Monday, September 29, 2014

No Place Like Oz by Danielle Paige Review

Title: No Place Like Oz
Author: Danielle Paige
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Dorothy Must Die, prequel novella
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: An enchanting start to a promising series--where Dorothy is the villain destroying Oz, no less!--I thoroughly enjoyed No Place Like Oz, and I can't wait to start Dorothy Must Die!

I bought this book and reviewed it.

I love fairy tale or classic retellings; I always have. What's so intriguing to me about this subgroup of literature is its ability to put a different spin on what we consider traditional books. Modern settings can be used to refresh a reader in a classical story, such as the example used here, The Wizard of Oz.

Dorothy Gale--yes, yes, that Dorothy Gale--is unsatisfied with her life in Kansas. Bored, frustrated, and isolated, after seeing the magical, colorful land of Oz, Dorothy just longs for.. more. Suddenly desperate to escape to Oz on her sixteenth birthday, she gets her wish. She is back in Oz, the place where she was a star. But things aren't exactly the same.. And just maybe, neither is Dorothy..

What I enjoyed:
-I loved the premise of this novel--Dorothy breaking bad!--it was really different, and that alone intrigued me and endeared me to this novella
-The pacing of this novel was breakneck--I couldn't put it down!
-Dorothy Gale, the sweet little farmgirl you thought you knew--I loved the way Dorothy was so nuanced, and I liked watching her turn into the bad guy--it was weird and creepy, but in a good, refreshing way
-Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, plain Kansas folk who get swept up in Dorothy's mad quest for power
-The Tin Woodsman, The Cowardly Lion, and Tin Woodsman--I enjoyed the way the author really seemed to make them flawed--it was part of what made the story so compelling
-Ozma, the fairy princess who has the misfortune of being in Dorothy's way--I really enjoyed her, and her complex, love-hate relationship with Dorothy
-Glinda, the witch who brings Dorothy back to Oz
-I loved the ending of the novella--it was amazing, and now I can't wait to read Dorothy Must Die!

What could've been better:
-I wish more had been said of Paige's interpretation of the character of Ozma


Overall, I really, really enjoyed No Place Like Oz! A darkly refreshing take on an American classic! Next on deck: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch Review

Title: Snow Like Ashes
Author: Sarah Raasch
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Snow Like Ashes, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A rich, well-thought out fantasy with a compelling story and an amazing heroine, I really, really enjoyed Snow Like Ashes! Despite some minor flaws, this book is highly recommended to fans of high fantasy!

This book was given to me by the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Meira is one of the few precious orphans that escaped the slaughter of the country of Winter. Lost and desperate to help the cause--namely, the war between the Seasons and Rhythms--she struggles between her duties and her affection for her best friend, Mather--a friend that grows to be so much more. But when she digs deeper into her past, and as she falls farther into a web of shadowy, clandestine political alliances, she discovers that in order to make a difference, she must find the resilience to become a true hero, and just maybe sacrifice everything she holds dear in the process..

Here's the thing about me as a reviewer: Recently, I got bitten by the high fantasy bug. So when I got approved for this title, I was completely stoked. I read through this book with real excitement, because to me, it had everything: a strong, badass heroine who was more than what she seemed, strong, richly thought-out world-building, amazing battles and magic abounded. Despite some minor quibbles, this novel was highly enjoyable for me!

What I enjoyed:
-I loved the pacing of this novel--it took off immediately and I couldn't put it down, especially when things were starting to pick up toward the end
-The rich, strong world-building--for me, this is a high fantasy dealbreaker, and everything was explained really well and seemed plausible, given the scope of the story--I really liked that aspect
-Meira, the young woman who feels lost and alone, despite being one of the orphans prophesied to save the kingdom of Winter--I really related to her, and I really enjoyed her character development, as she went from apathetic orphan to a true hero
-Meira's past
-Mather, the boy she loves and cherishes, and is closer to than anyone else in the world
-Sir, the gruff man who seems to be so hard on Meira--I really liked his role in the story, as well as his relationship with his young charges
-The various band, the motley crew of bedraggled Winter soldiers that Sir leads
-Angra
-Noam
-I really liked Theron, and the chemistry between him and Meira
-What made this novel so compelling were the amazing, sometimes gory, battle scenes
-I really enjoyed the ending, as well--I can't wait for the sequels in this series!

What could've been better:
-At times Meira's self-contemplation made it difficult to focus on the politics at the novel
-Sir, though he had his heart in the right place, seemed rather rude to Meira at times

Overall, I really, really enjoyed Snow Like Ashes--wonderful! Next on deck: No Place Like Oz by Danielle Paige!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Spark by J.B. North Review

Title: Spark
Author: J.B. North
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Legends of the Shifters, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A magical adventure highly recommended to those who love strong heroines, I really enjoyed Spark, despite the vague world-building.

This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Ivy Oliver has spent more than a decade in the orphanage after her parents perished. Her only hope is for a trial, where her second birth has will be revealed, awakened for the first time since her birth. She transforms into a rate, beautiful creature that rips her away from the only home and friends she has ever known. Moving on to a school full of both friends and foes, she discovers the key to her past and her future, if she can only free her spirit..

What I enjoyed:
-I loved the high fantasy theme that permeated this novel--it really hit the spot
-The pacing of this novel was breakneck--I couldn't put it down
-I really liked reading about the world that Ivy and the other characters inhabit, but it was a bit vague--I would've enjoyed more explanation into the whole world's past
-Ivy, the timid, quiet young woman who is forced to undergo a quest and accept her destiny, who changes into a true hero--I look forward to the next book in the series, I really liked her character development
-The twists and turns throughout the novel, especially concerning Ivy
-Roland, whose sunny disposition seems to be hiding something dark
-Kurt, the young scarred man forced to work at the school
-Natalia
-Roselle
-Sophia
-Burton
-Matilda
-The mysterious headmaster of the school Ivy goes to, who is clearly hiding something
-Niko
-I liked the ending as well--I can't wait for the sequel!

What could've been better:
-The world-building was vague--I could detect a fantasy vibe, but there was no explanation for how the world formed, or the government of any kind in the book
-Roland's constant antics kind of gave me whiplash
-At times it felt very Harry Potter-esque in flavor sometimes, but very vaguely

Overall, Spark was an enjoyable read--it was a good start to a great series! Next on deck: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Storm Begins by Damian Dibben Review

Title: The Storm Begins
Author: Damian Dibben
Age Group: Middle Grade/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The History Keepers, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: The first novel in a blockbuster, cinematic series, The Storm Begins completely captured my imagination, with a potent blend of adventure, humor, British charm, and action straight out of a movie--highly recommended to fans of Harry Potter!

This book was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Have you ever lost your parents? Can you imagine losing them, but not in place--in time? Jake Djones's parents have mysteriously disappeared. He discovers that they belong to a secret society, called The History Keepers, protectors of time and history--literally. Pulled into a dangerous, fast-paced quest, he bounces all over time with the special agents. And when he gets wind of a sinister plot threatening the foundation of civilized society, he must find the strength in himself to protect humanity..


What I enjoyed:
-I loved the premise of this novel--people being able to travel through time and protect civilization? I was completely sold!
-The pacing of this novel was breakneck--I couldn't put it down when I began
-The History Keepers society, with the brisk, eccentric Jupitus Cole at its head--I loved all the characters I met through the novel, in particular Jake, his friends, and parents 
-Jake, the young boy who finds the courage to save his friends and family, an adventurer I was cheering for throughout the entire novel
-Topaz, the energetic young woman who is always bickering with her brother, Nathan--I really thought the romance in the novel was sweet
-Nathan, the hilarious, brash young man from South Carolina who never fails to lighten things up by laughing
-Charlie, the eccentric, sweet young man who delights in cooking and false facial hair
-Zeldt, a truly dark villain who just happened to get away--I really hope there's a sequel
-The ending--I really hope there is more to offer in this series

What could've been better:
-At times the logic behind the whole society and time travel got a little muddled for me
-Paolo
-Oceane

Overall, I really, really enjoyed The Storm Begins--a promising start to a great series! Next on deck: Spark by J.B. North!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Stray by Elissa Sussman Review

Title: Stray
Author: Elissa Sussman
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Stray, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A beautifully tender, magical debut, Stray completely stole my heart--I loved it! Highly recommended for fans of high fantasy, fairy tales, and stories with strong heroines! Wonderful!


This book was given to me by Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Aishlynn has always wanted a happily ever after--to follow The Path and marry, and to prosper. But when the magic that she and all women are born with finally grows to be too much for her to control, her dreams are shattered. She is forced to become a Fairy Godmother to a princess. Trying to make the best of her desolate lot, she is forced to search deep down inside herself for the strength to become her own hero.. Because forces more powerful than she are brewing, and they want her for their own dark purposes..

What I enjoyed:
-The premise of this novel was amazing--a magical princess forced to become a fairy godmother, fighting to accept herself? I was sold!
The pacing of this novel was breakneck--I was enchanted and drawn in from the very first chapter, and I loved it
-I loved Sussman's languid, luxurious prose that reminded me of an old fairy tale, or a tale that had been lovingly passed down from generation to generation--it made the story all the more interesting to me
-Sussman's frightening, beautiful, dark world where women are born with powerful magic, but restricted to using it--I was repulsed, and drawn to it, at the same time, and I loved every minute of it
-Aishlynn, the strong young woman who becomes a hero--I really enjoyed her, because she was beautifully, lovingly rendered, human and flawed, and I cheered for her--she was the real selling point of this book for me, as I really related to her--I loved her character development
-I also enjoyed the way the world's social hierarchy was structured--the way everyone had a place in Aishlynn's world, but not necessarily a happy one
-Thackery
-Brigid, Rhys, and Elanor
-Aishlynn's parents
-Linnea--I really enjoyed her as well, and I liked the relationship between her and Aishlynn
-I loved the ending, with a tantalizing promise for more tales--I can't wait to read more of Elissa Sussman's work!
-Hull

What could've been better:
-There was absolutely nothing I didn't love about this gorgeously rendered, beautiful fairy tale for modern readers!

Stray will be a favorite that I will never forget--simply wonderful. Next on deck: The History Keepers: The Storm Begins by Damian Dibben!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Raven Flight by Juliet Marillier Review

Title: Raven Flight
Author: Juliet Marillier
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Shadowfell, book two
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: The rich, wonderful sequel to the hit fantasy novel Shadowfell, I loved Raven Flight--with more romance, magic, adventure, in every page, it doesn't disappoint!

This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Neryn has finally reached the secret base of Shadowfell after a long journey, and is trying to focus on honing her rare gift as a Caller. Now forced on another journey with Tali and the Good Folk, she must find the three Guardians of Alban who can teach her to use her gift to rise against the evil Lord Keldec. But she doesn't know if she's up to the task.. Or if there will be enough time..


What I enjoyed:
-As with before, I loved the pacing--it was completely breakneck and I couldn't put it down!
-The rich, greatly realized land of Alban, rife with ancient magic and terrible danger at every turn--part of the reason I love this series is the amazing world-building
-Neryn, the young Caller who is forced to seek out Alban's greatest guardians to learn her magic--I really love how she grew into a strong magical warrior throughout the novel
-Tali, the young woman warrior who follows Neryn across the land--I really enjoyed the way her character was expanded upon throughout this installment, and how she formed a relationship with Neryn
-Flint, the young man that Neryn is passionately in love with, forced to put everything aside to continue his mission--I really like him, and his relationship, deep and personal and loving, with Neryn
-Part of why I loved this book so much was because of the Guardians that Neryn meets along the way throughout her journey--I can't wait for The Caller!
-The motley crew of Shadowfell warriors and the Good Folk, forced to ally uneasily to take down a terrifying, overwhelming evil
-I liked the way the mysterious, chilling King Keldec was actually seen in this novel--it definitely was very creepy, and I liked him as a villain
-The ending--it was perfect, and I can't wait to see the final installment in Neryn's journey!


What could've been better:
-There was absolutely nothing I didn't love about this wonderful high fantasy novel! Highly recommended series for all!


I loved, loved, loved Raven Flight--a fitting, worthy sequel to Shadowfell! Next on deck: Grasping at Eternity by Karen Amanda Hooper!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tear You Apart by Sarah Cross Review

DNF at 274 pages.


Title: Tear You Apart
Author: Sarah Cross
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Beau Rivage, book two
Star Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: Chock-full of unhealthy teenage literature tropes, with a punk Snow White as the star, I really enjoyed Viv's story--at first. But I just couldn't finish it.

This book was given to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Viv, a young woman who lives in the darkly enchanted town of Beau Rivage, has a lot of problems. It isn't just that her evil stepmother wants to kill her--literally--but she's also trying to deal with the fact that it is her best friend, Henley, who is trying to kill her. Forced to go to the underworld in search of help, Viv realizes that to love another, she must lay her heart to rest..

What I enjoyed:
-I was so very happy when I heard there was another tale coming out in this series, because I was enchanted with Kill Me Softly
-The creepy town of Beau Rivage, which is dark and magical--with descendants of Cursed springing up everywhere

What could've been better:
-I didn't really like the way relationships were portrayed in this book--Viv was always toying with someone's heart, because she was a jaded Cursed girl
-I liked Henley, but his dark, dangerous obsession with Viv really freaked me out in the end
-Jasper--the fact that Viv would stay with someone so obviously abusive made me very angry and upset
-I would've liked the fairy tale retelling--I love things that are dark, but the cliche young adult tropes that seem rampant in those kinds of novels these days (love triangles, unhealthy relationships) really put me off of the actual story


Tear You Apart was just not for me. Next on deck: Tortured Souls by Kimber Leigh Wheaton!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga Review

Title: I Hunt Killers
Author: Barry Lyga
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Thriller
Series: Jasper Dent, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A grotesquely dark, twisted thriller, I Hunt Killers completely swept me away--with a compelling, dynamic main character, creepy twists and turns around every corner, and a dark premise--I loved it!

This book was given to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Jasper "Jazz" Dent knows the darkest parts of the soul better than most. His father is the legendary, notorious, most sadistic serial killer around: Billy Dent. After he is caught and jailed four years prior, Jazz wants nothing more than to put the ugliness of the past behind him. But when bodies begin to pile up in the quiet little town of Nobo's Lod, Jazz finds he must face--maybe even embrace--the demons of his childhood.. And he discovers that even fighting the good fight might not be enough to save what may be already damned..

What I enjoyed:
-I really liked the unique style in which the story was told, from Jazz to killer and back again
-The pacing of this novel was completely breakneck--I couldn't put it down, even when I wanted to
-The premise of this novel was great as well--the son of a serial killer struggling to face his demons and be normal--I loved it, as it was very unique
-Jazz, the young man who worries deep down that he has a soul just as black and twisted as his father's--he was an incredibly dynamic character, and I really enjoyed the way that he struggled against his darker urges throughout
-I loved the twists and turns that had me completely glued to the second half of the book--I really couldn't put it down
-Billy, the frightening, sadistic killer that inhabits poor Jasper's every thought--I was thoroughly fascinated and disgusted by him throughout the novel
-Howie, the boy who unwittingly seems to tie Jasper down and attach him to acting like a normal teenage boy--I liked the way his comic humor was peppered throughout the book, counterpointing the darker parts
-Connie, the young woman who Jazz feels closer to than anyone else--I really liked the way she grounded Jazz, as well as their relationship
-G. William, the man who partially plays Jazz's guardian--he was one of my favorite characters
-The ending--it was perfect and I can't wait for the sequels!

What could've been better:
-The degree of violence shocked and disgusted me more than once--I contemplated putting it down more often than not
-Jazz's grandmother
-At times, the book was rather difficult to get through, what with the heavy subject matter

Overall, despite some minor flaws, I really, really enjoyed I Hunt Killers! Highly recommended to mystery and thriller fans! Next on deck: Tear You Apart by Sarah Cross!

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien Review

Title: The Vault of Dreamers
Author: Caragh M. O'Brien
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Untitled, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: Though at times it was a little confusing, this creepy, deliciously wrought book captured my imagination--I really enjoyed it and look forward to more from this amazingly skilled author!

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Rosie Sinclair is a contestant on The Forge Show. Risking everything to come onto the show and become a filmmaker has been everything to Rosie. The secret? She receives a pill that makes her sleep for twelve hours, as well as her fellow students. Every synapse firing, it is said that the pill greatly enhances creativity. But when Rosie skips her pill, she discovers that Forge itself is an experiment, and there is a secret world hidden behind the cameras.. And that she and her classmates are at the center of it..

What I enjoyed:
-I loved the pacing of this novel--I really couldn't put it down once it began
-The twists and turns of the novel--I was frenetically turning pages
-The creepy, Big-Brother-esque world that Rosie and her friends inhabit--I knew that they were on a TV show, but being monitored 24/7 by cameras just creeped me out and rubbed me the wrong way
-Rosie, the young woman at the center of the novel--I really enjoyed the way she was willing to go through anything and everything to expose the lies of her school--her character development was awesome as well
-Linus, the sexy young man that Rosie is drawn to, despite everything--I really liked him and his relationship with Rosie
-Burnham
-Janice, Rosie's best friend
-Dean Berg
-Dr. Ash
-I loved the ending--what made this novel so magical for me was Rosie, Forge, and the secrets surrounding both

What could've been better:
-The world surrounding Rosie and her friends was confusing, and it wasn't really explained upon well
-I would've liked more to be expanded upon with The Forge Show


Overall, The Vault of Dreamers was just wonderful--a real treat of a mystery! Highly recommended! Next on deck: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon Review

Title: The Fairest of Them All
Author: Carolyn Turgeon
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Retelling
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A deliciously wicked retelling of the cherished fairy tale, Snow White, with Rapunzel as the evil stepmother? Twisted, freaky, human? If you sound interested in either of those things, this book is definitely worth checking out!

This book was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

In this gorgeous, sexy retelling, a young naive Rapunzel invites a young man into her bed--a young man who happens to be a prince. When their night of passion is interrupted, Rapunzel learns that her beloved is to wed another. The pair have a beautiful infant, Snow White. Rapunzel, scorned and alone, wastes away in her tower. But when the queen mysterious dies, Rapunzel becomes queen. Thinking she may at last have the life she has longed for, she discovers that her heart is darker than she realized.. And that her jealousy just might swallow her..


What I enjoyed:
-I loved the premise of this novel--I love retellings, but once I realized Rapunzel was the evil queen, I was completely sold
-The pacing of this novel was breakneck--I was enchanted the whole while and I couldn't put it down
-The prose of this novel was epic and gorgeous, and I was just mesmerized
-Rapunzel, the surprisingly human Evil Queen in this retelling--I really felt for her as she grew in the story, and through most of it, I was sympathetic and wanted a happy ending--she was all mad darkness and bitterness, and it was really intriging to see her evolve as a villain
-Manthena, Rapunzel's mother and best friend--I really liked her as a character and I really enjoyed watching hers' and Rapunzel's relationship
-Snow White, the sweet, vulnerable young beauty, all the while hiding a great mind--I also enjoyed her as well
-Gilles
-I loved the way the novel incorporated other fairy tales as well, in a way so subtle it took me a moment or two to notice
-I loved, loved, loved the ending, and I enjoyed the way it did justice to all the characters

What could've been better:
-Josef--I didn't like him for most of the novel

I loved The Fairest of Them All--a dark, rich fairy tale retelling reminescent of Grimms' fairy tales. Next on deck: The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien!

(Don't You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn Review

Title (Don't You) Forget About Me
Author Kate Karyus Quinn
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Horror
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A strangely beautiful, creepy little book, I thoroughly enjoyed (Don"t You) Forget About Me--a highly satisfying story, with a creepy premise, sympathetic characters, and evil magic--highly recommended!

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Welcome to Gardnerville: a place where no one gets sick, nobody ever catches disease. And the best part? Hey, you get to live forever. But every fourth year, the same magic that guards its people from illness demands sacrifice for such a paradise. The teens of Gardnerville become infected with strange, frightening urges: often ones that are deadly. Skylar's sister, Piper, led her classmates into a jump that cost them their lives. Desperate for answers and trying to find her way back to her sister, Skylar realizes she must face the demons of the past if Gardnerville is to be saved..

What I enjoyed:
-The creepy but beautiful prose of the novel
-I loved the premise of this novel--an evil town that kept its residents alive for many years, but every four exacts a wicked price for that support--it was new, different, and was really creepy
-Gardnerville itself, all sweet and perfect on the outside but rotten to the core, like a poisoned apple
-Skylar, the young woman who wants nothing more than her sister--I really felt for her, though it was a tad unsettling that she was hardcore stoned for most of the book
-Piper, the mysterious older sister that is like living sunshine, but hiding much deeper things
-I loved the twists and turns of this novel--it grabbed me by the throat and held on tight
-elton
-Foote
-GG
-Skylar's mother and Wills
-The creepy reformatory
-I loved, loved, loved the ending--it was beautiful, satisfying, and heartbreaking

What could've been better:
-At times the pacing really suffered because of the main character's tendency to get high--I understood the reason, but it really slowed the story
-I wish it had said more about the past fourth years, as they played such an important role in the story

Overall, I really, really enjoyed this book! Highly recommended for horror junkies and fans of creepy paranormal novels! Next on deck: The Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno Review

Title: The Half Life of Molly Pierce
Author: Katrina Leno
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A thrilling, frightening, fast-paced novel about a girl suffering from dissociative personality disorder, The Half Life of Molly Pierce completely blew my mind--a great, thought-provoking novel!

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Molly Pierce knows that there's something wrong with her. Only problem is, she can't really seem to figure out what.. Her memories come and go, and she blacks out for hours at a time, never knowing where she is.. As if this wasn't all frightening enough, she sees a boy die--and that boy's brother is eerily familiar to Molly, even though she's certain that they've never met. As Molly tries to piece together her fractured memories, another person seems to emerge from Molly.. Another person who is just like her..

What I enjoyed:
-I really liked the pacing of this novel--it was breakneck and the writing style, sparse and eerie, drew me in immediately
-I loved the gorgeous setting of Massachusetts, I could almost smell the ocean, and it was another thing to enjoy throughout the novel
-The twists and turns leading to Molly's discovery left me breathless--once the mystery picked up, I couldn't even think of putting it down
-Molly herself, the young woman who seems very lost, so lost that she doesn't even know it--I really sympathized with her and she was worth cheering for
-Mabel
-Lyle, the young man who seems to want to own Molly, and is key to discovering her disorder
-Sayer, the older brother who seems to know Molly all too well--and may just well love her
-I really enjoyed Alex
-Molly's parents
-The ending was perfect--sad and sweet and satisfying all at once

What could've been better:
-At times it got confusing, how was narrating what was happening in the story

This debut novel was wonderful! I liked the way it depicted mental illness, and highly recommended for mystery fans. Next on deck: (Don't You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn!

Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard Review

Title: Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes
Author: Elizabeth Bard
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Nonfiction/Memoir
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: This delightful morsel of a memoir, a story of self-discovery, humanity, and sheer love of food and family, was like traveling in Paris with a friend--I really enjoyed it! Humorous, honest, and wonderful!

This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Elizabeth Bard has always been a girl more practical than not. But on a visit to Paris, she falls in love with a new man named Gwendal, as well as having a passionate love affair with French food, and the country itself. She navigates her relationships, explores herself, and tries her best to not obviously be an American tourist in Paris--all the while trying to really figure herself and her life out.


What I enjoyed:
-I loved the pacing of this novel--from its start, I couldn't put it down!
-The gorgeous setting of gay Paris, with its beauty and all its eccentricities 
-I really enjoyed the author--I really related to her, and she was very human to me--she struggled to find herself, to navigate her way through an unfamiliar country, and I liked the way she was so honest, almost to a fault--and her journey through cooking was highly enjoyable
-The people that Bard loves, lovingly described, particularly Gwendal, the charming young Frenchman who stole our narrator's heart--it is obvious that the family is very close-knit and very loving, and it was enjoyable
-The descriptions of the food were exquisite, mouthwatering--this is definitely a keeper for readers who loved Julie and Julia, and Eat Pray Love
-Gwendal's family
-Elizabeth's parents--as I said before, everyone was undeniably, almost brutally, human, and it was refreshing
-I loved the letter to the reader at the end of the book--I can't wait to read more of Elizabeth's journey

What could've been better:
-At times it got hard to follow where everyone was in Europe at the time
-Sometimes the descriptions of Paris's doctors and governments freaked me out a little


Overall, I highly enjoyed this memoir! Highly recommended for fans of Elizabeth Gilbert, Julie Powell, and Julia Child! Next on deck: The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine Review

Title: Of Metal and Wishes
Author: Sarah Fine
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Horror
Series: Of Metal and Wishes, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A deliciously creepy, gory retelling of The Phantom of the Opera with a modern twist, I loved Of Metal and Wishes--a beautiful book. Highly recommended!


This book was given to me through a giveaway on Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.

There are whispers that a ghost haunts the slaughterhouse that Wen and her father work in. Wen doesn't believe in ghosts, spirits, or the Devil. But when a Noor working at the factory humiliates her, she rashly asks for the ghost to prove its existence to her, at a terrible price. When she starts to fall for one of the Noor, she realizes that the ghost is willing to protect her against all threats, whether they are real or imagined. Talk of unrest fills the slaughterhouse, and Wen may just go down in flames with it if she isn't careful with her heart..

What I enjoyed:
-I loved the creepy, eerie prose that I'm starting to discover is Fine's signature--it drew me in immediately and I couldn't put it down
-The pacing of this novel was absolutely breakneck--with breathtaking romance, horror movie gore, secrets, and a dash of the supernatural, I didn't want to put it down
-Wen, the young woman who catches the eye of the Ghost, Melik, and almost every other man in the factory--I really enjoyed her as a character, as she was empathetic and warm, and I cheered for her the entire time
-Melik, the young Noor man who falls hard for Wen, hiding a warrior's strength and courage under a quiet facade--I really liked him as well, because I could really relate to him, and I liked the "forbidden" angle of his and Wen's relationship
-The Ghost, a man who is brilliant and beautiful and who grants wishes in mysterious and very violent ways, and falls for Wen also
-The love triangle between Wen, Melik, and the Ghost--it wasn't too overwhelming to the other elements of the story
-I loved the way this retelling did justice to the original story--I honestly can't wait for the sequel!
-The gory scenes intermingled with moments of tenderness--it was just enough freakishness to give me shivers, and counterbalance the romance of the story
-The tension between the Noor and the Itanyai
-I loved the ending--it was perfect, and as I said, I'll be getting my hands on the sequel as soon as I possibly can

What could've been better:
-I didn't really like any of Wen's people, save Jima
-Mugo, Iyzu, Lati, and the other factory workers


Overall, I loved Of Metal and Wishes--it is a book that I will treasure forever! Next on deck: Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard!

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis Review

Title: The Colossus Rises
Author: Peter Lerangis
Age Group: Middle Grade
Genre: Adventure/Fantasy
Series: Seven Wonders, book one
Star Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: This book was pitched perfectly--a great book highly recommended for Percy Jackson fans--but despite it, it just really fell short for me.

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Jack McKinley is going to die in six months. After a bizarre accident, he is brought to a strange hospital that just might be full of crazy people. He is told that a genetic connection with a prince of a long-lost civilization, and as it grows, he grows stronger--with maybe even superpowers. But when his mission leads him to a group of magical items, he realizes that he and his friends are all that stands between the destruction of the world as they know it..


What I enjoyed:
-I loved the premise of this novel--it really sounded cool, a bunch of kids with superpowers on the cusp of world destruction
-Jack, the hilarious main character--I really enjoyed him, and he grew into a major main character that I felt and cheered for
-Cass, the awkward young man who is clearly uncomfortable around other children--he too added to the great amount of humor in this novel
-Marco, the funny, silly jock--I liked how laid back he was throughout most of the novel
-Aly, the sarcastic movie nerd who grows to love her friends--I loved the way all the kids pretty much adopted one another as family
-Bhegad, the silly, sweet, awkward professor that tries unsuccessfully to stir the kids' mission
-Torquin
-I really liked the ending--it promised a sequel and it was satisfying

What could've been better:
-The pacing really suffered--I really struggled with the plot at times, because sometimes it was quick, and at others, it seemed to slow down--it was really bumpy
-Despite the premise, the adventure just seemed to be very awkward

Overall, I think The Colossus Rises had great potential, but I just didn't like it very much. Next on deck: Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bad Luck Girl by Sarah Zettel Review

Title: Bad Luck Girl
Author: Sarah Zettel
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Historical Fiction
Series: The American Fairy, book three
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: The third and final book in this phenomenal fantasy series, Bad Luck Girl doesn't disappoint in the slightest--I really, really enjoyed it. This whole series is highly recommended for both fantasy and historical fiction fans.

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Callie Leroux has been through enough as it is. Forced to flee to Chicago with Jack and her family, she realizes that while she may have started the coming war, now, she must finish it. The fate of the entire world will be at stake if she does not find a way to stand in between the fairy courts. Forced yet again to take up the mantle of her Unseelie heritage, Callie digs deeper than she could've ever imagined, and turns to avenues unexplored, to save herself, her family, the world.. And in so doing, finds even she may not be able to resist the temptation of the fairies..

What I enjoyed:
-The rich, vibrant, yet gritty atmosphere of Chicago, a world of hard living hiding the glittering fairies
-The pacing of this novel, like the others, was absolutely breakneck--I couldn't put it down, even when I tried to--the twists and turns had me frantically, frenetically turning pages
-Callie, the young woman with one foot in both worlds--on one hand, trying to manage her fairy heritage, and the other, just a normal human girl trying to help her loved ones--I really didn't think Zettel could do it, but she surprised me--Callie was just amazing, and I loved her character development
-Jack, the young man who has to finally face his past and his possible feelings for Callie--I really enjoyed him, as well, and the troubles that he and Callie went through were really realistic
-Callie's parents
-Shake
-I loved the way Halfers were introduced in this novel--it really made it authentic for fans of both genres, as well as the Halfers themselves
-I also really enjoyed the way the reader got more information--it was really satisfying as the last book
-My favorite part of this novel was the ending--it did justice to all involved and it really, really satisfied me! Absolutely wonderful!

What could've been better:
-I would've liked to know more about how the Halfers' magic worked

I loved Bad Luck Girl and the entire series as a whole! Next on deck: The Revealed by Jessica Hickam!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Golden Girl by Sarah Zettel Review

Title: Golden Girl
Author: Sarah Zettel
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Historical Fiction
Series: The American Fairy, book two
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: The explosive sequel to Dust Girl, Golden Girl did not disappoint in the least--I am so excited to read Bad Luck Girl! Simply amazing.

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

*Possible spoilers if readers haven't read Dust Girl, so beware!*

Callie LeRoux has made it out of Kansas. But now, she must turn to the golden hills of Hollywood to find her parents. Struggling to make her way to California, she and Jack realize that they may not be able to do this alone. Forced to tap into her powers, she finds her way to Hollywood: stars, glamor, fame, and money abound all around her. But when she gets there, she realizes that all that glitters isn't gold.. And that the only person she may be able to trust just might happen to be herself..

What I enjoyed:
-I loved the pacing of this novel--as before, it pulled me right in and didn't let me go until it was finished--and it was even on my mind when I had to put it down
-This book was full of twists and turns--most of which I didn't even see coming, which was a refreshing change
-Callie, as always, the strong, hilarious, and utterly likable main character--I really enjoyed her character development, and I really can't wait to see how it goes in Bad Luck Girl--what was especially nice was the growth in her powers
-Jack, the best friend who just might be something more to Callie, the comic relief always breaking the tension with a joke--his character development was really fun to read as well
-The growing relationship between them
-Callie's parents
-Ivy, the bubbly little girl who just might be hiding something sinister
-Shake
-Callie's grandparents
-The ending--it completely satisfied and I was really happy with it

What could've been better:
-There was absolutely nothing I didn't love about this beautiful sequel! More please!


I really, really enjoyed Golden Girl--I'm always a little wary of sequels, but I liked this one! Next on deck: Bad Luck Girl by Sarah Zettel!