Source: From the Publisher

Under the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham | Book Review

Posted July 5, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Under the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham | Book ReviewUnder the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham
Series: The MacDonnells #1
Also in this series: Sound of the Heart
Published by Berkley on January 3, 2012
Genres: Historical Romance, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 319
Format: Paperback
Source: From the Publisher
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3 Stars
The year is 1746. A young woman from South Carolina and a Scottish Highlander share an intimacy and devotion beyond their understanding. They have had visions of each other their entire lives. And yet they have never met.

Now, with their lives torn asunder, Maggie Johnson and Andrew MacDonnell's quest to find each other is guided only by their dreams— and by the belief in the true love they share.

On the Carolina frontier Maggie Johnson’s family struggles to survive. Maggie’s gift of “the sight” and her visions show her a presence she calls Wolf. She watches him grow from a boy her age to a man even as she goes from child to woman.

Andrew MacDonald has always wondered about the girl he sees in his dreams. He is able to talk to her through their thoughts and vows that even if he must cross an ocean he will find her.

They are thrust into different situations: Andrew fights for the doomed Jacobite cause and Maggie is captured by slavers, then rescued and brought into a kind, loving Native American tribe. They each believe in destiny and the power of the love they have shared forever.

Lots of things about this book excited me. I love historical romance, the back of the book and the cover reminded me of a light, fluffy romance with a paranormal twist (like a Lynn Kurland book), and I loved the idea of telepathic communication across the world, between two characters who have never actually met each other. During tough times these two characters appeared to one other to help, either delivering advice or actual strength. As they got older, their ability to communicate grew stronger and they began to fall in love. The romance was incredibly sweet. They were childhood sweethearts, who were there for each other all the time, even though they were on completely different continents. I love this idea.

While I did like it, this book is far from the light, fluffy romance I was expecting. The cover is quite deceptive, as this book is a rather heavy and sometimes dark read. This time period was a pretty awful time, especially for women, and the author does not sugar coat it, which I respected. At the very beginning of the book, Maggie witnesses the death and/or murders of several family members. She and her sisters are abducted by men hoping to sell them, and are beaten and raped to within an inch of their lives. Andrew goes to war in Scotland, and also experiences a lot of death and heartache. This is all described in great detail, and it actually upset me so much that I thought I would not be able to continue. I was so curious to see how things ended, though, that I decided to continue on with it. To all my fellow tender hearts out there, if you can make it to page 115, you are going to be just fine. The book does lighten up, and it even gets suspenseful and exciting!

A tribe of Cherokee Indians rescues Maggie and her sister from their captors, and takes them in as part of their family. I loved this entire protective and loving group of people. I have not had the opportunity to read much about Native American tribes, except for my history books in school. I learned so much about the culture and belief system of this tribe, and was captivated by their story and strong, almost religious, ties to Mother Nature.

I really, really liked Maggie and Andrew. Maggie is so incredibly strong and resilient. I admire her, and wish I had the kind of strength she has. Andrew is the perfect sexy Scottish highlander. He cares so much for Maggie, his family, and his friends. He’s also very loyal and honorable. We see him interact with two very young orphaned children, and he is amazingly sweet with them. He really is pretty perfect, and I know I would love it if he came to me in my dreams! His accent is also pretty adorable, but sometimes I had to read his lines out loud in order to understand them. :)

Genevieve’s writing style is gorgeous. Her word choice stirred the same emotions in me that her characters felt. She sent me to the woods where Maggie was held captive, to the battle fields of Scotland, to the rolling hills of the Scottish Highlands, and to the deep southern colonies of North America. The dreams Maggie and Andrew had about each other were mystical and magical. Everything seemed so real to me, and I was completely captivated, even though parts of this book really upset and disturbed me.

I would definitely recommend this book to lovers of historical romances with a bit of a paranormal twist. Yes, it’s heavy and dark in places. Yes, I had a hard time convincing myself to finish it at one point, but I am so glad I did. You can’t fault the author for retelling history. This all really happened, and I was amazed reading what people are willing to do to each other. The story is also magical and romantic, and I really loved reading about Maggie and Andrew’s journey to find one another. We are left with no loose ends, and you’ll be very happy with how things turn out in the end.


All Summer Long by Hope Larson | Graphic Novel Review

Posted June 28, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Graphic Novel, Middle Grade / 0 Comments

All Summer Long by Hope Larson | Graphic Novel ReviewAll Summer Long and illustrated by Hope Larson
Published by Farrar Straus & Giroux on May 1, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Realistic Fiction
Pages: 176
Format: Paperback
Source: From the Publisher
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2 Stars
A coming-of-age middle-grade graphic novel about summer and friendships, written and illustrated by the Eisner Award–winning and New York Times–bestselling Hope Larson.

Thirteen-year-old Bina has a long summer ahead of her. She and her best friend, Austin, usually do everything together, but he's off to soccer camp for a month, and he's been acting kind of weird lately anyway. So it's up to Bina to see how much fun she can have on her own. At first it's a lot of guitar playing, boredom, and bad TV, but things look up when she finds an unlikely companion in Austin's older sister, who enjoys music just as much as Bina. But then Austin comes home from camp, and he's acting even weirder than when he left. How Bina and Austin rise above their growing pains and reestablish their friendship and respect for their differences makes for a touching and funny coming-of-age story.

I’ve started developing interest in graphic novels over the last few years, which was a major surprise to me because I’ve always overlooked them. More and more have been trickling in from various publishers, and I’m really seeing the graphic novel format take off, especially for younger readers. I thought All Summer Long sounded like a fun, light read and was excited to dig in. Sadly, there just wasn’t enough substance for me and it felt much younger than I would have liked.

I enjoy coming-of-age stories, but I don’t feel like All Summer Long was a good example of one. I suppose the characters go through some changes, but they felt more like normal kid changes than coming-of-age. When a story is described as a “coming-of-age story”, you expect some major growth. Bina is 13, and she’s spending her summer alone while her best friend, Austin, is at summer camp. She spends the summer playing/listening to music, and hanging out with Austin’s older sister. She gets to babysit and go to a concert and deal with all the normal kid drama: fights, heightened emotions, and overreactions. At the end, she seemed to be pretty much the same person she was in the beginning. The story was very, very simple and the characters seemed like cardboard cutouts. There just wasn’t anything grabbing me and sucking me in.

I know I’m the wrong demographic, but I work with kids who are about this age. Actually, my kids are about a year younger and they don’t talk like these characters. They don’t use the word “bae” or say “like” every other word. I feel like the author tried to write for tweens and young teens, but without a real understanding of what those kids are like today. These kids seemed younger than mine until they said “bae”, which people my age (late 20’s, early 30’s) were already saying when these kids were toddlers. It just felt really unrealistic to me.

The illustrations were fun, but too stylized for me. The proportions were off and there were inconsistencies in the looks of the characters from page to page. Sometimes I had a hard time telling some of the secondary characters apart. It was easy to read and the boxes flowed in a nice way. I rarely read sections out of order because I didn’t know which box came first, which has happened to me in other graphic novels I’ve read.

All in all, this one just didn’t work for me. I shut the book and immediately wrote my review because I’m not even sure I’ll be able to remember it. I would choose to recommend other graphic novels over this one.


Save the Date by Morgan Matson | Blog Tour Book Review (+ Giveaway)

Posted June 13, 2018 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult / 7 Comments

Save the Date by Morgan Matson | Blog Tour Book Review (+ Giveaway)

Save the Date by Morgan Matson | Blog Tour Book Review (+ Giveaway)Save the Date by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on June 5, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 432
Format: Hardcover
Source: From the Publisher
Amazon Barnes & NobleIndieBound iBooks Book Depository Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.

Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

I’m so happy to be on this blog tour for Morgan Matson’s Save the Date, hosted by the Fantastic Flying Book Club! I’ve always heard wonderful things about Morgan’s books, and actually own a few of them. I even met her at ALA a few years ago and she signed a copy of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour for me, so I’m really surprised and slightly ashamed to admit that Save the Date is my very first Matson read! If all of her other books are just as delightful and funny and full of heart like this one is, then I think I’ve found a new author to love! As always, my main points are bolded.

1. The Grant family is officially my favorite fictional family. I would love to be a member of this family! J.J. is an absolute hoot. Everything he says or does makes me laugh. He actually says “scoff” when he’s miffed. Linnie is such a fun big sister, and I love her relationship with Charlie. Danny is the sweet big brother type. I even like troublemaker Mike! They are all so close, and their life growing up together is full of memories of capture the flag games, movie nights, sleepovers, family trips, bumming around the house, and so much love. I love that they love each other and have the cutest sibling bonds with one another. The parents are great, too. It’s a house full of chaos and shenanigans, and I loved being a fly on the wall.

2. Speaking of shenanigans, everything that could possibly go wrong for this wedding pretty much does! It’s hilarious, if not a little unbelievable how unlucky this family is. lol. There’s a suit mix-up, electrical problems, gardening problems, and more. There’s so much going on at once that I found myself tearing through the pages to figure out how each issue was resolved. Honestly, this book would make such an amazingly fun movie.

3. Bill, the assistant wedding coordinator, is the sweetest character. He and his… uncle? Dad? Why can’t I remember this!?! Oh well, not important. He and the guy he is somehow related to run this wedding business together, and he’s riding the waves of shenanigans with the best attitude. He’s got a great sense of humor and is always so happy. He’s also pretty quirky, slightly nerdy, and just warms my heart.

4. We’ve got a loaner beagle named Waffles and an alarm that won’t be silenced unless it wants to be that are both pretty amazing characters all on their own. Waffles has so much personality in his little body, complete with big floppy ears. And the alarm just had me giggling, which doesn’t even make sense unless you’ve read this book.

5. I really connected with Charlie. I understand what it’s like to have everyone needed things from you all the time. She’s kind of the glue that keeps the group together and sane. She’s the peacemaker, and I understand the kind of pressure that comes with that job. I sympathized with her as she faced having to move from her childhood home. I also saw a lot of growth from her as the book continued on. She just seemed really real to me. All the characters did.

6. Charlie’s mom has written a comic strip based on the Grant family, Grant Central Station, for the last 20+ years all about the kids and family growing up together. Snippets of these comics are featured throughout the book, and I really liked those. I’d love a book of more of them so I can get more of the backstory on some of these characters!

7. I just LOVE weddings. This book reminded me so much of Father of the Bride, which is one of my favorite movies ever.

8. Swoons. Wedding swoons, crush swoons, love swoons… They were all there.

All in all, I’m SO glad I finally jumped on the Morgan Matson train! I can’t wait to read her other books now! I hope her others are just as wonderful for me as this one was. I loved the family dynamics, the wedding craziness, and all heart and feeling that swirled around it all. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys contemporary YA with a side of giggles and feelings.


About Morgan Matson

Morgan Matson was born in New York City and grew up there and in Greenwich, Connecticut. She attended Occidental College inLos Angeles, but halfway through a theater degree, she started working in the children’s department of Vroman’s Bookstore and fell in love with YA literature.

Following college graduation (and the proud bearer of an incredibly useful theater/English degree) she received her M.F.A. in Writing for Children from The New school and worked as an editor for YA novels. She received a second M.F.A. (for reasons that made sense at the time) in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California.

Her novels have been translated into dozens of languages, and published all over the world.

Morgan’s first novel, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, was inspired by her love of road trips, snacks, and the quest for the perfect playlist. It was named an ALA Top Ten Best Book, a Publisher’s Weekly Flying Start book, and was shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Book Prize.

Her second novel, Second Chance Summer, was inspired by her experiences spending summers in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. It was the winner of the California Book Award (YA category) and was named to the ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults List, selected for the Oklahoma Sequoya List, and selected as a School Library Journal Best Book.

Her third novel, Since You’ve Been Gone, was published in2014,and was a Publisher’s Weekly and international bestseller. It was named to the YALSA Teens Top Ten list, and the Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award List.

Morgan’s fourth novel, The Unexpected Everything, was published May 3rd, 2016. She currently lives inLos Angeles with her dog, Murphy.

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Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco | Book Review

Posted October 6, 2017 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 0 Comments

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!


Caraval by Stephanie Garber | 2017 Debut Book Review

Posted September 20, 2017 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 3 Comments

Caraval by Stephanie Garber | 2017 Debut Book ReviewCaraval by Stephanie Garber
Published by Flatiron Books on January 31, 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 407
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

Oh my goodness… you guys, this was SO GOOD and so magical and amazing. I read it 9 months ago and I still can’t stop thinking about it. I also have not been able to figure out how to review it because I LOVED IT SO MUCH that I have no idea what to say. I can’t tell you everything I loved because then I’d just be typing out the book for you. There was nothing I didn’t love to pieces, so writing a review is a truly overwhelming task that I’ve been scared to even begin. lol. I was truly and utterly captivated by and immersed in this story from the first page, and even though it’s over it has not yet let go of me. Part of me is still in that story, unable to let go of it and eagerly anticipating the next book.

Caraval is a magical, whimsical, quirky, convoluted, mysterious, romantic, captivating ball of beautiful words and imagination. The story is dripping with danger and unknowing, with mischievous and  ominous characters. Stephanie’s writing is on point, and her imagination and storytelling ability are on FIRE. I wonder if she rents out rooms in her mind…? The world of Caraval is bigger than our world, and the game has so many layers and mysteries that it’s basically ingenious.

I was fully expecting and intending to write a detailed, organized, and coherent review. But… I don’t want to say anything more than this because it’s honestly better if you have no idea what to expect. I went in very skeptical (hello hype, and the book had not even been published yet!) and not quite sure what to expect. Best decision ever. The less you know about Caraval, the more mysterious and exciting it will feel to you. So don’t read any reviews. Just don’t do it. My review is vague enough that you’re pretty much just going to leave my blog knowing Caraval is a book you’ve got to read. If I’ve convinced you of this, I’ve done my job! If not, write to me and I’ll talk your ear off until you can see there’s no other option.


Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer | Mini Book Review

Posted August 24, 2017 by Jana in Book Review, Graphic Novel, Young Adult / 0 Comments

Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer | Mini Book ReviewWires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer
and illustrated by Douglas Holgate
Series: Wires and Nerve #1
Published by Feiwel and Friends on January 31, 2017
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 238
Format: Hardcover
Source: From the Publisher
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers' leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the series.

I’m a major lover of The Lunar Chronicles and was pretty sad when it was all over. So OF COURSE I was over the moon when I learned about the graphic novels. Anything to get me back in that world!

I kind of knew this would happen, but the story was much simpler that the full length novels. Not as much happened, but I was ok with it because I was back with my favorite characters! I was just so happy to see them, and see them I finally did. Truth be told, I don’t enjoy seeing illustrations of beloved characters because they never look like they do in my head. In this case, though, Iko looked exactly as I pictured, so that was fun! Wolf was a little over the top wolfy for my taste (I never pictured him as such a big hulking, scruffy wolf), but I recognized everyone! It was a pleasant surprise. And I really loved the artwork! I’ve never been much of a fan of the comic book style illustrations, but I like Holgate’s work a lot.

There were lots of cute moments with all our characters, set against Iko’s wolf-hybrid soldier hunting storyline. Cress gets a cold and Thorne has to take care of her. Scarlet and Wolf are on their farm in France, so I we don’t get to see as much of them as I would have liked. Winter is the ambassador to Earth, and it was fun to see her in such a powerful position since we met her when she was pretty useless and imprisoned by her mind. I loved seeing her strength in this graphic novel. Cinder and Kai have never been my favorite couple in this series (they’re actually my least favorite, which is nuts), but it was fun to see what Cinder is up to now that she’s ruling things. Iko’s got a little thing going on with Kinney, Cinder’s royal guard, which I love. I hope she finds love, too!

All in all, this was so much fun an exactly what I needed after still being so hungover after Winter. I love this world and these characters, and I loved being there with them again. A must-have for fans of the series. I can’t wait for the next volume!


The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry | Mini Book Review

Posted July 6, 2017 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 0 Comments

The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry | Mini Book ReviewThe Girl I Used to Be by April Henry
Published by Christy Ottaviano Books on May 3, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 240
Format: Audiobook
Source: From the Publisher
Amazon Add to Goodreads
2 Stars
When Olivia's mother was killed, everyone suspected her father of murder. But his whereabouts remained a mystery. Fast forward fourteen years. New evidence now proves Olivia's father was actually murdered on the same fateful day her mother died. That means there's a killer still at large. It's up to Olivia to uncover who that may be. But can she do that before the killer tracks her down first?

Ok… I think I’ve officially given up on April Henry. This is my third book from her and I haven’t liked any of them. I’m honestly surprised that I’ve given her books this many chances, although they are usually very short and very fast reads, so maybe I keep trying because her books are easy to get through if I’m behind on my Goodreads goal. Wow. That sounds harsh. And don’t get me wrong, I think young teens might really enjoy them. I just think they read a little younger than most YA mysteries I’ve read and loved over the years (like Dangerous Girls, for example).

I feel like there was not much thought put into this story. Things seemed very flat, and the characters all very shell-like… the kind of stock characters that get thrown into stories to fill roles but not connect with you or make you feel anything. The story itself was not suspenseful or exciting, and the anticlimactic ending left me wondering why I even bothered wasting my time. Everything that did happen felt very convenient, as though there was a checklist of things that needed to happen for the book to end when it was time to end. Many things felt unbelievable to me as well. A 17 year old doesn’t just move herself into a new town and start interrogating all these strangers about the intimate details of the lives of her murdered parents without raising some suspicion. Why did these people even talk to her at all, much less tell her the things that they did? I don’t understand. Everything ended so quickly, but nothing was really explained. Rather than tying up loose ends and explaining why things happened, the author cut those loose ends off bluntly and chose to not explain anything at all. It could have been better. Maybe not much better, but almost anything would have been better than what I got.

So… Goodbye, April Henry. I had such high hopes for finding a YA author that writes a ton of mysteries because I LOVE THEM, but unfortunately I’ll have to keep looking for an author that puts a little more thought into their stories. I did like the appeal of Henry’s short mysteries because sometimes I just want a quick escape, but I’d rather read a longer novel that is more complex, more thought out, less convenient, and more exciting.


A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas | Book Review

Posted March 18, 2017 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 9 Comments

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas | Book ReviewA Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1
Also in this series: A Court of Mist and Fury
Published by Bloomsbury on May 5, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Timesbestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

I don’t even know how to review all the gloriousness that is A Court of Thorns and Roses. This is honestly my favorite book in the universe. I experienced the most vicious book hangover of my life. Seriously. It lasted about a week and a half and I could not even read anything else because I was in mourning.I had to go to Sarah J. Maas herself and have her tell me what to read next because I could not get over her book. No the book is not sad… but it ended. And that’s my only complaint about this book.

Coherent thoughts are not possible. I’m sorry, but they are not. It has been about three weeks since I finished ACOTAR, and all I can do when I think about it is melt into a puddle of swoons and sighs. So I’m going to have to resort to my very unorganized list review style and just blurt out everything I loved.

1. SO MANY FEELS. I will refer to my Goodreads status updates to illustrate my point:

ACOTARProgress
See? This book put me through the ringer, and I was happy to do it.

2. This is my favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling ever. Actually, I loved it more than Beauty and the Beast and THAT is saying something. It was so beautifully done, and there were so many hat tips to the original story.

3. Sarah J. Maas is a genius with words. I can’t believe how perfectly written this book was! Her writing reminds me of those taffy stretching machines. It’s so smooth and flowing and glorious. I just wanted to roll around in it.

4. The world is stupendous and beautiful. Sarah is a master at world building. This is the fairyland beyond your wildest dreams. The descriptions took my breath away. But this land is being taken over by evil, and the quest to defeat this evil kept me flipping pages as fast as I could.

5. There were some VERY sexy moments and I loved them all. The romance is off the charts, and so spellbindingly perfect. I’m in love with this book.

6. I want to be Feyre when I grow up. She’s a super hardcore bad-a, she’s loyal to those she loves, she’s artsy (like me), and she gets Tamlin all to herself.

7. Tamlin is mine. I’ll fight you for him if needs be. He’s a perfect blend of loyalty, protectiveness, chivalry, bravery, nobility, angst, and fierceness. Oh, and the mask he wears that has been permanently affixed to his face by magic makes him super mysterious. I can just picture his piercing eyes. He gets me all fluttery in my chest.

8. Lucien. *swoon* I’m going to be selfish and claim him as well. Picture Rhys as a man with a heart of gold and the ego of Gaston. I adore him.

9. The twists and turns the story took are amazing. SO much happens! Just when you think you can close the book for the night, you’ll be sucked right back in because something huge has happened.

10. There are villains you LOVE to hate and monsters that only live in your nightmares. 

My goodness, I think I need to quit while I’m ahead. I’m amazed I even got any words out because my love for this book is stronger than any combination of words I can string together. I am dying for the second book. I’m pretty much an official Sarah J. Maas fangirl. She can do no wrong. Do yourself a favor and buy this book for yourself and everyone you know.

*This review was originally published on April 8, 2015, and was re-posted in celebration of A Week of Beauty and the Beast.

Love Between the Lines: An Adult Coloring Book for Book Lovers | Coloring Book Review (+ Giveaway)

Posted November 8, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway / 0 Comments

Love Between the Lines: An Adult Coloring Book for Book Lovers | Coloring Book Review (+ Giveaway)

Love Between the Lines: An Adult Coloring Book for Book Lovers | Coloring Book Review (+ Giveaway)Love Between the Lines: An Adult Coloring Book for Book Lovers by Christina Collie
Published by Forever on November 8, 2016
Genres: Activity Book
Pages: 96
Format: Paperback
Source: From the Publisher
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3 Stars
Fall in love all over again with this adult coloring book featuring 45 hand-drawn illustrations inspired by romance novels from bestselling writers Colleen Hoover, Anna Todd, S.C. Stephens, Abbi Glines, K. Bromberg, Jodi Ellen Malpas and more. Sit back, grab your pens and markers, and get ready to explore LOVE BETWEEN THE LINES.

In the pages of this book you will find:
· Designs to help you relax and reduce stress
· Hidden images and book quotes
· Each design printed on a separate page
· Elaborate drawings s as well as quickie pages for when you just have a few minutes to color

Illustrations inspired by the works of:

Anna Todd, Jodi Ellen Malpas, Colleen Hoover, S.C. Stephens, Abbi Glines, K. Bromberg, Claire Contreras, Jillian Dodd, Amy Harmon, Tiffany King, R.K. Lilley, Molly McAdams, Tara Sivec, Alessandra Torre, Mia Sheridan, J. Sterling, Katy Evans, Emma Chase, S.L. Jennings, K.A. Linde, Beth Ehemann, Tarryn Fisher, Karina Halle, Helena Hunting, Leisa Rayven, Madeline Sheehan, and K. A. Tucker

I really love coloring books, and have a pretty sizable collection of my own. I’ve done a lot of research on coloring books, always on the lookout for ones I think I’ll love. While I love the idea of Love Between the Lines, it’s not my favorite. Perhaps if I had read any of the books that these pages are inspired by I’d feel differently, but I was hoping for something more bookish. There’s a huge variety of things to color, though, and that’s a lot of fun. I think it would be hard to get bored coloring in this. Many of the pages remind me of pages in an I Spy book. You know, lots of hidden images all centered around a central theme. There’s so many little details and the pages are nice and big, so it’s not hard to stay in the lines. My markers did bleed through onto the next page, though, so be careful.

I’d certainly recommend this coloring book to lovers of romance novels, especially if you’ve read and loved books by the authors that inspired these illustrations. I find coloring to be incredibly relaxing, and this book has a little something for everyone. Here are a couple os the coloring pages:

love-me-with-lies

 

thoughtless


About Christina Collie

Christina Collie is a twenty-eight-year-old Tennessee native who began doodling images inspired by her favorite books almost four years ago before launching Doodles by Christina. Since then she has doodled over 50 images and has sold prints around the globe. Outside of being a huge bookworm, she enjoys watching LSU football, playing with her dog Nola, and hanging out on her best friend’s farm. This is her first coloring book.

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Shutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz | Mini Book Review (+ Giveaway)

Posted October 19, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult / 1 Comment

Shutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz | Mini Book Review (+ Giveaway)Shutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Published by Disney Hyperion on October 18, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
Amazon Barnes & Noble Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
THE FACTS
• Julian Roman, age sixteen, is an escapee from the Fairmount County Juvenile Detention Facility.
• His parents, Michael Roman and Jennifer Roman, are dead.
• Julian is wanted for murder.

THE QUESTIONS
• Why is Julian Roman on the run?
• Just how dangerous is he?
• And who did kill Michael and Jennifer Roman, if not Julian?

Seventeen-year-old Day Baker views life through the lens of her camera, where perspective is everything. But photographs never tell the whole story. After Day crosses paths with Julian, the world she pictures and the truths she believes-neatly captured in black and white-begin to blur.

Julian is not the "armed and dangerous" escapee the police are searching for, but his alibis don't quite add up, either. There is more to his story. This time, Day is determined to see the entire picture . . . whatever it reveals. Did he? Or didn't he?

Day digs deeper into the case while Julian remains on the run. But the longer her list of facts becomes, the longer the list of questions becomes, too. It's also getting harder to deny the chemistry she feels for him. Is it real? Or is she being manipulated?

Day is close to finding the crack in the case. She just needs time to focus before the shutter snaps shut.

Laurie Faria Stolarz is a master of suspense and romance. In this page-turning thriller, Stolarz tackles dark truths with a powerful, contemporary voice. Shutter will keep readers guessing until the very end.

Welcome to my stop along the Shutter blog tour, hosted by the Irish Banana Review! Doesn’t the book synopsis sound awesome? I was totally on board as soon as I read about it, as I love reading mystery-type books in October. Shutter takes place during the exact same time of year as I read it, which I thought was a lot of fun. It got me so excited for fall and colder weather. I love this time of year, and the author did a great job of really capturing the season.

I liked Day a lot. Her obsession with photography was unique and fun to read about. I saw a lot of myself in her. I’ve always had an artistic outlet in my life, so I understood her passion and desire to always keep it close to her heart. I also understood her desire to help Julian. I would have wanted to do the same thing, especially since Julian is such a nice guy. I actually found him to be more interesting to read about, though. The chapters alternate between Day’s narration and Julian’s journal entries, and I liked getting more insight into Julian’s past and how he got to where he was even though some of it was very heartbreaking. He had a horrible family life as a child, and I really felt for him.

The story itself was very interesting, but not as mystery/thrillery as I expected it to be. I wasn’t biting my nails or wishing I could sleep with the lights on. It was a slower, more controlled mystery. Day goes on a hunt for the truth while hiding Julian in her barn in the backyard. It enjoyed reading his story and what other people had to say about him. His story never quite added up, so I wasn’t really sure I could trust him… and I wanted to slap Day for being SO trusting. He’s a wanted murder suspect! I could have done without the romance… I liked the story more before that happened, but it did add a complicated layer to things and that’s always entertaining. I was definitely eager to get to the end to see how everything turned out.

If you’re in the mood for a whodunit with a Nancy Drew-type detective, some heavier subject matter and a good dose of autumn, give this book a try!


About Laurie Faria Stolarz

Laurie Faria Stolarz grew up in Salem, MA, attended Merrimack College, and received an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston. 

Laurie Faria Stolarz is an American author of young adult fiction novels, best known for her Blue is for Nightmares series. Her works, which feature teenage protagonists, blend elements found in mystery and romance novels.

Stolarz found sales success with her first novel, Blue is for Nightmares, and followed it up with three more titles in the series, White is for Magic, Silver is for Secrets, and Red is for Remembrance, as well as a companion graphic novel, Black is for Beginnings. Stolarz is also the author of the Touch series (Deadly Little Secret, Deadly Little Lies, Deadly Little Games, Deadly Little Voices, and Deadly Little Lessons), as well as Bleed and Project 17. With more than two million books sold worldwide, Stolarz’s titles have been named on various awards list.

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Tour Schedule:

10/10: Pretty Deadly Reviews – Review
10/11: The Irish Banana Review – Q&A
10/12: A Writer Named Charley – Review
10/13: Novelgossip – Guest Post
10/14: The Worn Bookmark – Review
10/17: Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Review
10/18: Bibliobuli YA – Guest Post
10/19: That Artsy Reader Girl – Review
10/20: In Wonderland – Top 10
10/21: Stuck In Books – Review

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