very similar to galaxy nails and I’m definitely going to be recreating her design in the future!  Without further delay, here is our video, a synopsis of The Girl at Midnight, the giveaway entry form, and some behind the scenes photos!

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire. (via Goodreads)

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5 Fandom Friday: My Fictional BFF’s

I tend to be a quieter person (depending on the circumstances).  I enjoy connecting with people one on one but when I’m in a large group I usually feel kind of overwhelmed and wishing I was home with a good book instead.  I’ve always been a great listener and everyone tells me I’m really supportive and I offer helpful and insightful advice.  I tend to get along best with strong-minded individuals who are more outgoing than I am.  I had such a fun time thinking of which fictional characters I would get along the best with and why I could see us being best friends.  Here’s my list!

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1) Luna Lovegood – Luna is wacky and I love her to pieces.  I would be so interested in hearing her speak about her theories and thoughts that I could picture us having plenty of tea dates together. (Sorry guys, you know I can’t go a blog post without mentioning Harry Potter at least once!)

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2) Celaena Sardothien – Caelena is such a brave and fierce heroine.  I would happy to help her do research about what could possibly be going on in the castle and I would totally cover for her when need be.1

3) Belle – Belle is more introspective than the other characters I would call my BFF’s, but I just know we would chat about books together for HOURS on end.  Plus, she seems generous and I bet she would let me walk around her library.

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4) Veronica Mars – I appreciate Veronica’s snark and I would love to be there to help her sort out her ongoing issues with Logan because they’re perfect together.

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5) Echo – Echo is hilariously snarky and puts up a strong front to protect the people she loves.  She’s loyal and caring and we have the same taste in food (plus we live in the same city which is super convenient).  I would love to be able to call her a friend!

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