Book Review: The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk + Giveaway

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The Beauty That Remains by Ashely Woodfolk

Publication: March 6th of 2018 by Delacorte Press

Length: 352 Pages

ISBN: 9780525578284

Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together. Death wants to tear them apart.

Autumn always knew exactly who she was—a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan always turned to writing love songs when his love life was a little less than perfect.

But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.

Despite the odds, one band’s music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.

Thank you to Penguin Random House International for sending a review copy of The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk in exchange for an honest review and being part of the  Blog Tour. This did not affect my opinion of the book.


noun: grief
  1. deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death.

Do you remember what are your happy memories? How someone affects your life in an amazing way? Do you remember who are the people are there when you are in your deepest moments? Do you remember your first love? Do you wish to cherish the present with your siblings? Did you give flowers because of gratitude more than because of regrets? These are some of the questions that you’ll ask for yourself after reading The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk. I don’t know how I was able to finish the book because it exudes sorrow, pain, and regrets every chapter. Grief is that feeling that you don’t want to feel and yet you don’t have any choice. It is a natural phenomenon when we experience losing someone we are close with, someone we love, and someone who mold us into a better person.

It feels like I have to breathe in between chapters. It displays too many emotions. Feelings that don’t know where to hide, feelings that don’t know where to put. It is impressive how Woodfolk weaved her novel into an inspirational story that teenagers being affected by social media and how they’ve been broken from losing someone to the process of healing. From Autumn’s grief of her best friend Tavia’s death to Shay’s twin sister’s death to Logan with Bram’s death. It was a hell of a novel. How could someone write so diverse in race, perspective, relationship, orientation and put so much pain in one book? I commend Ashley Woodfolk for writing swiftly with a fast-paced story that could make her readers writhe in pain while reading the book.

Every Chapter was just so good and was just so painful that it is so hard to read. I just need to take a moment and get back to it.

What’s amazing about this book is how music help Autumn, Shay, and Logan to find each other that they didn’t know at some point they are helping each other to move on — to blend in and express their emotions through the magic of music. It was so incredible that I could relate. That when everything feels like couldn’t go the way you want to, you could just make or listen to a music and it will help. The Beauty That Remains, this magnificent, outstanding, tear-jerker debut, will help people realized that there’s more to life. May their loved one rest in peace but their life still goes on and that’s what matters: Looking forward to the future and use those emotions to wield a much better and positive life.

This promising book will ignite emotions within you. It will make you feel feels – emotions that will dwell within you. It will offer a perspective that will enlighten you at some point and refreshing opinions regarding the current issues that we are facing today. Overall, I want people to read this book. We need more diverse books like this that tells us that whatever your race is or wherever you came from – your feelings are valid.


Also, I made some minimalistic graphics for this blog tour! I hope you enjoy!





Tour Date
Wild Writing Life
These Trapped Words
A Thousand Words A Million Books
Carina’s Books
Kath Reads
Diary of an Avid Reader
Drizzle and Hurricane Books
Kevin Loh
Rimsha’s Corner
Serial Bibliophile
Wanderer in Neverland
The Bookish Word
Sumaiyya Books
Descendant of Poseidon Reads
Feed Your Head
The Royal Polar Bear Reads
Rafael Ray
Books For Tea


INT GIVEAWAY!!! Win a Signed Hardcover copy of The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk!! Mechanics: – Follow @ashwrites @prhinternational and @theroyalpolarbearreads @avidreaderdiary – Comment one beautiful memory of yours that involved diversity – Mention Three friends in this post – Put this giveaway on IG Story and tag me EDITED: @avidreaderdiary would like to add a set of bookmarks inspired by The Beauty That Remains on this Giveaway! Huge thanks to Penguin Random House International for Sponsoring The Beauty That Remains Giveaway! Head on my blog later to see my book review for the Global Blog Tour! Giveaway ends on March 19. #PRHPartner #Sponsored #book #books #read #reading #author #blogger #novel #bibliophile #reading #fantasy #blogging #book #bibliophile #adobe #lightroom #photography #instagram #bookstagram #bookblogger #goodreads #jamestrevinorepost #bookhaul #library #bookshelf #bookworm #unitedbookstagram #holidays #newyear #bookgiveaway #librarything #bookblog #blogger

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15136965Ashley Woodfolk graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in English and her life-long love of books led her straight to the publishing industry. She’s a member of the CBC Diversity Committee and markets books for children and teens. In her abundance of “spare” time, she writes contemporary YA. Indie movies, beer, books, and burgers are a few of her favorite things. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and pit bull puppy, Winnie. THE BEAUTY THAT REMAINS is her debut novel.


Book Review: Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

tempestsandslaughter_FinalTempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

Publication: February 6th 2018 by Random House Books for Young Readers

Length: 465 pages

ISBN: 9780525578543

Arram. Varice. Ozorne. In the first book in the Numair Chronicles, three student mages are bound by fate . . . fated for trouble.

Arram Draper is a boy on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting danger. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram begins to realize that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.

Thank you to Penguin Random House International for sending a review copy of Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce in exchange for an honest review and being part of the  Blog Tour. This did not affect my opinion of the book.

Tempests and Slaughter is my first Tamora Pierce book and I was captivated! I didn’t expect that this novel would give a memorable, refreshing and wonderful reading experience. I felt that I was part of the world that she created – It feels like I’m growing as Arram Draper grew as a mage and learned the craft of magic and ways of the world.

It is kind of unique in a fantasy book that offers a strange storyline, in which, intrigues me and yet still introduces us to a more detailed of how a mage become a master of his art. This is one of the things that I liked about the book, it didn’t just give us a glimpse of how a character is so great in the beginning instead Tamora Pierce gave us the whole life of her character that we will be seeing of how a character will eventually grow up as someone that will inspire and affect others in a good way.

I’ve seen Arram Draper failed and be scared. I’ve seen how unique and lovely he was inside and out. What I liked about Arram’s character is that he is innocent while craving for greater knowledge, devoted while he tries to suffice his curiosity, and loyal while he provides comfort to his friends. Also, I would like to point out how amazing his friendship with Varice and Ozorne – they display more than friendship, it felt like I was reading a family in them.

As the years passed by, Arram becomes more unsure of what mastery he wants to take. He excels in a lot of fields and a lot of Masters from the academy wants him. This is where he also slowly discovering the aspect of love while in youth. It is quite interesting as we see a character who is awkward and reserve and yet relatable! What outstanding of Arram’s character is that he sees everyone as an equal. Fair. He doesn’t care about hierarchy – whether you are a noble, prince or princess, or a slave, gladiator in combat. He doesn’t mind befriending you. I am applauding Pierce for writing a perspective that crushes stereotyping in fiction and telling her readers that everyone deserves to live on how they want to live.

I didn’t expect that I would become fond of the Masters, specially Lindhall and Cosmas. I enjoyed their time with Arram. His encounter with the Gods ignited my curiosity about them, I wanted to know more. I am telling you this: This book doesn’t offer that action and magic if you are expecting something like that, instead, Tempests and Slaughter offers much more than that: A story of a young boy that radiate positivity. I found myself wondering and reading the book more than I expected, I was curious how Arram would do on the remaining pages. I was hooked on their world. It leaves me hanging and wanting more.

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce may be my first book from her but I’m telling you that this surely won’t be the last! It ignited something in me, it sparks my interest in her world and magic – I wanted to dwell to their world and see how far I could go on. Tamora Pierce’s writing is so addicting that it infected me. Powerful and magnificent aren’t enough to describe this book. I can’t wait for the next book that she has to offer while I’ll be reading her previous books!


And now, here are some bookmarks inspired by Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce that I made!




8596Hey, folks! I just discovered that apparently I have given some very popular books single-star ratings–except I haven’t. How do I know I haven’t? Because I haven’t read those books at all. So before you go getting all hacked off at me for trashing your favorites, know that I’ve written GoodReads to find out what’s going on.

I return to my regularly scheduled profile:
Though I would love to join groups, I’m going to turn them all down. I just don’t have the time to take part, so please don’t be offended if I don’t join your group or accept an invitation. I’m not snooty–I’m just up to my eyeballs in work and appearances!

Also, don’t be alarmed by the number of books I’ve read. When I get bored, I go through the different lists and rediscover books I’ve read in the past. It’s a very evil way to use up time when I should be doing other things. Obviously, I’ve read a lot of books in 54 years!

I was born in South Connellsville, PA. My mother wanted to name me “Tamara” but the nurse who filled out my birth certificate misspelled it as “Tamora”. When I was 8 my family moved to California, where we lived for 6 years on both sides of the San Francisco peninsula.

I started writing stories in 6th grade. My interest in fantasy and science fiction began when I was introduced to ‘The Lord of the Rings’ by J. R. R. Tolkien and so I started to write the kind of books that I was reading. After my parents divorced, my mother took my sisters and me back to Pennsylvania in 1969. There I went to Albert Gallatin Senior High for 2 years and Uniontown Area Senior High School for my senior year.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, I wrote the book that became The Song of the Lioness fantasy quartet. I sold some articles and 2 short stories and wrote reviews for a martial arts movie magazine. At last the first book of the quartet, Alanna: The First Adventure was published by Atheneum Books in 1983.

Tim Liebe, who became my Spouse-Creature, and I lived in New York City with assorted cats and two parakeets from 1982 – 2006. In 2006 we moved to Syracuse, New York, where we live now with assorted cats, a number of squirrels, birds, raccoons, skunks, opossums, and woodchucks visiting our very small yard. As of 2011, I have 27 novels in print, one short story collection, one comic book arc (“White Tiger: A Hero’s Compulsion”) co-written with Tim, and a short story anthology co-editing credit. There’s more to come, including a companion book to the Tortall `verse. So stay tuned!

Book Review: Ivon by Michael Aylwin

unnamedImpressive. Engrossing. Thrilling. Ivon by Michael Aylwin offers a different approach in a cinematic and yet profound sports novel. It caught me off guard with the storyline that it displays, with new characters that embedded with diverse personalities that I eventually liked throughout the novel, this book didn’t disappoint me. Two people met with two different worlds. It is not the mainstream literary novel we have been introduced with rather two characters that lead each other’s life to a more complex and yet engaging excitement throughout the book.

Dusty. A highly remarkable, competent sportsman who’ve been given the chance to travel. Ivon. Conceived child of Ricky, Dusty’s acquaintance, that has been denied by the England that have been powered through sports as a way of life. This book offers a lot of perspectives but I would like to point out the difference in a futuristic book that dwells on sports, relationship, emotions and new knowledge that stimulate’s Dusty’s curiosity. England is a more scientific way of life, it is more advanced in technology that their main focus is achieving a certain goal by using sports in producing energy. When in Wales, it has been described what we are living today. That sport is a passion, it is a fair and equal competition that gives an individual the satisfaction and luxury of playing.

When Dusty decided to take the opportunity to travel, he chose Wales. He didn’t know for a fact that watching a game would excite him as it compels and yet willingly captivate him with the overwhelming sportsmanship in Wales. The thing is – Ivon, the novel itself, scared me. The futuristic setting is so close to reality that it could become the truth. Moreover, I am quite happy with the novel, as it did not just feed me a new brilliant story but as well it gave me a unique and wonderful experience by just reading the book. It might be a little hard to get in the first few chapters but once you figured out the terminology and the exceptional writing style, you’ll enjoy the book, wholeheartedly.

Ivon is a fast-paced page-turner novel that will make you question a lot of things that could be connected with your life. It gave many perspective and lessons that I would love to carve to my mind. Despite the ways in the book by setting standards and omitting emotions, I think what truly surprising is how Michael Aylwin incorporate sports, science-fiction, morality and of course, empathy by introducing feelings as the core of the book. If you would ask me if there’s a chance that I would read this book for the second time around, I would definitely say yes. I am now on a hunt for more Michael Aylwin books.



Blog Tour

Huge thanks to Red Door Publishing for making me part of this wonderful blog tour!

Interview with Sarah Glenn Marsh!

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Reign of the Fallen

“This edgy fantasy doesn’t just blur boundaries of genre, of gender, of past and present, life and death–it explodes them.” –Cinda Williams Chima, New York Times bestselling author of The Seven Realms and The Shattered Realms
Without the dead, she’d be no one.

Odessa is one of Karthia’s master necromancers, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it’s Odessa’s job to raise them by retrieving their soul from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised: the Dead must remain shrouded. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, a grotesque transformation begins, turning the Dead into terrifying, bloodthirsty Shades.

A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears around the kingdom. Soon, a crushing loss of one of her closest companions leaves Odessa shattered, and reveals a disturbing conspiracy in Karthia: Someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead–and training them to attack. Odessa is forced to contemplate a terrifying question: What if her magic is the weapon that brings the kingdom to its knees?

Fighting alongside her fellow mages–and a powerful girl as enthralling as she is infuriating–Odessa must untangle the gruesome plot to destroy Karthia before the Shades take everything she loves.


  1. Tell us something about Reign of the Fallen that made it unique. Any unforgettable moments when you were writing your book?

One of the things that stands out to me about Reign is the world building– both its kingdom that I built by researching different rituals surrounding death, and its magic system.

When it came to building a magic system, I decided that each person’s eye color would allow them to see a unique aspect of the world and determine what type of magic they can learn to do. For instance, blue-eyed people see gateways into the Deadlands, the spirits’ world, and can become necromancers; green-eyed people see animals’ emotions as colors and can magically bond with a chosen creature; brown-eyed people see how the parts of things work together and can become magically gifted inventors; grey-eyed people see an aerial view of the sky, and can control the weather; hazel-eyed people see ailments beneath the skin, and can heal them.

As for unforgettable moments—probably when I was reading aloud the latest sections I’d written to my husband. There were certain plot twists or scenes that actually surprised him, and he is hard to impress! That was what made me think I should try sharing this book with some readers after all.

  1. I get excited when I read the word Necromancer on the plot of Reign of the Fallen, out of all the supernatural beings out there, why did you choose Necromancer? You know, it could be Magician, Mage, Warlock, Wizard, Witch, Sorcerer, or Sorceress.

I chose the term ‘necromancer’ for our magic users who raise the dead because it’s a common one in fantasy, a word I thought a lot of people would recognize; in the world of Reign, ‘mage’ is also used, but as a more generic term for anyone who can use magic. There are five main types of mages in the story: Healers, weather workers, beast masters, necromancers, and inventors! The type of mage you are in the story depends on your eye color, but in my opinion, at least, they’re all pretty cool. Based on the rules of the magic system, which I outlined in question 1, I’d be a beast master because of my green eyes—how about you? Tell me in the comments!

Side note: while the term for raising the dead in the story is officially ‘necromancer,’ I regret not going with “zombie wrangler.”


  1. What is the most challenging part when you were writing Reign of the Fallen? How about you share your favorite part too?

Two challenging things come to mind, so I’ll tell you briefly about both:

First, when I wrote the original draft of Reign, I didn’t have the corpse-and-spirit-eating monsters, the Shades, described much—only vaguely. But then my editor pushed me to describe them in more detail, and uh…let’s just say I went there and wound up giving myself nightmares as a result!

The second challenge was writing a certain spoiler-filled scene. It was so heart-wrenching that it actually made me cry, and I struggle to re-read it to this day!

As for a favorite part, I have many, but I’ll just share one that feels relevant to this blog: Lysander the grizzly bear! In Reign, there are mages (magic users) called beast masters, and these people see animals’ emotions as colors. They can form a powerful bond with one beast of their choice, and Lysander the bear is bonded to Meredy, a friend of our MC, Odessa. Lysander is a cool guy. He gives good hugs and also likes chewing on bones—any kind, he’s not picky. 12/10 would cuddle.

  1. If you are going to give your 10-year-old self an advice, what advice would you give?

Treat your dreams seriously, as if they’re possible, and you’ll be a big step closer to actually making them happen. I wish I had done this when I dreamed of being an author someday because I would have started working on telling book-length stories much sooner!

Also: don’t worry about what other people think. Worry about what *you* think, and you’ll be so much happier.

  1. How did you create the world-building and the concept of magic in your book? Do you have any notes that you could share with us?

I talked about the magic system in an earlier answer, so here I’ll talk about the rest of the world building—the parts that center around death!

I started building my necromancer mythology by looking at the Greek myth of Orpheus—where a man trying to bring his wife’s spirit back from the underworld is told he can do so only if he doesn’t look at her, but he does and loses her forever. This gave me the idea to have my raised Dead people wear shrouds, and if someone catches a glimpse of the flesh beneath, they turn into vicious monsters. From there, I researched different rituals and myths concerning death from around the world.

From my studies emerged a fictional kingdom, Karthia, which throws lavish feasts because the Dead are always hungry; a kingdom whose poorest citizens craft dolls of dead loved ones because they can’t afford a necromancer; a kingdom where death is almost tangible; a kingdom whose rulers host parties every other day of the week to keep people utterly distracted from the problems facing them. Problems caused by—you guessed it—death. The Dead rule in Karthia, and since death is a stagnant, final state in our world, the Dead in my fictional world are terrified of change—the opposite of their existence. As a result, they forbid brown-eyed mages from working their magic of inventing and outlaw all forms of change: no travel, no trade, no new fashions, or even new recipes.

  1. Who is the hardest character to write? What or Who inspires the names of the characters on your book?

The hardest characters to write for me are always the villains, especially when they have legit reasons behind what they’re doing, but they’re going about it in such a harmful way. I can’t say who the villains in this story are because of spoilers, though, so I’ll have to leave this answer vague!

As for character names: when it came to Reign, I actually did a bunch of searches for “unusual names” and picked my favorites; I wanted names that were new and different, yet sounded vaguely familiar. One example of this would be “Meredy,” the name of one of Odessa’s friends in the book. Her name sounds almost like Meredith or Melody, but not quite.

  1. Given the chance to teach one lesson to the world, what lesson would you give?

Kindness counts. Sounds simple, but if you think about it, there’s a lot to it: kindness can mean not judging others, not imposing your will on others, and seeking to help someone even when it’s not convenient for you. The world needs a lot more kindness, always has, so to me it seems like a valuable lesson.

  1. What is your favorite animal? You can’t say all of them. There should be one. *Don’t hate me for asking this question.* Also, why is this your favorite animal? Let me see a picture of your greyhounds!

I can’t say all of them? What?! Okay, okay, since I can’t say all, I’ll pick a very specific animal: Ninita, the world’s only known deaf pygmy marmoset, who takes time to appreciate the beauty around her and who loves being brushed with a toothbrush! Ninita lives in Florida, at the Rare Species Conservatory, and I wrote a book about her inspiring life story that you can check out in 2019 from Clarion! I mean just look at this sweet baby:


As for my greyhounds—ask, and you shall receive! Here are Grimm, Khaleesi, Romeo, and Juliet:

  1. What books or authors influenced you as a reader and a writer today?

One of my biggest influences is, without a doubt, Patricia McKillip. Her writing is so beautiful that reading her stories feels like you’re peering into someone else’s dream—gorgeous, but also mysterious, and vivid. Some of my favorite books by her include The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Ombria in Shadow, and Winter Rose. Do yourself a favor and check out her work if you haven’t already!

  1. Favorite Question! What is your favorite quote in Reign of the Fallen and why is this your favorite?

This is tough since I don’t want to give anything away! I’ll share the opening line, though, as it actually is one of my favorites. I’d been trying to start drafting the story for a while when the perfect first line popped into my head. “Today, for the second time in my life, I killed King Wylding.” I love it because it creates an instant sense of intrigue and tension.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog today! I had a great time. 🙂

The Royal Polar Bear: I love your answers, Sarah! I was smiling when I was reading them and I read them all over again. I couldn’t stop smiling whenever I’m reading your answers. Thank you for being such a positive light.


January 8 – A New Look on Books
January 9 – YA Books Central
January 10 – The Fandom
January 11 – Twinning for Books
January 12 – Becca’s Book Realm
January 15 – Reader Rewind
January 16 – The Quirky Book Nerd
January 17 – Once Upon a Twilight
January 18 – BookCrushin
January 19 – BigScreenBooks
January 22 – The Novel Knight
January 23 – Across the Word
January 24 – The Lovely Books
January 30 – Good Choice Reading
January 31 – Queership
February 1 – Megan Write Now
February 2 –   Book Nerd Addicts
February 3 – Nocturnal Reads


unnamedSarah Glenn Marsh has been an avid fantasy reader from the day her dad handed her a copy of The Hobbit and promised it would change her life; she’s been making up words and worlds ever since. When she’s not writing, Sarah enjoys painting, ghost hunting, traveling, and all things nerdy.

She lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband and their menagerie: four rescued greyhounds, a bird, and many fish. She is the author of Fear the Drowning Deepand Reign of the Fallen.

Book Review: Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

29749090Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu
Publication: January 2, 2018 from Random House Books for Young Readers
Series: DC Icons Series #2
Length: 252 pages
ISBN: 9780525578567

Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.

The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.

One by one, the city’s elites are being executed as their mansions’ security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family’s fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he’s forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city’s most brutal criminals.

Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce’s only hope.

In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.

Thank you to Penguin Random House International for sending an ARC of Batman: Nightwalker in exchange for an honest review and being part of the Global Blog Tour. This did not affect my opinion of the book.

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu is one of the remarkable stories that I’ve read about a superhero that the core standpoints are friendship, security, and justice. It is exciting that we will be going to have a younger Batman – a younger Bruce Wayne throughout the story. It offers a teenage perspective that dwells on the heartache of losing his parents, trying to understand the world he lived in, protecting the people, and categorizing people when you become a billionaire on the next day to justify that not all people want real friendship from you, most of the times, there are always intentions behind on those actions.

“The world’s more dangerous than you give it credit for, Bruce. We’re just trying to watch your back, okay?”

It started with his birthday obtaining a new car to test out. And seeking out justice on his blood he tried to do something good when the police see it as an offense. Made him serve community service in Arkham Asylum along with his incoming graduation, summer with his two best friends, Dianne and Harvey, and his WayneTech responsibilities. Marie Lu gives us a glimpse of how humane Bruce Wayne is; that he has his own emotions to deal with, that he asks a lot of questions because of curiosity, that he could be wounded like us. That he is still and will be an ordinary human behind that mask. And this is where he met Madeleine, a nightwalker, who disrupts the system of the city, exposing corrupt officials and a hacker to obtain money from those victims.

“And yet here he was, driving through the slums in a car that probably cost more than what a person living here could earn in a lifetime. Did he have it right to ever feel sad, with everything he had in his life?”

Manipulative is the first thing that comes to my mind when I am trying to look back Madeleine’s personality. She’s too guarded, she calculates every move, she is interesting and mysterious both at the same time. But what I didn’t expect is for a criminal to fall in love with a billionaire. This does not just give us a complex situation instead it challenges the readers of what is right and wrong – and that there is no in between. Marie Lu’s craft introduces us to more interesting, unexpected twist of a storyteller as likely emphasize on her previous novels.

“We’re not a very smart match, are we? I can’t think of a story where the billionaire and the murderer end up happily ever after.”

There are more to like about this book. I’m glad that Dianne is a Filipino which makes me proud. Harvey experienced violence first hand and I commend Marie Lu for making Bruce realized along the way that violence wouldn’t do any good if you try to counter it with another violence. It would only induce a revenge that might induce another revenge. The cycle won’t stop and it will only harm people. Personally, Batman is a good novel to let the people – readers, us, to make a stand against violence. It is teaching us that there are no good will come from unwanted fury.

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu is not just a story, not just a novel to be read. It is a book to analyze and learn from, there are a lot of reflections from the reality that we could bring along us. It implies diversity as it yearns for an evaluation of what is morally right and wrong. It teaches us to stand up for our own and save ourselves along the way. Bruce taught me that if you have the means, even if you can make a single change and save lives, don’t turn a blind eye. Make your move because you wouldn’t know how important a life is until you have experienced it.

“The world would always have the liars and traitors and thieves, but there were still those who were good at heart.”



  • “In the real world, there’s no such thing as cheating, is there? That’s just life.”
  • “Anything made to your advantage can also be used against you.”
  • “The first rule of fooling someone,” she said,”is to mix a few lies in with many truths.”
  • “People always expect you to move on so quickly after you experience loss, don’t they?”


4342215I write young adult novels, and have a special love for dystopian books. Ironically, I was born in 1984. Before becoming a full-time writer, I was an Art Director at a video game company. Now I shuffle around at home and talk to myself a lot. 🙂

I graduated from the University of Southern California in ’06 and currently live in LA, where I spend my time stuck on the freeways.


Interview with Gabriele Russo!


  1. Can you tell us the story behind the Gods Inc. Series? Like how was this book made, when did you decide that you will be writing this series and what sparked the motivation to write the books?

The idea of the Gods Inc. series, or rather Incompetent Gods, since it wasn’t clear at first I was going to be writing a series, came at a very peculiar time in my life. Associates had bankrupted one of my restaurants, and I was being pushed out by my partner from the other (perhaps because I had gone slightly mad from working there 80 hours a week). On the other hand, I had just gotten engaged to the wonderful man who would become my husband. He was willing to let me take a break to figure out what I wanted to do at that point, and hey, it also gave me time to plan the wedding.

The spark for Gods Inc. came with a story I told a friend’s children: My friend had lost her keys, and while she looked, I explained to the kids that Ba’al, an old god, had been recycled into the Eater of Lost Objects when the Romans had conquered his city Carthage, and while he was now more commonly known as the Sock-Eater from the washing machine, he still ate keys when it tickled his fancy. All we had to do to help mommy, was slip a quarter in between the sofa cushions while whispering that this was payment to Ba’al in exchange for returning the keys.

The idea of divinities being subjected to the laws of capitalism was born.

  1. Which among the three books of Gods Inc. Series was the hardest one to write and which the easiest one to write? (Is there even such a thing as easy to write?)

Without a doubt, the third one, Incoherent Gods. No matter what some people say, it helps quite a lot to know what you’re doing. I wrote the first two before doing my Master’s, and I must have rewritten them 5 or 6 times, to correct all my amateur mistakes. However, I’m a turtle writer, and very fussy, so easy is certainly relative.

  1. Given the chance to travel back in time, what would you change in your past?

Perhaps not gone into the restaurant business? But then I might not have met my husband… I think the one thing I regret most was giving up my diplomatic aspirations because studying the anatomy of politics was making me ill.

  1. If there is one thing that you want to teach your readers through your book, what would it be?

My ambitions are not so lofty; I mostly aim to make people smile. This being said, I do enjoy highlighting what I consider to be the absurdities of our world, so if I make my readers think, or consider something in a new light, then I’m a happy writer indeed.

  1. What does it feel like to be a published author?

First, there’s relief. Relief that someone else besides me likes what I’ve written enough to invest time and money in the project. Then, there’s pride, or a feeling of accomplishment, like: Hey everyone, I haven’t been twiddling my thumbs for the last five years, look, there’s physical proof!

  1. Can you name some hesitations, challenges, and anxieties of a writer?

The hardest thing for me is the relatively new imperative of self-promotion. My family was a bit old-fashioned, and I was taught that modesty was a virtue… And maybe it still is, but it’s not a valuable one in today’s world. Add to that a tendency towards timidity, of not wanting to bother people, and you might get an inkling of how putting myself on display can make me cringe. I even have a hard time seeing others do so – it’s like my vertigo that way.

  1. As a reader, which one do you prefer, a happily ever after or a tragic ending? Why?

There was a time, back in my brooding drama queen days, when I might have said tragic. Now that I’m older and wiser, I lean more towards happy – who wants to be sad? Isn’t there enough misery in the world? In truth though, what I really want is a satisfying ending, one that fits with the story. A tragic ending that feels right is infinitely better than a happy one that feels pasted on.

  1. If you were going to give a piece of advice to your 10-year-old self, what advice would you give?

This is a hard question for me: my mother died of a long battle with cancer when I was nine, and I was a very angry ten-year-old. I guess: “This too shall pass” or “Stop being such a little B¾”. But I guess you mean for later in life, so maybe: “Get a head start, start to write now. Don’t give up Ballet. Study with an actual career in mind. Be careful with money – don’t go investing your inheritance in something stupid like a restaurant and don’t get addicted to expensive sheets…” I could probably go on all day, but a) knowing me at 10, I wouldn’t listen, and b) my numerous mistakes brought me where I am today, and it’s a pretty good place to be.

  1. What was the most rewarding situation that you have been through for choosing the path of being a writer?

It might be a little early in my career to answer this one. The sweetest moment, however, was taking this picture of my book amongst my brothers’ – finally being part of the family tradition if you will.

  1. What is your favorite quote from Gods Inc. Series and why did you choose that certain quote?

I’m not sure I have a favorite – I love them all equally 😉 – but I chose this one from Incoherent Gods for it well illustrates how, despite their claims, gods don’t control everything.

And the baboon appeared in the circle of light, dancing gleefully.

“Well,” said Jupiter. “That’s something you don’t see every day.”

“Thank the gods,” said Andrew.

“We do our best,” said Maât.

“Sorry about this time,” said Jupiter.


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When you live in a world pullulating with gods, can you truly be an atheist? Well, yes…if you know a way to get rid of them. Mysantheos, a fanatic atheist at the head of a powerful lobby/terrorist organization, has created a weapon able to kill gods and his kamikaze army is ready to attack.

As the divine bodies pile up, resentment builds at Gods Incorporated and violent factions start pushing for the extermination of the human race, and the CEO/Queen Louhi is running out of ideas to calm them down. Hopefully, her black ops teams are doing better. But will the Nerds and Richard (a down-on-his-luck private eye), saddled as they are with a group of angry gods, manage to find Mysantheos before all hell breaks loose?


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In a dimension created by the ancient gods, most are now stuck working at Gods Incorporated. CEO Queen Louhi Pohjola, a mortal demigoddess turned vampire (on a diet), holds the planet in the palm of her hand and while she cannot by any stretch of the imagination be called a nice person, there’s worse lurking in her shadow.

Goblin, a bitter hybrid with childhood issues and shape-shifting abilities, has a grudge against the world. First on his to-do list is getting rid of the Queen and take her place by forcing the titan Ba’al to devour her.

As her friends and allies fall one-by-one into Goblin’s traps, the Queen’s fate seems inevitable. With no one left to fight, will Ba’al’s friends, a bunch of over-the-hill incompetent gods, be enough to stop Goblin from turning the world into hell?


gabrieleGabriele Russo, AKA Lucie-Gabrielle Jolicoeur-Rousseau, was born in Quebec City amidst a family of book lovers – her father had dreamed of being a writer and both of her brothers are published authors.

Since she earned her Bachelor’s in History, it was no surprise (except to her) that she ended up working in restaurants, eventually owning two, which almost drove her mad. She sold them and was nursed back to pseudo-sanity by Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett.

That’s when she answered the family calling and decided to write. Armed with her ideas for the Gods Inc. series she went back to the University and got her Master’s in Creative Writing.

She now lives with her husband in Culpeper, Virginia, where she divides her time between painting, ripping apart and reconstructing her recently bought historical home, playing tennis and, of course, writing more books.

Book Review: The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman

36229962There is only one book that I read from Fredrik Backman aside from The Deal of a Lifetime, the other one was And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer. And every time I read a book by this author, it doesn’t disappoint me. He knows what aspect of life that people could relate from and where he would pull the pain from. Like his writing, it was addicting, you don’t know that you are already transported from his world. It was good that you don’t know if you should act numb or pained because of the lines that he is trying to send for his readers.

The Deal of a Lifetime is a perfect read on the winter season. It tackles negative memories of a person’s life. A five-year-old kid believing that nurses are the ones who are taking away his loved ones – but in translation, it was their job and they couldn’t do anything since after being sick, unfortunately, they couldn’t survive the disease. There’s this line in the book:

“Kill someone…else,” I begged. She took a resigned breath through her nose. “It doesn’t work like that. I don’t have that kind of influence. I can’t just swap a death for a death. I have to swap a life for a life.

I mean, can you even with this phrase? It shows two perspectives that the person who is wishing that can you kill someone else just to save this person? But life doesn’t work like that, right? It works miraculously that when a life has been degraded, another life will bloom. Like flowers and trees that bear fruit and seeds as a starting of a new life. Like spiders that lay their egg and soon death will come to them. I am thrilled that I discovered Fredrik Backman’s book. It discusses life in general and it offers a different edge when it comes to opinion. I could totally imagine that his book is on par with Mitch Albom and Paulo Coelho. I really hope that I’m not wrong because I’m really looking forward to his full-length novels!



  • Maybe not. Most of us so desperately want to believe that every heart which stops beating is missed equally. If we’re asked, “Are all lives worth the same?” the majority of us will reply with a resounding “Yes!” But only until someone points to a person we love and asks: “What about that life?” Does it make a difference if I killed a good person? A loved person? A valuable life? If it was a child?”
  • “I’m going to die soon, Babbit. Everyone dies, it’s just that most people will die in maybe a hundred thousand years but I might die already tomorrow.”
  • “No, the majority of people just survive, they think their things have a value but nothing does. Things only have a price, based one expectation, and I do business with that. The only thing of value on Earth is time. One second will always be a second, there’s no negotiating with that.”
  • “You’re not scared. You’re just grieving. No one tells you humans that you sorrow feels like fear.” “What are we grieving?” “Time.”


6485178Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author off A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown, and a novella, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer. His books are published in more than forty countries. He lives in Stockholm with his wife and two children.