Celebrate Harry Potter & J.K. Rowling’s Birthdays This Week (YA Book Events NYC 7/30-8/5)

It’s Harry Potter week! Well, kind of. This week Potterheads will celebrate Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling’s birthdays. But that’s not the only thing happening this week. Check out the full schedule below and make sure to follow YA Book Events NYC on Twitter to stay up to date with all the bookish events happening around the city.

Monday, July 30

Launch Event for The Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken at Books of Wonder (6-8 p.m.)

Join NYT best-selling author Alexandra Bracken as she celebrates the release of the newest book in her Darkest Minds series, The Darkest Legacy. Free event.

Jennifer Gilmore: If Only w/ Adele Griffin at Books Are Magic (7:30-8:30 p.m.)

Acclaimed author Jennifer Gilmore will discuss her new novel, If Only, with Adele Griffin (Be True to Me). Free event.

Tuesday, July 31

Launch Event for The Life & Lies of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore at Books of Wonder (6-8 p.m.)

Celebrate Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling’s birthday by joining Irvin Khaytman as he introduces his new book, The Life & Lies of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. Free event.

Harry Potter 20th Anniversary Celebration at The Strand (6:30-10 p.m.)

To celebrate Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling’s birthdays, The Strand is hosting an incredible party that will include two trivia events, one for those 21 and under, and another for those 21+. Please note, the 21+ event is already sold out. Tickets for the 21 and under trivia event are available for $10.

Launching Kara Thomas’ The Cheerleaders at McNally Jackson (7 p.m.)

Join Kara Thomas as she celebrates the release of her latest thriller, The Cheerleaders. She’ll be in conversation with NYT best-selling author Karen M. McManus (One of Us Is Lying). Free event.

Wednesday, August 1

NYC Double Launch Event for Heart of Thorns and Sea Witch at Books of Wonder (6-8 p.m.)

Celebrate a wonderful double NYC launch event for two wonderful new teen books: Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton and Sea Witch by Sarah Henning. The event will be moderated by Zoraida Cordova (Bruja Born). Free event.

The Merciless Event at Barnes & Noble Upper West Side (7 p.m.)

Celebrate the release of the Barnes & Noble Exclusive Edition of The Merciless by Danielle Vega. Free event.

Saturday, August 4

Fantastic Middle Grade Reads at Books of Wonder (1-3 p.m.)

Join Tui Sutherland (The Lost Continent), Peter Lerangis (Max Tilt), Sayantani Dasgupta (The Serpent’s Secret), Katie Slivensky (The Seismic Seven), and Stacy McAnulty (The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl) as they share their latest novels. Free event.

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Man Crush Monday: Charles Carrington “Chubs” Meriwether IV

Photo Courtesy Of imgbuddy.com

Photo Courtesy of imgbuddy.com

Oh Chubs. I feel for Chubs. He’s given so many nicknames in The Darkest Minds trilogy I won’t dare try to list them all.

There’s so many reasons to love Chubs. First of all, he’s a cute nerd with his glasses and random knowledge. He knows how to sew because his father, a doctor, taught him just in case Chubs or someone he knew got wounded on the road. Besides that, Chubs just knows a lot of medical stuff in general, which makes him a very useful friend to have when you’re on the run, which is almost all the time for kids in this dystopian trilogy.

Additionally, Chubs is sassy and overprotective. When newcomer, Ruby, joins his tight knit group, Chub’s is the opposite of welcoming. He doesn’t want anything to do with her and would prefer their group leader, Liam, toss her back on the road where she came from. Unfortunately, or luckily depending on how you look at it, Chubs is ignored and Ruby becomes part of the group.

Chubs sass is unparalleled, however. He let’s his opinions be known throughout the novels and rarely sugarcoats things. If Liam is an optimist, Chubs is a realist. He knows his dystopian world is jacked up and he fully acknowledges that. All the same, Chubs provides comic relief throughout the books dropping the best one liners I’ve ever read.

Lastly, Chubs is my MCM this week because not only can he make people laugh, he’s also the glue that holds his group together. Chubs doesn’t have time for the drama, all he cares about is the survival of his newly constructed family. Chubs is brave when he needs to be and speaks up when he knows one (or two) of his friends are in the wrong. Although he’s often not seen as the leader of the group, I don’t think their group would’ve survived if they didn’t have Chubs.

To see Chubs sass in all it’s glory read, The Darkest Minds trilogy ASAP.

‘That is physically impossible,’ Chubs groused. ‘He’d be–‘
‘Actually,’ Liam began, ‘Cole once did try to–What?’
‘Oh, I’m sorry,’ Chubs said, ‘apparently the middle of my sentence interrupted the beginning of yours. Do continue.’ – Never Fade

Man Crush Monday: Liam Stewart

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Try to picture the sweetest guy you know. Now multiply that by 100. That’s Liam Stewart. He’s sweet, caring, strong, and the male lead in The Darkest Minds trilogy.

As a Psi kid, a teen with a superhuman ability (in Liam’s case, telekinesis), Liam has gone through a lot including having to leave his parent’s home to escape being put in an internment camp for Psi kids. He was then a soldier for the Children’s League before he left and was then put in a camp that he later breaks out of, causing a lot of casualties that he hadn’t anticipated.

Liam is a natural born leader who believes the best in everyone and he always does his best to protect those he cares about, which is almost everyone. Plus, he’s the perfect southern gentleman. Although his naivety can sometimes be annoying, in this dark series of books, his positive outlook is illuminating.

“‘[Liam’s] so busy looking inside people to find the good that he misses the knife they’re holding in their hand.'” – The Darkest Minds 

Woman Crush Wednesday: Ruby Daly

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The Darkest Minds trilogy is one of my favorite series and that’s mainly because I loved the main character, Ruby Daley. Although she’s very fearful of her own powers she’s not afraid to use them to save the people she loves and care about. She’s fiercely loyal and selfless. Although she makes mistakes (everyone does) she owns up for them and eventually learns from them.

Besides that she’s beautiful with her long brown hair and green eyes. She’s kind and caring but also powerful. With the ability to control people’s mind she could do anything she wants and probably get away with it. Instead, however, she resists the power lust of her abilities and chooses to control them, using her powers only when absolutely necessary.

If you haven’t read these books yet, I definitely recommend them. Great characters, great story, and great writing.

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Book Review: In The Afterlight

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*This book is part of my POPSUGAR 2015 Reading Challenge*

Synopsis from Amazon:

Ruby can’t look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government’s attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. Only Ruby can keep their highly dangerous prisoner in check. But with Clancy Gray, there’s no guarantee you’re fully in control, and everything comes with a price.

When the Children’s League disbands, Ruby rises up as a leader and forms an unlikely allegiance with Liam’s brother, Cole, who has a volatile secret of his own. There are still thousands of other Psi kids suffering in government “rehabilitation camps” all over the country. Freeing them–revealing the governments unspeakable abuses in the process–is the mission Ruby has claimed since her own escape from Thurmond, the worst camp in the country.

But not everyone is supportive of the plan Ruby and Cole craft to free the camps. As tensions rise, competing ideals threaten the mission to uncover the cause of IAAN, the disease that killed most of America’s children and left Ruby and others with powers the government will kill to keep contained. With the fate of a generation in their hands, there is no room for error. One wrong move could be the spark that sets the world on fire.

I can’t believe this trilogy is over. It’s so hard to leave these characters because it they were so good (or bad)! And the ending was perfect as well, which is a rarity for these dystopian trilogies.

In the Afterlight started very closely to where Never Fade ended, with Ruby and the crew trying to find a way out of the recently destroyed L.A. After finally securing a way out and making there way to the Children’s League old headquarters, the group stumbles across old friends and encounter multiple issues.

Once at the headquarters things go from bad to worse in a matter of seconds with high stakes, raised tensions, and various opinions trying to figure out the best way to free the camps and find the cure to IAAN, the disease that made these kids who they are.

Ruby struggles to keep all her secrets in check, especially Cole’s dark secret, and struggles to maintain a relationship with Liam. Liam’s not innocent either, keeping his own secrets. They both struggle to trust each other when they need each other the most, causing more harm than good.

Meanwhile there’s multiple plans in motion to save all the kids in the camp and change the scope of America for the better. Unfortunately things have to get much worse before they get any better and everyone’s lives are put at risk and many are lost.

This book took me on a roller coaster of emotions. I was stressed, happy, sad, upset, angry, and annoyed. I wanted Ruby to me honest about her feelings and secrets with Liam. I wanted to give all these kids a hug. I wanted to slap President Gray, his whole family, and all the PSFs. More than anything I just wanted everyone to have their happy ending.

I won’t spoil the ending by saying if I got the happy ending I was looking for. What I will say is I’ve ready a lot of dystopian trilogies (The Hunger Games, Matched,etc.) and this is quite possibly the only one that gave me a satisfying ending. It was realistic and of course the world wasn’t perfect by the time it ended but enough was resolved for me to believe it would be.

If you haven’t given The Darkest Minds trilogy a try yet you definitely need. It’s worth a read and you won’t regret it. Thanks to Kieran Scott for recommending the series to me and giving me the last book. One of the greatest books I’ve read in a while. Check it out.

*Side note: I really loved the fact that when you put all the titles together of the trilogy it says, “The Darkest Minds Never Fade In The Afterlight.” Cool.

Favorite Line:

“What I’m trying to get at is, as bad as everything seems, I think, at its heart, life is good. It doesn’t throw anything at us that it knows we can’t handle—and, even if it takes its time, it turns everything right side up again.”

Stars: 5 out of 5. So good! I want to read this whole trilogy over again. Especially knowing how it all ends now, reading it again would be interesting.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!!! For explanation please see previous.

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Book Review: Never Fade

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Book synopsis from Goodreads:

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

As far as sequels go, Never Fade was a wonderful success. With more twists and turns than The Darkest MindsI couldn’t put this book down. The novel starts a bit after Ruby has been with The Children’s League and then leaves us with a million questions after the first chapter, when Alexandra Bracken then takes us through flashbacks to when Ruby first arrived at the League’s headquarters.

Why, Bracken, why? Probably because I sped through the next few chapters wondering what had Ruby so freaked out and the reveal did not disappoint. In this novel readers meet so many new characters, giving answers into the good and bad sides of the League and Liam’s past. We also get to see some old faces and some faces we were hoping to never see again.

The level of danger in this novel is taken up a notch from the first book. Although Ruby went into the League not trusting anyone, she doesn’t realize just how unsafe she is inside the League’s walls until it’s too late. Plus once she’s out, she no longer has to deal with just running from the government and PSFs but also the League and their top hunter, Rob. Ruby also has decide who she can and can’t trust while also trying to deal with the aftermath of taking away Liam’s memory of her and the loss of her little family with Zu, Chubs, and Liam.

Overall, I really loved this book. There were sometimes I wanted to slap Ruby because she couldn’t see what was going on right in front of her face but for the most part she made a great Leader even though she never wanted the title. The return of Liam and some other characters from the first novel kept this book interesting and the interactions between the people from Ruby’s life before the League and after was hilarious. I can’t wait to see what happens next and how this will all end.

Favorite Line:

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Chubs said. “Apparently the middle of my sentence interrupted the beginning of yours. Do continue.”

Stars: 5 out of 5. I’ve already reread some parts of this book. So great and so many good one liners. It was hard to just choose one.

Borrow or Buy: Buy! Definitely one you’ll want on your book shelf.

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Book Review: The Darkest Minds

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

I’ve had this book on my book shelf for so long and I’m so glad I finally got the chance to read it. Dystopian fiction has become one of the hottest genres right now so you’re hard pressed to find a dystopian novel that really stands out but The Darkest Minds does just that.

Alexandra Bracken has crafted a novel that weaves together a rag tag group of characters that in a normal world probably wouldn’t make sense but works perfectly in this dystopian world where children are either dead or outcast. There is Liam, the hopelessly hopeful hero, who just wants to save and protect everyone. He cares for everyone and always looks for the good in people even when it’s not there. He’s optimistic but not in an annoying way.

Of course in a dystopian world where children are being hunted down by the government, bounty hunters (also know as skip tracers) and an anti-government terrorist group, being optimistic isn’t always helpful. That’s where Charlie “Chubs” Meriweather steps in. He’s a realist that’s untrusting of strangers and always guarded. He doesn’t like taking risks and prefers calculated plans. He’s the kind of kid that knows how to cross stitch in case someone needs stitches, which is handy but isn’t something you expect from a kid.

Rounding out the group is little Zu, the youngest and smallest of the group, that everyone wants to protect and keep safe. What’s great about Zu, though, is she doesn’t actually need the group’s protection. If anything they need her. She’s got the strongest ability out of the group, right after Ruby, and can handle her own when need be. The fact that she is mute and afraid of her powers makes her the perfect mirror image for Ruby who has been running scared from her abilities since the age of 10.

Ruby, herself, is the type of heroine that you want to root for. She makes mistakes but they’re mistakes that can be expected of a sixteen year old girl that’s been locked up for almost half her life. What I loved about Ruby is even though she can’t see it herself she is one of the most, if not the most, selfless character in the novel. All she wants to do is protect the people she cares about and she does that in any way she can. Although I didn’t always agree with her choices I respected her for them. I cheered with her when her plans worked and cried when they fell apart.

Following these four on their journey as they tried to find East River, the Promised Land for “freaks”, and everything that happened after I laughed, screamed, had butterflies, went back to reread, and cried. There are so many elements in this novel that you have to be paying attention to keep up. No one can be trusted and nothing is ever as it seems and just when you think you have it all figured out Bracken hits you with another curve ball and you’re floored. It’s brilliant!

If you haven’t checked out The Darkest Minds yet you really need to. Meanwhile, I’m going to get started on the next book.

Favorite Line:

‘The darkest minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.’

Stars: 5 out of 5. No doubt about it.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!!! I’m so glad I own this book!

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