Thursday, August 5, 2021

ARC Review: All the feels by Danika Stone

 


College freshman Liv is more than just a fangirl: The Starveil movies are her life… So, when her favorite character, Captain Matt Spartan, is killed off at the end of the last movie, Liv Just. Can’t. Deal.


Tired of sitting in her room sobbing, Liv decides to launch an online campaign to bring her beloved hero back to life. With the help of her best friend, Xander, actor and steampunk cosplayer extraordinaire, she creates #SpartanSurvived, a campaign to ignite the fandom. But as her online life succeeds beyond her wildest dreams, Liv is forced to balance that with the pressures of school, her mother’s disapproval, and her (mostly nonexistent and entirely traumatic) romantic life. A trip to DragonCon with Xander might be exactly what she needs to figure out what she really wants.
 

Published: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Author: Danika Stone

My review:
Thank you to NetGalley and Swoon Reads for providing me with a copy of this book to read and provide an honest review.
I've been on a contemporary kick as of late. So this book fit right in my genre feels. 
Liv is a college freshman who is obsessed with fandom, particularly that of Starveil. Given the opportunity to talk about it, live it, love it, see it, you name it, she's there. Now, I will admit, this was a bit hard for me to get into. You'd think being the book nerd I am, I'd get it. But it's just not me. So I did start this book off not truly understanding how one can be so obsessed in the way she is. Thankfully, she grows in the book and realizes there are other things more important than Starveil.
I totally got the con thing, though. I've been to a few cons and, while I wasn't a dress it up and get all into it type person, I know just what it's like to be pulled into all that goes on at one. And the way the author presents it and shows it through words is perfect. 
Liv's friend Xander is interesting. He's a bit quirky, with this penchant for being totally different: velvet jackets, linen shirts, shows with buckles. Not my type at all. But he pulls it off and I love that he's different and doesn't care what anyone things about him.
Of course a contemporary like this would not be complete with a love story. I'm not sure I truly understand the relationship between Liv and Xander at first, they are friends, but they act like more. By the end it makes sense.
I did like how the author allowed Liv to grow during the book. She makes mistakes but seems to eventually learn from them. 
Overall this was a fun read, despite the fact that it took me a bit to get into it (maybe about 50%) through. Anyone who loves fandom and cons will enjoy this read.

Danika Stone is an author, artist, and educator who discovered a passion for writing fiction while in the throes of her Masters thesis. A self-declared bibliophile, Danika now writes novels for both teens (Switchback, All the Feels and Internet Famous) and adults (Edge of Wild, The Dark Divide and Fall of Night). When not writing, Danika can be found hiking in the Rockies, planning grand adventures, and spending far too much time online. She lives with her husband, three sons, and a houseful of imaginary characters in a windy corner of Alberta, Canada.

Ms. Stone is represented by Moe Ferrara of BookEnds Literary Agency.


Friday, July 30, 2021

ARC Review: The Replacement Crush by Lisa Brown Roberts

 

True love can't be strategized.

After book blogger Vivian Galdi’s longtime crush pretends their secret summer kissing sessions never happened, Vivian creates a list of safe crushes, determined to protect her heart.

But nerd-hot Dallas, the sweet new guy in town, sends the mission and Vivian’s zing meter into chaos. While designing software for the bookstore where Vivian works, Dallas wages a counter-mission.

Operation Replacement Crush is in full effect. And Dallas is determined to take her heart off the shelf.

Published: 9/6/2016
Publisher: Entangled Teen


My Review:

Thank you to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review.

I love a cute contemporary YA love story and this one is just that. 

Vivian's heart is broken. How do you heal this? Well you make a list of boys to date that don't have the "zing" factor" who can help you get over your woes. Of course, as with any great plan, things often do not work out as you think they might. Enter Dallas "McNerd." Smart, funny, and nerdy cute, Vivian doesn't want him on her radar. But her heart and head have other ideas!

I enjoyed how the friendship unfolded between the two main characters in this book. It grew and blossomed into cute banter, funny antics, and overall caring. A slow burn, which is just how I truly like it. It shows the characters aren't going to just jump into something because they are overwhelmed by their emotions (or hormones). 

I will admit there were some slow parts of the book. And I think for a YA romance, it's a bit long. But I also think they added to the climax of the story.

The writing was fun and easy. 

I would definitely pick up another book by this author if given the chance. If you're looking for a love story that unfolds slowly where the characters are well fleshed out and the relationships are important, this is the one for you!

Lisa Brown Roberts’ award-winning YA romantic comedies have earned praise from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal.

Lisa's teenaged self tweezed off all her eyebrows, crashed a car into a tree while trying to impress a guy, and accidentally went to prom with someone else's boyfriend. When she couldn't fix any of this in real life, she made up imaginary happy endings in her diary.

Not much has changed.

Lisa lives in Colorado with her family and many, many books.

Chat with Lisa:
Twitter: @LBrownRoberts
Instagram: LisaBrownRoberts
FB: www.facebook.com/authorLisaBrownRoberts
Website: www.lisabrownroberts.com


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

ARC Review: Defy the Stars (Constellation #1) by Claudia Gray

She's a soldier - Noemi Vidal is willing to risk anything to protect her planet, Genesis, including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she's a rebel.

He's a machine - Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel's advanced programming has begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he's an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they're not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they're forced to question everything they'd been taught was true.

Fast-paced, romantic, and captivating, Defy The Stars is a story about what it means to be human, about deciding what you truly believe in, and about finding your place in a dangerous world.

My review:

Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for supplying me with a copy of this book on my Kindle to read and review.
I love sci fi. I always find it fun and entertaining. Plus, the idea of being able to be in the future, in space, is just fascinating to me. So this book really was right up my street with that.
The two points of view used by the author really offer unique insight into the universe she creates. Namoni is the human POV. She's emotional, super smart, and ready to die for her world. And most of all she's super brave. Willing to take whatever chances are needed to ensure she can keep her people safe. Abel, a mech, is just a machine. Though a sophisticated one, he's not suppose to be able to feel and have his own point of view. And yet, he does.  But you can still tell Abel is more machine than human in the way he analyzes things and how technical he is. The contrast between their two characters is fun. 
I did find the story line a bit slow. It was nice to see them travel through space, meet different people, find friends, make enemies, and work their way back to where they started. But I felt like some parts were a bit more drawn out than they needed to be.
The ending is well rounded but leaves room for future books (of which there are two). I'm not sure I feel the need to move on to the next story, But one never knows how I'll feel about reading just a bit more sci fi!


Claudia Gray is not my real name. I didn't choose a pseudonym because my real name is unpleasant (it isn't), because I'd always dreamed of calling myself this (I haven't) or even because I'm hiding from the remnants of that international diamond-smuggling cartel I smashed in 2003 (Interpol has taken care of them). In short, I took a pseudonym for no real reason whatsoever. Sometimes this is actually the best reason to do things.

I live in New Orleans. So far, in life, I've been a disc jockey, a lawyer, a journalist and an extremely bad waitress, just to name a few. I especially like to spend time traveling, hiking, reading and listening to music. More than anything else, I enjoy writing.



 

Thursday, July 15, 2021

ARC Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

 




Blurb:

If you could read my mind, you wouldn't be smiling.


Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can't turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn't help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she'd be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam's weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet's Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more "normal" than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

Published: 6/6/15
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

My Review:
I want to thank NetGalley and Little Brown Books for Young Readers for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review.
I'm always thrilled when a book about mental health is put out on the market. There are so many stigmas that go along with mental health issues, especially in the teen population, and I like to see authors delving into those subjects to shed light on the fact they exist.
Samantha has OCD. She has thoughts that invade her mind and a hard time controlling them and not acting on impulse. She has learned to deal with the thoughts through behavioral therapy but sometimes that does not seem to be enough.
Sam's group of friends do not know about her condition. And she wants to keep it that way as she feels they would not understand and may cast her out for it. Sam spends much of this book under the stress of trying to appear "perfect" because she feels without The Eights would be more harmful to her. So she keeps her secrets.
Until one day she finds an outlet: poetry.
This book had a Colleen Hoover Slammed vibe to me. The poetry group Sam finds helps her to find words to deal with her condition. This, along with her therapy she has been having for years, and her swimming, awaken in her a feeling of power and control.
Of course a YA book would not be a true contemporary without a hint of romance. Sam meets AJ through poets corner. But they have a past she can't seem to remember. When it is revealed, she is set on apologizing and winning back his trust. Of course she does more than that. I will be honest, I didn't truly need the romance in this book. I think it would have worked as a great friendship and have had the same effect. I liked AJ, but I do think he was quick to forgive and then fall for the girl that hurt him.
Overall, this was a quick read with a lot of growth and development that happened with Sam. She learns how to become her true self and also how to have more of a balance in her life not always needing to show only her perfect side to the friends she's had for years.
I will say the pace was a bit slow. I feel like Sam spent a lot of time brooding which did not lend well to show us how her condition was truly affecting her life. 
My favorite relationship was with her and her therapist. I did love how the author made that a forefront in the book and how the connection she had with is represented in a healthy light (rather than the stigma so many seem to think it is).
Coming from a healthcare background, I'm happy to see this author delve into such an issue and show the true nature of what it is like to live with a mental health disorder and how hard it is to deal with, especially as a teenager.


TAMARA IRELAND STONE spent nearly two decades in the technology industry before she began writing middle grade and young adult fiction. She feels lucky to say she's had two careers she's loved.

Her New York Times bestseller, EVERY LAST WORD, won the Cybils Young Adult Fiction Award, the Georgia Peach Book Award, and was a YALSA Teens' Top Ten pick; LITTLE DO WE KNOW won the NCIBA Golden Poppy Award for Young Adult Fiction; and her debut novel, TIME BETWEEN US, has been published in over twenty languages. The first book in her middle-grade series, CLICK'D, was a Sunshine State Young Readers Award pick, a Kids' Indie Next pick, a Cybils Award Nominee, and an NCIBA Golden Poppy nominee.

Tamara is a proud nerd, vinyl collector, and movie lover. She burns everything she cooks.

She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

ARC Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon



Blurb: 
My disease is as rare as it is famous. It’s a form of Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, but basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in fifteen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives. New next door neighbors. I look out the window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black t-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly. I want to learn everything about him, and I do. I learn that he is funny and fierce. I learn that his eyes are Atlantic Ocean-blue and that his vice is stealing silverware. I learn that when I talk to him, my whole world opens up, and I feel myself starting to change—starting to want things. To want out of my bubble. To want everything, everything the world has to offer.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Published: 9/1/15
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers


My Review:

I would like to thank NetGalley and Delacorte Books for Young Readers for the opportunity to read and review this book.
I'm not even sure how to write this review because I don't think it will truly show how much I really enjoyed this book. I had heard such good things about this book and the fact that it took me so long to read it makes me sad because I wish I would have experienced it sooner. I will admit, I read The Sun Is Also A Star before I read this one. Then I realized I had to jump into this because I loved the author's writing so very much!
It's kind of impossible not to love the main character, Madeline. At first, you're sad for her because she has been locked away her whole life without every experiencing anything. Her disease makes it impossible for her to leave the house because she's allergic to the air, yep, bubble baby syndrome! I had only ever heard about this through the movie from long ago: Boy in the Plastic Bubble. So I was excited to see how anything would possibly happen for her.
When we are introduced to her new neighbor, Olly, you know right away something big is going to happen.This brooding boy who always dresses in black is definitely going to help turn Madeline's world on end. And so it did. Some may say it was way too quick, but given Madeline's life, it's not at all surprising she would attach herself to someone other than her mother and the nurse that takes care of her.  I do not want to ruin anything with the plot, but let's just say Madeline gets to experience things with Olly you would never have though possible.
The author has a great writing style. I was never bored. As a matter of fact, I could not put the book down and read it in less than 24 hours. This didn't surprise me as I had read her other book in a similar time frame (just the day before!).
I loved the relationships Madeline has with her nurse. As a nurse, it made me remember all those connections I've made with patients in the past and how, many times, I have gone above and beyond to ensure they are happy. This is what Carla does for Madeline. But Carla shakes the world up a bit too much and Madeline's mother cannot have that as it threatens to harm her daughter (or so we are lead to believe). Madeline's mother was a little suffocating from the very onset of the book and this bothered me. I just felt she was always off, and my intuition was not wrong.
Overall, this is a quick read with a good plot and a fun story. I'm pretty sure I'll read anything this author publishes because it just gives me all the feels!


Nicola Yoon is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything and The Sun Is Also a Star. She is a National Book Award finalist, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book recipient and a Coretta Scott King New Talent Award winner. Both her novels have been made into major motion pictures. Nicola grew up in Jamaica and Brooklyn, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, novelist David Yoon, and their family.



 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

ARC Review: Tonight The Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales




Blurb:
Recklessly loyal.


That’s how seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley has always thought of herself. Caring for her loved ones is what gives Arden purpose in her life and makes her feel like she matters. But lately she’s grown resentful of everyone—including her needy best friend and her absent mom—taking her loyalty for granted.

Then Arden stumbles upon a website called Tonight the Streets Are Ours, the musings of a young New York City writer named Peter, who gives voice to feelings that Arden has never known how to express. He seems to get her in a way that no one else does, and he hasn’t even met her.

Until Arden sets out on a road trip to find him.

During one crazy night out in New York City filled with parties, dancing, and music—the type of night when anything can happen, and nearly everything does—Arden discovers that Peter isn’t exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn’t exactly who she thought she was, either.

Published: Farrar, Straus, Giroux
Publisher: 9/15/2015


My Review:

I want to thank NetGalley and Farra, Straus, and Giroux for the chance to read and review this book.

I have to say, from the blurb, I had high hopes for this book. I really wanted to like it. The blurb convinced me I would enjoy the main character. Sadly, this was not the case.

The book was very slow for me. I'm not sure if it was because it was written in third person, or because the writing just seem to trudge along, but I could not connect with the main character, Arden, at all. For me, she was whiny and self-absorbed. And I was bored with her life. Nothing exciting happened, nothing showed me she was on a journey to change and grow and become better than she was. The very beginning of the book got me off on the wrong foot with her as she takes the fall for her best friend. It's like she was letting Lindsay step all over her and use her. Yet, it was 100% her fault. This I could see as the book went on and more and more it showed Arden to be someone who thought her only happiness was doing for others. I suppose this was the lesson to be learned throughout the book.

The plot was very slow. And it wasn't a slow build, it was just slow. Not much happened and when it did, there was no "wow" moment from the characters.

The saving grace for me was the blog Arden was reading: Tonight the Street Are Ours. I was interested to see what Peter, the blogger, would write and how his story would progress.

The twist at the end with Peter, his girlfriends Bianca, and Leo was not expected and I believe that's why I was able to trudge through to the end of the book.

Overall, I was bored during this book. It did pick up for me for about the last 10%. I'm surprised I stuck with it as long as I did. I guess I was hoping it would get better for me, which did not turn out to be the case.

Sorry to say this just was not for me. If other Sales books are written in similar fashion, I'm not sure I'd want to read more of her stories.

Leila Sales was born in 1984 and grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in psychology in 2006. Now she lives in Brooklyn, New York, and works in the mostly glamorous world of children's book publishing. Leila spends most of her time thinking about sleeping, kittens, dance parties, and stories that she wants to write.


Thursday, July 8, 2021

ARC Review: The Color of Dragons by R.A. Salvatore and Erika Lewis

 


A sweeping, action-packed, romantic pre-Arthurian tale of the origins of magic (and Merlin) by powerhouse adult fantasy author R. A. Salvatore and Erika Lewis, perfect for fans of The Falling Kingdoms and Seraphina

Magic needs a spark.

And Maggie’s powers are especially fickle. With no one to help her learn to control her magic, the life debt that she owes stretches eternally over her head, with no way to repay it.

Until she meets Griffin, the king’s champion infamous for hunting down the draignochs that plague their kingdom.

Neither has any idea of the destiny that they both carry, or that their meeting will set off a chain of events that will alter every aspect of the life they know—and all of history thereafter.

Perfect for fans of Goldenhand and The Girl of Fire and Thorns, this epic, romantic tale from New York Times bestselling author R. A. Salvatore and debut author Erika Lewis will enchant readers and draw them into a thrilling world of star-crossed lovers, magic, destiny, and the paths we choose.
 

Author: R.A. Salvatore & Erika Lewis
Publisher: HarperTeen
Expected Publication Date: 10/19/21

My Review:

I want to thank NetGalley and HarperTeen for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review.

This story is told from alternating points of view: Maggie and Griffin. A story of magic unveiled where it was never thought to be. I wasn't a fan of the first person to third person transition. I actually found it hard to focus at first and had to back track a bit to get the feel of the different POVs.

I enjoyed the light romance of the characters. It was nice to not have hot and heavy romance overpower the story itself.

The world building was a bit lacking for me but overall I could picture it in my mind. I like how the author divided the "good" and "evil" by their place of residence.

The magic was interesting as it tied in with the moon. I've not seen such a tie before so it was definitely intriguing and made the story a bit more interesting. I also love the idea of dragons and how they are portrayed in this book. I did get a Game of Thrones feel from that aspect.

The book felt a bit rushed in many places. Like the author could not bother to tell the full story in fear of making the book too long. And the ending was much too quick for me, leaving me guessing what would happen. I needed more of a wrap up.

Overall it's a fun and easy adventure I can see older middle schoolers enjoying. 


RA Slavatore: 

As one of the fantasy genre’s most successful authors, R.A. Salvatore enjoys an ever-expanding and tremendously loyal following. His books regularly appear on The New York Times best-seller lists and have sold more than 10,000,000 copies. Salvatore’s original hardcover, The Two Swords, Book III of The Hunter’s Blade Trilogy (October 2004) debuted at # 1 on The Wall Street Journal best-seller list and at # 4 on The New York Times best-seller list. His books have been translated into numerous foreign languages including German, Italian, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Turkish, Croatian, Bulgarian, Yiddish, Spanish, Russian, Polish, Portuguese, Czech, and French.

Salvatore’s first published novel, The Crystal Shard from TSR in 1988, became the first volume of the acclaimed Icewind Dale Trilogy and introduced an enormously popular character, the dark elf Drizzt Do’Urden. Since that time, Salvatore has published numerous novels for each of his signature multi-volume series including The Dark Elf Trilogy, Paths of Darkness, The Hunter’s Blades Trilogy, and The Cleric Quintet.

His love affair with fantasy, and with literature in general, began during his sophomore year of college when he was given a copy of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings as a Christmas gift. He promptly changed his major from computerscience to journalism. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Communications from Fitchburg State College in 1981, then returned for the degree he always cherished, the Bachelor of Arts in English. He began writing seriously in 1982, penning the manuscript that would become Echoes of the Fourth Magic. Salvatore held many jobs during those first years as a writer, finally settling in (much to our delight) to write full time in 1990.

The R.A. Salvatore Collection has been established at his alma mater, Fitchburg State College in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, containing the writer’s letters, manuscripts, and other professional papers. He is in good company, as The Salvatore Collection is situated alongside The Robert Cormier Library, which celebrates the writing career of the co-alum and esteemed author of young adult books.

Salvatore is an active member of his community and is on the board of trustees at the local library in Leominster, Massachusetts. He has participated in several American Library Association regional conferences, giving talks on themes including “Adventure fantasy” and “Why young adults read fantasy.” Salvatore himself enjoys a broad range of literary writers including James Joyce, Mark Twain, Geoffrey Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dante, and Sartre. He counts among his favorite genre literary influences Ian Fleming, Arthur Conan Doyle, Fritz Leiber, and of course, J.R.R. Tolkien.

Born in 1959, Salvatore is a native of Massachusetts and resides there with his wife Diane, and their three children, Bryan, Geno, and Caitlin. The family pets include three Japanese Chins, Oliver, Artemis and Ivan, and four cats including Guenhwyvar.

When he isn't writing, Salvatore chases after his three Japanese Chins, takes long walks, hits the gym, and coaches/plays on a fun-league softball team that includes most of his family. His gaming group still meets on Sundays to play.

Erika Lewis:



Tuesday, June 1, 2021

ARC Review: The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith


The Last Magician meets The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy in this thrilling and atmospheric historical fantasy following a young woman who discovers she has magical powers and is thrust into a battle between witches and wizards.

In 1911 New York City, seventeen-year-old Frances Hallowell spends her days as a seamstress, mourning the mysterious death of her brother months prior. Everything changes when she’s attacked and a man ends up dead at her feet—her scissors in his neck, and she can’t explain how they got there.

Before she can be condemned as a murderess, two cape-wearing nurses arrive to inform her she is deathly ill and ordered to report to Haxahaven Sanitarium. But Frances finds Haxahaven isn’t a sanitarium at all: it’s a school for witches. Within Haxahaven’s glittering walls, Frances finds the sisterhood she craves, but the headmistress warns Frances that magic is dangerous. Frances has no interest in the small, safe magic of her school, and is instead enchanted by Finn, a boy with magic himself who appears in her dreams and tells her he can teach her all she’s been craving to learn, lessons that may bring her closer to discovering what truly happened to her brother.

Frances’s newfound power attracts the attention of the leader of an ancient order who yearns for magical control of Manhattan. And who will stop at nothing to have Frances by his side. Frances must ultimately choose what matters more, justice for her murdered brother and her growing feelings for Finn, or the safety of her city and fellow witches. What price would she pay for power, and what if the truth is more terrible than she ever imagined?

Expected publication date: August 31st 2021
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers


Review:

Thank you NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers for providing me with an advanced copy of this book to read and review.
I love witches. Harry Potter is my all time favorite series and the only one I would read over and over again without ever regretting it. A chance to read a book about witches had me itching to jump right in and turn the pages to see what happens.
First, I love the time period this is set in. Whenever I read books set in the early 1900s, I"m always reminded of learning about this time period in school and all the possibilities that existed. But I'm also reminded of the terrible living conditions some had and how living was often minute to minute in the hopes you'd survive.
If you're thinking historical fantasy, though, I"m not quite sure it will meet those expectations. The book starts out immersing you in that time period, but over the course of the story I feel as if it lost that historical feeling and became more of just a story of who done it, I was hoping for that Sherlock Holmes type feel, but it just did not deliver.
The main character starts out as truly likeable. This continued throughout the story, though the build up of her becoming more in tune with her magic wasn't what I would have wanted it to be. Things were too quick to happen and there were more inconsistencies in plot than I would have liked. A perfect example is the strict rules that are set at Haxhaven that the girls can so easily run around. 
The magic infused in this story is interesting. I would have liked a more complete explanation of it, but it served its purpose
I'm not sure if the author intends to write more to this story, but I can see where the ending would lead you to that.
Overall my expectations for this particular book were not met. It was fun, and enough of a page turner that I wanted to keep going to see what happened at the end, but I was really expecting to be more enthralled given the content and summary. As a debut novel, I do see much potential from this author for future books and would definitely add them to my TBR!
Would definitely recommend as a middle/upper middle grade read for those who like a magical element in their books.


Sasha Peyton Smith grew up in the mountains of Utah surrounded by siblings, books, and one very old cat. She attended the University of Utah and the George Washington University where she studied biology and public health. She is not a witch, though she does own a lot of crystals and always knows what phase the moon is in. She currently lives in Washington D.C. with her partner and collection of porcelain hands. Her debut novel is THE WITCH HAVEN, coming fall 2021 with Simon and Schuster


 

Thursday, May 20, 2021

ARC Review: Spells Trouble (Sisters of Salem #1) by P.C. & Kristin Cast

Double double, twins spell trouble…

Hunter and Mercy Goode are twin witches, direct descendants of the founder of their town of Goodeville. As their ancestors have done before them, it is now time for the twins to learn what it means to be Gatekeepers–the protectors of the Gates to different underworlds, ancient portals between their world and realms where mythology rules and nightmares come to life.

When their mother becomes the first victim in a string of murders, the devastated sisters vow to avenge her death. But it will take more than magic to rein in the ancient mythological monsters who’ve infected their peaceful town.

Now Hunter and Mercy must come together and accept their destiny or risk being separated for good.

Author: P.C. & Kristin Cast
Publisher: St Marin's Press (Wednesday Books)
Expected Publication Date: May 25, 2021

My review:

Thank you to NetGalley and St Martin's press for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review.
This was my first book by these authors. I have heard good things about the writing and wanted to give it a try.
While I loved what the story line represented, I honestly was not thrilled with the writing. I think my biggest gripe was that one of the characters, who is not British, used many British colloquialisms. Couple that with her being a twin, living with her sister in the USA and it just annoyed me.
Overall I liked the theme. Witches are fun to read about. Though their powers in this book really do rely on spells overall, so it was a bit different for me.. I do feel like there could have been more explanation of each tree, more background about what they truly represent. Perhaps in the following books there will be more background.
The third person was a bit hard to follow at first. I had a hard time figuring out which twin was talking sometimes. I did like that their personalities were very distinct.
The writing seemed a bit off to me and definitely did not feel like YA but more like middle grade. There were times I thought it would pick up. The bones of a story were buried there, I thought I would start to love it, but I did not. I felt like there was a disconnect in many areas, perhaps because it's two authors writing together. I'm not sure if this is how their writing normally is.
The whole time I was reading I felt like I had fell into the middle of a series. Like there was some background I was missing. I kept going back to Goodreads to see if there was something I missed about a tie in series.
Overall it wasn't really for me. I"m sure fans of these authors will adore it. But I don't see myself moving on for another shot at liking the next book in the series.


PC was born in the Midwest, and grew up being shuttled back-and-forth between Illinois and Oklahoma, which is where she fell in love with Quarter Horses and mythology (at about the same time). After high school, she joined the United States Air Force and began public speaking and writing. After her tour in the USAF, she taught high school for 15 years before retiring to write full time. PC is a #1 New York Times and #1 USA Today Best-Selling author and a member of the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame. Her novels have been awarded the prestigious: Oklahoma Book Award, YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Prism, Holt Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, Booksellers’ Best, and the Laurel Wreath. PC is an experienced teacher and talented speaker. Ms. Cast lives in Oregon near her fabulous daughter, her adorable pack of dogs, her crazy Maine Coon, and a bunch of horses. House of Night Other World, book 4, FOUND, releases July 7th, 2020. More info to come soon about the HoN TV series!

Kristin is a #1 New York Times and #1 USA Today bestselling author who was born on an Air Force base in Japan and grew up in Oklahoma where she explored everything from tattoo modeling to broadcast journalism. After battling addiction, Kristin made her way to the Pacific Northwest and landed in Portland. She rediscovered her passion for storytelling in the stacks at dusty bookstores and in rickety chairs in old coffeehouses. For as long as she can remember, Kristin’s been telling stories. Thankfully, she’s been writing them down since 2005.





 

Thursday, May 6, 2021

ARC Review: Sunkissed by Kasie West

 

A lighthearted and swoony contemporary YA romance by fan-favorite author Kasie West about a girl who finds that a summer spent at a family resort isn’t as bad as she imagined…and that falling in love is filled with heartache, laughter, and surprises!

After being betrayed by her best friend, Avery is hoping for a picture-perfect summer. Too bad her parents have dragged her and her sister to a remote family camp for the entire summer. And that’s not even the worst part. Avery also has to deal with no internet, a cute but off-limits staff member, and an always-in-her-face sister.

But what starts as a disaster turns into a whirlwind summer romance as Avery embarks on an unexpected journey to figure out what she truly wants and who she wants to be.

Published: May 4, 2021
Publisher: Delacorte Press

My Review:

Thank you to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for the advanced copy of this book to read and review.

I'm always excited to read a Kasie West romance. I'm never disappointed with her themes and I always get easily pulled into the story and become invested in the characters.

Are you a Dirty Dancing fan? Love the campy atmosphere it brought with the "forbidden" love? Then you're gonna really like this one.

Avery, recently single, is carted away with her family for a summer of fun, lake, and activities at family camp. Determined to pull herself out of her funk, she decides to try and break out of her shell. But doing so could cost Brooks, a camp employee, his job! No fraternizing between employees and guests, or even between employees, is the rule. But Brooks and Avery find their chemistry on stage singing as a band can't be ignored.

Avery is a cute character. A little quirky, a little shy, a little down on herself. She is your quintessential 17 year old who needs is trying to fit in and find her way. She's realistic with her reactions to events and happenings. Just what you think a 17 year old at family camp might be. 

Brooks has his own baggage. But he's not wanting to let that get in the way of his want to become a musician. He's a bit broody, which seems to draw Avery to him.

I think my favorite thing about this book is it's setting: who doesn't love that Dirty Dancing vibe? Guests cabins separated from the employees. Avery sneaking off to meet up with Brooks and other employees she befriends. Her family none the wiser until it's "too late". It definitely brought me back to watching Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray dance around and have fun while falling in love.

If you're looking for a cute, easy read while you lounge at the beach or pool this summer, pick this one up.

I write YA. I eat Junior Mints. Sometimes I go crazy and do both at the same time. My novels are: PIVOT POINT and its sequel SPLIT SECOND. And my contemporary novels: THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, ON THE FENCE, THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND, PS I LIKE YOU, BY YOUR SIDE, LUCKY IN LOVE, LOVE LIFE and the LIST, LISTEN TO YOUR HEART, FAME FATE and the FIRST KISS, MAYBE THIS TIME, and MOMENT OF TRUTH. My agent is the talented and funny Michelle Wolfson.




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