Source: From the publisher through Netgalley


While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft | Book Review

July 19, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 3 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 1 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
AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBound iBooks The 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
AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBound The 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.


Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan | Book Review

September 2, 2015 Book Review, Young Adult 7 ★★★★★

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan | Book ReviewDaughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
Published by Dutton Juvenile on May 25, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 375
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
I’m the daughter of murdered parents.
I’m the friend of a dead girl.
I’m the lover of my enemy.
And I will have my revenge.

In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose.

I’m on a major mystery/thriller kick right now, and I’m all about conspiracies! I’m not usually a fan of revenge, but this is revenge for a good reason so I LOVED it. Daughter of Deep Silence is filled with ominous, creepy, obsessive revenge. Basically, it was amazing. I’m doing a small review for this title because I don’t want to give anything away. The synopsis is very vague for a reason, and I intend to provide only my opinions. So don’t worry! Reading my review is totally safe, even if you’re the type who likes to discover books on your own, rather than read a review that basically tells you the entire plot. Seriously. I just read a bunch of reviews on Goodreads and they are just not safe!

We start out on the Persephone, a luxury yacht at sea. Everything is fine, and then disaster strikes. I was immediately engrossed in this story, and was completely on the edge of my seat. It starts out with a huge bang and gets more and more crazy and mysterious as the book continues and Frances’s life continues at home. Frances is a very hurt, very complex, very lost and rage-filled soul who has her heart set on finding answers. She will stop at nothing to find these answers, no matter the cost. And I’m not kidding. There were times I hated her and there were times I absolutely loved her. Her past is heartbreaking, her present is a lie, and her future could go in so many different directions depending on her actions now. There’s a bit of romance, but mostly the suspense is the frontrunner. My only qualm is that I wish there was more of a gradual build-up to the climax instead of the huge info dump and a quick ending I got. I’m the kind of person who likes to guess and form opinions, but I needed a few more clues than I was given.

All in all, I was extremely pleased with Daughter of Deep Silence. I loved every second, and was sad when it was over. Sure, it was a little unbelievable in places, but that’s why this is a novel instead of a memoir. This story would never happen in real life, but neither would Jurassic Park. I love the author’s writing style, and am seriously considering reading her backlist because I was completely entranced. Carrie Ryan is an amazing author! Definitely give this book a shot if you’re looking for a little suspense that won’t keep you up all night in sheer terror.


The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill | Book Review

August 13, 2015 Book Review, Young Adult 5 ½

The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill | Book ReviewThe Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on December 8, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 272
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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0.5 Stars
It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey...

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.

But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.

*sigh* I’m sorry, but this was a bit of a train wreck for me. I loved Lauren’s other books so very much, so I’m really sad to feel this way. Aside from the cheesiness, which could have been cute under other circumstances, this book is riddled with inaccuracies. Maybe I should not have read it while I was on a cruise… So here are my problems:

1. No school band in the entire world would be able to go on a cruise for free for any reason, much less for less than $25,000. If this band can afford to go on a cruise, but they MUST win $25,000 or the band program is discontinued… isn’t that contradictory? Sure, they won a contest that got them on a ship. But no cruise line would ever hold a contest with this kind of prize, much less have the space to allow for a marching band (or multiple marching bands).

2. The Destiny, a luxury cruise liner, weighs only 50,000 tons but has six sun decks, three pools, a casino, an atrium, “many buffets”, multiple lounges, a spa, and a bowling alley. This is pretty much impossible. Pretty much all of today’s large cruise ships with these features weigh 2-3 times this amount. I was on the Carnival Dream when I read this. That ship weighs 130,000 tons, has three pools, an atrium, one buffet, two lounges, a spa, and a few bars. No bowling alley. I mean, an author can squish anything into anything, so perhaps this ship is really tiny, with really tiny amenities and can hold very few passengers. But it just did not feel realistic to me.

3. There was no lifeboat drill! This is required by international maritime law, and happens before or during the ship’s departure from the original port. But when the ship pulled away, nobody had done the lifeboat drill and there was not even mention of it. Sure, maybe the author just chose to not mention it… but everything else was mentioned!

4. There are so many problems with the ship. It is constantly not working properly. This does not happen. And if it does, it’s a huge deal. It’s very dangerous. It makes the news.

5. A kid threw a drink overboard. Glass and all. You can get in so much trouble! Depending on the deck, that drink most likely blew back into the ship and landed on someone’s balcony or an open deck.

6. Seasickness patches (Scopolamine patches) are not applied to the arm like the book says they are. They are placed behind the ear. And you can’t use more than one like Liza did during the storm. That’d be an overdose, and you’d get pretty sick. One lasts an entire week on a cruise.

7. You are NOT allowed to sleep on deck. Cruise ship workers circle the decks all night and wake people up and make them go to their cabins. It’s a liability.

8. Drum majors (Liza) do not have that much power. And seriously? Where was the band director? Did he throw some empty margarita glass overboard and get confined to quarters? Oh wait…

9. Liza made me want to strangle something. She’s awful! I’m not used to such an unlikeable main character, but she is high strung and annoying and judgmental and a major slut shamer.

10. I was bored. The people are boring. The story is boring. I would have died if I had been on this ship. I would have jumper overboard.

11. THE ANIMAL SIMILES made me want to die. Here are a few:
–  “…shiver like a drowned chihuahua.”
– “…parrot caught in a hairdryer.”
– “…cat caught in a washing machine.”
– “Like cats tap dancing on a chalkboard.”
– Someone was compared to a “coked-up gorilla”.
I could go on.

The premise sounded like so much fun… I love books that take place on cruises, but this one just did not work for me. It did not feel realistic and the romance was nothing to get excited about. Seriously, it was just so silly (in an annoying way) and meh. If you can get past the fact that this story is not at all realistic, maybe you’ll enjoy the silly little teen drama and cattiness. I just felt way too old for this book. I liked the idea, but that was it.


Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout | Book Review

July 27, 2015 Book Review, Young Adult 9

Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout | Book ReviewHello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout
Published by St Martin's Press on June 9, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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0 Stars
A teen escapes to a boarding school abroad and falls for a Korean pop star in this fun and fresh romantic novel in the vein of Anna and the French Kiss.

Grace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start.

She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame. She can't stand Jason, whose celebrity status is only outmatched by his oversized ego, but they form a tenuous alliance for the sake of her friendship with Sophie. As the months go by and Grace adjusts to her new life in Korea, even she can't deny the sparks flying between her and the KPOP idol.

Soon, Grace realizes that her feelings for Jason threaten her promise to herself that she'll leave behind the music industry that destroyed her family. But can Grace ignore her attraction to Jason and her undeniable pull of the music she was born to write? Sweet, fun, and romantic, this young adult novel explores what it means to experience first love and discover who you really are in the process.

I think most people will agree with me when I say that I was looking forward to a diverse book, taking place in a country we don’t see much in YA lit, and on a subject (KPop) that I’m not at all familiar with. I was excited to learn about and experience a new culture, new scenery, new music scene, and new people. The author had an amazing opportunity to shine a positive light on the Korean culture, but instead made a mockery of them, not to mention Americans and our knowledge of cultures other than our own. I was very, very disappointed in this book and almost didn’t even finish it. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I hope not all Americans act like Grace did when she ended up in South Korea, because she was ignorant, judgmental, pretentious, patronizing, and obnoxious. I was embarrassed and offended. She ran away from her problems at home to a place I’m not sure she had even heard of before, with all these pre-conceived notions and transparent stereotypes. She has this superiority complex that never goes away throughout the entire story. She seems to think it’s impossible that Koreans can think or act without the influence of Americans. “Oh, they have music here? Oh, they have their own fashion sense? Oh, they have their own food?” Does the girl not know that Earth is not some huge America? She’s insensitive, she’s not accepting, and her comments (spoken and thought) are downright rude. I can’t believe she made friends or fell in love because I would want nothing to do with someone like her if they came to visit my country.

2. The author did nothing to make me feel like I was in South Korea, except for throwing in a bunch of Grace’s horrible comments about how the people look and what they eat. This could have taken place anywhere. KPop was pretty much non-existent. I feel like the author just wanted to label her book “diverse” because that’s the thing to do right now, but did absolutely no research to back herself up. 

3. I did not find the romance to be cute or sweet because I hated Grace so much. And the fact that Jason could fall for someone who is so rude and judgmental about his culture and his home made me respect him less. Is she just really pretty or something? I don’t see the appeal.

4. For that matter, I didn’t like anyone in this book. When I was a teen I chose good friends based on common interests and a mutual respect. Grace spent the whole story on her high horse, making fun of the place she chose to live (on a complete whim, no less). Why does anyone like her? So I kind of lost respect for them as well.

Basically, Grace ruined the story for me. I have not hated a character this much in a long time. As such, I’m going to quit reviewing this now because all I’m going to do is continue to justify my complaints with my hatred towards Grace. I’m so disappointed in this book, and would not recommend it to anyone. Hence, my 0-star review.