Source: From the publisher through Netgalley


The Little Red Wolf by Amélie Fléchais | Graphic Novel Review

September 22, 2017 Book Review, Graphic Novel 1 ★★★★

The Little Red Wolf by Amélie Fléchais | Graphic Novel ReviewThe Little Red Wolf by Amélie Fléchais
Published by Lion Forge on October 3, 2017
Genres: Fairy Tale, Retelling
Pages: 80
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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4 Stars
Lose yourself in in the dark forests of Amelie Flechais' spectacular artwork. A young wolf, on a journey to bring his grandmother a rabbit, is charmed by the nice little girl who offers to help him... but nice is not the same as good. A haunting fairy tale for children and adults alike.

This is a French retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, which was published in 2014 and has now been translated into English. In this version of the story we have the Little Red Wolf, who lives in the beautiful forest with his family. He has been taught to fear humans, and to not go into the forest of dead wood in order to avoid the vile hunter and his daughter. One day his mother sends the Little Red Wolf to his grandmother’s house to bring her a freshly killed rabbit. But the little wolf gets hungry on his way and ends up eating the entire thing! Plus he gets lost. A very pretty and sweet little girl offers to help him, but lures him into a rather dangerous and scary situation. The storytelling is like an old fashioned fairytale, with dark, humorous, and sweet elements. The writing style is magical, and very flowing. I really enjoyed reading it.

I absolutely love the illustrations in this graphic novel. They are beautiful! And the Little Red Wolf is absolutely adorable.

As I said before, the Little Red Wolf ends up in a pretty scary situation. Things get dark and the illustrations get a little scarier. I probably would not recommend it to younger children. But I honestly loved the magical storytelling, beautiful illustrations, and different spin on the traditional fairy tale.


Everneath by Brodi Ashton | Book Review

September 8, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 10 ★★★★

Everneath by Brodi Ashton | Book ReviewEverneath by Brodi Ashton
Series: Everneath #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 24, 2012
Genres: Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Retelling, Romance
Pages: 370
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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4 Stars
Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her boyfriend—before she’s banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance—and the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s queen.

When I saw the description of this story on Netgalley, followed by the buzz and excitement around the blogosphere, I knew I had to read it. Ever since I was very young, I’ve always had an intense curiosity for Greek mythology. Then, when I minored in art history in college and studied Greek art, I learned a lot more about the ancient myths from the art that illustrated them. This book is centered around the story of Persephone’s abduction by Hades, God of the Underworld. Persephone was beautiful, and sought after by many—namely Hades. One day when she was out picking flowers on the plain of Enna, Hades emerged from the ground and abducted her. Her mother, Demeter (the goddess of harvest), wandered the surface of the Earth searching for her lost daughter. When she found out what happened, she was livid (as any mother would be!). Her extreme sorrow caused her to withdraw, and the earth became infertile. Zeus knew that this could not go on forever. He sent his son Hermes down to the Underworld to get Hades to release Persephone. Hades reluctantly let her go, but gave her a pomegranate seed before she left. Once she ate it, she was bound to the Underworld forever and had to spend 1/3rd of the year there. Whenever she was with Hades, her mother would not let anything grow, thus the season of winter was born. Pretty cool story, huh? I swear, I love mythology!

In the book, the Everneath is explained as being the space between the world we live in and the Underworld, where the Everlivings have found the secret to eternal life. But they must feed off of the energy of a human every 100 years or they will die. Enter Nikki/Becks. Cole convinced her, in a moment of weakness, to go with him to the Everneath so he could feed off of her for 100 years (which is only 6 months time on the earth). When the Feed is over (which is when this book begins), Nikki is allowed to Return to Earth for 6 months before she is to be sucked into the Tunnels to serve as a battery to power Hell. Or… she can go back to the Everneath with Cole and become an Everliving, and have eternal life at the cost of the lives of human beings. She hates both of her choices. This book is all about Nikki’s quest to find a way to beat Mother Nature and stay with her family and friends.

I really enjoyed the story. I loved the unique subject matter, and how the author was able to tie in so many elements of the Greek myth, while still adding in unique aspects that made it her own. The story itself is actually pretty beautiful. It’s all about love, loss, and courage. The easy way out for Nikki would be to go back with Cole and have eternal life. She’d even have a shot at being the next Persephone and claiming the crown, becoming queen of the Underworld. That sounds a whole lot better than eternal suffering in the dark, dirty depths of Hell. She can’t fathom the idea of draining the life out of others to save herself, though, so she has chosen the Tunnels. Actually, she could have gone straight there and not return to see her family. It would have been far less painful for her to never see them, and the results of their grief while she was gone. She decides to go back to make amends and say goodbye the right way, before disappearing again. Every decision she makes in this book is for other people. I admire that about her.

Cole’s kind of a slimy character, but I always find myself rooting for the bad-boy (at least for part of the story). In the beginning he seems so wonderful (and I wanted Nikki to choose him), but once we learn what he did to her we quickly root for the sweet childhood-best-friend-turned-boyfriend character, Jack, instead. I loved Jack. He ached for Nikki the entire time she was gone, and upon her return he is very understanding and supportive. He gives her the space she needs to recover, and lets her come to him rather than pouncing on her and demanding answers. That a really mature way to handle a situation like this, especially from a high school boy. He was just a really good guy.

The writing was enthralling, although a few phrases were used too many times. Everything in the story was delayed for “a few moments” or “a long moment”. Like, a character would say something and the other character would respond “after a long moment”. Or two people would hug for “a long moment”. That’s really my only complaint, about the writing, though. I’ve always been the type to not like hearing or reading the same phrases. It’s a quirk of mine. I enjoyed Ashton’s descriptive passages, allowing me to picture the Tunnels, the Everneath, and especially different peoples’ emotions. I also loved that this book takes place in Utah! I live here! I go to the setting of this novel, Park City, all the time! I loved being able to picture the streets they walked down… the Sundance Film Festival, the Utah Jazz, the Weber River… the Timpanogos Caves… So fun! The characters were also great, with lots of dynamic traits. We’re told very specific things about each character, so that by the end of the story you understand their body language without needing the author to explain it. I loved that. It’s like I was watching a movie in my head as I read the book.

I can see this book having a very wide appeal. It’s not mushy gushy, so I think the guys would enjoy it (if they can handle reading a book with that cover, that is! Buy it on Kindle, boys.). It’s not juvenile, so I think it could appeal to the adult fiction lovers out there. Greek mythology enthusiasts will eat this one up. Fans of paranormal romance (YA or adult) will love it. It’s a bit of a mystery that you need to figure out, which is always a plus. Music plays a big role in it, which pretty much nobody can complain about. The book is attacked from so many different angles, that it’s very versatile. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would! I’m very intrigued by the cliffhanger ending, and can’t wait to see what the currently untitled next book has in store for us.

*This is a repost from January 14, 2012*


The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill | Graphic Novel Review

September 5, 2017 Book Review, Graphic Novel 1 ★★★★★

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill | Graphic Novel ReviewThe Tea Dragon Society by Katie O'Neill
Published by Oni Press on October 31, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 72
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever Aftercomes The Tea Dragon Society, a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.

After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own.

This was such a cute, magical little graphic novel! I really loved it. Tea dragons are little dragons whose horns store the memories of their time together with their owners, whom they love very much. Those horns grow tea leaves, which can be cut off and brewed into very high quality tea. When a person drinks this tea, they receive a vision of a memory of that tea dragon’s owner. Greta is a blacksmith and finds a lost tea dragon wandering through the market. When she returns this tea dragon to its owner she is offered the opportunity to learn the art of raising tea dragons and brewing their tea. She makes three new friends and they form a loving bond as their raise their tea dragons together. When Greta drinks some of the tea we get to see how the group formed and learn more about the pasts of these characters.

The story is divided up into four chapters: one for each season of the year. It’s is simple, but very sweet and great for all ages. It felt like a warm blanket. And the illustrations are to die for. The colors are beautiful, and everything is so cute! I’ve clipped a few of my favorite illustrations so you can see what I mean. The dragons are particularly adorable, and they are all named after common teas: Jasmine, Chamomile, Roobios, etc.

This image is one of the visions/memories that comes from drinking some tea.

All in all, I don’t have one complaint! This graphic novel was a joy to read. I loved the magical storytelling, unique story elements, the sweet characters, the adorable little tea dragons, and the moral of the story, which is to surround yourself with people you love and to cultivate the talents you’re passionate about. I would most definitely recommend this to readers of all ages who are looking for beautiful illustrations and a timeless, sweet, and light feel-good story.

 

 

 


While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft | Book Review

July 19, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 4 ½

While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft | Book ReviewWhile You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft
Published by Bookouture on November 16, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 326
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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0.5 Stars
You wake up to find the man beside you is dead.
He is not your husband. This is not your bed.
What do you do?


Tara Logan lives a quiet life with her husband, Noah, and two children, teenager Rosie and eleven-year-old Spencer.

But her peace is shattered when she wakes in her neighbor Lee’s bed, with no memory of how she got there or what happened between them.

And worse – he has been stabbed to death.

Convinced she didn’t kill Lee, Tara stays silent, fearing the truth will rip her family apart.

But as her daughter spirals out of control, and her husband becomes increasingly distant, Tara soon realises that someone in her life knows what really happened to Lee. She must get to the truth before they do.

Tara made a mistake … but will one night cost her everything?

A gripping, shocking psychological thriller, with a twist that will take you by surprise.

Will engross fans of Gone Girl, Behind Closed Doors, and The Girl on the Train.

I love mysteries and thrillers, especially when lack of memory is involved, so I was really excited about the synopsis of this book. But seriously. When a book actually tells you on the back cover that it is a gripping, shocking story with a twist that will take you by surprise… and then compares itself to some of the most well-known and well-loved thrillers (Gone Girl and Girl On the Train), then it better be ready to deliver something phenomenal. I went into this holding this book to the standards that it told me to, and I was severely disappointed in what I read.

I absolutely hate this author’s writing style. It doesn’t flow at all. The storytelling felt very choppy and followed the formula of: this happened, then this happened, then this character thought this thing, then here’s a whammy (I hope you’re shocked and surprised). It was just bad. There was no atmosphere of suspense or wondering. I felt like I was reading a list instead of a book, and I had a very hard time forcing myself to read a book that claims it is unputdownable.

So many things happened that were just too convenient and too outlandish. The author wanted x, y, and z to happen and as long as they happened she didn’t care how she got it done. I could not believe some of the things Tara did, I could not believe the multiple stalkings and crimes that happened to multiple members of the family, and I could not believe the interactions between some of the characters. The police officer/detective guy was an absolute idiot, and is not at all what law enforcement officials should be like. Actually, I hated all the characters. The insane daughter was super annoying, Tara was a poor excuse for a mother, and the husband was absolutely worthless and made some horrible decisions (everyone did, really). I did like Tara’s son who should move away from that dysfunctional family as soon as possible.

These so-called “twists” were just irritating. I was never surprised or impressed or flipping the pages as fast as I could to see how they turned out. I rolled my eyes every time. Apparently a twist can only happen if the main character has an ominous feeling first, which is just not how life works and took away whatever suspense might have been left in this drab and empty plot.

All in all, this book is an extreme waste of time and the more I reflect on my reading experience the madder I get about it. It’s not gripping, it’s not suspenseful, it’s not mind-blowing, and it does not keep you guessing. If you’re looking for a good psychological thriller I can recommend others that you would enjoy much more.


Shark Island by Chris Jameson | Mini Book Review

July 14, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 2 ½

Shark Island by Chris Jameson | Mini Book ReviewShark Island by Chris Jameson
Published by St Martin's Paperbacks on June 27, 2017
Genres: Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
0.5 Stars
A shark attack survivor believes she has already lived through her worst nightmare. She's dead wrong. . .

Naomi Cardiff is not one to give up without a fight and now, after learning about a series of shark attacks in Cape Cod, she s joined a team of scientists to put a stop to the terror. The plan: to lure the sharks to a remote island far from the populated coastline. Meanwhile, a fierce Nor Easter is underway. . .

In the midst of the storm, an alarming number of Great Whites have come to slaughter the seals in a vicious feeding frenzy. When sharks ram and breach the hull, Naomi and her team must jump ship and swim desperately through a sea of circling fins and gaping jaws to the tiny island. But as the swells from the storm begin to swallow their rocky refuge, how will they manage to make it out alive?

I don’t know what it is about shark stories, but I gobble them up. I love the movies Jaws and The Shallows, and I love Shark Week… Sharks are just my thing. Unfortunately, it takes a lot to not make a shark story come off as outlandish and stupid. And this is how Shark Island turned out for me. I allow a LOT with books like these, but I just could not with this one.

The entire store was very unbelievable. The entire premise was to lure the sharks away from Cape Cod by broadcasting a signal that turned the seals into robots who could no longer think and act on their own, regardless of the danger they were in. This signal also turned the sharks into vicious killing machines with a revenge complex. It just seems far too outlandish. I was bored for the first half until the characters actually become stranded, and then I spent the second half rolling my eyes. I didn’t like any of the characters, and found their backstories very boring and drawn out. There was an INSANE amount of profanity and gory, bloody shark attacks. Sharks were flying out of the water and snapping bodies in half with one bite, sending all kinds of carnage and refuse into the water. There was so much blood that people were feeling the water temperature rise. It was just too much gore, too much profanity, too unbelievable, and too over the top dramatic and theatrical for me. I’m willing to suspend disbelief, but this was gratuitously silly and I’m irritated I made myself finish it. lol


The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson | Book Review

August 11, 2016 Book Review, Young Adult 3 ★★

The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson | Book ReviewThe Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #3
Also in this series: The Kiss of Deception, The Heart of Betrayal
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on August 2, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 688
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
2 Stars
Lia and Rafe have escaped Venda and the path before them is winding and dangerous - what will happen now? This third and final book in The Remnant Chronicles is not to be missed.

Bestselling author Mary E. Pearson's combination of intrigue, suspense, romance and action make this a riveting page turner for teens.

Alright… This is painful. This is really painful for me, as I have been SO EXCITED about this final book in the Remnant Chronicles. And when my wish was granted on Netgalley to read this early, life was golden. But I’m so disappointed and so sad. This was just not in any way what I wanted for these characters and this ending. I love Mary E. Pearson. But I don’t love this book. I don’t even like it. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I was bored. Overall, I was very, very bored with this book to the point where I seriously considered giving up. I couldn’t do it, though, because a small part of me kept hoping things would turn around. We read about a lot of traveling and planning, but very little actually happens for the bulk of the book. And when it does, I felt like someone was telling me a synopsis of what happened rather than reading about it myself. Not sure if that makes sense, but the telling far outweighed the showing. I was never immersed in the story.

2. My beloved characters became flat, shells of themselves.

– Lia. What even happened to her? I’m so mad at who Lia has become. She went from barely understanding her gift to using it as a crutch to get whatever she wants. All of a sudden, it’s her way or the highway because of this random gift that has become a character of its own. When people indicate that they don’t trust her gift (because why should they? It’s not been a big deal at all up until now), she turns into such a jerk and doesn’t care about anyone or what they think. I hate this gift. It was the excuse and the explanation for everything and turned Lia into this pompous, uncaring, inconsiderate person. Yet when times get rough she waxes philosophical and almost cheesy as she strives to save everyone with her words. After everything we’ve been through, words resolve it all.

Lia has also gone from making smart decisions to blindly following Vendan prophecies regardless of anyone’s feelings. My friend Alyssa said it best in her review: “For a girl that tried to escape her fate by running away from her wedding, Lia is quick to jump right back into letting someone (i.e. the book of Venda, and her “gift”) control her.” I remember her feeling so overwhelmed at the prospect of ruling a kingdom, and now one kingdom isn’t enough for her. She’s telling Rafe what to do and trying to rule his kingdom too.

Rafe has completely lost his backbone, blindly loving Lia despite how much of a brat/jerk/idiot she has become. She treats his so badly, and he just takes it. She takes him for granted and doesn’t even care that she might lose him. Yet he continues to save her when she doesn’t even deserve it and shows no gratitude for him doing so. Usually the girl is the doormat in novels, so yay for that finally not being the case… but now the guy is the doormat and that makes me just as mad. You’re a king, Rafe, man up.

I think I’m in the minority, but I’ve always loved Kaden. Where is he in this book? Again, he’s a shell and he gets a happily ever after right at the end (and it comes right out of left field and was not at all convincing). I think he was legitimately forgotten and then the author said, “Oh! Kaden! Can’t forget him! Let’s give him an ending.” He goes through some pretty emotional things in this book, not to mention some life-altering experiences, but I saw no growth and change or development because he was given very little time to go through these things and react/recover accordingly.

3. So much time was wasted on traveling and talking about things that are going to happen that the resolutions were way too easy and way too fast. I don’t know why this book is so long because the parts of it that actually mattered were so rushed and abrupt. 

4. The romance is barely there. Lia and Kaden kind of resolve things between the two of them, but do they? Lia and Rafe have this rift and he actually gets engaged to someone else. Neither of them even seem to care much. Kaden gets a love story of his own, but it didn’t even make sense to me. How do you suffer such betrayal from someone you loved and then fall for someone else right away? I don’t know, I’m just meh about all the romance-ness at this point. I quit caring, to be honest.

5. The ending was so vague, with so many loose ends. Perhaps the author wanted us to assume things or create our own future for the characters, but I just wanted to know. So many books end with a final battle, and this one was just like all the others except Lia gets a new “gift” that… saves everything. So there. Lia didn’t do anything. Her gifts did.

So… I’m not happy. I skimmed some passages out of sheer boredom in the hopes of getting an amazing character moment or an awesome climax of events or something. I wanted a satisfying resolution, but I’m left feeling so disappointed. Would I recommend this book? I honestly don’t think so. Mary’s writing is typically amazing, but it felt tired here. I’m not sure what happened. I wish I had quit with The Kiss of Deception. I loved that book (I also loved The Heart of Betrayal, but this book made me regret reading it.), and considering how open-ended this book’s ending was I think you could easily read The Kiss of Deception as a standalone and move on.


Frayed by Kara Terzis | Debut Author Book Review + Giveaway

June 30, 2016 Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult 2 ★★★

Frayed by Kara Terzis | Debut Author Book Review + Giveaway

Frayed by Kara Terzis | Debut Author Book Review + GiveawayFrayed by Kara Terzis
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on June 7, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Barnes & NobleIndieBound iBooks Book Depository Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
Dear Kesley,

My therapist tells me I should write you a letter. Like flushing all my thoughts and feelings out of my system and onto paper. I tell her it's a stupid idea.

But here I am, writing a letter to a dead girl. Where do I start? Where did our story begin? From the moment you were born...or died?

I'll start with the moment I found out the truth about you. Your lies and my pain. Because it always begins and ends with you.
And that end began when Rafe Lawrence came back to town...

Ava Hale will do anything to find her sister's killer...although she'll wish she hadn't. Because the harder Ava looks, the more secrets she uncovers about Kesley, and the more she begins to think that the girl she called sister was a liar. A sneak. A stranger.

And Kesley's murderer could be much closer than she thought...

A debut novel from Wattpad award-winner Kara Terzis, Frayed is a psychological whodunit that will keep you guessing!

Welcome to my stop along the blog tour for Kara Terzis’s debut novel, Frayed, hosted by The Irish Banana Review! I’m happy to be reviewing this creepy mystery today, and I’ll be keeping it very vague so as not to spoil anything for you. I find that it’s SO much easier to do that with mysteries than any other genre, so I’m keeping things short and sweet. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The synopsis claims that the novel will keep you guessing, and this definitely rang true for me. As the readers learns more about the circumstances surrounding Kesley’s life and death, they are continually adding and erasing people from the list of who they can trust. I was constantly suspecting that everyone did it… except the person who actually did. I read a lot of mysteries, and I’m happy when an author figures out how to keep me from figuring things out on my own.

2. We find out right off the bat (again, from the synopsis) that Ava is not doing too well with losing Kesley. She’s in therapy, and sections of the book contain pieces of the letter that her therapist suggests she write to Kesley. I found that reading these excerpts really added to the story. They give the reader a more detailed look at the troubling relationship these two sisters had, and that intensified the creep factor for me. Really, nobody in this book has their head on 100% straight, but these girls had a very toxic relationship beneath the surface.

3. I never grew to like any of the characters, so I had a bit of a tricky time caring or feeling sympathetic, especially towards Ava. Sure, I felt bad for her for the pain she was going through. But that was pretty much it. Each character gave me an uneasy, uncomfortable feeling so I never connected with anyone. I think that was kind of the point of the story, though, and it added to the mystery for me.

4. Frayed is very dark and depressing, so I was surprised to find that I didn’t ever feel like I had this weight of doom on my shoulders. I hate depressing, sad books… especially when characters are reeling from the death of a loved one. I was so curious that I never felt depressed, and I thank the author for treating the story that way.

5. The ending was great. I was completely surprised and had no idea things were going to go down like they did. Either I missed the foreshadowing completely, or there wasn’t any there. While I would have enjoyed a few more hints, the author’s choice to completely keep me in the dark made the ending that much more insane. It wasn’t the typical mystery novel climax, and that was refreshing.

All in all, Frayed was an enjoyable, intriguing mystery that threw me for a loop with its very unpredictable ending. I’ll be keeping an eye on Kara, and hope she continues writing books for us.


About Kara

Kara Terzis was twelve when she wrote her first novel, and hasn’t stopped writing since. Later she started publishing her work on Wattpad, where in 2013 she won the Sourcebooks Story Development Prize, leading to the publication of her debut novel, Frayed. She adores fairy tales, photography, rainy days, and film soundtracks. When she’s not writing, you can find her buried in a good book and daydreaming. She lives with her family in Sydney, Australia.

Her debut novel–FRAYED–will be out from Sourcebooks Fire on June 7th, 2016.

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Tour Schedule:

6/27: Here’s the Happy Endings – Q&A
6/28: Novel Ink – Letter to a Lost Loved One
6/29: Live to Read – Review
6/30: That Artsy Reader Girl – Review
7/1: With Love For Books – Review
7/4: Lekeisha the Booknerd – Dream Cast
7/5: Reading Is Better With Cupcakes – Review
7/6: One Night Book Stand – Top 10
7/7: Rebel Mommy Book Blog – Review
7/8: Just Commonly – Guest Post


The Leaving by Tara Altebrando | Boldly Bookish Blog Tour Book Review (+ Giveaway)

June 22, 2016 Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult 5 ★★★

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando | Boldly Bookish Blog Tour Book Review (+ Giveaway)

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando | Boldly Bookish Blog Tour Book Review (+ Giveaway)The Leaving by Tara Altebrando
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on June 7, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Barnes & NobleIndieBound Book Depository Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
Six were taken. Eleven years later, five come back--with no idea of where they've been.

Eleven years ago, six kindergarteners went missing without a trace. After all that time, the people left behind moved on, or tried to.

Until today. Today five of those kids return. They're sixteen, and they are . . . fine. Scarlett comes home and finds a mom she barely recognizes, and doesn't really recognize the person she's supposed to be, either. But she thinks she remembers Lucas. Lucas remembers Scarlett, too, except they're entirely unable to recall where they've been or what happened to them. Neither of them remember the sixth victim, Max. He doesn't come back. Everyone wants answers. Most of all Max's sister Avery, who needs to find her brother--dead or alive--and isn't buying this whole memory-loss story.

Welcome to my stop along Bloomsbury’s Boldly Bookish blog tour, hosted by The Irish Banana Review! It’s week three of the tour, which means it’s all about Tara Altebrando’s The Leaving. This book is crazy and weird and intriguing and I’m excited to review it today! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I’ve always been a huge fan of mysteries involving missing persons and amnesia, and this book treats the topic differently than I’ve ever experienced. Six small children disappear from school one day, and five of them return eleven years later with no memories. At all. They remember snippets of life before “the leaving”, and they have small flashes of what happened while they were gone. For the most part, though, they have forgotten the last eleven years of their lives. What’s crazy is that they are very well educated and are able to transition into their proper grade level with ease after their return. They seem to have been well taken care of. So what happened? And where were they? And why can’t they answer these questions themselves? I was intrigued immediately.

2. The mystery is super unique because all five of these teens (and some family members of theirs) are working with the police and hypnotists and therapists and specialists to try to piece together the past. But nothing is really working. The flashes of memories that I mentioned before continually occur, and these teens are getting more and more confused because they don’t make sense. But this confusion causes them to vigorously search for answers, putting themselves in danger in the process. They don’t know who to trust, and as more information surfaces the reader is left possibly more clueless than the characters. It’s quite a page turner of a book!

3. The story is told in alternating perspectives by three narrators: two of the teens and the sister of the boy who never made it home. This is a really tricky thing to do, and Altebrando did a great job of giving each narrator a recognizable voice. For example, one of the narrators is a little bit crazier… or eccentric? Or maybe she is just not handling things well and is spiraling out of control. Some of her words and sentences made weird designs or were written backwards, and I thought that formatting was a cool touch and gave us more insight into how she was feeling. There were other unique formatting details, but I can tell from reading other early reviews that they did not transfer properly to my eARC.

4. I do wish all five of the returned teens got chapters to tell their thoughts. I would have liked to understand them better. Perhaps that would’ve made things too hard to keep track of, but what’s the point of having four more kids if they don’t contribute to the solving of the mystery?

5. There is some romance that I wish hadn’t been there. I was more focused on learning the why’s and how’s and the romance took me out of that mindset.

6. The suspense was palpable. Practically every chapter ended on a cliffhanger that was not resolved or even addressed until that specific narrator had their turn to talk again. I was just SO curious that I read this book in record time, flying from narrator to narrator and wanting more details and more answers. Altebrando knows what it takes to keep a reader up reading instead of sleeping.

7. The ending was a little anticlimactic and some of the answers went in a direction that almost completely switched the genre of the story. It was a surprise for sure, but I guess I hoped the story would end with more of a bang.

8. I had it all wrong. I thought I knew what was going on, but I was wrong. And that’s a good thing.

Despite my few qualms, I’ve come away from this story with an overall favorable opinion of it. I can’t give many specifics of why I liked it because I’ll end up spoiling things,which is why this review is vague and lukewarm. I was throughly entertained, and Altebrando pulled me out of a reading slump I didn’t know I was in! The unique storyline had me intrigued to the very end, and I enjoyed the ride. I haven’t read a book this fast in years. I’d definitely recommend it to people who are looking for a spin on the normal YA contemporary mysteries. There are twists and turns and details you won’t see coming!


About Tara

Tara Altebrando is the author of numerous books for young adult and middle-grade readers. Her upcoming book, THE LEAVING (Bloomsbury), is a YA thriller that received a starred PW review and is a Junior Library Guild selection. Her other YA novels include ROOMIES, coauthored with Sara Zarr; Dreamland Social Club (A Kirkus Reviews Best Books for Teens), The Best Night of (Your) Pathetic Life, What Happens Here, and The Pursuit of Happiness.

Tara is a Harvard graduate who lives in Queens, NY, with her husband and children.

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Tour Schedule:

Week 1 – BREAK ME LIKE A PROMISE by Tiffany Schmidt
6/6: Pretty Deadly Reviews – Review
6/7: The Young Folks – Q&A
6/8: Swoony Boys Podcast – Character Interview
6/9: In Wonderland – Review
6/10: Jenuine Cupcakes – Guest Post

Week 2 – THE LONG GAME by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
6/13: Beauty and the Bookshelf – Guest Post
6/14: YA Bibliophile – Review
6/15: Such A Novel Idea – Playlist
6/16: The Cover Contessa – Q&A
6/17: Avid Reader – Review

Week 3 – THE LEAVING by Tara Altebrando
6/20: Once Upon A Twilight – Guest Post
6/21: Literary Lover – Review
6/22: That Artsy Reader Girl – Review
6/23: Novel Ink – Q&A
6/24: The Irish Banana Review – Top 10


Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton | Debut Author Book Review

May 13, 2016 Book Review, Debut Author Challenge, Young Adult 1 ★★★★★

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton | Debut Author Book ReviewRebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Series: Rebel of the Sands #1
Published by Viking Children's Books on March 8, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him...or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

I read Rebel of the Sands a couple months ago, and I still can’t stop thinking about it. Simply put, I loved everything about this book from the beautiful cover to the amazingly fitting title to the words inside. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. THE COVER. Moving on.

2. The story is this awesome middle eastern, wild west, Aladdin, mystic conglomeration with magic and mythical horses and sand and a sultan and a secret world of magical and powerful beings. It’s just so unique and exciting. It grabbed me from the first page.

3. The world feels both modern and historic. There’s djinni and ghouls and traversing the desert by horse, but there’s also modern technology like gun factories and trains. This hybrid of various world building elements felt very fresh. So often we see fantasies pulling elements from fairytales or other tried and true fantasy novels, but Rebel of the Sands feels very original and authentic.

4. Amani is a wonderful heroine. She’s smart, sassy, and filled with quick wit and the perfect amount of paranoia to make her someone you can really get behind, rather than a dumb damsel in distress. There’s no Bella complex going on here. I really love heroines that start out at rock bottom because they have nothing to lose and make quick decisions that have the power to change their lives. That’s Amani. When we meet her, her life is the epitome of misery. She’s an orphan living with her uncle who might force her to marry him, and she’s scrimping and saving so she can escape before it’s too late. You’d think she’d be submissive and quiet living under these circumstances, but she has this fire and will not be forced to do anything she doesn’t want to do.

5. Jin is so perfect. He’s so mysterious and caring and he gave me the swoons. I loved the chemistry between him and Amani because there’s this intrigue underneath a strongly developing friendship. They look out for each other and have some of the sweetest moments.

6. This book isn’t really romancey, and I liked that a lot. So often the world and the important details sit in the back seat while the romance drives the entire story. There are hints of romance, and those hang out in the trunk. Or the luggage rack. This story is about so much more than a possible romance. However, that’s not to say things won’t get swoonier in the next book.

7. The secondary characters are just as perfect. Alwyn’s debut taught me that if she’s going to write in a detail she’s going to flesh it out. Every thing, person, and event is in this book for an important reason. There’s no filler here.

8. I can’t say anything bad about this book. I loved the writing, the details, the imagery. everything. I can’t wait for book 2!

Basically, you should read this. I mean, you have to at least be a LITTLE curious to see how an author can successfully combine the Wild West and the Middle East right? I highly recommend Rebel of the Sands.


Operation White Christmas by Nicki Edwards | Book Review

December 18, 2015 Adult Fiction, Book Review 5 ★★★★★

Operation White Christmas by Nicki Edwards | Book ReviewOperation White Christmas by Nicki Edwards
Series: Escape to the Country #2.5
Published by Pan Macmillan AU on December 17, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 153
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Hollie Douglas has dreamed of a White Christmas ever since she was a child, but her dream implodes when her fiancé breaks her heart two months before their big day. Convinced by her best friend to go ahead with her planned honeymoon anyway, Hollie doesn't expect to find herself stuck in a snowstorm in rural Canada two days before Christmas.

Jim Bell has been dreading another Christmas without his wife. When one of his orphaned animals goes missing in the middle of a snowstorm, he didn't expect he'd be rescuing a stranded Australian tourist as well. He quickly realizes Hollie is carrying as much emotional baggage as him, and when she accepts his offer to seek shelter at his farm, he wonders if he's doing the right thing.

As Jim helps Hollie fulfil her White Christmas dreams, the winter wonderland and spirit of Christmas work their healing magic on both of them.

This book is adorable. I’m not even kidding. I don’t even have much to say about it (it’s short), other than the fact that I LOVED it so much. It’s one of my new favorite Christmas books, and I’m hoping to re-read it every year or so. It’s a sweet and swoony, feel-good, perfectly clean Christmas story that really got me in the holiday spirit. I loved the characters, the dog, the baby llama, the snow, the setting, the feelings, the activities they did together, the revelations, the writing style, and the ending. Really, I have no complaints, except that I wish it had been longer! I don’t want to give anything away, so I’m keeping this review short and pretty much detail-free. The story is so romantic and magical, that readers are going to wish it had happened to them.