Apr 22

All We Could Have Been

Book Reviews 0

All We Could Have BeenAll We Could Have Been by T.E. Carter
on April 23, 2019
Pages: 304
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads

Five years ago, Lexie walked home from school after her older brother failed to pick her up. When she entered her house, her brother sat calmly, waiting for the police to come arrest him for the heinous crime he had just committed.

Treated like a criminal herself, Lexie now moves from school to school hiding who she is—who she's related to. She struggles with loving her brother, the PTSD she now suffers from, and wanting to just live a normal life. But how can she be normal when she can’t even figure out how to just live?

This is a powerful look at the assumptions we make about people. Lexie's emotional journey to separate her brother's horrific act from herself is stunning and heartbreaking. This is Lexie’s story and journey—not her brother's—and it will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

I received this book for free from [the publisher] in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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For all the ways I want to disappear and not let people see me, it still cuts me every time they don’t.

All We Could Have Been was a very emotional book. While it is YA, it tackles some very adult themes and thoughts – maybe because the main characters, while still teenagers, have both experienced life events that forced them to grow up very quickly. It seems to be marketed as a thriller, which isn’t entirely accurate as it mostly focuses on the aftermath of a crime rather than the events around the crime. There are some flashback sort of memories about it though, so I guess maybe that’s why…YA thriller seems to be a hard genre to pin down.

Feels

I hurt so much for Lexi. For Marcus, too, but mainly for Lexie. She has been so scarred by her brother’s actions and the hatred that people in general turned on her family after his crime, that she has (as many of us do) started to believe it of herself.

You ruin everything, I remind myself. There’s nothing you can keep safe. 

Lexie’s parents have tried, but they’ve been dealing with their own trauma, and haven’t entirely kept up with their very nearly adult daughter. Their best advice to her is to lay low, not attract attention, and please-for-the-love-of-god maybe consider not color coding her clothes to the day of the week. Despite sending her to a therapist, they seem to have no grasp of how important coping mechanisms are to Lexie, even something as small as clothing colors.

I also caught a case of the feels for Lexie and Marcus together. They aren’t the most romantic couple – their relationship is built more on a need for support and understanding that they can’t seem to find from anyone else. While I wouldn’t ever *recommend* a romantic relationship based on such, the fact is that it happens often, I’ve been IN a relationship like that, and sometimes it is what people need at that time. Such relationships may not be the most lasting, but they have their place.

Lexie grew SO MUCH in the course of this story. She’s not perfect, or “fixed” as some might be inclined to call it, but she makes so much progress. She keeps trying. Which, as anyone with depression or anxiety can tell you – IS HUGE. Sometimes it is so difficult to keep trying.

Characters

Aside from Lexie, there is an entire cast of other interesting people! This made me really happy because often secondary characters are so similar I can’t remember who is who or did what.

  • There is, of course, Marcus – who is supposed to be this bad boy with a horrible reputation, when all he really seems to be is a kid who did what he had to do to survive and ended up getting swept under the rug by the school system.
  • Ryan is Lexie’s first real friend at her new school, and he has a secret too, but one that’s entirely personal. View Spoiler » I really like Ryan, until about the middle of the book, when he does something that seems entirely selfish and unreasonable and very out of character, IMO. Meh.
  • Chloe – Chloe is somewhat petty and self-centered, but she has a respect for human feeling that a lot of people don’t. I can respect her, in the end, even if I didn’t really like her.
  • Aunt Susie – I love adult characters that I can empathize with. This is probably less of a big deal for the intended audience of All We Might Have Been, but as an adult reader I totally felt a kinship with her. She is Lexie’s mother’s sister, and while she is trying to be the “parent” figure Lexie’s parents want her to be, she ends up treating Lexie more like an adult. Huge props.

Setting

Most of the book takes place in and around Lexie’s high school – the one she’s starting at the beginning of her senior year in hopes she can make it 160 days. Normally I’m annoyed by school settings, but this one didn’t bother me, I think because it was much more character focused than it was on any particular setting.

Negatives

Mainly Ryan’s abrupt character switch in the middle of the story. I felt like it was unnecessary and really sad – and very NOT in character for him. It really dampened the entire rest of the book. Also in the beginning there is some weird, over-the-top descriptions that really threw me for a loop…I think maybe the author was trying to get Lexie’s sort of dry, sarcastic humor across but it really just felt strange.

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Apr 21

Sunday Post #5 – Finals are Looming

Books/Writing 0

Hey everyone! Back with another Sunday Post update, via Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s been a LONG time since I did a Sunday Post, but I’d like to get back into it regularly as a way to wrap up. I’m totally patterning mine off of Kimberly’s, at least for now.

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This week has been stressful. STRESS.FUL. I have one more day of classes, officially, and then finals start on Wednesday. As always, I have procrastinated way more than I should. As always, I’m freaking out. Which means I’m not sleeping well and my stress is rubbing off on my husband and even the dogs. Sigh. But, this time next week, I’ll have everything except one final complete for the semester and then I have the month of May off!

Today my husband’s family is having an “Easter dinner,” i.e., breakfast for dinner where everyone has to wear PJs. I’m not entirely sure where this idea came from and I don’t personally celebrate Easter, but I’m always down for breakfast food!

Gratuitous dose of adorableness, courtesy my sweet Noah.

Last Week on Blog

Next Week on the Blog

  • All We Could Have Been – YA thriller ARC review
  • What Angels Fear (Sebastian St. Cyr #1) – historical mystery review

Around the Blogosphere

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Apr 18

The Pumpkin War Review

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

The Pumpkin War ReviewThe Pumpkin War by Cathleen Young
Published by Wendy Lamb Books on May 21, 2019
Genres: Children's Lit, Middle Grade
Pages: 192
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads five-stars

"Cathleen Young's characters will forever have a place in my heart." --Holly Goldberg Sloan, author of Counting by 7s

Former best friends compete to see who can grow the biggest pumpkin and win the annual giant pumpkin race on the lake. A great pick for fans of Half a Chance and Gertie's Leap to Greatness.

At the end of every summer, Madeline Island hosts its famous pumpkin race. All summer, adults and kids across the island grow giant, 1000-pound pumpkins, then hollow one out, and paddle in it across the lake to the cheers of the entire town.

Twelve-year-old Billie loves to win; she has a bulletin board overflowing with first prize ribbons. Her best friend Sam doesn't care much about winning, or at least Billie didn't think so until last summer's race, when his pumpkin crashed into hers as she was about to cross the finish line, and he won. This summer, Billie is determined to get revenge by growing the best and biggest pumpkin, and beat Sam in the race. It's a tricky science to grow pumpkins, since weather, bugs and other critters can wipe out a crop. Then a surprise visit from a long lost relative shakes things up, and Billie begins to see her family, and her bond with Sam, in a new way.

I received this book for free from [the publisher] in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Pumpkin War (due out on May 21, 2019) is a story of friendship and family, of getting back to the earth and enjoying the small things in life – and all this in a beautiful setting, with writing that seems just perfect for a middle grade audience! I was quite impressed. Usually books that try to take on this scope of feelings and events end up falling flat in one way or another, but this one is just right. I feel like Goldilocks, dancing around with glee after finding the three bears’ house and baby bear’s “just-right” porridge.

Billie is 12 years old, the oldest of three siblings. Their dad is Irish and their mom is Ojibwe, and they live on a Canadian island. Billie is fiercely competitive in all ways, and ESPECIALLY when it comes to growing monster pumpkins! She has been in an almost year-long standoff with the boy who used to be her best friend, since she is convinced he knocked her out of last year’s pumpkin race on purpose.

I loved the depiction of rural life in Canada. Billie not only takes care of her pumpkins, but also bees. Bees! Also there is more about fishing, and gardening, and the traditions of the Ojibwe. It was just so…homey. Down to earth. I loved it, and I think middle-school-me would have loved it as well. Also, adult-me loved her parents! Their differences in background were lightly touched on, and Billie obviously embraces both sides of her heritage. She even finds out about some “family secrets” part way through the book (nothing adult level), and has a part in reconciling her dad with his past. Also, Billlie’s youngest sibling is born near the beginning of the book and the struggles of adding a new baby to family life are also portrayed – Billie’s mom and dad aren’t perfect, and I totally sympathized with them.

Billie struggles all summer long to come to terms with what happened with Sam in the last race. Despite his efforts, she’s not quite willing to forgive him. Will she let a mistake ruin their friendship? Is being first more important? I thoroughly enjoyed the way this played out, and also the fact that the author didn’t make her competitive nature a bad thing (as happens so often when it is a girl character being competitive).

5/5 stars. This book will be going on my shelf!

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five-stars

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Apr 16

Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

Thomas Wildus and the Book of SorrowsThomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows by J.M. Bergen
Published by Elandrian Press on February 2, 2019
Pages: 352
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads four-stars

Thomas thinks he's an ordinary twelve year old, but when a strange little man with gold-flecked eyes gives him an ancient text called The Book of Sorrows, the world he knows is turned upside down. Suddenly he’s faced with a secret family legacy, powers he can hardly begin to understand, and an enemy bent on destroying everything he holds dear. The more he reads and discovers, the deeper the danger to himself and the people he loves. As the race to the final showdown unfolds, Thomas must turn to trusted friends and uncertain allies as he seeks to prevent destruction at an epic scale.

I received this book for free from [the publisher] in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

“Magic is real, Thomas. No matter what happens, always remember that magic is real.”

Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows feels like the start of something big. While there’s not a TRUE cliffhanger ending, there is so much unfinished business – I was happy to see this is supposed to be the first of five books!

Thomas is an ordinary kid, obsessed with comic books and having doodle wars with his best friend, Enrique. His dad disappeared years ago and his mom is an insanely busy professor, but he’s mostly pretty happy and knows he has a good life. Then weird things start to happen, weird things involving a book with a changing cover, and strange people appearing and seeming to stalk him. So yes…this book falls into the “chosen one” trope…but tropes only become tropes because people love them. We all just have our favorites. 😉

The first half of the book was setup. Which was…slightly off-putting. I was convinced this was going to be a 3 star read until I was over halfway through, but the last parts of the story bumped it up to a solid 4 stars! The writing during the first half is at times kind of clunky and awkward, not unlike the middle school audience the book is aimed at but hopefully not enough to put them off.

THEN, the action starts. And I was intrigued by the puzzles and the magic and the intrigue. It was really cool and I just kept finding more things to be curious about. This is also where all those loose ends start to appear, which obviously are leading into a huge epic adventure for the series. Thomas is kind of pulled in two directions here, as he’s uncertain who to trust – and who wouldn’t be, with all the things he thought he knew about himself and the world in general, suddenly appearing to be lies – and wants to both be loyal to his family and friends, and save the world. *wink wink* He’s an incredibly likable character, as (so far) he has stayed humble and true to himself even with the discovery of his special abilities.

The bad guy, who stays in the background for most of the book, appears only in about the last quarter. And then,  what do you know! Is he REALLY a bad guy? Oh boy. Who is Thomas supposed to believe? I love that this presents a somewhat (only somewhat) morally gray appearing character in a story for this age group.

Obviously, there is a lot more to come in this story, and I’m looking forward to it. I’ll definitely be reading the sequel, Thomas Wildus and the Wizard of Sumeria. Also, I’m totally on board with the galaxy-ish looking covers for these books.

 

Many thanks to Book Publicity Services for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

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four-stars

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Apr 15

Demon Magic and a Martini Blog Tour!

Book Tours 0

I absolutely love this series by Annette Marie, so I’m super happy to be participating in the blog tour for the 4th book! If you’re interested, you can check out my reviews of the first book here, and the second one here. Be sure to scroll down to enter the giveaway and read the excerpt!

Demon Magic and a Martini
Annette Marie
(The Guild Codex: Spellbound #4)
Published by: Dark Owl Fantasy Inc.
Publication date: April 12th 2019
Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy

When I first landed a bartending job at the local guild, I didn’t know a thing about magic. These days, I’m practically an expert on the different magical classes, but there’s one nobody ever talks about: Demonica.

Turns out they have a good reason for that. My guild is strictly hellion-free, because who wants to risk life and limb to control the biggest bullies on the mythic playground?

Well, some people do, and now a demon has been loosed in the city. My three best friends are determined to slay it, but even badass combat mages are critically out-magicked. And that’s not all. The monster they’re tracking—it’s not hiding. It’s not fleeing. It’s not leaving a trail of corpses everywhere it goes.

The demon is hunting too. And in a city full of mythics, it’s searching for deadlier prey.

If we can’t unravel the demon’s sinister motivations, more innocent people will die, but finding the answers means digging into dark secrets … and learning truths I never wanted to know.


Note: The three mages are definitely sexy, but this series isn’t a reverse harem. It’s 100% fun, sassy, fast-paced urban fantasy.


THE GUILD CODEX: SPELLBOUND
Three Mages and a Margarita (#1)
Dark Arts and a Daiquiri (#2)
Two Witches and a Whiskey (#3)
Demon Magic and a Martini (#4)

Goodreads / Amazon

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EXCERPT:

“Speaking of worry …” Sin’s eyes narrowed. “I heard all about how you went demon hunting with Aaron, Kai, and Ezra. I have to ask … what the hell were any of you thinking?”

“Um, well—”

“You aren’t combat trained, and demons are the fiercest, deadliest opponents out there! Why would Darius even approve it? You’re all idiots.”

I managed a bleak smile. “Thanks, Sin. Appreciate the vote of confidence.”

She sniffed angrily. “You know you aren’t ready for that, and I’d really prefer my friend not get herself killed.”

Couldn’t argue with her there. I’d also prefer not to get killed.

Lifting the tattered book off her lap, she smacked it down on the bar. “We need to look at options.”

“Uh … options for what?”

“Defensive alchemy.” She cast me a flinty stare. “Since you’re all for the dangerous jobs now, you need to be armed with more than a couple of artifacts. I heard you used a smoke screen. What else did you take?”

Bemusedly, I watched her flip the book open. “Just flash-bang potions. What is that thing?”

“My grimoire. All Arcana mythics have one—where we record all the spells or transmutations we’ve learned or invented.” She turned several spotted, liquid-stained pages covered in handwriting and diagrams. “I can make smoke bombs and flash-bangs easily enough, but you need something to stop an opponent. Personally, I don’t like sleep potions. It’s easy to get it on your own skin and then you’re asleep instead of them.”

“Yeah, that’d be bad.”

She skimmed a few more pages. “Enhanced strength is useful, but it doesn’t last long, and unless you’re in excessively good shape, you’ll crash hard
afterward. Let’s see … amnesia, no. Fasting potion, no. Enhanced speed, no.”

“What’s wrong with speed? I’d like to be faster.”

“It’s hopelessly impractical. Your body gets faster, but your reflexes don’t, so it’s difficult to control without training and practice. You’ll spend the potion’s duration tripping over your own feet and running into things.”

“Oh.” Too bad. “What’s a fasting potion?”

“Drink it and you won’t need food, water, or a bathroom for about forty-eight hours. Good for certain situations, but you pay for it afterward.” She perused more recipes. “Enhanced perception, air buffer, true sight, anti-emotionalizer, allure-fume—none of these are useful.”

“Allure-fume?” I repeated. “What’s that?”

She winced. “Uh, it’s a … um … perfume.”

I stared at her pointedly, waiting for an explanation, and her cheeks turned pink.

“A few drops on the skin will make the wearer especially alluring to the opposite sex. Like pheromones.”

“Why do you know a potion like that?”

“I tried it out when I was younger, okay?” she muttered defensively. “Lesson learned. You don’t have to lecture me.”

“What happened?”

“I wore it on a first date with this guy I really liked.”

“Did it work?”

“It worked on him, plus every male who got within twenty feet of me. I spent our entire dinner date pushing random men out of our booth. I’ve never been hit on so many times in one evening. Most of the men were twice my age and married.”

Fighting back a snicker, I asked, “Did you go on a second date with your crush?”

“No.” She hung her head over the grimoire. “An early sign that my love life was doomed.”

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Author Bio:

Annette Marie is the author of Amazon best-selling YA urban fantasy series Steel & Stone, its prequel trilogy Spell Weaver, and romantic fantasy trilogy Red Winter. Her first love is fantasy, but fast-paced adventures and tantalizing forbidden romances are her guilty pleasures. She lives in the frozen winter wasteland of Alberta, Canada (okay, it’s not quite that bad) with her husband and their furry minion of darkness—sorry, cat—Caesar. When not writing, she can be found elbow-deep in one art project or another while blissfully ignoring all adult responsibilities.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Apr 13

1st Quarter Reading Challenge Update 2019

Uncategorized 0

It’s April! That means the first quarter of 2019 is gone. Over, done with. That’s…somewhat shocking, and somewhat relieving. I’ve managed to stay with my classes so far (only two weeks left to go! also finals, but that’s another subject all together), I’ve actually been reading and blogging, and my house doesn’t ENTIRELY look like a tornado hit it. I call that a win.

Photo courtesy PBT shop

So how am I doing with the various reading challenges I’m working on for 2019? Eh, well. Some better than others! The counters in the sidebar update as I post reviews here, but not all books are getting blog posts (some I only review on GoodReads, due to length or content). I’m keeping track of EVERYTHING I read in my lovely little Bookworm Life Planner, from the PeanutButterTaco Etsy store. Lots of amazing bookish stickers over there, as well as this awesome planner (which I now can’t live without), so go check it out (not affiliated, just a super happy customer!). I’ve also been using a couple of spreadsheets, which I plan to do an entire post on later. So let’s have at it!

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52 Books in 2019

42/52. I am CRUSHING this one. Somehow. I’m honestly astounded. I admit I’ve read more middle grade and kids’ lit books than I have in previous years…but I’ve read plenty of “regular” books too, and even some nonfiction! I’m pretty happy. You can see ALL my read books for 2019 here.

Beat the Backlist 2019 (hosted by NovelKnight)

15/20 – Apparently not doing too badly on this one either, which surprises me. You’ll see why when we get to the next challenge, hehe. I actually finished an entire series that was backlist, Annette Marie’s Steel and Stone series. Still in the process of reviewing all of them, but I have put up reviews for Book 1 and Book 2.

2019 New Release Challenge (hosted by unConventional Bookworms)

27/20. Ahem. What was that I said in my original post back in January, about reading fewer new releases? OBVIOUSLY that isn’t happening…but oh well. I’m enjoying what I’ve read this year, so far, very much!

Diversity Reading Challenge 2019 (hosted by Celebrity Readers)

12/25. Almost exactly halfway. While more and more diverse books are being published, the fact that only about a quarter of the 42 books I’ve read so far could truly be counted as diverse, in any way (i.e., something other than white, heterosexual, fully abled) is really rather sad. I’m making an effort to read books that include more people, and this challenge is helping to remind me of that.

2019 Debut Author Challenge (hosted by Love Your Shelf)

5/12. Again, almost halfway. Not bad at all, for the first quarter. And, most of them I totally enjoyed! I count that a big plus, since I always feel kind of like I’m gambling when trying a debut.

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How are your reading challenges going for this year? Are you surprising yourself with where your reading is taking you?

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Apr 11

The Haunting of Elmwood Manor – Review and Tour

Book Reviews 0 ★★★½



The Haunting of Elmwood Manor – Review and TourThe Haunting of Elmwood Manor (Pekin Dewlap Mystery, #1) by Pamela McCord
on March 1, 2019
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads three-half-stars

Pekin Dewlap hasn’t seen a ghost since she was twelve. But she’d do anything to get them back. Starting a ghostbusting business with her two best friends, Amber and Scout, seems like the perfect way to accomplish her goal. Of course, playing with ghosts isn’t high on their wish list, so Pekin has to do some arm-twisting to get them on board.

Once committed, Pekin and her friends find themselves in deep, trying to solve the disappearance of fourteen-year old Miranda Talbert. Miranda went missing in 1918, and her spirit has wandered the halls of Elmwood Manor for the last hundred years.

In the midst of finding Miranda, discovering her budding feelings for Scout, and consoling a terrified Amber, Pekin is met by an angry ghost set on thwarting her plans. Will the Ghosties be able to help Miranda, or will Pekin’s business die before she solves the mystery?

I received this book for free from [the publisher] in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks

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I’ve really been on a middle-grade kick lately and I was super excited to get to review this book! Ghosts and ghost stories have fascinated me since I was a kid, so as soon as I read the synopsis I was all on board. Overall I gave it 3.5/5 stars!

Things I Liked:

  • The ghost bits were particularly well done. I found the hairs on the back of my neck raising at several passages! Eeeesh.
  • Descriptions of the old house were awesome. I looooove old houses and exploring. The author did make sure to not have the kids trespass – due to Pekin’s “business,” they have the permission of the current owner to go snoop.
  • I liked the difference in ghosts. Hard to say more without spoiling, but I really liked that there were distinct differences.
  • Scout and Pekin were cute. Very young teenager-y. 😉 I loved all the bumbling and muddling about over their feelings, but there wasn’t TOO much drama.

Things I Didn’t Like So Much

  • It really feels like the author doesn’t know modern teenagers very well. They are supposed to be fifteen and sixteen years old, but most of the time they seem to act much younger. Yes, this is a middle grade book…so why not have middle-grade age characters? Maybe it’s just me.
  • The adults are stupid. Ridiculously so. Their interactions are just…not…believable, for the most part. But they’re a minor part of the story.
  • The whole “love saves the day” vibe. UGH. Didn’t need that, but ok. Still thought the couple was cute!

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Author Bio:

Pam was born in Arkansas several decades ago. She’s not sure if that makes her a Southern Girl or if moving to Southern California when she was five revokes her Southern Girl card. She started writing later in life when she was challenged by a friend to create a book out of his story idea. Reaching the first 5,000 words was a milestone, but with time and hard work she managed to finish an entire book, much to her surprise. Since then, she’s written several novels, in several genres. Romance, middle grade and paranormal comprise most of her work. Pam has spent over 40 years working as a legal secretary at a law firm in Orange County, California. Aside from writing, she follows the stock market, buying, selling and trading stocks and options. In contrast to that, she loves trips to Las Vegas where she can spend many happy hours at the Pai Gow tables. She shares a condo with her very own My Cat From Hell TV star, Allie, who manages to exude just enough affection to make her scary feral ways tolerable.

Website / Facebook

 

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three-half-stars

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Apr 04

April 2019 New Books Releases

Books/Writing 0

It’s time for another monthly new books post! Let’s just ignore the fact that I totally missed March…not just for books. Where did the month go? I felt like I was just barely treading water and then all of a sudden – boom – the month was over. *blink blink*

THIS month has already been quite eventful. Monday morning, I was working on a school project at home. Closed my laptop, drove to school, opened laptop…to find that my hard drive had died somewhere between home and school. Yep. Fantastic. Thankfully my husband works at an electronics store and I was able to get a new hard drive for much less than it would have cost anywhere else. Also thankfully, I long ago learned to put everything important either on a flash drive (this was years ago), or in the cloud somewhere. Preferable multiple somewheres. So I didn’t actually lose anything, just had the annoyance of not having a computer for a few days. First world problems.

Anyway! You’re here for the books, so let’s get started. I broke my five book limit for preorders rule this month, and made it six…and then there are three more that I just had to talk about even though I didn’t buy them (yet)!

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All covers link to GoodReads!

  • Last of the Name – I was lucky enough to get an ARC from Netgalley of this book, but I ordered a copy for myself, I loved it that much. You can read my full review here!
  • The Devouring Gray – it was compared to the Raven Cycle, which is one of my favorite series of EVER…so yeah.
  • Demon Magic and a Martini – the 4th in the Guild Codex series by Anne Marie (how does she turn these out so fast?!?), which I’m buying even though I still haven’t read the third one…but, you can read my reviews of the first one, Three Mages and a Margarita, and the second one, Dark Arts and a Daiquiri!
  • The Missing Years – Scottish highlands, family secrets, creepy gardens…sign me up!
  • Little Darlings – twin changelings? Faery? Sounds fascinating! I’m kind of sad that this has gotten some lukewarm to negative reviews from bloggers that I’ve found usually align with my tastes, but we’ll see.
  • The Boy Who Steals Houses – by the amazing PaperFury, so obviously I had to get it…not to mention her debut, A Thousand Perfect Notes, completely broke my heart and crushed my soul (you should read it, obvs).
  • We Rule the Night – feminist pilots saving the world! Need I say more? Also, THAT COVER. Holy shit.
  • Witch’s Honor – sequel to the book that unexpectedly gave me hot flashes a few months ago, Shadow Walker. I complained about the cover of that one but loved the story, and I was super excited to see the female MC on the cover of this one – and NOT in some ridiculous state of half-dress.
  • The Raven’s Tale – EDGAR ALLAN POE!! Inspired by, anyway. And finding his muse…which is more demanding than one might think…yes, I need this book.

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What’s on your radar for April? Have you read any of these yet?

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Apr 02

Review of Mera: Tidebreaker

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

Review of Mera: TidebreakerMera: Tidebreaker by Danielle Paige, Steven Bryne
Published by DC Ink Genres: Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Pages: 192
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads four-stars

From Danielle Paige, the New York Times best-selling author of Stealing Snow, comes a Mera and Aquaman origin story that explores Mera's first steps on land as well as her first steps as a hero or a villain, forcing her to choose to follow her heart or her mission to kill.

Mera is teenage royalty, heir to the throne of Xebel, the other not-so-lost colony under the sea. But Mera is destined to wear a different crown, that of Atlantis. When the inhabitants of Xebel plot to overthrow their homeland of Atlantis, Mera is sent to kill the heir to the throne, Arthur Curry. As the unrest between their colonies grows, Mera and Arthur unexpectedly fall in love...will Arthur Curry be the king at Mera's side in Atlantis, or will he die under her blade?

Mera by Danielle Paige is an astonishing story that explores themes of duty, love, heroism and freedom, all through the eyes of readers' favorite undersea royalty.

I received this book for free from [the publisher] in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Confession: this was the reviewer version of a cover-buy. I know absolutely nothing about Mera, or Aquaman, or the DC version of Atlantis. I requested a review copy because I saw it on NetGalley and went, “Ooooh a red-haired girl with a trident!” Then I read it, and it said Atlantis, and I still thought maybe it had something to do with Greek gods because of the trident. So sue me. I STILL ENJOYED IT! So I am living, breathing proof that you don’t have to have back story to enjoy this graphic novel.

Mera: Tidebreaker is an origin story for Mera, but even without knowing her future (I didn’t, I only looked it up after I finished this book) I thoroughly enjoyed the story, mainly for the stunning artwork. It has a brighter look and feel to it than a lot of the graphic novels I’ve picked up and it made it much easier to read and very engaging. Mera is such an intriguing character – immature, headstrong, but with ability and heart – and a TON of potential. Then there is the ongoing battle between Atlantis and Xebel, with SO MUCH there that wasn’t explained – I’m guessing because it is explained in the actual comics. And Arthur – I’m very interested in his back story, like how did his parents ever meet and why did he grow up as he did?

My one complaint with this story was the instalove. SO MUCH INSTALOVE. Why?!? I feel like even a teenage girl of Mera’s character and inclinations wouldn’t just suddenly -poof- fall in love with a boy just because he was nice to her. It seemed so off for her, so strange and jarring…maybe there is something there that I’m missing due to my lack of knowledge about the rest of their story, but I just really felt like that didn’t belong. Why does she have to end up paired up right now? Why not just assume that happens later, but that they MEET right now?

Regardless of that, 4/5 stars for beautiful artwork and engaging story.

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four-stars

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Mar 28

Last of the Name Review

Book Reviews 1 ★★★★★

Last of the Name ReviewLast of the Name by Rosanne Parry
Published by Carolrhoda Books (R) on April 2, 2019
Genres: Historical, Middle Grade
Pages: 344
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads five-stars

Twelve-year-old Danny O'Carolan and his sister, Kathleen, arrive in New York City in 1863. Kathleen refuses to be parted from her only remaining relative, so she finds a job in domestic service for herself and her younger...sister. Danny reluctantly pretends to be a girl to avoid being sent to the children's workhouse or recruited as a drummer boy for the Union army. When he occasionally sneaks off to spend a few hours as a boy and share his rich talent for Irish dancing, he discovers the vast variety of New York's neighborhoods. But the Civil War draft is stoking tensions between the Irish and free black populations. With dangers escalating, how can Danny find a safe place to call home?

I received this book for free from [the publisher] in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

“Always remember who ye are,” Granny says. “Descended of the great bards of old. Honord by princes near and far they were. Sought out for music and for counsel. Keepers of history. Writers of songs.”

I was excited to read Last of the Name, being of partial descent from Irish immigrants myself. It’s not a topic I’ve often seen covered for this age group, and I was thrilled to see it done so well.

Last of the Name is a middle-grade book about the arrival of Irish immigrants to the United States during the time of the Civil War. 12-year-old Danny has lost everyone dear to him except for his sister Kathleen, either to war, famine (by hunger or in attempts to steal enough food for their family to survive), or the crossing to America. He rebels at dressing as a girl to be a maid alongside Kathleen, but since it seems their only hope of staying together and surviving in the bitter, angry stew that was New York City in 1863, he goes along with his sister’s plan.

Kathleen is the sort of believer who believes more the less evidence there is. She could be on her knees for days on end. I’m going to die of hunger while she prays to save me from a bountiful future…If only there was a patron saint of those afflicted by tyrannical sisters there’d be hope for me.

Despite his complaining, it’s clear Danny dearly loves his sister and will do anything for her. As the city grows more and more hateful, both towards free blacks and the Irish (coming to steal jobs, naturally), it becomes almost as dangerous for them as it was at home – except here, people appreciate Danny’s voice and his dancing feet, which maybe – just maybe – might be the key to their survival in New York City. But when the draft is initiated and the Irish immigrants of the city bear the brunt of it (so much for random!), the whole city looks to go up in flames.

I’m not going to lie, I teared up several times reading this story – and I’m not even sure why! It just felt so poignantly REAL. Danny was adorable and I loved Kathleen’s fire and backbone.

“You Irish,” says another [man], just as stern. “It’s your own out there doing the lynching and the burning. What do you have to fear from your own?”

“You fat old men!” Kathleen shrieks. “What do you know of fear, you with your broad shoulders and your full plates! We have to fear what every woman fears her whole life long. Ye heartless men! When have you ever been small or hungry? Would you send a German child out on the streets this night? Aren’t we Catholic like you? Don’t we sit side by side in church?”

As is historically accurate, Danny and Kathleen’s Catholic faith does play a part in the story – but never in a proselytizing way. The story really shows how much conflict was in the United States at this time, not only around color, but around religion, politics, even denominations. It’s rather disheartening to see that we’ve never really moved on, the names of the different factions have just changed. Despite all that, the story is one of beauty and hope and I’ll be adding it to my own library.

5/5 stars. Highly recommend, and it REALLY needs much more attention than it’s getting!

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five-stars

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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