Posts Categorized: Young Adult

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak | Book Review

February 16, 2018 Book Review, Young Adult 8 ★★★★★

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak | Book ReviewThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Published by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers on March 14, 2006
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 552
Format: Hardcover
Source: From the publisher at ALA
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5 Stars
It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery ...

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist – books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau. This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

I read this book over the course of almost two years in the hopes that I would not get attached and that I would not cry. I was unsuccessful on both accounts. There’s not much to say, really. It’s a beautiful story that is beautifully told.

The Book Thief, narrated by Death himself, tells the story of Liesel who discovers her very first book at her younger brother’s graveside after being put into foster care by a mother who could no longer take care of her. Her foster father teaches her to read, and she discovers her love of books as the Nazis run rampant through her country, reeking havoc on those just like the Jewish man hiding in her basement. She learns about love, life, and loss.

This book is probably the best book I’ve ever read in terms of writing, message, creativity, and thought. The writing style is immaculate in a way I can’t even explain. Emotions and feelings jump off of the page and into your soul. The story is true and heart wrenching, yet I smiled so many times. Death’s voice is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. He is cynical and caring at the same time, and is more grandfather than Grim Reaper. The characters are perfectly flawed and hopeful.

I think the most wonderful thing about this book is that it has teen appeal as well as adult appeal. We get to watch Liesel grow up, and even though she is younger than most readers, her maturity shines through because of her experiences. She could be 10, 17, 25, or 80 and each reader could identify with her and appreciate her voice. The themes of death, the importance of literature, friendship, family, love, and loss are so beautifully conveyed. It’s such a unique take on the Holocaust, and one that really spoke to me. I can see The Book Thief becoming a classic that is read for generations and generations because it is timeless and beautiful. Even though it is a very heart-wrenching and difficult book to read, I would recommend it to any and every reader. It’s so important that this event in history never be forgotten.


Of Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison | Book Review (+ Giveaway)

February 14, 2018 Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult 9 ★★★★★

Of Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison | Book Review (+ Giveaway)

Of Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison | Book Review (+ Giveaway)Of Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison
Series: Secrets of Itlantis #1
Published by Self on February 2, 2014
Pages: 260
Format: eBook
Source: From the author
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5 Stars
Aemi lives in a village carved from stones and surrounded by sea. She wins spear-throwing competitions in disguise and earns slaps from her spoiled mistress by talking back. She hates being a slave. She survives by remembering her mother's tales of home, a paradise called Perilous.

Aemi intends to find it.

But then, black ships rise from the sea in the night. Aemi is captured and taken to Itlantis, an underwater world of cities and gardens encased in glass, dazzling technology. and a centuries-long war.

She is determined to escape, even if it means conspiring with fellow prisoner Nol, who fills her with equal parts anger and desire. Even if it means impersonating her mistress. Even if it means fleeing into the territory of the Dron, the bloodthirsty barbarians of the deep.

But when Aemi witnesses firsthand an attack by the Dron, she realizes not all is as it seems below the sea.

And Perilous might be closer than she thinks.

I love everything Kate has written, so I was very eager and excited to read Of Sea and Stone. I’m happy to report that I’m still a Kate Avery Ellison fangirl, and absolutely loved Of Sea and Stone! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I love the world of Itlantis. It’s beautiful! There are different underwater cities spread across the ocean, each one special in its own way. Aemi has been captured from her village at the surface and taken to the city of Celestrus. This city has, what I can only describe to be, glass spheres that are suspended in the water. Each sphere is a library dedicated to each of the different cities of Itlantis. You can see sea life swimming by and light from the surface dancing. The libraries are filled with books, foliage, sculpture, fountains, and walkways. I’d LOVE to visit!

2. Kate’s writing is so beautiful. She describes things as if you were right there! I kept wanting to highlight all the descriptive passages because I loved them so much.

3. I really liked Aemi. She’s strong, versatile, brave, smart, and level-headed. She takes her kidnapping very well. Haha. She adapts well to her new home, but she’s got plans to escape. She’s assertive and makes people fall for her, whether it be in love or in friendship.

4. Nol is pretty swoony. In the beginning he was a very cocky, jerky guy who Aemi loved to hate. But they are the only survivors (that we know of) from their village, so they learn to work together. And I loved watching him grow from such a jerk to such a caring, selfless person.

5. There’s a little mystery, a little romance, and even some action! It’s the perfect blend of everything I love.

6. Holy cliffhanger. I can’t WAIT to buy the second book!

All in all, Of Sea and Stone pulled me out of a deep reading slump. I loved everything about it, and I love Kate’s storytelling and writing style. This is a wonderful fantasy/dystopia, and I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone!


About Kate Avery Ellison

I’m the author of the Frost Chronicles, an Amazon bestselling series and source material for the adventure app game Frost by Delight Games, as well as numerous other fantasy and science fiction novels. I love putting a dash of mystery in everything I write, an ode to a childhood spent reading Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie, and Sherlock Holmes. I can’t resist adding a good twist in the story wherever I can.

I wish I could live in a place where it’s always October, but until that’s possible, I make my home in humid Atlanta with my husband, children, and two spoiled cats.

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Everless by Sara Holland | 2018 Debut Book Review

January 26, 2018 Book Review, Debut Author Challenge, Young Adult 16 ½

Everless by Sara Holland | 2018 Debut Book ReviewEverless by Sara Holland
Series: Everless #1
Published by HarperTEEN on January 2, 2018
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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0.5 Stars
In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

I’d really been looking forward to Everless. The cover is pretty cool, the premise sounded unique (although I recently watched In Time, so it’s less unique now. lol), and I’ve been on a bit of a fantasy kick as of late. Sadly, though, things fell a bit short for me and I wasn’t impressed. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I tend to reserve the spot of my first book of the year for a book I’m really excited about. I’m not sure if that impacted my overall opinion of the book or not, but I had a lot of expectations going in. I was excited about it, it was going to be my first book of 2018, it was going to be my first debut of 2018, etc. It was a huge letdown. It is receiving rave reviews from readers, including many of my fellow book blogger friends, so am I missing something? I don’t even know, but I am seriously confused as to why I’m one of the very few people who did not like this book.

2. So… Everless is pretty much exactly like the movie, In Time. A Goodreads user asked how similar this book is, and Sofia Frost answered the question better than I could have. Possible spoilers below, so jump to point #3 if you don’t want to be spoiled!

*Main character’s family members die, cause they run out of time.
*Main character moves to place where rich and royal live.
*Main character falls in love with rich and famous (although in the book it is not really love at that point, but I am sure in future books it will become a full love story)
*Main character gains a lot of time. (book: ofc she can not just be a regular poor kid from the country)
*Prediction: Main character would try to break the curse of blood and time- and make everyone equal.

The end.

So… yes. Very similar to In Time. And I hated the movie, too.

3. Scroll back up and read the synopsis of the book. Sounds kind of cool, right? Well… think again. It’s depressing. This book was so depressing. Everyone is a ticking time bomb, not sure exactly how much time they have left. Unless they are rich, they live in an almost constant state of panic. I could never live in this world! I’d be filled with so much anxiety. I’d be scared to sleep. I’d be scared to read or watch movies because I’d worry I’d lose track of time. I’d constantly be worried I overestimated the time I had left and just fall dead one second. I’d never be carefree or happy. Even worse, I’d be scared to fall in love because I’d have to worry about someone else’s time, and not just my own. I’d be worrying about my family and my friends. How depressing is a life like that? Not only is the world depressing, but so is the backstory of almost every single character. Why did I ever think this was going to be a fun book to read? I read to escape to a happier place, and this book needs escaping from. I’ll take my real life, thanks.

4. Jules comes from tragedy. But did it make her smart? Did it make her strong? No. She fell in love with a boy when she was 7 while working for his family, his family ruined her life, she sneaks back to their estate to make blood-irons to help save her dying father even though he’s super against it, and she still has a crush on this boy. I’m sorry, but at 17-18 I didn’t know who I had a crush on 10 years prior, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t still have a crush on him. Especially after his family ruined my life and the lives of others I care about. Nope.

5. The romance…? It was barely there and added nothing to the story, but I see where things are going. No. I’m not at all on board. There’s no swoons, and I really don’t like the guy. Maybe there’s going to be a love triangle and the guy I preferred will end up with Jules, but I probably won’t ever know.

6. Something very Hunger Games happens (and not at all in a good way), and it’s totally spoilery for both this book and The Hunger Games series, so highlight the white space between the brackets if you’re curious. Needless to say, I was pretty furious. If you’re reading via email subscription or RSS reader and you don’t want to be spoiled for either book, jump ahead to point #7 because my whited-out text will only hide the spoilers if you’re reading on my blog. You’ve been warned.

[[[[[[Jules throws everything away to go to a very dangerous place to save her father’s life. He’s so so so against it, to the point of actually following her to beg her to come home. They speak for a few moments, she lies to him and tells him she will come home… all the while never actually planning to. She sends him home, lying that she will come soon. And what happens? He dies on the way home. He was so hell-bent on getting back to her that he wasted his time to try and save her instead of making sure he had enough time left for himself! SHE HAD BLOOD-IRONS WITH HER!! Why did she not give him any to ensure he would have enough time? She was literally there suffering in order to extend his life, but nope. Just like Katniss sacrificed herself for her sister Primm, only to have Primm die at the end, Jules sacrificed for her father, only to lose him anway. It’s maddening. I hate it when authors kill off the reason for a huge piece of the story. At least Katniss was amazing, though. And at least it wasn’t her fault that Primm died. Jules’s father’s death is totally her fault.]]]]]]

7. That was a much longer rant than I thought it would be, but I get madder and madder the more I think about this book. Jules is a wimpy idiot of a character. She has no street smarts, no brain, no fight in her. She has no personality whatsoever. I spent so much of the book yelling at her. By the end of Everless she has not grown at all, and I’m too exhausted to read another book so she can try to prove herself to me. And let’s be fair… every characters was flat and shapeless and boring. I wanted to smack them all.

8. So much of this plot was driven by miscommunication and pointless secrets. If the characters would just TALK to each other instead of waiting for everyone to figure it all out and find the answers themselves everything would have resolved on its own! Jules’s dad comes to the estate to warn her and instead of actually warning her in a way that makes sense he spouts out a bunch of mumbo jumbo that would have only made sense to Jules if she had already known what he was talking about. They say mankind is getting suckier and suckier at communicating with one another due to social media and texting, but these characters have neither. So what’s their excuse? When the fate of humanity rests on a teenaged girl, don’t you think the guy with all the answers could at least give them to her? That’d be too easy, though. Then we wouldn’t have a trilogy.

9. The characters and the world were underdeveloped. There was nothing keeping me there except my desire to actually finish a book so I didn’t start out the year already behind on my Goodreads goal.

10. This might be the most critical piece of my review… but the writing just wasn’t good. And I feel so bad for saying that. It’s easy to not like a story. We all have our likes and dislikes, and that’s widely accepted. All authors know that the story or the characters or the world, etc. that they wrote will not be loved by all. But I always feel so horrible for saying I didn’t like the writing because that removes the story completely and has to do with the actual words instead of the details. But I just didn’t like the writing. It wasn’t memorable or filled with pretty details. There were no quotes I highlighted to save and re-read later.

All in all, I could not get past the fact that this felt like a copy of the movie In Time. Immediately I started looking for all the similarities, which just frustrated me to no end. And I really think that if it had been amazing I would have been ok with those similarities. I hated the movie, so it would not have taken much for me to like it more. lol. But I just didn’t. It was depressing and underdeveloped and frustrating. I’m sorry to say that I would not recommend it to anyone, unless they were looking for In Time fanfic… and is that even a thing?


Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher | Book Review

January 18, 2018 Book Review, Young Adult 10 ★★★★★

Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher | Book ReviewStolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher
Published by Chicken House on May 4, 2009
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought it!
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5 Stars
It happened like this. I was stolen from an airport. Taken from everything I knew, everything I was used to. Taken to sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected me to love him.

This is my story.

A letter from nowhere.

Sixteen-year-old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back?

The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don't exist--almost.

I’ve always had a weird fascination with kidnapping stories. I enjoy reading the stories of the survivors because I find them to be hopeful and inspiring. I sometimes get bogged down in my own life and forget to be thankful for what I do have. These stories remind me that I’m safe and I’m loved. And if these victims can survive and bring good from their experience (I’m thinking of people like Elizabeth Smart), then I can survive my own life too. Stolen really made me think, and I think that that’s what I loved most about it.

Stolen is a very unique take on the typical kidnapping/crime novel. The entire book is written as a letter from Gemma to her captor after her rescue, and I loved that about it. She actually talks to him, telling him her entire story as if he wasn’t there. We get to read her thoughts and her interpretations and her feelings about everything that happened while they were together in the Australian Outback. We know exactly how everything impacted her, and we get to see the evolution of her going from fight mode to complacency mode to sympathetic mode. We get to watch her as she goes from hating him with everything she had to almost loving him. I’ll admit, it even happened to me. I had to get real with myself and say, “Jana… he kidnapped her. He isolated her. He took away her freedom. Why are you hoping a romance blooms? That’s nuts!” And it is nuts! What Ty did to her was wrong, awful, traumatizing, despicable. I was frustrated with myself for falling into the same kind of trance Gemma did. It was all very real and emotional and so beautifully written. This book was real enough and sneaky enough to make me develop a little Stockholm Syndrome with her. If I didn’t believe that words had power before, I do now.

I don’t want to say much more, as this is a book you truly need to read and take in on your own in order to really understand it. I think it’s important to note, however, that Ty did nothing of a sexual nature to Gemma. There’s no rape, no sexual abuse, not even any touching. I know this happens more often than not in real life stories like Stolen, and that many captives are not a fraction as lucky as Gemma is. This would have been way too upsetting for me to read, though, so I am grateful that this was not a part of Gemma’s story.

All in all, this is a powerful, beautiful, emotionally confusing and enthralling read. I can see why it is recognized as a Printz honor book. It’s unique and really makes you think. I’d recommend it to pretty much anyone.


Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano | Mini Book Review

November 30, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 0 ½

Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano | Mini Book ReviewLost Girls by Merrie Destefano
Published by Entangled Teen on February 14, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 301
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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0.5 Stars
Yesterday, Rachel went to sleep listening to Taylor Swift, curled up in her grammy’s quilt, worrying about geometry. Today, she woke up in a ditch, bloodied, bruised, and missing a year of her life.

She doesn’t recognize the person she’s become: she’s popular. She wears nothing but black.

Black to cover the blood.

And she can fight.

Tell no one.

She’s not the only girl to go missing within the last year…but she’s the only girl to come back. She desperately wants to unravel what happened to her, to try and recover the rest of the Lost Girls.

But the more she discovers, the more her memories return. And as much as her new life scares her, it calls to her. Seductively. The good girl gone bad, sex, drugs, and raves, and something darker…something she still craves—the rush of the fight, the thrill of the win—something she can’t resist, that might still get her killed…

The only rule is: There are no rules.

So… This book sounded good. It really did. But I HATED it. I was excited to find out where these “lost girls” went, but as soon as I did (which happens quickly) I was like, “well crap.”. Seriously. This is not good. I have so little to say about this book. It was uninteresting, dark, unbelievable, farfetched, and so slow. I have so little to say that normally I wouldn’t even write a review. But I felt like I needed to warn those who are at risk of being swindled by the book’s synopsis like I was. Major spoiler ahead, so proceed at your own risk.

The lost girls? They’re kidnapped and forced into a teen underground fighting ring. If they’re good, they move to platinum level where they are sold and rape is implied. They’re drugged and abused and it’s awful. The book has so much depressing content, with absolutely no redeeming qualities.

You’ve been warned. Run away. Run far away.

 


Dangerous Boy by Mandy Hubbard | Mini Book Review

November 13, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 1 ★★½

Dangerous Boy by Mandy Hubbard | Mini Book ReviewDangerous Boy by Mandy Hubbard
Published by Razorbill on September 4, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Retelling
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gift from Secret Sister
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2.5 Stars
A modern-day retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with a chilling twist

Harper has never been worried about falling in love, something she is skeptical even exists. But everything changes when Logan moves to town, and to Harper's shock, the two tumble into an intense romance. It's everything she never thought she wanted.

Then she meets Logan's twin brother, Caleb, who was expelled from his last school. True, he's a bad boy, but Harper can't shake the feeling that there's something deeply sinister about him--something dangerous. When Logan starts pulling away, Harper is convinced that Caleb's shadowy past is the wedge being driven between them. But by the time she uncovers the truth, it may be too late.

The author of Prada & Prejudice, You Wish, and Ripple delivers a modern-day retelling of a famously gothic tale, full of suspense, lies, and romance.

This review is incredibly tiny because I don’t have much to say. I was very disappointed in what could have been an amazing book. Mandy’s writing was great, and her storytelling was wonderful. But the publisher did readers a huge disservice by telling us that this is a Jekyll and Hyde retelling. That’s a major spoiler, and it made me far less intrigued and curious. I knew what was going to happen before I even opened the book, and I was right on the money. This could have been very exciting and suspenseful, but all I could do was roll my eyes at the dumb decisions Harper made.


Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett | Mini Book Review

November 7, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 2 ★★★★

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett | Mini Book ReviewAlex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Published by Simon Pulse on April 4, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 388
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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4 Stars
The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

I really love the movie You’ve Got Mail, so when I heard that Alex, Approximately is a You’ve Got Mail kind of story I was sold. And with the little references to one of my favorite movies throughout the story, I wasn’t disappointed by the comparison. This book was sweet and light and fluffy and so perfectly teen. Sometimes I feel like I’m getting too old for stories like these, but then one really grabs me and brings nostalgic feelings of young love and teen crushes and I decide not to write them off just yet. That’s kind of what this story did for me. It’s quirky and cute and adorably awkward.

Bailey avoids uncomfortable situations at all costs. She’s a film geek who develops a thing for a boy she meets in an online forum named “Alex”, who lives on the other side of the country. But then she moves to California. To his town. And it’s like, “NOOO AWKWARD!” Instead of telling Alex she’s moved, she just sneaks around trying to find him without him knowing there’s even a possibility she might. She sees a cat on the boardwalk ad is convinced it’s the same cat Alex wrote to her about. She keeps thinking she finds him, only to realize that she’s wrong. There’s so much excitement and insecurity and curiosity and shenanigans throughout her search, and it’s cute because it’s the kind of thing I would do. lol. All the while, she gets a job working at this really weird museum with a guy named Porter that she cannot STAND. As the book’s official summary so rudely spoils for us, Porter is actually Alex. And it’s kind of hilarious watching these two crazy kids work through all of that. At times I kept thinking, “Duh, you two silly little ones! Why can’t you see the signs!?”

All in all, this was such a cute little book.My biggest complaint is that we knew immediately that Porter was Alex. The publisher really should not have made the You’ve Got Mail comparison and not told us who Porter really was because it would have been more fun to work things out and discover things with Bailey. It really took me out of the story. But oh well. The damage has been done. Regardless, it’s fun to watch them figure it out even though it got annoying at times watching from the sidelines already having all the answers. Jenn’s writing is delightful, and I enjoyed the banter between Porter and Bailey. Definitely give it a shot if you enjoyed Kasie West’s P.S. I Like You. That’s another cute contemporary with similar feelings.


The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater | Mini Audiobook Review

October 26, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 2 ★★★★★

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater | Mini Audiobook ReviewThe Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by Scholastic on October 18, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology
Pages: 409
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

I read and loved Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy years ago before I started blogging, and was captivated by her storytelling and beautiful writing style. The Scorpio Races sounded like something I would love and I immediately aded it to my TBR, but then The Raven Boys came out a year later and I DNFed it (I know, I know… total black sheep here), so I was worried Maggie was a one hit wonder for me (especially since Books of Faerie duology was just ok for me). Needless to say, I was worried that I’d never love another Stiefvater book and that broke my heart a little. But I LOVED it. I’ve broken this review up into sections: my thoughts on the audiobook and my experiences listening to it, and then my thoughts and feelings about the story itself and the world and the characters. If you’re not interested in the audiobook, feel free to skip the first section!

Audiobook Thoughts:

While looking for a great audiobook to listen to, I remembered how much Brittany loved Steve West’s narration of The Scorpio Races, and that he made her really fall in love with Sean Hunter. I listened to the sample and YES STEVE WEST, so I jumped right in. Basically, the stars aligned and I took a leap of faith regarding Maggie and audiobooks (because those don’t always work for me either). I am so glad I did, because I loved this book and I loved listening to it more than I think I would have loved reading it. Steve West’s voice drew me in and took hold of my heart. His voice drips with emotion and feeling, and he brought Sean to life. I think I fell a little in love with both Sean and Steve. Hehe. Whoops. Fiona Hardingham’s voice really complimented Steve’s. I loved listening to both of them, and the personality and depth they brought to the characters. I loved the musical bits that were composed by Maggie throughout the book. It totally set the celtic tone of the story and transported me right to the beaches of Thisby. I tried to actually read the book instead of listen to it one day because then I could read faster, but I just couldn’t do it. I made it a page and things felt so wrong. This is truly a book to listen to.

Story Thoughts:

This. Story. It has become a part of me, and I loved it so much. It’s very simple: a girl named Puck feels compelled–both by the need for money and the need to prove herself to herself–to enter the races and become the first female ever to do so. Sean, the reigning champion of these races needs to win, too, but not for the same reason Puck does. They both need it, they both need each other, they both need Thisby, and they both need their horses. This is their story. It’s not just about racing. It’s not just about horses. It’s about two lonely, incomplete souls risking everything to gain everything. They are both incredibly flawed and lost, and they find something in each other. I wouldn’t say this is a romantic book in the lovey-dovey sense. There’s definitely intrigue and feelings, but it’s romantic in the sense that it’s emotional. There’s so much feeling and mystery surrounding the water horses and the people who ride them. The mystical aspects of the island and the races themselves made me forget I was even reading anything. It’s really hard to explain.

Maggie’s prose and style is so breathtakingly beautiful that it almost hurts. I love how she so intricately weaves her words together to create such a perfect and mesmerizing atmosphere. The story alternates back and forth between Sean’s and Puck’s points of view, and it’s done in first person. I usually do not like first person or multiple points of view, but they are both done so well in this book.

There’s so much I can say about Thisby and the characters and the yummy food, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise. I think the synopsis is vague for a reason. That’s the magic! Bottom line, I LOVED The Scorpio Races. It’s the perfect fall story, with an eerie atmosphere; biting, salty winds; harsh waves; and monstrous creatures that will take you a bit by surprise, with their viciousness and intellect. These horses are magical in more ways then one. I do hope you pick up a copy and discover the magic and mystery of autumn on the tiny island of Thisby.


Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco | Book Review

October 6, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 0 ★★★★★

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco | Book ReviewHunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco
Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper #2
Also in this series: Stalking Jack the Ripper
Published by Jimmy Patterson on September 19, 2017
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
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5 Stars
Bone white. Blood red. Along this path, you’ll soon be dead.

Following the horrifying revelation of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth flees her home in Victorian London to enroll as the only female student in Europe’s most prestigious forensics school. But it’s impossible to find peace in the dark, unsettling Romanian castle that houses the school—and was also once home to the depraved Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Prince Dracula.

When a series of troubling deaths brings whispers of Vlad’s bloodthirsty return from the grave, Audrey Rose and her sharp-witted companion, Thomas Cresswell, must unravel the cryptic clues that will lead them to the shadowlike killer—living or dead.

I absolutely LOVE Dracula stories (which is weird, since I’ve never read Dracula…) and creepy historical fiction, so I was really excited when I learned what the second installment of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series was going to be about. I really, really enjoyed Stalking Jack the Ripper, but I LOVED Hunting Prince Dracula like a million times more. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. Ok, so DRACULA. I love how Kerri tackles old, old mysteries in a way that makes them feel very real instead of over-the-top and silly. The story of Dracula, of course, is fictional. But the character was named after a real man who did enjoy the taste of blood: Vlad the Impaler. So there’s some truth mixed with a ton of fiction, and it was so wonderful seeing how Kerri would spin that. Dracula felt so real to me.

2. The setting of Hunting Prince Dracula is amazing. The story takes place in Vlad’s actual castle in Romania, which is now the home of an elite forensics school that Audrey Rose and Thomas are attending. This castle has secret alcoves hidden by tapestries, secret trap doors and rooms, and a labyrinth of creepy tunnels that you access through the floor in the morgue. It is surrounded by a creepy wood that is rumored to be filled with all manner of scary animals and people. It’s December at the castle, so it’s bitterly cold outside, it gets dark very early, and the entire world is blanketed in snow. Audrey’s rooms are away from the other rooms since she is the only female attending the school, and she hears creepy things outside her door. And on the roof. It’s just so perfectly creepy without keeping me up at night!

“Winding our way through the narrow path, we finally pulled to a blessed stop outside the castle. Fingers of moonlight reached over the spires and slid down the roof, casting our shadows in sinister shapes. This castle was eerie and I haven’t even stepped inside.”

3. Things were so much swoonier (lol. Totally not a word.) between Audrey and Thomas in this novel and I loved it. There’s all this scandalous tension and innuendo between these two! And chemistry! Their banter is amazing, and so perfect. They sneak around through the castle and night to meet up and discuss or explore the castle and its grounds. There are stolen glances and warm thoughts during class and before bed. It’s just so romantic, yet not heavy on romance if that makes sense. You can feel it there, but there’s so much going on that it’s rarely talked about.

4. I just adore Thomas so much. He’s snarky and flirty and tender and romantic. He’s also dapper and intelligent and forward thinking. And he’s so sweet and silly and loyal and has the driest humor. And he’s so protective of Audrey Rose, it just makes me melt. He was my favorite part of this book. I love seeing more and more of who he is.

“I have a feeling you haven’t invited me here for kissing. Though it never hurts to ask. You’re dressed for sneaking about Dracula’s castle. Be still my thawing, dark heart. You certainly know how to make a young man feel alive, Wadsworth.”

“For there are no limits to the stars, their numbers infinite. Which is precisely why I measure my love for you by the stars. An amount too boundless to count.”

5. I liked reading about our flawed Audrey Rose. It’s only been about 2 weeks since the events of Stalking Jack the Ripper, and she’s still processing and coming to terms with how that mystery unfolded. She’s scarred and a little damaged, and I enjoyed watching her find her new normal. I’ve always admired her bravery and desire to push the norm, and she continued that in Hunting Prince Dracula even though her scars tried to prevent it.

6. There were a few scenes that had me ready to run for the hills because they were so scary! Like… spiders… and trees made of bones. The tunnels under the castle are filled with terrifying things that you gradually learn about as the story progresses. Audrey and Thomas spend a fair amount of time exploring, and I could never ever do that. I couldn’t stop reading, but also wanted to cover my eyes at the same time. It was amazing!

7. With all the twists and turns and spooky moments and ominous characters, I really had no idea how they were going to solve the mystery. I had no idea how things were going to wrap up. The ending was super climactic and totally blindsided me.

8. Kerri’s writing and prose is beautiful perfection. I could swim in her words. I could wrap them around me like a silk scarf.

Bottom line, Hunting Prince Dracula is a new favorite that I kind of want to read every fall now because it’s so perfect for this season. It’s just the kind of book I want to curl up with under a blanket and read while it storms outside. I loved everything about it… the heat between Audrey and Thomas, the setting, the mystery, and Kerri’s beautiful writing style. I will forever recommend this wonderful story!


A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas | Book Review

September 27, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 0 ★★★★★

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas | Book ReviewA Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #2
Also in this series: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on May 3, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Romance
Pages: 626
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought from Amazon
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5 Stars
Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

So… I have been struggling and struggling with how to review A Court of Mist and Fury since I read it almost a year ago. I almost considered not reviewing it at all because it seemed so overwhelming to me. It’s a huge book, filled with so many things that I loved so much that writing down all my feelings and thoughts seems impossible. BUT… I want to be able to look back and remember how I felt, so this “review” is really just for me. It’s an unorganized list of feelings and impressions and fangirliness. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Everything that happened in ACOTAR that I thought I loved so much was replaced and/or outdone by everything that happened in this book. For example, I was totally on team Tamlin… until I wasn’t. The book starts out with a very emotionally destroyed, almost traumatized Feyre, and Tamlin sucked so bad. I literally hated him within the first few pages. How the crap did this even happen? I LOVED him! But Rhysand… *swoon* He made me fall in love with him even more, even though I hated his villainous ways in ACOTAR. He’s still his normal mischievous, cunning, slippery self, but he’s also passionate and tender and so caring and protective of those he holds dear. I was sold. My loyalties were flipped on a dime. I had no idea I was capable of loving Rhys, but now I can’t imagine feeling any differently. That’s what this book did to me!!

2. The reason Feyre and Rhys fall in love is super sweet and magical, at least in my opinion. I thought Tamlin and Feyre were meant to be, but these two are on a completely different level.

3. The romance… I just can’t. It was everything I hoped for and more. I love so many romantic passages and quotes, but here are some of my favorites:

“I am broken and healing, but every piece of my heart belong to you.”

“I heard every word between you. I knew you could take care of yourself, and yet … ” He went back to his pie, swallowing a bite before continuing. “And yet I found myself deciding that if you took his hand, I would find a way to live with it. It would be your choice.”
I sipped from my wine. “And if he had grabbed me?”
There was nothing but uncompromising will in his eyes. “Then I would have torn apart the world to get you back.”

“I was his and he was mine, and we were the beginning and middle and end. We were a song that had been sung from the very first ember of light in the world.”

4. There is so much emotion in A Court of Mist and Fury. There’s so many feelings, and I felt them right along with the characters. Feyre has been through a lot, if you’ll remember the end of ACOTAR and the whole Amarantha debacle. She’s very delicate and is having to recover from the trauma and abuse she went through. I related to her a lot, and found it refreshing that she didn’t just jump right back into her hardened, brave, strong self. I liked seeing the impact those prior events had on her. Even strong people have to process the bad in life. The author could have had them all recover during the break between books and then come back and show us strong characters. Tamlin is struggling, Rhys is struggling, others are struggling. Life is hard for these characters and I liked being able to witness it instead of hear about it after the fact.

5. I LOVED The Night Court and the secret, beautiful city of Velaris. The setting was just so pretty and magical. I also loved the people there, and all the new characters I got to meet.

6. The writing was wonderful. I love all the details and the feelings that Maas put into words.

7. This is the first time I have felt that the second book was better than the first. I never thought I’d see the day!

Basically… read it. Read. It. A Court of Mist and Fury was my hands down my favorite book of 2016, and I’m actually considering a re-read which I rarely ever do. Do yourself a favor and et invested in this series.