Category Archives: Young Adult

Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway – The Best Kind of Magic by Crystal Cestari

Welcome to the I Heart Fictional People’s The Best Kind of Magic blog tour stop! This tour is hosted by The Fantastic Flying Book Club! Read my review for this awesome book and check out the giveaway! 🙂

Title: The Best Kind of Magic (Windy City Magic #1)

Author: Crystal Cestari

Published: May 16th, 2017

Length: 328 pages (eBook)

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal

Source: The Fantastic Flying Book Club (for honest review)

My Rating: ❤❤❤❤❤

Amber Sand is not a witch. The Sand family Wicca gene somehow leapfrogged over her. But she did get one highly specific magical talent: she can see true love. As a matchmaker, Amber’s pretty far down the sorcery food chain (even birthday party magicians rank higher), but after five seconds of eye contact, she can envision anyone’s soul mate.

Amber works at her mother’s magic shop–Windy City Magic–in downtown Chicago, and she’s confident she’s seen every kind of happy ending there is: except for one–her own. (The Fates are tricky jerks that way.) So when Charlie Blitzman, the mayor’s son and most-desired boy in school, comes to her for help finding his father’s missing girlfriend, she’s distressed to find herself falling for him. Because while she can’t see her own match, she can see his–and it’s not Amber. How can she, an honest peddler of true love, pursue a boy she knows full well isn’t her match?

The Best Kind of Magic is set in urban Chicago and will appeal to readers who long for magic in the real world. With a sharp-witted and sassy heroine, a quirky cast of mystical beings, and a heady dose of adventure, this novel will have you laughing out loud and questioning your belief in happy endings.
 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

The last few books I have read have just been “okay, whatever, let’s move onto the next one.” But I had a feeling about this one. When I saw the cover, I just knew. I was like, “Ooohhh, pretty. I must have it.” This is not news. I often judge books by their cover. And in this case, I’m glad I did!

WHAT I LIKED

The writing. O.M.G. Okay, I don’t even know how to put this into words, but here is my attempt. Sometimes you just know from the first page of a book whether an author has IT or not, IT meaning a natural born talent to write. I knew instantly that this author does. I remember reading the first page and being blown away. It had nothing to do with the plot. It was just the writing. So creative yet professional yet simplistic. I was beyond impressed. And I stayed impressed for the entire book. It wasn’t one of those start strong and finish weak kind of books, which I have noticed a lot of. It started strong and finished strong, maybe even stronger. I absolutely loved it. Crystal Cestari just might be my new favorite author.

The concept. It’s no secret that I’m a hopeless romantic. The tattoo on my wrist is of the Chinese symbols for “true love.” So, as I was reading the story, I kept thinking, “This book was made for me.” Amber can see everyone’s true love. How badass is that?! And of course, you can only imagine the complications that could arise with this type of gift as well. But I LOVED IT. It is such a unique ability to have. I was so intrigued, and I couldn’t wait to see how everything turned out.

The characters. Amber made the book for me. She had this sarcastic, snarky side to her that I loved. I got the feeling that she didn’t give a crap about what people thought of her, which is admirable. I just kept thinking, “I wish this girl was real. We’d be best friends.” And her soft side came out too, especially when she began falling for Charlie. Speaking of Charlie, he was swoon worthy! I couldn’t get enough of him. He was a trooper. He was thrown into this supernatural world and just kind of learned to accept it without freaking out or judging. And he’s a hot guy…with glasses. How often do we see this in books? Not very often. I love it! Then there’s Amani, Amber’s best friend. I really liked her. I could see her story developing further. That would be awesome.

Amber and Charlie’s relationship. This was perfect, in my opinion. It started with Charlie needing Amber’s help. It was nothing more than that. Acquaintances, if anything. Then, they gradually became friends. And from there, feelings started to grow. Such perfect pacing. Again, the author’s talent truly showed here.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

Nothing! There wasn’t anything that I didn’t like. This book was so good!

OVERALL THOUGHTS

What a perfect blend of love and magic, of contemporary and paranormal. And what brilliant writing. I can’t say enough about the writing. It was incredible. I fell in love with the author and these characters, and I really hope there’s more to Amber’s story. This could potentially be an amazing series. I already am looking into buying a physical copy of this book. I must have it on my bookshelf so I can stare at its beautiful cover, especially now that I know that the story is equally beautiful! More please!

5 out of 5 Hearts!


It was hard to narrow it down, but here are some of my favorite quotes:

“I know love is real—I KNOW IT—but that doesn’t keep it from being an evasive little bastard that works in mind-boggling ways.” (Ain’t that the truth!)

“…all I can think is, damn, the heart is a hell of a machine. Even when it’s broken, it still finds a way to carry on.” (More truth!)

“You never know what you’re getting into when you fall in love, but that doesn’t mean you avoid the jump.” (I absolutely love this one.)

“Appreciate the journey, because when you get to the end, you’ll only be able to look back, and hope you don’t regret what you see.” (Yes, more wisdom. Love it.)

“Just because you’re having some sort of emotional breakdown doesn’t mean you can’t have cute toes. Rainbow or gold?” (This is why I love Amani. What are best friends for?)

“Amber, I don’t know what’s going on in that head of yours, but I want you to know: every time I’m around you, I feel like a non-fatal firework is lit inside me. It’s magic—actual magic—and you’ll have to forgive the pun, but I don’t want to be under anyone else’s spell.” (Oh, Charlie. I love you. Marry me.)


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With rainbows in my hair and stories in my head, I am a writer drawn to magic in the everyday world.

My debut novel, The Best Kind of Magic, arrives May 16, 2017 from Hyperion. Follow Amber Sand, a magical matchmaker who can actually see true love, as she takes off on a fun and romantic adventure toward happily ever after.

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Each blog in the tour gets to give away ONE FINISHED COPY OF THE BOOK (US/CANADA ONLY). So be sure to enter!

Also, a person may only win ONE book throughout the entire tour.  It’s okay to enter more than one giveaway, but if you win in another giveaway, you need to be honest and decline it.  All the winners will be collected on one form.

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 Reading Challenges Met

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Monthly Keyword Reading Challenge

Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway – Dating the It Guy by Krysten Lindsay Hager

Welcome to the I Heart Fictional People’s Dating the It Guy blog tour stop! This tour is hosted by YA Bound Book Tours! So sorry this is late! If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I have had some technical difficulties ever since I was forced to change my domain name. Apparently, scheduling blog posts falls under the technical difficulties category as well. And I’ve been away from home for the weekend working my butt off, so I haven’t had a chance to fix it. Finally, here I am. So check out my review! And we all love giveaways, right? 🙂

Title: Dating the It Guy

Author: Krysten Lindsay Hager

Published: March 21st, 2017

Length: 243 pages (eBook)

Genre: YA Contemporary

Source: YA Bound Book Tours (for honest review)

My Rating: ❤❤❤

Emme is a sophomore in high school who starts dating, Brendon Agretti, the popular senior who happens to be a senator’s son and well-known for his good looks. Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon’s world and it doesn’t help that his picture perfect ex, Lauren seems determined to get back into his life along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti. Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend cheated on her and her whole world is off kilter with her family issues. Life suddenly seems easier keeping Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her. Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses. Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work? Life sure is complicated when you’re dating the it guy.

INITIAL THOUGHTS

I’ve been wanting to join a blog tour since I came back to the blogging world, and when I saw this cover, I just knew I had to read this book. I absolutely love it. It’s gorgeous and instantly drew me in. And of course, I was curious about the plot of the book as well. Dating the IT guy? Intriguing.

WHAT I LIKED

Emme. I LOVE this girl. She is completely relatable. I found myself marking pages and making notes with just a simple “Yes!” because I just knew exactly how she felt or could relate to her thoughts or her little quirks. A lot of the time, the female main character just annoys me throughout the book, but Emme didn’t. She stayed realistic, and I genuinely cared about her and wanted to see what happened to this new friend of mine 🙂

It was funny! Omg. I was laughing so hard. Some parts just had me dying. And the best part was that it was done so seamlessly. It wasn’t like the author was trying too hard to be humorous and it was super obvious. It just came naturally. Krysten Lindsay Hager, I love your sense of humor!

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

Margaux. Okay, I tried to give this girl a chance. I really did. She’s one of Emme’s friends, so I wanted to like her. BUT she irritated me SO MUCH. She just seemed super selfish and self-absorbed and couldn’t be positive or happy for her friends. And maybe this is realistic because we all know people like this, but I just couldn’t stand her, and I was practically yelling at Emme to not take this crazy girl’s advice on boys.

The second half of the book. “Didn’t like” is too strong for this part. I guess I’ll say that I wasn’t as impressed with the last half of the book as I was with the first half. I was really into the first half. I read it super fast, and I couldn’t put it down. Then I reached a point where it kind of seemed to drag on a bit, and it lost its humor a little, and it kind of became just another book for me.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

If I was judging just the first half of the book, I would’ve given it 4 hearts, but the last half affected my opinion of the book unfortunately. However, I did like it, and I will definitely check out the author’s other books. Ultimately, if an author can make me care about a character and also have me laughing hysterically at the same time, then I’m a fan!

3 out of 5 Hearts!


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Krysten Lindsay Hager is an obsessive reader and has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and humor essayist, and writes for teens, tweens, and adults. She is also the author of the Landry’s True Colors Series (True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, and the soon to be released, Landry in Like) and her work has been featured in USA Today and named as Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values and Virtues Fiction and Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Children’s Books on Values. She’s originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and southwestern Ohio. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.

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 Reading Challenges Met

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

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Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge

Full House Reading Challenge

Review: How To Love by Katie Cotugno

17332564Title: How To Love

Author: Katie Cotugno

Published: October 1st, 2013 by Balzer + Bray

Length: 389 pages (hardcover)

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Source: Giveaway Win from Books of Love

My Rating: ❤❤❤❤

 

book blurb

(from Goodreads)

Before: 
Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he’s never seemed to notice that Reena even exists until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated—and pregnant—Reena behind.

After: 
Almost three years have passed, and there’s a new love in Reena’s life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena’s gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she’s finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn’t want anything to do with him, though she’d be lying if she said Sawyer’s being back wasn’t stirring something in her. After everything that’s happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?

In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice.


my review

INITIAL THOUGHTS

As soon as I won the Clean My Shelves giveaway at Books of Love, I knew I had to get this book. It was my first pick. And it’s a hardcover! I was beyond ecstatic. But life got in the way, and the book was just sitting, patiently waiting for me to read it. Six months later, I was browsing my new bookcase, noticed this beautiful cover, and read the back of the book. Ahh! Why didn’t I read this sooner?! It sounded like an amazingly romantic and heartbreaking book. So I jumped in…

WHAT I LIKED

The format. Initially, I had mixed feelings about the story going back and forth between the before (when Reena was a young teenager hopelessly in love with Sawyer) and the after (when Sawyer comes back after being away for a couple years, and Reena is raising their child). BUT, after just the first few chapters, I absolutely loved the way it was written. This could’ve been done a couple different ways, such as flashbacks or being written as a two-parter, first part in the before and second part a couple years later. And I think this was definitely the right way to go. The story unfolds in such a unique way. Yes, you know Reena gets pregnant and Sawyer leaves, but what happens before that? Why did he leave? How did they get to that point? Reading the before chapters will gradually make you understand their story while reading what is happening now. It was brilliantly written.

The very real characters. I can definitely understand why some people had an issue with Reena or Sawyer or both, but I really liked them. They were clearly flawed and often made stupid mistakes or just behaved in a way that made you want to scream at them, but that makes them all the more real. Was Reena weak and foolish when it came to Sawyer and his charming self? Was Sawyer an insensitive ass at times? Sure. But they’re also human. I’ll be the first to admit that I was a hopeless romantic when I was a teenager and have made plenty of mistakes when it comes to guys. And my husband will be the first to admit that he has had his asshole moments. But who hasn’t? We’re human! We’re not perfect. And neither are these characters. That’s why I loved them. They were relatable.

The romance. Don’t expect some fairy tale romance here. It’s complicated. People get hurt. Lives are changed forever. But it’s real. Why do we always have to read these romances that are so sweet and involve perfect men? Of course, I love those too, but that’s not always how it works! These two people fall in love, but there are issues that kind of tear them apart. It’s sad. But they have an undeniable connection, and I enjoyed seeing their story unfold.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

Not addressing some things the way I would have liked. I don’t want to give anything away, but there are some issues that I would have liked to see addressed and discussed way more in depth. For example, Sawyer missed out on the first 14 months of his daughter’s life. And then he’s back and just kind of jumps into her life. I guess I wanted to see him more emotional about the whole thing. There is also a drug issue that just kind of exists. I wanted to see that dealt with more. And there are other issues too. I don’t know. This book could’ve been so much more if it addressed these problems on a deeper level. So, I was a little disappointed about that.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were completely relatable, even when they were irritating. The plot was written uniquely, and it worked so well. I was so invested in the story. I just had to know how it all ended. The ending was perfect by the way. Such a great conclusion to an already great book. I just wish it was more in-depth. Very enjoyable though. And this was the author’s debut novel! So, I’m very excited to read more from her.

four hearts

4 out of 5 Hearts!


 

(I HAD to share this one! It’s so damn cute. And hilarious.)

“I like your wrists,” he commented suddenly, glancing over at where my hands were resting in my lap. He traced the underside of my forearm with the tip of his finger.

I looked at him skeptically. “My wrists?”

“Yeah,” he said, half smiling as he switched lanes. “Relax. I don’t have, like, a weird wrist thing. I just like yours. They’re small. Like bird bones.”

“Bird bones,” I repeated.

“Yeah.” He paused. “See? Now you ruined the moment.”

“You were making a moment?”

“I was trying!”

I laughed. “Sorry. Do it again.”

“No!” he said. “The moment is over.” But he was laughing, too.


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about the author

(from her website)

Katie Cotugno went to Catholic school for thirteen years which makes her, as an adult, both extremely superstitious and prone to crushes on boys wearing blazers. She routinely finds herself talking about the romantic endeavors of characters on TV shows as if they actually exist in the world.

Katie is a Pushcart Prize nominee whose work has appeared in The Iowa Review, The Broadkill Review, The Apalachee Review, and Argestes, as well as on Nerve.com. Her novels HOW TO LOVE and 99 DAYS are available now from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins.

The great loves of Katie’s life include child’s pose, her little sister, and mozzarella and honey sandwiches. She lives in Boston with her husband, Tom.

author links

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Reading Challenges Met:

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

Around the World

Chapter Break Bookish Bingo

Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge

Full House Reading Challenge

Literary Pickers Challenge

The Mad Reviewer Reading Challenge

Monthly Keyword Reading Challenge

Shelf Love Challenge

Review: Like Candy by Debra Doxer

23976054Title: Like Candy (Candy #1)

Author: Debra Doxer

Published: July 28th, 2015

Length: 257 pages (eBook)

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Source: Author via NetGalley

My Rating: ❤❤❤❤

book blurb

Revenge is sweet, just like candy.

Candy Seaborne knows she’s badass. She takes after her father, an assassin and possibly a spy, although he won’t admit to either. She idolizes him. Her dream is to follow in his footsteps. But first, she has to finish high school.

Biding her time, waiting for real life to begin, Candy craves drama and isn’t above manufacturing some. If you’re a classmate who wronged her or a boyfriend who cheated, watch your back. She’s no pushover, and revenge may be her favorite pastime.

Jonah Bryson is the senior class heartthrob who breaks all the stereotypes. He’s a jock, but he isn’t the typical player. He’s moody and antisocial. No girl has gotten anywhere with him since his last girlfriend broke his heart.

Candy sees Jonah as a challenge and the perfect distraction. But she may be in over her head because unlike everyone else, Jonah isn’t buying her tough act. He sees the lost, lonely girl inside. He sees too much. When he looks at her that way, she wants to let her guard down and be vulnerable. But that’s the last thing she should do because her father’s world is spilling over into hers, and life is about to get real much sooner than Candy expected.

my review

INITIAL THOUGHTS

I saw this on Netgalley over six months ago, and I absolutely loved the cover. Love the chalkboard feel. Love the candy. Love the note with blood-like splatter. I just love the whole thing. And of course, the book blurb sounded interesting. I liked the possibility of Candy’s dad being an assassin. And I liked that Candy sounded like a tough girl who could take care of herself and didn’t let anyone mess with her.

WHAT I LIKED

Jonah. I really liked this guy. He was so mysterious. There was something about him that made you want to stay away from him because he was so antisocial but also made you want to get to know him on a deeper level because there was so little known about him. And then when we got to know him, you like him even more. There is this sweet side to him that slowly emerges and is so swoon-worthy.

Candy and Jonah’s relationship. They start off as sort-of-friends. They have both been hurt before, so they are both very guarded and don’t want to put their heart on the line. But there is an obvious connection between them. So I enjoyed seeing their relationship gradually grow. And when it finally turns into something more, it was done perfectly. Definitely made me smile.

The sarcasm. I loved how sarcastic Candy was. It wasn’t over-the-top. It was just right and had me laughing unexpectedly. Her friendship with Theo was awesome. Their jokes and insults were awesome. I wish there was more of their relationship.

The last third of the book. Wow. It was just an average story for me until you hit like the last 30% of the book. It was awesome! So many things started happening, secrets were being revealed, and you start questioning everything. It was so intense and suspenseful.

The end. AAHHH! Now that is what you call a cliffhanger! WTF?! Are you kidding me?! I cannot wait to read the next book and find out the truth about everything. I need to know. Like now.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

The first two-thirds of the book. Honestly, I didn’t feel like there was much of a plot. I kept waiting for something to happen. It just took too long to get exciting. HOWEVER, when it did get there, it was definitely worth the wait.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

Okay, here’s the thing. While reading the book, I just kept thinking this is a 3-heart book. Not much going on but well-written. Then, that last third happened, and I was super ecstatic! That part was definitely 5-heart worthy! So I just went in between and gave it 4 hearts because that last part was amazing. I wish the whole book kept my attention like that. Now I need to somehow get my hands on the second book. I am DYING TO KNOW what happens!

four hearts

4 out of 5 Hearts!


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about the author

(from Goodreads)

Debra Doxer was born in Boston, and other than a few lost years in the California sunshine, she has always resided in the Boston area. She writes fiction, technical software documents, illegible scribbles on sticky notes, and texts that get mangled by AutoCorrect. She writes for a living, and she writes for fun. When her daughter asks when she’ll run out of words, her response always is, “When I run out of time.”

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Reading Challenges Met:

Bookish Bingo: Holiday 2015

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

Around the World

Chapter Break Bookish Bingo

Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge

Full House Reading Challenge

Literary Pickers Challenge

The Mad Reviewer Reading Challenge

Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway – Ascenders by C.L. Gaber

Welcome to the I Heart Fictional People’s Ascenders blog tour stop! This tour is hosted by YA Bound Book Tours!

25392606

Title: Ascenders

Author: C.L. Gaber

Published: April 20th, 2015 by Big Picture Media

Length: 372 pages (eBook)

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance

Source: Publisher via YA Bound Book Tours (for honest review)

My Rating: ❤❤❤❤

book blurb

(from Goodreads)

Walker Callaghan doesn’t know what happened to her. One minute she was living her teenage life in suburban Chicago…and the next minute, she was in a strange place and in a brand new school with absolutely no homework, no rules, and no consequences.

Walker Callaghan, 17, is dead.

She doesn’t go to heaven or hell. She lands at The Academy, a middle realm where teenagers have one thing in common: They were the morning announcement at their high schools because they died young.

These high school kids are now caught in a strange “in-between” zone where life hasn’t changed very much. In fact, this special teen limbo looks a lot like life in a quaint Michigan town complete with jocks, popular girls and cliques. “There are even cheerleaders in death,” Walker observes. It’s not a coincidence that the music teacher is a guy named Kurt who “used to have this band.” The drama teacher, Heath, is crush worthy because back in his life, he starred in some superhero movie.

Principal King explains the rules — there are none. Why? You can’t die twice.

There is no homework.
No tests.
No SATS.
You’re just there to learn because the human brain isn’t fully formed until you’re 24.

By the way, you can’t get hurt physically, so race your Harley off that hillside. But falling in love is the most dangerous thing you can do …because no one knows how long you’ll stay in this realm or what’s next.

“Losing someone you love would be like dying twice,” Walker says.

* * * * * *
Walker Callaghan has just arrived at the Academy after a tragic car accident. “Is this heaven or is this high school?” she asks.

She finds out her new life is a bit of both as she falls in love with tat-covered, bad boy Daniel Reid who is about to break the only sacred rule of this place. He’s looking for a portal to return back to the living realm.

He needs just one hour to retrieve his younger brother who strangely never arrived at The Academy. Bobby is an Earth Bound Spirit, stuck at a plane crash site that took both of their lives as their rich father piloted his private jet nose-first into a cornfield on Christmas Eve.

Walker loves Daniel and risks it all to go with him.

Have they learned enough to outsmart dangerous forces while transporting a young child with them? Can their love survive the fragmented evil parts of themselves that are now hunting them down as they try to find a way back to the middle?

At the Academy, you learn the lessons of an after-lifetime.

my review

INITIAL THOUGHTS

I saw the cover and was immediately intrigued. It’s mysterious and creepy. I love it. Then I read on the bottom of the cover: “High school for the recently departed.” I was hooked. I have definitely never read anything about high schools for dead kids. I had to read this. Plus, it looks like a bit of a romance. Count me in!

WHAT I LIKED

The romance. Walker and Daniel. I absolutely loved their relationship. It starts out rocky because Daniel clearly likes to be left alone and doesn’t want anything to do with Walker. But Walker is persistent, and they end up being sort of friends, which eventually turns into something more. I love the gradual growth of their relationship. I love that he slowly lets her in. I love that they need each other, even when they don’t realize it. I just LOVED them. And I want to see more!

Unique plot. First you got the main part of the story: everyone at this school is dead, and they’re caught in between, like a limbo-sort-of place. Then, you have Walker, who meets Daniel, who is trying to get back to life to save his younger brother. Awesome. Love, love, loved it. It’s probably the happiest I’ve ever been to read about dead people. This is so unlike anything I have ever read, so I was on the edge of my seat.

The family bonds. This had me feeling all the feels. Walker’s relationship with her mom. Daniel’s relationship with his siblings. It was all so heartbreakingly wonderful. In a world where there could be so much heartache and sadness, the love that these people have for each other is incredible. Sorry, I don’t mean to get all sappy, but it got to me. C.L. Gaber did an awesome job.

The deceased celebrities! Ahh! Can you imagine going to a school where Kurt Cobain is your music teacher, Heath Ledger is your drama teacher, and Walter Payton is your coach?! Being dead may not be so bad after all! Of course, it got me a little teary-eyed reading about all of them, especially Heath. He was one of my favorite actors, and his death still gets to me. But, it was really nice to see him and the rest as characters in this book. Plus, it was done so well. I loved it.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

Hmm. I didn’t give this book 5 hearts because there was just something that bugged me, and I just can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it was the high school stereotypes or the constant references to a particular character’s weight or everyone making fun of Walker’s name (which got old). These were all very minor issues and did not ruin the book for me, but I guess it kept me from feeling that “OMG” feeling.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

Really good book! I want more. Like right now. It ended perfectly, but there was also a bit of a cliffhanger, and I just HAVE to know more. I’m so curious as to where this story is going to go. And now that I have heard that there are two more books in the series, I’m so upset that I have to wait, but at the same time, I’m ecstatic that I get to read more about these awesome people! I will be impatiently waiting for books 2 and 3!!!

four hearts

4 out of 5 Hearts!


buy links

Amazon

Kindle

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about the author

C.L. Gaber is the author of the ASCENDERS SAGA and co author of Jex Malone. A well known entertainment journalist, she lives in Nevada with her husband Ron, bonus daughter Sabrina and two unruly dogs. ASCENDERS 2 is due out in early 2016.

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Reading Challenges Met:

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

Around the World

Chapter Break Bookish Bingo

The Color Coded Reading Challenge

Full House Reading Challenge

Literary Pickers Challenge

The Mad Reviewer Reading Challenge

Story Sprites

Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

6186357Title: The Maze Runner (The Maze Runner #1)

Author: James Dashner

Published: October 6th, 2009 by Delacorte Press

Length: 348 pages (eBook)

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia

Source: Library

My Rating: ❤❤❤❤❤

 

book blurb

(from Goodreads)

If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

Remember. Survive. Run.

my review

INITIAL THOUGHTS

Obviously, I had heard a lot about this book, the good and the bad. Honestly, my expectations were not that high. I don’t know. I just wasn’t that excited about this book. And of course, I’ve seen the movie preview. I wanted to watch it, but I wasn’t in any hurry…until last week, when my husband said he would watch it without me if I didn’t hurry up and read the book (one of my rules that he constantly gets annoyed with). So I caved and borrowed it from the library.

WHAT I LIKED

The suspenseful plot. I went to sleep at 5 this morning because I pretty much devoured the last half of the book last night. I was on the edge of my seat the entire book. It was intense. At the beginning, you really have no idea what’s going on. And I loved that! I really enjoyed making discoveries right along with Thomas. I mean, he had no idea who he was. He woke up and only knew his name. Of course, I was hooked right then and there. I HAD to know what was going on. Plus, the way the story unfolded kept me on my toes. You gradually find out more and more, which kept me intrigued. The pace was perfect, in my opinion.

The characters. Even though the book consisted of pretty much only boys, I really liked that. It reminded me of Lord of the Flies. I was so interested in how a bunch of kids, especially boys, were able to create this society/community of their own. There were about 50 of them, give or take, but we really get to know Alby, Newt, Chuck, and Minho. Oh Minho. I loved this guy. He came off as this smart, confident, funny, tough guy who seemed to be unafraid of anything, but there were moments where you’re reminded that he’s still just a kid trying to survive in circumstances that no kid should ever be in. Then, there’s Thomas and Teresa, and I was intrigued by these newbies just as much as everyone else, especially Thomas. He seemed so determined and crazy brave. I wanted to know why!

The end. Ahh! You gotta be kidding me! That’s how it ends?! Thankfully, I don’t have to wait for the sequel (but I might need to read something else first if I care about getting any sleep). Even after reading this, I stayed up even later just thinking about what’s going to happen. The ending was perfect. THAT is how you end the first book of a series.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

In the beginning, the unique language they use took some getting used to. I was like, “What the hell does shuck and shank and klunk mean?!” But as I kept reading, I started liking it. It made their own little world that much more distinctive and charming (if you can call living in a maze charming). I liked it. But I do understand why some people had issues with it.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

Wow. Just wow. This was an amazing book. It was so much more than I expected. Okay, I will be the first to admit that what I usually look for in a book is some kind of romance, so when I enjoy a book that hardly has any romance, that is what absolutely impresses me. I constantly said to myself, “Wow. This would make a great movie! Oh wait. It already is!” And I cannot wait to watch it (even though the movie rarely meets my expectations). The suspense, the mystery, the action all had my heart racing and my blood pumping. No wonder I couldn’t sleep! Kudos to James Dashner for writing a series that I know I will love for years to come.

five hearts

5 out of 5 Hearts!


about the author

(from Goodreads)

James is the author of THE MAZE RUNNER trilogy and THE 13TH REALITY series. He also published a series (beginning with A DOOR IN THE WOODS) with a small publisher several years ago. He lives and writes in the Rocky Mountains.

author links

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads


Reading Challenges Met:

Bookish Bingo: Holiday 2015

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

The Color Coded Reading Challenge

Full House Reading Challenge

I Love Libraries Reading Challenge

The Mad Reviewer Reading Challenge

Story Sprites

Review: Romancing the Dark in the City of Light by Ann Jacobus

21525983Title: Romancing the Dark in the City of Light

Author: Ann Jacobus

Published: October 6th, 2015 by Thomas Dunne Books

Length: 278 pages (paperback)

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Source: Publisher via Goodreads First Reads Giveaway program (is it still called that?)

My Rating: ❤❤❤❤❤

book blurb

A troubled teen, living in Paris, is torn between two boys, one of whom encourages her to embrace life, while the other—dark, dangerous, and attractive—urges her to embrace her fatal flaws.

Haunting and beautifully written, with a sharp and distinctive voice that could belong only to this character, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unforgettable young adult novel.

Summer Barnes just moved to Paris to repeat her senior year of high school. After being kicked out of four boarding schools, she has to get on track or she risks losing her hefty inheritance. Summer is convinced that meeting the right guy will solve everything. She meets two. Moony, a classmate, is recovering against all odds from a serious car accident, and he encourages Summer to embrace life despite how hard it can be to make it through even one day. But when Summer meets Kurt, a hot, mysterious older man who she just can’t shake, he leads her through the creepy underbelly of the city-and way out of her depth.

When Summer’s behavior manages to alienate everyone, even Moony, she’s forced to decide if a life so difficult is worth living. With an ending that’ll surprise even the most seasoned reader, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unputdownable and utterly compelling novel.

my review

INITIAL THOUGHTS

I absolutely LOVED the cover, which is what immediately got my attention. And then I saw that it seemed like a love triangle, which I’m a sucker for. And there’s a bad boy, which I can never resist. Plus, it’s in Paris! Come on, it had to be romantic, right?! So when I won a copy on Goodreads, I was super excited…and even more excited when I got it in the mail.

WHAT I LIKED

The plot. From the cover and the book blurb, I thought this would be some cute, typical contemporary romance. This couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a dark story, and it addresses serious issues. Yes, there is a girl. Yes, she is caught in the middle between two guys. BUT, I wouldn’t call it a love triangle. One guy represents life and hope. The other represents death and evil in a way. It really isn’t about which guy Summer should end up with. It’s about her journey through life, which she is struggling so much with, and whether or not she finds something to live for. And it is done brilliantly. Kudos to the author for such a creative, meaningful story.

The characters. Okay, you are either going to love or hate Summer. She can be irritating and come off as egotistical and selfish, but you have to understand that she is suffering tremendously. Personally, I loved her. I have been through depression, and I think her thoughts and behavior were completely realistic. And I adored Moony. He has been through so much but has this positive outlook on life that is admirable. He is just what Summer needs. And then we have Kurt. When I read the blurb and saw that there would be a hot, dangerous bad boy, I thought I would love him. Turns out, I kinda despised him. But, he’s intriguing and there’s a mystery behind him. You kinda learn to love to hate him.

The very real issues. This book tackles suicide, depression, and alcoholism. And it made the story so very real and authentic. It’s not just about a cute romance where the main problem is whether or not a boy will fall for the girl. This girl is dealing with a lot more than that. And it was heartbreaking but also so refreshing because not a lot of YA authors are brave enough to address these issues.

The end. Or I should say the last quarter of the book. I am not going to give anything away, but WOW. That is all I can say. Wow. Amazing. Just read it. You’ll see what I mean.

WHAT COULD’VE BEEN BETTER

Umm…I’ve been trying to think of something I didn’t like, but the things that bugged while reading it all made sense in the end. So I can honestly say that there was nothing I didn’t like.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

After I read this book, I immediately looked up Ann Jacobus, and I was shocked to find out that this is her debut novel. Are you kidding me?! The writing, the storytelling, the characters, everything was so well done. I couldn’t believe it! Okay. I have read very different reviews of this book, and I can understand the negative comments because this is a very different book than what you’ll expect. But it’s SO GOOD. I feel incredibly lucky to have won a copy and to have had the opportunity to read it. I am seriously a fan. I just want to read more from her. Trust me when I tell you to read it. Just do it. It’s beautifully written, has unforgettable characters, and an incredible, unpredictable plot. I can’t stop thinking about it.

five hearts

5 out of 5 Hearts!


Links

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo


about the author

(from Goodreads)

Ann Jacobus writes children’s and YA fiction, blogs and tweets about it, and teaches writing. She has a B.S. from Dartmouth College and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. In her spare time she volunteers on a suicide crisis line, attends her kids’ soccer games, and reads. Her debut YA thriller is Romancing the Dark in the City of Light, out from Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press October 6. 2015. San Francisco is home to her and her family.

author links

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads


Reading Challenges Met:

Bookish Bingo: Holiday 2015

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

Around the World

The Color Coded Reading Challenge

Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge

Full House Reading Challenge

Literary Pickers Challenge

The Mad Reviewer Reading Challenge

Shelf Love Challenge

Review: The Ugly Stepsister by Aya Ling

Title: The Ugly Stepsister (Unfinished Fairy Tales #1)

Author: Aya Ling

Published: June 12th, 2015

Length: 299 pages (eBook)

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retelling

Source: Author via Xpresso Book Tours (for honest review)

My Rating: ❤❤❤❤❤

book blurb

When Kat accidentally rips apart an old picture book, she’s magically transported into the world of Cinderella–as Katriona, one of the ugly stepsisters! Life turns upside down now that she’s a highborn lady and must learn how to survive the social season, including how to get through the door in a huge metal hoop skirt. To get back, she’ll have to complete the story, right to the end of happily ever after. But the odds are huge: the other stepsister is drop-dead gorgeous, the fairy godmother is nowhere to be found, and the prince, despite being insanely hot, openly dislikes balls. Can she ever return to the modern world?

my review

INITIAL THOUGHTS

I got this book months ago and just never got around to reading it. I’ve always been curious about fairy tale retellings, but I can’t remember any that I have read. Guess I haven’t been curious enough. But when I saw this book available for review, I instantly requested it. I love the Cinderella stories and all the movie adaptations. I’ve never heard the story from the ugly stepsister’s point of view, so I was definitely intrigued. Plus, I LOVE the cover.

WHAT I LIKED

Kat. I loved her. First of all, she was completely relatable. As soon as she compared herself to Belle from Beauty and the Beast because of her love of books, I knew I would love her. And she has always felt like the unpopular, unattractive one that no one notices, which I can relate to as well! So I was attached to her right away. Secondly, she has this determination and perseverance about her that I admire. Once she sets her mind on something, she does whatever it takes to get it done. She sticks up for what she believes in, unafraid to offend anyone or of the consequences. Such an awesome character to look up to.

The very real issues. While the majority of the book is based on the original Cinderella story, I really like the unique additions to it. For example, Kat is very adamant about making changes in this world she is forced to live in. She sees children working in horrible conditions and being treated like they don’t matter. She sees that women have no say in anything because they are inferior to men and should be only doing domestic duties. I love that she takes on such real issues as child labor and gender equality.

The references to modern-day pop culture. Ahh! I LOVED all the references to books and movies. She is stuck in this world that is 100% different from her world, but she can’t help comparing certain situations to what she is familiar with, such as Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Kill Bill, and Inception. At times, it made the story hilarious. This was such a fun part of the book. I absolutely loved it.

Kat and Edward’s relationship. Okay, their relationship was my favorite part of the book. She was so determined to make Prince Edward fall for Cinderella, but she couldn’t help falling for him herself. And I loved how cautious and hesitant she was around him. She didn’t throw herself at him, and she rejected his advances. Their relationship just gradually grew. It was heartwarming and sweet, and it was done perfectly.

The suspense. I just HAD to know how this book was going to end! I couldn’t stop reading it! My husband kept telling me to go to bed. But I couldn’t help myself. Was Kat ever going to get back to her real world? How was she going to get the prince to fall for Cinderella when he was falling for her? Was she going to give in and just stay in this world to be with Edward? WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN?! I was obsessed…

WHAT COULD’VE BEEN BETTER

At first, I wasn’t a fan of how Kat was transported to this story and time period. So she accidentally rips a book and is now cursed and stuck in the story? Books fall apart over time. That’s just what they do. I thought there could’ve been a better, more creative way to get her into the story. BUT, as the story progressed, I totally forgot about what bothered me in the beginning because I was so captivated by everything about the book.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

I loved this book so much that I told my mom all about it and the author, which I never do. (By the way, mom was ecstatic because the author is from Taiwan and so is my mom, so it was like a family member of hers became a published author. Too funny.) I read a lot, but I don’t usually bug my family and friends about the books I read because they are not readers. But I had to tell them about this one! It is so, so good! I mean, we all love the Cinderella story, but it has been told the same way for years. It was so refreshing to read a completely different version of it. The amazing protagonist, the humor, the romance, the suspense, the fascinating plot. Everything about this book was incredible, and I am super happy that I got the chance to read it. I can’t wait to read the sequel, which is coming out next year! Kudos to Aya Ling for her awesome storytelling skills. She just became my new favorite author!

five hearts

5 out of 5 Hearts!


Links

Amazon


about the author

(from Goodreads)

Aya is from Taiwan, where she struggles daily to contain her obsession with mouthwatering and unhealthy foods. Often she will devour a good book instead. Her favorite books include martial arts romances, fairy tale retellings, high fantasy, cozy mysteries, and manga.

author links

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads


Reading Challenges:

Bookish Bingo: Holiday 2015

Review: Escape from Witchwood Hollow by Jordan Elizabeth

I know I’ve been MIA lately, but student teaching is kicking my butt. So, when I started my week off for Thanksgiving break, I jumped right back into reading! I received an ebook copy of this book from the author months ago, so I was ecstatic to finally read it. Enjoy my review!

23351890Title: Escape from Witchwood Hollow

Author: Jordan Elizabeth

Published by: Curiosity Quills Press on October 29th, 2014

Length: 178 pages (eBook)

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Source: Author

My Rating: ❤❤❤❤❤

book blurb

(from Goodreads)

Everyone in Arnn – a small farming town with more legends than residents – knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees.

After losing her parents in a horrific terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria and her older brother escape New York City to Arnn. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope, when she should be afraid.

Perhaps the witch can reunite her with her lost parents. Awakening the witch, however, brings more than salvation from mourning, for Honoria discovers a past of missing children and broken promises.

To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness.

How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?

my review

INITIAL THOUGHTS

This was one of the first review requests I got when I started my blog. I initially had mixed feelings because the fantasy genre has always been a hit or miss for me and witches aren’t my favorite topic, but I wanted to give it a try. Plus, the cover and book blurb intrigued me!

WHAT I LIKED

The writing. I had never read this author, so I set my expectations fairly low. Turns out I didn’t need to. This book was so well-written. It felt like I was reading a book by an author who has been writing for 30 years. I was very impressed. This story could’ve easily gotten confusing because there were about three different time periods, and unfortunately, this is not usually done well in my experience of reading these types of books; however, Jordan Elizabeth nailed it. I never once questioned which time period I was in. And the writing style was awesome. Just enough detail, not too much or too little. The dialogue felt natural and didn’t seem forced. Plus, the story flowed so smoothly.

The mystery. Wow. I didn’t expect to get so sucked into this story and the mystery behind it all. I couldn’t stop reading once I started. I just kept asking myself: what is going on with these woods? Is there really a witch? What is she doing? Who are all these different characters? How are they all connected? And once I gradually began to figure things out, I had to pretty much put the book down and clap because it was amazing. Kudos to the author for keeping me guessing and keeping the mystery alive until the very end.

The characters. I really liked Honoria and Albertine. They both suffered yet were so determined in their own unique way. And I was so attached to them. I cared so much about what happened to them and the other characters. I just HAD to know how it ended, which kept me up late reading. And I LOVE when that happens. It’s no fun reading a book if you don’t care about the characters.

WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED

Maybe adding an epilogue. I would’ve liked to see how the characters are doing afterward, even something very short. I just got so attached, so I wanted to know more. BUT, this is such a minor issue. It didn’t even have an impact on my rating or my thoughts on the book. It’s just a personal preference of mine.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

Omg, I loved this book! I’m so glad I was contacted by the author, and I’m so glad I gave it a chance. I was beginning to think that the only books I would enjoy would have a romance at the center of the story, but I’m glad this story proved me wrong. It was full of mystery, suspense, intrigue, and so much more. I could go on and on. What a great first impression I got of this author. I can’t wait to read more from her!

five hearts

5 out of 5 Hearts!

Cover Reveal, Excerpt, & Giveaway: The Affiliate by K.A. Linde

cover_reveal

I am so excited to release the cover of K.A. Linde’s The Affiliate! This YA fantasy looks awesome!! And after reading the excerpt, I pretty much NEED to read this book…like now. Enjoy! And enter the giveaway for your chance to win an eARC!

Title: The Affiliate (Ascension, 1)

Author: K.A. Linde

Release Day: September 15th

Genre: YA Fantasy

TA Amazon
About The Affiliate:

On the day of her Presenting, in front of the entire Byern Court, seventeen-year-old Cyrene Strohm’s lifelong plans come to fruition when she’s chosen as an Affiliate to the Queen.

Or so she thinks. When Cyrene receives a mysterious letter and an unreadable book, she finds nothing is as it seems. Thrust into a world of dangerous political intrigue and deadly magic, Cyrene’s position only grows more treacherous when she finds herself drawn to the one man she can never have…

King Edric himself.

Cyrene must decide if love is truly worth the price of freedom. Find out in this first book in USA Today bestselling author K.A. Linde’s new Ascension series.

Pre-Order Now: Amazon | iTunes
Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]
Exclusive Excerpt:

“Do you enjoy the view?” King Edric asked.

“The rains have made the gardens bloom, and it warms my heart to see it so.”

“It is good to know that the gardener approves of the work.”

Cyrene laughed lightly. “I have not gardened in a month’s time. I fear I can no longer call myself a gardener.”

She remembered when she had told the king of her interest in gardening at the last feast day almost a week ago. After that dance, Queen Kaliana added a list of plants to her assignment, forcing her to reread every page she had already dredged through for information. It had wasted two entire days.

“Perhaps I could change that,” he offered.

He directed her down the staircase and into the courtyard below lit solely by the setting sun in the distance.

Her stomach churned at the thought of him offering assistance to any of her needs. It was like what she had read in her children’s books of the tales of Leifs, and how one request would be necessitated by a much larger sacrifice. Her biggest sacrifice at the present moment was time. She wanted nothing more than to finish her work on agriculture and prove that she could get moved somewhere that involved traveling…and adventure.

“On the contrary, My King, I am fully enthralled in my Affiliate duties, and believe that gardening would only distract me from my work.”

“You cannot spare one afternoon to spend in my gardens?” His blue-gray eyes searched her face. “If you have half the green thumb you suggest, then it would be delightful to have you on the grounds.”

She swallowed. “I really have much work to accomplish before we go on Processional.”

“I could speak to the Queen and request it be lessened,” he whispered into the evening air.

“No!” It was the first time he had ever admitted to discussing her with the Queen. Hearing him admit it aloud made her voice come out strangled.

Cyrene missed her footing on the pebble path and stumbled forward a pace. Edric steadied her. He turned his body to face her in the middle of the garden, and her breath caught at the sight of him in the setting sun.

“You do not wish me to speak to the Queen?”

“I spoke out of turn. Please forgive me.”

“I cannot forgive that which I do not understand. Did the Queen somehow offend you?”

Cyrene shook her head. “I fear that the Queen does not…like me.”

Edric laughed softly, taking one of her hands in his own. “Oh Cyrene, I believe that the Queen likes no one but herself.”

Cyrene found that she, too, could laugh at his comment.

“Now, tell me what the Queen has done to make you believe that she dislikes you.”

“It’s nothing, my King.” She turned her face away from his. She couldn’t possibly tell him the real reason.

“Enough to infuriate you, which is enough for me.”

When she looked back up into his blue-gray eyes she felt that same magnetic pull between them. Somehow she had not realized how close they were standing. His hand felt warm against her bare skin. His body only a few inches away from her. His breath hot on her face. Her heart contracted in her chest, and she forced herself to respond.

“She speaks of…of your interference, as if…as if you…”

Time stretched between them, and she thought for a split second he might move even closer to her. She was rooted in place, captivated by his gaze.

“Yes?” His other hand drifted to her waist, and she was suddenly on fire.

Their breath mingled together as she murmured, “As if you favor me.”

“And do you think that?”

“I…”

“Yes?” he asked, stepping closer.

“I think you have your queen,” she breathed.

 

About K.A. Linde:

kalinde copyUSA Today bestselling author K.A. Linde is the author of The Affiliate, the first book in the Ascension Series. As a military brat, she traveled the world with her family, imaginary friends, and ever-increasing supply of books. She has spent much of her life dreaming up new worlds and characters and forcing them into uncomfortable, usually life-threatening scenarios. After graduating from the University of Georgia with a masters degree in political science, she began spending every waking hour putting those characters onto paper.

When not writing, she spends her time dancing, collecting paperbacks in the hopes of filling a Beauty and the Beast style library one day, traveling to visit her friends who live all over the country, and still reading anything she can get her hands on. She currently resides in North Carolina with her husband and two puppies, Lucy and Riker, where she is hard at work on her next novel.

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