Tag Archive | 4.5 Stars

REVIEW: It Started With Goodbye by Christina June + Recipe Link

Wow, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve had a chance to post a review. Sorry about that! I am woefully behind. I’m actually feeling like I might need to take a brief reading break, both to give my brain a break and to give myself time to post my backlog of reviews. (Maybe it’ll help me focus on my Super Secret Group Project Short Story too…)

Anyway, anyone who knows me knows that I have a problem with going to bed at a decent time. My FitBit tells me to start getting ready for bed every night at 11pm. And there I am at 2 am saying, “Just one more chapter!”

This past week I’ve been working really hard to fight my bad habits though. I managed to go to sleep at a semi-normal hour like a real grown up. (Except for the night I had to be at work until 12:30 am.) Fingers crossed I can keep this up and establish a good routine!

Also new this week? I tried a new recipe, using an ingredient I hate (Balsamic Vinegar) and ended up loving it! WHO KNEW!

You can check out the recipe for Honey Balsamic Chicken Breasts and Veggies on DamnDelicious.net (1o year old LOVED the chicken, and liked the asparagus and potatoes. She wouldn’t eat more than a bite of the rest. 5 year old LOVED the potatoes, tolerated the chicken, and wouldn’t touch the rest. Husband said I put in too many tomatoes – which were one of my favorite parts of the recipe!)

We’ll definitely make this again. I added the red bell pepper for extra color (it was on sale). This was my first time cooking asparagus and I think it turned out pretty well. The Husband was shocked at how big (fat) the asparagus was…. but I’ve only ever eaten it once before so I didn’t even realize it was huge until looking back at the original recipe’s photos! Oh well, it was tasty!

Without further ado, enjoy today’s book review!


It Started With Goodbye by Christina June

Read: March 2 – March 7, 2017

Format: eBook ARC

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: Blink/HarperCollins

Release Date: May 9, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary

Pages: 304

Reading Challenge(s): Retellings 2017, 2017 YA

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

It Started With Goodbye is a charming, modern adaptation of Cinderella. When sixteen-year-old Tatum finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, she ends up arrested and sentenced to a summer of community service and a hefty fine. Shortly thereafter her father leaves on a business trip, leaving poor Tatum alone with her overbearing and impossible-to-please stepmother and her perfect step-sister, Tilly.

Worst. Summer. Ever.

Or is it?

Despite being forced into manual labor and iced out by her bff, Tatum finds new friends and learns a lot about her family, friendships, and herself over the summer. With the encouragement of her “fairy godmother” (aka her stepmother’s mom), she starts a secret online design business. And begins flirting online with a client, her very own prince charming.

I loved the dialogue in this book. I would love to hang out with Tatum. I loved all of the characters actually, I thought they were very well rounded. The “evil stepmother” wasn’t really evil, she always meant well and just didn’t see eye to eye with Tatum. Neither of them communicated with each other very well. I loved the “fairy godmother”, she was a real gem, offering just the right advice when Tatum needed it. I even loved Tilly, the step-sister—the perfect daughter—who Tatum comes to realize maybe isn’t all that bad after all.

I’m not sure this is a book that will stay with me forever, but I truly enjoyed this story and the characters and would absolutely recommend it for fans of young adult fiction, and especially modern fairy tale retellings.


Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

I stared blankly at him, still trying to process what he was saying. My head was spinning, and it sounded like he was speaking Greek while his cheeks were stuffed full of mashed potatoes.

“Yes, I know exactly what I’ve done. And that would be a big fat nothing wrong. The only thing I’m guilty of is trying to protect my friend from her sketchy boyfriend, and failing. No, I didn’t know he was going to steal that stuff. No, I didn’t help him. My plan was to go to Mason’s, buy some pencils, maybe help Ashlyn pick out some nail polish, and come home. Contrary to popular belief, a field trip to our city’s finest was not on my agenda today. So can everyone please calm down?”

None of them had on eyeliner or showed bare knees, two things every parent knew were gateways into delinquency.

“My leprechaun actually got deported. He brought illegal “items” into the country when he arrived, and DHS sent him right back. Such a shame.”

Abby’s sympathetic face was on, and she looked itchy to give me a hug, but also wary, like she was afraid that if she touched me, I might cry or break or punch her. Maybe all three.

Sometimes I was rage. Sometimes I wallowed. Most of the time, though, I felt defeated.

I sucked in a breath. Flirting in person was so much better than over the internet.

 

REVIEW: The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianna Baer

The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianna Baer

Read: December 21-28, 2016

Format: ARC Kindle Book

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: Abrams / Amulet Books

Release Date: April 4, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary / Magical Realism

Pages: 384

Challenges: 2017 YA

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Quinn Cutler is sixteen and the daughter of a high-profile Brooklyn politician. She’s also pregnant, a crisis made infinitely more shocking by the fact that she has no memory of ever having sex. Before Quinn can solve this deeply troubling mystery, her story becomes public. Rumors spread, jeopardizing her reputation, her relationship with a boyfriend she adores, and her father’s campaign for Congress. Religious fanatics gather at the Cutlers’ home, believing Quinn is a virgin, pregnant with the next messiah. Quinn’s desperate search for answers uncovers lies and family secrets—strange, possibly supernatural ones. Might she, in fact, be a virgin?


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I acquired an ARC of this book from NetGalley and read it pretty quickly. The cover was what first attracted me to this book.  It’s just so… pretty with the blues and pinks and stars. I love the text and the imagery (which is entirely appropriate for the story) and… everything. The second thing that hooked me was the story concept, teen girl is pregnant… but she’s also the the daughter of a politician. I wanted to see how this drama unfolded. And honestly, it was not at all what I expected.

This is kind of an odd book. Not odd bad, just… hard to put my finger on how exactly to describe it.

16 year old Quinn is pregnant and has no recollection of ever having had sex. Sure, she’s messed around with her boyfriend, but nothing that could result in a baby! But there she was, pregnant.

This book follows Quinn throughout the nine months of her pregnancy while she tries to figure out when and how she ended up pregnant. She’s convinced it was rape and she has blocked any memory of the event. Until she discovers a secret about her grandmother.

I seriously can’t say much else about what happens without spoiling the story! I can say that I could not put this book down. I devoured it. I needed to know what happened next. At 76% I updated my reading progress on Goodreads with: “I still have no clue where this is going! And I’m loving it!” and my final thoughts were: “Wow! What a beautiful book.”

The only negative I have about this one aren’t really negatives about the story, just personal hatred for Quinn’s father. He just rubbed me the wrong way. I liked the rest of the family, but her dad is kind of a jerk.

So, I guess I’ll just tell you to give this book a chance and go into it with an open mind and be prepared for ambiguity.



Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

 “But I’m not lying. I don’t know how it happened! How am I supposed to figure it out if I’m telling the truth and none of you want to hear it?”

“…but I wanted to mention that my daughter had . . . an active imagination when she was younger. If she says anything that seems upsetting or unusual, please let me know . . .”

Because something was wrong, and if she could figure it out, maybe she could help.
Maybe she could save her.

If she hadn’t happened to go to the doctor, would she have been one of those girls who went all nine months without knowing? Because, clearly, there was something really wrong with her.

“…But you realize my boys would have to be superheroes? Like, wearing tiny little capes and doing impossible things.”

The words crept under her skin and stayed there, crawling around like maggots. And what other things had people said? What else did they think about her and her baby? The curiosity worked up into a frenzy inside of her. She didn’t care if the people were insane. She needed to know what they were saying.

Too many questions.
All she wanted was for someone to give her the answers.

“Seriously?” Jesse said, breaking into a jog. “You get to be friends with the ocean, and I get a pigeon?” 

 

REVIEW: Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Series: White Rabbit Chronicles #1

Read: March 9 – 13, 2017

Format: Kindle

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Release Date: September 25, 2012

Genre: YA Paranormal

Pages: 416

Reading Challenge(s): TBR 2017, Beat The Backlist 2017, 2017 YA, Retellings 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

If anyone had told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real.

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies.


REVIEW

I can’t remember where I first heard about this book, but from the moment I saw the cover I was in love. It sat on my TBR list for a few months, then I received a sale alert email and it was only 99 cents. You can bet I pounced on that one! The book sat there on my Kindle, alone and neglected, for almost 10 months before I finally decided that this would be a good choice to dig into my backlist with and earn some points for Hufflepuff in the Beat the Backlist 2017 challenge.

Let me tell you, this was $1.07 (after tax) well spent.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t in love with the beginning of this book. It was slow to start and felt very info dumpy. Then Kat showed up and the story picked up pace. The narration sort of glossed over Ali dealing with the aftermath of her family’s death, but it was done in a way that worked, so that we weren’t bogged down with her depression before the meat of the story were revealed.

I loved the characters in this book. Kat is absolutely over the top and amazing. She reminds me a little of Janice from Mean Girls. The other girls in her posse were sort of forgettable, their personalities overshadowed by the more important characters. Cole was an utter ass most of the time, but I still found him absolutely charming. I was intrigued by the strange connection he and Ali share. The clues about their connection that are dropped later in the book really make me want to continue this series.

There is definitely a Twilight vibe to this book, but it’s not a bad thing. Unlike Bella who needs someone to save her most of the time, Ali is a totally kick ass chick she doesn’t really need someone to save her, but will accept the help.

I absolutely loved this world that Gena Showalter has created. Zombie’s that can only be seen by a special group of people? Because they’re on the spiritual plane? Um, yes please! This whole world is so unique and creative, I want to know more. And to add a secondary baddie for Ali to have to fight on top of the zombies? Perfection!

I feel the need to add that this isn’t a traditional retelling of Alice in Wonderland. I’m actually not an Alice fan, so this was perfect for me. There were certainly parallels to the classic tale though, so I would still consider this a retelling – though a very loose one.

 

So, should you read this book? If you’re looking for a YA book featuring a kick ass heroine, a steamy bad boy love interest, a completely new and unique spin on zombies, AND a satisfying ending that still leaves the door open for more books in the series, then YES. This is the book for you.



Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

 

The forced incarceration at night drove me to spend as much time as possible outside during daylight hours, whether I burned to lobster-red or not.

 

A scream ripped from my throat, followed right on the heels of another and another. I lost track of everything around me, clutched my ears to stop from hearing the utter horror in my voice, and fell to my knees.

 

My thinking on the matter: Mr. Buttle—whom I would forever call Mr. Butthole—was on a power trip, but whatever.

 

“When she and Cole get married in a beautiful prison ceremony, because we all know that’s where Cole will be, she’ll be able to help your cause.”

 

“Have you ever been in a fight?” With his free hand, he pinched a lock of my hair and rubbed the strands together. “Because you look like something out of a fairy tale.”

“The wicked witch?” I couldn’t help but ask.
“Please. The princess.”

 

She battered her lashes at me and lowered her voice to a smoky rasp. “Cole, you big strong minimal. I know the boogeyman thinks you’ll jump out of his closet, but I think you’re—Hey, are you listening to our private conversation, Marcus?” she ended in a shout. “Yeah, that’s right. Run.”

 

Someone so egotistical shouldn’t have been so charming. But then, I loved Kat, so there you go.

 

Because I hadn’t been on an evening drive since the accident, and couldn’t help but clutch the seat, my stomach a writing vomit bubble ready to burst.

 

He’d be doing the world a favor if he never wore a shirt again, but I wasn’t going to tell him that part.

REVIEW: Hazel’s Promise by Emily Larkin

Hazel’s Promise by Emily Larkin

Series: The Fey Quartet #2

Read: September 1-14, 2016

Format: Print Book

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Genre: Fantasy Romance

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

A lighthearted and magical tale of adventure, true love, and disguises.

Hazel Miller gave her heart to a man who went off to earn his fortune, but he’s been gone longer than she thought he would. A lot longer.

Dressed as a boy, Hazel sets out to find her lover, but the roads of Medieval England are fraught with peril. When a ragged stranger risks his life to protect her, how can she refuse his company?

Hazel’s quest is about to get complicated—and at its end, she may discover that her true love isn’t the man she has waited ten years for.

This is Hazel’s tale.


REVIEW

I received a free copy of this book via Goodreads First Reads.

 

At only 74 pages, I had some reservations about this novella. I often find that authors can’t develop realistic characters that the reader can understand and identify with. That was not the case with Hazel’s promise.

On his way back to the isolated village in which he lives, Tam passes a young man on his way out. Upon second glance, he realizes the young man is actually a young woman in disguise. Despite longing to arrive home, he turns his cart around and follows her.

The young woman is Hazel, who has just received a wish granted by the faeries. When she was just a young girl she fell hard for a nam named Drewet. He promised to come back for her, once he’d made his fortune away from their little village in Dapple Valley. But Drewet never came back. Using her faeries wish, Hazel is able to locate him and sets off to find him. This is when she meets Tam.

Tam proclaims himself Hazel’s chaperone and accompanies her the rest of the way to Drewet. Along the way they get to know one another and their chemistry is hard to deny. As predicted, by the end of the book Hazel has given up on Drewet and realizes she’s fallen in love with Tam.

I liked the characters in this story. Tam is kind and chivalrous. He isn’t described as being exceedingly good looking, but that doesn’t matter to Hazel because his personality shines. Meanwhile Hazel is quite pretty, at least in the eyes of Tam. She’s also headstrong and determined. When she makes a promise, she keeps it. She’s loyal to a fault and a little naive.

The charming way in which this book is written, it feels like it’s aimed at a younger audience, however some of the content is definitely not. It’s by no means erotica, but there are a couple spicy scenes.

In the end, this little story left me with a smile. I would gladly read the rest of this quartet. And at only 99 cents a pop, I may just do that.



Get the Truthsong here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

 

“The debt you owe is much smaller than you think, Hazel Miller…” The smile became speculative. “I slew your dragons; I would be content with a kiss.”

 

“I’d rather live in a one-roomed cottage with you than a manor house with any other man.”

 

REVIEW: Fifteen Lanes by S. J. Laidlaw

Fifteen Lanes by S. J. LaidlawFifteen Lanes by S. J. Laidlaw

Read: March 31 – April 4, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Genre: YA Contemporary

 

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

When I requested this book from NetGalley, I’m not really sure what I was thinking. I like a certain type of book and I don’t often deviate. When I deviate, I usually end up disappointed. So, while I have no clue what made me think I’d enjoy this book, I’m glad I clicked the REQUEST button, because this book will stay with me for a very long time.

 

“There is a whole world of possibilities beyond our fifteen lanes”

Fifteen Lanes is a story of two girls in India, told in dual perspectives. Noor is a a young teen girl living in a brothel in the slums of India. Her mother is a sex worker and she knows it’s only time before she herself is sold off into the sex trade. Until then, she attends a school where nobody knows her true identity, and she cares for her younger sister and brother. She dares to dream that maybe someday she can escape this life and rent a room for herself, her mother, her siblings, and all of her friends who are slaves to the brothel.

Meanwhile, across town, there’s fifteen year old rich, white girl, Grace. She has problems of her own when she becomes the victim of malicious bullying. Her problems may not be as bad as Noor’s, but we all have our limits, and Grace has reached hers.

 

Can two girls from two completely different worlds save each other?

Side by side Noor and Grace are night and day. They live in completely different worlds and are going through completely different ordeals, but together they form a friendship. I wish the book had given more time to develop their friendship, as they met after the 50% point in the book and probably only saw each other on two separate occasions before the books climax.

You would think that Grace, who has never gone hungry, never slept on the streets, would be the stronger of the girls, but it’s Noor. Noor has been through hell, it’s all she knows. Of the two, she is the strongest and in the end, they have to save each other.

 

I think the book could have worked (possibly better?) just telling Noor’s side of the story, however giving the reader Grace’s POV may help some readers who are either unable to identify with Noor, or hesitant to even start the book because they’re afraid to dive into a culture so different from their own.

Remember when I said that I read what I know I’ll like, and I’m not sure why I requested this book?

I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to identify with Noor, being that she’s from the slums of a third world country and I’m middle class American. I was wrong, she was so easy to empathize with. That in itself is a true testament to an authors abilities.

I was afraid that the subject matter would be too dark—and it is—but the way the book is written, it doesn’t feel so dark. That’s not to say the author sugar coats things, she simply gives as much detail about the horrors of Noor’s world as a young reader needs. I cried more than once reading this book and I know if the author had chosen to go darker with more details, I would not have been able to finish, and I would not have been able to expand my world view via this book.

 

I would love to see Fifteen Lanes in schools. This book sheds a whole new light on #firstworldproblems. This book makes me want to do more for the world.

 

To sum it all up, my final status update for this book on Goodreads when I reached the end: In tears. Wow.

REVIEW: Lastland by A. R. Ivanovich

You guys, my NetGalley reading list is OUT. OF. CONTROL!

I wish I could say that by finishing Lastland last night, my list is growing smaller…. but alas, I was just approved the other day for the third book in the Black Blade series by Jennifer Estep.

Oops?

My husband says, “Just stop requesting new books until you catch up!”

Ha! Like it’s that easy! Whose with me here? Reading is an addiction. There are so many great books out there, I don’t want to miss any of them!

Tell me in the comments, is your TBR list as out of control as mine?


Lastland by A. R. Ivanovich
Series: War of Princes #4
Read: March 2 – 29, 2016
Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)
My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy / Steampunk

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Okay, if you haven’t read The War of the Princes series yet, you are MISSING. OUT.
We’ve got a fantasy world like our own, hidden within another fantasy world.
We’ve got a driven, relatable, female heroine.
We’ve got the tortured love interest.
And a whole slew of other amazing characters.
There are twists. There are turns. People we’ve come to love die—it’s a war, remember?—but others live.

Lastland is the final book in the series. While book 1, Haven, remains my favorite of the series, Lastland is jam-packed with feels.

The War of the Princes has raged for hundreds of years, and Katelyn and crew will do everything they can to save her homeland of Haven and finally bring down Prince Raserion.

After four books I feel like I’ve come to really know these characters—Katelyn and Rune, Kyle and Dylan and Ruby, and so on—so a satisfying ending had to happen for me. I expected nothing less, and Ivanovich delivered. There were moments I wanted to throw my Kindle across the room. Moments I wanted to yell. Moments I wanted to hug the characters. I felt a whole range of emotions.

So now you’re thinking, if you loved it so much, why are you only giving it 4.5 stars? The answer to that is simple, I don’t really like military/war books. This series, despite the title, didn’t start out that way, but it sure ended that way. We’re talking epic battles of war. There were a couple times in the book where I just wanted to get on with things because I was growing bored with the war, and then Ivanovich would throw in a plot twist. This author knows how to hold a reader, even as I was starting to wonder about this book, she always pulled me right back in. And in the end, I leave Lastland with peace, glad to have had the chance to visit this world and meet these amazing characters.

Bonus: There was a plot twist from book 3, Monarch, which I had completely forgotten about due to the length of time between reading this book and that, which the author didn’t forget about, because she tied the loose ends in this book. We also get to find out what really started the war, which leads me to something I love about villains. Well written villains always have a realistic backstory—Well, realistic in the realm of the world in which the book takes place anyway!—and this book is no different. In the end, I felt a little bad for Raserion.

Long story short: This is a must read series I will continue to recommend!

REVIEW: Kernel of Truth by Kristi Abbott

No Tidy Up Tuesday today. I’ve been slacking. I have done little things here and there, like putting books on a shelf that were piled in front of it, but nothing worth blogging about. Hopefully soon I’ll find the motivation to dive into a bigger tidying project and really work to get this done!

I have been getting editing done on my teen vampire/witch novel (tentatively titled Blood & Magic) and hope to be done with the third draft soon. This is a story that began in my head back in 2008, was first drafted during NaNoWriMo in 2013, and has been somewhat neglected ever since. 🙁 This project is my baby though, and I intend to give it my all before I release her to the world.

I did finish a fabulous book last night though. This is one of the ARC’s I won from Goodreads First To Read and I’m absolutely stoked to share it with you all. So, read on!


I’m not crazy about the cover, but it’s appropriate.

Kernel of Truth by Kristi Abbott
Series: Popcorn Shop Mystery #1
Read: March 3-7, 2016
Format: Print Book ARC (Goodreads First To Read)
My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars
Genre: Cozy Mystery

I received an ARC of this book from Goodreads First To Read and Penguin Random House, Berkley Prime Crime.

I loved this book from page one.

“The caramel sauce was almost three hundred and fifty degrees when the screaming started.

I wasn’t proud that my first instinct was to ignore it. The screaming that is, not the sauce.” (Page 1)

I don’t think I’ve ever actually read a cozy mystery before, but if they’re all like this book, sign me up!

Rebecca Anderson is home again. After her rebellious teen years after her parents death, she ran away to California to attend a culinary arts school. There she met the infamous Antoine, fell in love, and got married. Eleven years later she’s divorced and, with the help of her beloved mentor Coco, has started her own gourmet popcorn shop, called POPS, on main street in her small town. Things are looking up for Rebecca, until Coco is found dead in her shop, Cocoa’s Coco, next door to POPS. Rebecca and Coco had plans to start a joint business venture together.


The cast of characters in this book is great. There’s Rebecca of course, who always seems to find her way into trouble. Dan, Rebecca’s best friend since forever and the town sheriff, who also happens to be married to Rebecca’s sister Haley. There’s Jessica, Coco’s niece, who has hated Rebecca since forever. We can’t forget Allen, the skeevy mayor who has his sights set on owning Coco’s storefront property. There’s Annie, another store owner on main street and close friend of Rebecca’s. Plus Jasper and Tom, a couple of panhandlers. Garrett is new to town, he’s Dan’s college friend and a lawyer. And Sprocket, Rebecca’s dog, who is practically human in his mannerisms.

Page 262

Page 262

I love character driven stories, and this was absolutely a character driven story. Every character was brought to life and had flaws and quirks that made them real. I want to live in this small town! I figured out who did it early on, though there were some red herrings thrown in. Even though I knew who did it and was waiting for the big reveal, I enjoyed every second of this story.

My only complaint is that at times the writing was overly simplistic, and I feel there should have been more commas used, but once I got over that and into the story I had a really hard time putting it down. Just one more chapter would turn into three more chapters. Before I knew it, my midnight bedtime had turned into 2 am.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! Will I read the next book in the series? Most likely!

REVIEW: Remembrance by Meg Cabot (A Mediator Novel)

I apologize for not posting a review in some time. I’ve been keeping very busy with my work over at Melange Books, Satin Romance & Fire and Ice YA Books. Keeping up with the web design, cover design, and releases is a lot of work!

To add to my list of excuses, I had to take some time to binge re-read all six of the original Mediator YA novels by Meg Cabot, so that I could read the new NA novel, Remembrance, which I’ll be reviewing today!


 

I’m only slightly annoyed that the new book is taller than my copies of the original books and won’t line up perfectly on the shelf.

 

Remembrance by Meg Cabot
Series: Mediator #7
Read: Feb 10-11, 2016
Format: Paperback
My Book Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Genre: Contemporary New Adult Paranormal Romance

This book. THIS BOOK! So many FEELS!

Okay, so about 6 or 7 years ago my mother-in-law told me about this series of books by Meg Cabot called The Mediator. At that point in time I don’t think I’d ever read a Meg Cabot book, though I’d seen the Princess Diaries movies and LOVED them. So she loaned me the books… and I read the entire series back to back a good 5 or 6 times. No joke. I was smitten. I bought the entire set of books and they have a permanent home on my bookcase.

Fast forward to about a year or so ago and I heard that a new Mediator book was being released. Ecstatic is the best word to describe my feelings over this. I love the characters of The Mediator so much, I was over the moon to go on another adventure with them.

So first, if you have NOT read The Mediator books yet, DO NOT READ THIS FULL REVIEW!  It will spoil it for you! You can keep reading for now, then I’ll tell you when to stop!

A quick recap of the premise of the original 6 books is this:
Sure Simon has just moved to Carmel, CA from Brooklyn, NY due to her mother remarrying. Not only does she have a new stepdad (the first father figure in her life since her own dad died ten years prior) but she’s also got three step brothers, whom she hilariously refers to as Sleepy (Jake), Dopey (Brad) and Doc (David).

The thing about Suze is, she sees dead people. She’s a mediator of spirits, a skill she was born with, and learned early on to keep secret. It’s a ability considers a curse. Imagine her surprise when, upon walking into her new bedroom for the first time, she discovers it haunted by an incredibly gorgeous Spanish ghost named Jesse. *Swoon*

In each book Suze has ghostly challenges, and Jesse is always there for her, whether she wants him to or not. Of course she falls in love, but nothing can ever come of it – he’s dead! To add to the fun, she’s got new friends at school CeeCee (the albino), and Adam (the boy who CeeCee is in love with, even though he shamelessly flirts with Suze). She’s also got some new enemies in the form of popular mean girls Kelly and Debbie (who are both somewhat in love with two of Suze’s new stepbrothers, though Suze can’t imagine why.)

Sure is a punch first, ask questions later kind of girl, which doesn’t sit so well with her new high school principal, who happens to be both a Catholic priest and a mediator himself! He becomes her mentor and together they help solve the area’s ghost problems.

Hooked yet? You should be. Seriously. Go check out the books! They’re nice quick reads. Now, if you haven’t read them yet, STOP READING NOW! SPOILERS AHEAD!

This book was… so much…. everything.

Time has passed since we last left Suze and Jesse. They are now engaged. He’s a doctor working as a resident at a local hospital. She’s working an internship at her former high school, well on her way to getting her masters to be a school counselor. What could go wrong? Well, Paul Slater, that’s what could go wrong. The basic gist is Paul is still in love with Suze and will do anything to win her heart (or at least one night with her). After Suze’s step-dad Andy’s TV show took off and started airing in syndication on cable TV, her parents moved away and sold the house – unknowingly to Slater Industries, owned by none other than Suze’s arch nemesis Paul Slater.

In a last ditch effort to have his chance with Suze, Paul is blackmailing her. According to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics (from his Egyptologist grandfathers collection of Mediator lore), destroying Suze’s former home – the one Jesse haunted for a hundred and fifty years – will unleash a curse on Jesse.

You can take the boy out of the darkness, but you can’t take the darkness out of the boy.

Meanwhile, the ghost of a young girl is clinging to one of the students at the Mission Academy. In an attempt to help said student, Suze unintentionally unleashes the child spirits wrath upon her, nearly getting her killed.

The rest of the old gang is back, and they’ve been up to some pretty hilarious things. I won’t spoil all the details for you, but you can look forward to seeing: Gina (Suze’s BFF from Brooklyn, who is now crashing on her futon), Kelly, Debbie (married to Brad! Mother of 6 year old triplets! I love those triplets!), CeeCee, Adam, Jake (who happens to be roommates with Jesse!), David, and of course, Father Dominic.

There were a few inconsistencies from the original books to this one (I re-read all 6 original books before I let myself read the new one,) but nothing to really spoiled the plot. Just minor details, like for example, it’s said that Suze had Mr. Walden for junior and senior years, but she had him for sophomore and junior years in the book, we never actually get to experience senior year with her.

If you loved Suze’s crazy schemes and hilarious dialogue in the past as much as I do, you can absolutely expect more in this beast of a book. (I’m not kidding, this book is a beast! 388 pages people!)

I Instagrammed a couple of hilarious passages while I was reading, this will give you just a taste of what you’re in for. (For some reason the blog is only letting me embed one, but if you click on my Instagram photos there are a total of 3 from this book.)

I’d forgotten just how much I love to hate #PaulSlater. #amreading #mediator #remembrance #suzesimon #JesseDeSilva #suzeandjesse #megcabot #yareads #bookish #bookquotes #bookboyfriend #bookstagram #bookboyfriend #lovetohate

A photo posted by Caroline Andrus (@caroline_andrus) on

Ultimately, was the book perfect? No. There were some things I’ll change, such as (SPOILER ALERT!) I wish Jesse had stuck to his guns and waited until marriage to sleep with Suze. It was such an important thing to his character, that I felt like he changed too much. And yes, I get that it had been like, 7 years between the evens of the last book and this one, but I still don’t like that he didn’t wait that short time longer. (/END SPOILER)

However, this book had me laughing out loud, sometimes until I was nearly in tears, and for me, that makes this completely worth it. I didn’t feel the immediate need to re-read it though. Maybe that’s because I have so many more books to read right now, or the fact that the book is so much longer than any of the originals. I don’t know.

End result though, if you LOVE the original Mediator books, I’m sure you’ll love these as well.

NOTE: Because the characters are older now, Suze is 24 and Jesse is 28, there is adult language as well as adult situations. While I would totally let my daughter read the other Mediator books as soon as she wants—though I don’t think she’d appreciate them until she was at least 14 or 15—I would wait to introduce her to this book until she was at least 16 or 17, depending on her maturity level at the time.

REVIEW: Haven by A. R. Ivanovitch

Don’t forget to enter to win the ghostly romance The Way Forward by Jill Bisker over at THIS post!

 


 

Haven by A. R. Ivanovitch

Series: War of the Princes #1

Read: January 3-5 2016

Format: Kindle Ebook

My Book Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Genre: YA Fantasy

 

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book. Wow. This is the kind of book that keeps you turning the page, not wanting to put it down, saying ‘just one more chapter!’ only to get to the end and need to dive into the next book ASAP. That is Haven.

Katelyn Kestrel is the heroine of this series. Seventeen years old and a bit of a rebel, Katelyn doesn’t just accept the way things are, she questions them. Growing up in Haven, an isolated kingdom/country nestled in a hidden mountain valley, she knows that to try to find a way out is the greatest law, punishable by imprisonment or worse. However, Katelyn can’t help herself. She’s always had an instinct about finding what she’s looking for, and finding her way out of Haven is no different. She suddenly finds herself in a cave, forced to choose between taking the safe route and going back, or helping a wounded soldier in her path. Katelyn helps the soldier and that’s where the story really begins.

There is a minor-almost-love-triangle in this book. Katelyn has strong feelings for her rescued soldier, Rune, but the other young man she meets, the Common Lord Dylan Axton, has his eye on her as well, showering her with gifts.

Katelyn discovers secrets about herself and her people and soon, Haven’s fate is entirely in her hands.

The world building in this book is captivating. There were little things that drove me a little crazy, like the Haven people’s superstition that name alliteration was good luck (hence our heroine being Katelyn Kestrel, sister to Kevin Kestrel, friend of Kyle Kiteman, etc.) I quickly forgot all that once the plot moved forward. The powers are very cool, and the military and royal hierarchy well thought out.

The best part of this book though? It’s a fantasy novel done right. The reader is not inundated with pages and pages of description, we’re given just enough to set the scene to feel as though we’re there, and then we move on. As I stated before, I could not put this book down. I said ‘just one more chapter’ for a good seven chapters before forcing myself to go to bed. I told myself I would get some work done before starting book 2, however I’m already almost 20% into Paperglass and let me tell you, it’s as good if not better than Haven!

There are plenty of questions left unanswered in this book; for example, if the Haven people have been secluded from the Outside World for over 700 years, why do they still speak the same language, albeit with a strong accent? At least some of these questions are answered later in the series (which I only know because I’ve started the next.)

In my opinion, this is a must read YA title for readers looking for a strong heroine, adventure, magic, and alternate history. I did deduct half a star because there were more than a couple editing errors, perhaps not enough to distract the average reader, but definitely enough for me to catch.

Haven and the rest of the series was originally self-published and now available from Alloy Entertainment.

REVIEW: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Read: September 2015

Format: Audiobook

My Book Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Narrator Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance (Angels and Demons)

 

In my search of my local library’s very limited supply of YA audiobooks on CD, I discovered Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I think, had I read the book instead of listening to it, I would have had a difficult time getting through it (I’ll explain later). However, the audiobook was an addicting joy to listen to.

Karou is the quirky, mysterious heroine to this story. She’s an art student in Prague and seemingly normal—blue hair aside. However, she has a habit of mysteriously disappearing (much to her best friends annoyance), and she is, in fact, running errands for a demon. Karou doesn’t know anything about where she came from, all her life she’s lived with the demons and she’s accepted that’s just who she is. As payment for her errands, Karou is gifted beads that allow her to make wishes. She wishes for silly things such as her hair to grow out of her head blue or she wishes for someone to have an itch. While this story could have been taken very seriously and dark, Taylor has managed to pepper the story with humor. I really, really loved Karou’s character. She just came to life for me and I wanted to be her friend.

Taylor’s writing is beautifully descriptive, to the point where I would probably gloss over it when actually reading it with my eyes, but I loved the details while I had the story read to me. I’m gravely disappointed my local library does not carry the rest of the series on audiobook!

Much of the book is Karou going about her business, with little hints of what Akiva (an angel) is up to. When all hell breaks loose (get it? Hell? Demons? …..sorry) we’ve already seen the seeds planted, but it’s all a revelation to Karou. She is hit with tragedy, sadness, joy… a plethora of emotions all at once.

I don’t have a text copy of the book, so I may quote this incorrectly, but I believe the beginning of the book begins with a quote of: “Once upon a time, an angel and a demon fell in love. It did not end well.” This is truly a tale of Romeo and Juliet, but much more interesting than Shakespeare’s version. The entire world Taylor has crafted is brilliant, when all of the pieces came together in the end I had an “OHHHH!” moment. I never guessed that was where things were going, and I absolutely loved that’s where they went. (I’m avoiding spoilers here!)

I knocked half a star off because at one point we’re given huge chunks of backstory, which I normally hate. However, Taylor mostly pulled it off due to her beautiful prose and her incredibly interesting storyline.

This is a must read in my opinion, or even better, get your hands on the audiobook. The narrator is fabulous, the different voices she used for each character were brilliant.