Genre: Young Adult


Feb 27

Review of Starfish

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

Review of StarfishStarfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Published by Simon Pulse on September 26th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Modern
Pages: 340
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Goodreads five-stars

Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

This book paralyzed me, because I didn’t know how to write a review for something that moved me so deeply. I sat on my couch and cried every time I opened it. Cried not because I was sad, but because I saw myself in this book and Akemi Dawn Bowman wrote it EXACTLY HOW IT IS, to live this way, and she articulates it – something I’ve never been able to do clearly, even to people I trust and count my closest friends. I think I am lucky enough to have a few friends who understand me anyway, but to explain why I act the way I do or feel the way I feel…nope. Because of this book, I think I finally have something of an idea – or at least a better idea – of how HUGE of a deal representation is in books. Huge. HUGE. I’ve always SAID I believed it was important, but I didn’t really know how it FELT.

Kiko is half-Japanese, half white. The biracial rep is actually why I picked this book up – not because I myself am biracial, but because I was trying to find another book to read for the January challenge! Kiko also has moderate-severe social anxiety, and lives with a psychologically and emotionally abusive, narcissistic mother.

Ding ding, on both of those.

At first I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I kept telling my husband, “I swear, I think the author met my mother and decided to write her into a book!” And then I started to cry because someone understood not only having a mother like that, but having overwhelming panic at the thought of going places or meeting people.

Normal people don’t need to prepare for social interactions. Normal people don’t panic at the sight of strangers. Normal people don’t want to cry because the plan they’ve processed in their head is suddenly not the plan that’s going to happen.

SO MUCH THIS. So much. Also, Kiko sits outside of a party in her car for about 20 minutes before she can convince herself to go in – and in the end her friend comes outside to go back in with her anyway. Been there, done that. Social functions are HARD. They’re terrifying, and exhausting. I have a very, very distinct memory of arranging to have dinner with a friend (myself and my husband), and showing up at the restaurant to discover he had invited about 5 other people. I nearly blacked out standing next to the table, and I fought tears for several minutes after my husband helped me sit down. I can only imagine what those other people must have thought of me – but Kiko knows exactly what that is like.

Kiko’s mother is psychologically and emotionally abusive. She is white, has bi-racial children (biological even), and yet she is incredibly racist. She constantly makes Kiko feel ugly and worthless. She lies to her about events in the past, she demeans her childrens’ heritage. She must be the center of attention at all times, and she must look perfect to the world outside. And Kiko – as every child does – craves her mother’s approval and support. Even when she knows it would be better to cut her mom out of her life, even when it would be healthier for her not to engage – she does. Because somewhere deep inside, there is still a tiny, tiny hope that one day her mom will be supportive and unconditionally loving.

Ding ding, again.

I was so happy to see Kiko finally get to embrace herself. Her ethnicity, her art, her personality. And to find friends who loved and accepted her for who she is, and who could celebrate ALL of her, with her. Also people who understood how poisonous her mother was.

“All that time growing up, I thought I was the only one who could see. I thought nobody understood the way he was. I thought I was the problem. But some people are just starfish – they need everyone to fill the roles that they assign. They need the world to sit around them, pointing at them and validating their feelings. But you can’t spend your life trying to make a starfish happy, because no matter what you do, it will never be enough.”

Please go read this book. Whether you identify with Kiko somehow, or if you like art (Kiko is an amazing artist and the book has some beautiful descriptions of her paintings and drawings…also check out the fan art competition). Just please read. Even if you don’t see yourself in it, I guarantee you someone in your life or acquaintance DOES.


I hope you enjoyed my review of Starfish! Follow me on social media to keep up with more reviews and bookish posts!

[Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links which means that if you click on a link and purchase something I’ve talked about or recommended, I’ll receive a very small percentage of the sale. Please see my disclosure policy for more info.]

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:


Jan 16

The Love That Split the World Review

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

The Love That Split the World ReviewThe Love That Split the World by Emily Henry
Published by Razorbill on January 26th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Modern, magical realism
Pages: 390
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Goodreads five-stars

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start…until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” At first, they’re just momentary glimpses—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.


“No matter how hard it feels, you don’t need to be afraid to move on, and you don’t need to be afraid to stay either. There’s always more to see and feel.”

How I felt after finishing the last page of this book.

What this book is: 90% emotions/feelings. Glorious, ooey-gooey lovey-dovey, feelings that make me want to actually try to hope for HEAs and the best in life and love. Adorable. Cute. Romantic.

What this book is not (i.e., please don’t pick it up if you’re into these things): deep, extremely thought provoking, realistic.

First of all, I’m so stinking proud of myself for READING AND FINISHING this book! At long long LOOOOONG last, as it came in my February 2016 OwlCrate. Yikes. I read like one “meh” review of it and lost all my enthusiasm for the story…which I sort of regret, but I also realize that at the time, this sort of ooey-gooey-ness would probably not have sat very well with me…and quite possibly would have resulted in it being thrown across the room, never to be finished.

The Love That Split the World is an adorable summer story of love, loss, and teenagers finding themselves and each other. Sprinkled in between the emotionally intense, physically warming scenes (but never explicit or very graphic, and there is no actual sex in the book) are gems like the quote above, and others I desperately wish my 16-18 year old self (hell, even 19, 20, or 21 year old self) had read or known.

“You shouldn’t be scared of someone you love.”

The book briefly addresses the issue of consent – even for “just” making out, and one scene in particular left me feeling rather nauseous even though “nothing happened.” Alcoholism is also brought up, and addressed in one of the most succinct ways I have ever seen – painful, as it always is, but it was done so, so well. Huge props.

Oh, and the characters!! I’ve discovered yet another book boyfriend – Beau, your beautiful soul has won my heart. I will also confess that in high school, I admired the football players from afar so…yeah…piano AND football playing Beau is just totally swoonworthy. And I always, ALWAYS get hit right in the feels by the broken-but-still-strong hero types, the ones who just remain good people at heart despite having been given the shit end of the stick in life. Natalie’s spirit – her need to KNOW, her intense desire to find herself, to make something of herself – really resonated with me. While I don’t know how it would feel to grow up a minority (not only in your town, but in your FAMILY) in a small southern town, I spent a lot of my growing up years in places not unlike her Kentucky hometown and to some extent, I can imagine. Especially in small town America, people who don’t look (or act) exactly the same are often viewed with suspicion and outright dislike. In Natalie’s case, her biggest struggle seems to be with not sharing her looks or personality with her adoptive parents, and the fact that she was hassled about it by her classmates when she was younger.

I adored the time bending/travel aspect of the story. I was a little (ok, very) confused for awhile, but eventually I realized what was happening…mostly. I still DID NOT see that ending coming and my poor little heart nearly burst with ALL THE FEELS. I didn’t quite CRY, but my throat squeezed very very tight, my eyes burned, and I blinked rapidly for a few moments. Then I had to read the last few pages about 5 times to make sure I hadn’t missed anything!

Diversity: This was my first pick for the January topic, Biracial Awareness (check out the suggested bookshelf!), in the Platypire Diverse Books Reading challenge. Natalie is bi-racial, and adopted. Another main character is Korean. The author does not belong to either of these groups, but she seems to have put a great deal of effort into making her story authentic and respectful especially to the First Nations cultures she draws from in the writing of the book.

I gave this book 5/5 stars. It is an amazingly fun and cute romance with enough time-turning stuff to keep that side of my brain interested too.


I hope you enjoyed my review of The Love That Split the World! Follow me on social media to keep up with more reviews and bookish posts!

[Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links which means that if you click on a link and purchase something I’ve talked about or recommended, I’ll receive a very small percentage of the sale. Please see my disclosure policy for more info.]

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:


Jan 09

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter Review

Book Reviews 2 ★★★★★

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter ReviewThe Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss
on June 20th 2017
Genres: Alternate History, Historical, Young Adult
Pages: 416
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Goodreads five-stars

Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes.

But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.

When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous.


“No wonder men did not want women to wear bloomers. What could women accomplish if they did not have to continually mind their skirts, keep them from dragging in the mud or getting trampled on the steps of an omnibus? If they had pockets! With pockets, women could conquer the world!”

This was a fabulous book to start out 2018! It was just the right parts dry, sarcastic humor, witty remarks, and references to the classics mixed with strong female characters. My inner book nerd did so many happy dances. I absolutely LOVED the characters and ideas pulled from the classics (Frankenstein, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and I think maybe another that I’m missing). However, the reader does not have to have read those classics to enjoy this book. The characters are entirely fleshed out in this book alone. They have their own stories and the style of writing is completely entertaining. It starts out written in 3rd person, but within just a couple of pages it shifts – brilliantly – to a sidebar commentary of the various characters interjecting while the narrator is writing! It sounds complicated but it is amazing and brilliant and I laughed out loud so many times.

Based around the idea of a secret scientific society at the end of the 19th century, the story starts out with the main character, Mary Jekyll, burying her mother and in desperate financial straits. Then through a series of unusual discoveries in her mother’s papers, she stumbles across a strangest of characters – all of which seem linked to herself and her dead father in some way. Then they link up with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson and between their ever-growing little menagerie of misfits they attempt to solve the mystery of this strange society.

There’s no real romance – there are hints of it, and some of the characters have obviously had past relationships or relations, as they are referred to at one point. I admit that I’m really looking forward to the sequel, not only to see what exactly was going on with the Society but because I am dying to know if Mary actually ends up with Dr. Watson (as in the original Sherlock Holmes stories, Dr. Watson’s eventual wife was named Mary), or not! I feel like it will be a NOT but I just need to know. 😛

Overall, 5/5 stars and a fantastic start to my reading year 2018! Highly recommend to YA readers who are fans of historical fiction in general, but especially classic literature.


I hope you enjoyed my review of The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter! Follow me on social media to keep up with more reviews and bookish posts!



[Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links which means that if you click on a link and purchase something I’ve talked about or recommended, I’ll receive a very small percentage of the sale. Please see my disclosure policy for more info.]


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:


Nov 13

Girl of Nightmares Review

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

Girl of Nightmares ReviewGirl of Nightmares (Anna, #2) by Kendare Blake
Published by Tor Teen on August 7th 2012
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 332
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Goodreads five-stars

It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

Girl of Nightmares is the sequel to the ever-so-popular Anna Dressed in Blood, so be warned there may be SPOILERS for the first book! This review is also very short because books like this are hard to review without giving too much away and ruining the fun of the read for everyone.

Super Short and Sweet Review:

  • Cas is back, and he’s just as moody and kind-of-sort-of angry as in the first book. He’s not as hell-bent (no pun intended) on revenge, but now he’s kind of mooning over the fact that Anna is gone…or is she? At first he thinks he’s going crazy as he starts to see her when he’s out ghost-hunting, but then he becomes convinced she is in some kind of trouble (more trouble than a usual trip to the afterlife would entail) as she always appears to be tortured when she appears. Yikes.
  • Cas’s friends are more real in this book. At least, this time I actually remembered them, whereas when I started this one, I only had a vague recollection of there being other people involved somewhere…maybe that’s my fault, my memory is not the greatest. 😛 His mom is sweet and adorable and reading the scenes with the two of them kind of made my heart hurt. Like, what is it like to be able to be friends with your parents?
  • Partway through, the book moves to England and I LOVED IT. It just made it that much more interesting even if they didn’t get to explore nearly as much as they should have because obviously they were trying to save Anna.
  • Anna herself is only in this book in VERY short segments. I was a little bit disappointed by that but there was really no way to bring her into the story that would make sense.
  • The descriptions succeeded in making me pull my covers up and make sure my doors were locked (not that locked doors would help me if there was a ghost after me…buuuuut you know). I love it when a book succeeds in raising the hairs on the back of my neck! Surely I’m not the only one that literally has that happen…not just a figure of speech here!
  • The ending was…well, it was closure…and that’s about all I can say without spoiling it! My hat is off to Kendare Blake for ENDING THIS DUOLOGY right here. I can imagine it might have been tempting to extend it, with the popularity of Anna Dressed in Blood, but it felt really good to finish not only a book but an entire story.

I hope you enjoyed my review of Girl of Nightmares! Follow me on social media to keep up with more reviews and bookish posts!





Nov 08

Hunting Prince Dracula Review

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

Well, I didn’t get nearly as many books read for the Halloween Read-A-Thon as I had hoped! But, I did manage two – and look at me go, getting a review up within a couple of weeks of reading. 😉 Hehe.

Hunting Prince Dracula ReviewHunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #2) by Kerri Maniscalco
on September 19th 2017
Genres: Historical, Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 434
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Goodreads five-stars

In this New York Times bestselling sequel to Kerri Maniscalco's haunting #1 debut Stalking Jack the Ripper, bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer...or has the depraved prince been brought back to life?

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper's true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe's best schools of forensic medicine...and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life's dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school's forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.

First of all: POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR BOOK 1 IN THIS SERIES – you can read my review of Stalking Jack the Ripper if you don’t want to be spoiled but are intrigued by this post. If you haven’t read SJTR you are SO missing out, please go read right now. KTHXBAI.

Hunting Prince Dracula was the PERFECT book to start off my HalloweenWR. The atmosphere is thick and foreboding and raise-the-hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck creepy. Not for the faint of heart either, are the detailed descriptions of cadavers and dissection. I found them enormously cool and interesting but they might gross out some people. The Victorian trappings are lovely as well – all the fancy dresses and clothes, and rules (which Audrey and Thomas are only too delighted to break), and THIS CASTLE OMG. I want to live in a castle. Or even just near a castle. And a forensics school, IN Dracula’s castle…where do I sign up?? I would need some heat though. That forest in those mountains and in a stone castle…pretty sure my fingers and toes would drop off. That said, I would totally plan an entire vacation (how about a month, shall we?) around visiting Dracula’s castle and the area surrounding.

I mean. Wouldn’t you?

Audrey Rose and Thomas are just as adorable in this book as in the last. I didn’t QUITE understand why they danced around their attraction to each other SO MUCH in the first part of the book…it kind of felt like Audrey had regressed in her Victorian prudishness…but maybe I’m remembering things from the first book wrong. I know they had only kissed like…once, I think? Thomas is just as abrasive and unaware of societal rules as ever, only now he is SO concerned about Aubrey that he makes some well-meaning but nearly unforgivable blunders. The tension is veeeeeeery drawn out through the book but I thought it was cute and sweet.

We also get to meet Daciana, Thomas’s sister in this book, and she is a very exciting addition to the cast. She is spunky and hilarious and completely unafraid of all the Victorian rules – she does what she thinks is right and what will make her and those she loves happy. I hope we get to see more of her but from the ending of this book I think she gets left behind for the next. Boo.

I’m slightly obsessed with castles, ok?

Okay, so the plot. Obviously, SOMEONE is leaving bodies around…someone who seems strangely obsessed with the bloodline of Dracula (the real one, not the Bram Stoker one). Naturally, Audrey Rose and Thomas have to investigate. Because the real authorities, also naturally, are bumbling around doing not much of anything. Things escalate, more people go missing, they discover SO MANY SECRETS in the castle (ahem – secret passages and tunnels – WHEN CAN I LIVE IN A PLACE WITH SECRET TUNNELS?), and no one is who they seem to be or who they are supposed to be. It’s deliciously creepy and just when you thought you knew who you could trust…

I will admit, I didn’t see that ending coming. I had a sneaking suspicious that THAT person had something to do with it, but then once a certain OTHER event occured…you know, it’s really hard to review mystery books, because of the risk of giving something away. But the ending was TOTALLY creepy and TOTALLY worth it.

Do I even need to discuss the setting? *points at pictures above * It was beautiful and I am insanely jealous of anyone who gets to so much as VISIT a place like that, let alone live there. Even in a time without heat. 😛

5/5 stars. I am so put out that we have to wait ANOTHER ENTIRE YEAR for Book 3!

I hope you enjoyed my review of Hunting Prince Dracula! Follow me on social media to keep up with more reviews and bookish posts!





Oct 25

Review of Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Book Reviews 1 ★★★★

Review of Heartless by Marissa MeyerHeartless by Marissa Meyer
Published by Feiwel & Friends on November 8th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 453
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads four-stars

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

I put this book off forEVER. I had a copy pre-ordered, and then I got an exclusive cover edition in an OwlCrate box, and I STILL didn’t read it. Why? Well…this, again, was one that seemed to get a lot of mixed reviews and seeing as Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series is what initially got me into YA and is still one of my all-time favorites…I was terrified that I would be disappointed. Was I? Well…here I am, less than 2 weeks after finishing it, and I’m already writing about it so it must not have been too bad! 😉 Presenting my review of Heartless, by my very-much-loved Marissa Meyer!


“If I am not to have happiness, let me at least have a purpose.”

Heartless is, as everything I have read by Marissa Meyer, beautifully written. However, compared to the Lunar Chronicles, I felt it did start off very slow. I was at 44% (according to GoodReads) before I felt like there was a big, activating event and the story took off. Not that it was BORING, per se, but just…well, I felt like I was wondering around a very brightly colored and rather strange candyland-type world, petrified of what was going to jump out at me (because I was CONVINCED something horrible was going to happen any minute).

I was extremely curious as to how Cath was going to go from our heroine and a sympathetic character, into the horrid Queen of Hearts. I had huge doubts – was pretty sure I would either not like the character at all if it was going to be believable. I WAS WRONG, OK. Because I thought Cath was really sweet (naive, but sweet), and I felt like she was my little sister and wanted to protect her. Her relationship with Jest was predictable but cute. And then as the story progresses and we see her start to unravel…I thought it was actually believable.

The story actually explains very well how the Queen of Hearts came to be who she was, and it shows her in a COMPLETELY new light. In the end I really felt like she was justified, or at least could understand why she became the kind of queen she did. Overall I thought the story could have been a little darker – I was definitely EXPECTING a little more action and darkness and blood, but in the end it all worked really well together.

OH. Let’s not forget – THE CAKE. OMG THE CAKE. This book made me freaking HUNGRY on an ENTIRELY unacceptable level. I am not even sorry for the caps lock. But seriously…there is so much scrumptious sounding baking in this book. Pumpkin cake. Tarts. Cake. Scones. Did I mention PUMPKIN CAKE?!? I think it should have been mandatory to include SOME kind of recipe. Just saying. 😛

Here’s one from Betty Crocker. You’re welcome.

Highly recommend if you like fairy tales and especially Alice in Wonderland (also cake). Just don’t go in expecting a fast-paced story like the Lunar Chronicles. This is an entirely different story and style!

I hope you enjoyed my review of Heartless! Follow me on social media!






Oct 12

Review of Roseblood by A.G. Howard

Book Reviews 1 ★★★★★

Review of Roseblood by A.G. HowardRoseBlood by A.G. Howard
Published by Harry N. Abrams on January 10th 2017
Genres: magical realism, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Goodreads five-stars

In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.


Guard your throats and hide your eyes. He’s not dead, you fools. Legends never die.

Roseblood by A.G. Howard was one of my super anticipated reads this year, mainly because I absolutely loved the sweet romance of the only other A.G. Howard book I’ve read, The Architect of Song. Then, I started seeing all these really crappy reviews and I got scared. I wasn’t expecting the next great classic novel or anything (because that is not what Howard ever seems to have tried for her books to be), but I mean…damn, son! Some of the reviews were super salty! So I put it off for awhile, but when I finally picked it up I read it in less than 24 hours. Haters gonna hate. Don’t let it put you off if you enjoy gothic/paranormal stories. This is one for the shelf. However, if you are expecting realism or originality (by the way…no story is completely original, let’s get that straight) off the charts, this book is not for you.

It’s pretty much this dramatic, but thankfully Rune does not share Christine’s affinity for swooning.

Roseblood is a modern gothic novel. And by gothic I mean “portentously gloomy or horrifying.” Not to insult anyone’s intelligence or anything, but I think a lot of readers were expecting something else and when they got over-the-top-gothic-romance they felt kind of let down. Now to me, that sort of book is like a dark chocolate truffle – I don’t read them that often, but when I do I thoroughly enjoy them! This book was exactly what I was expecting after The Architect of Song.


First of all. All her weird abilities/paranormal stuff aside – I LOVE RUNE. SHE KNITS TO KEEP HERSELF CALM AND THE BIGGEST MARK OF HER AFFECTION IS HER MAKING SOMETHING FOR YOU. Ahem. Please excuse all the yelling but the girl is my sister from another mother, I swear. She gets it. She’s a maker, and I love her. Even if she makes some seriously DUMB choices partway through the book. Because of course agreeing to be blindfolded and driven away to a rave is the epitome of smart decision making…oh to be so young and optimistic again. Rune’s problem is unique in the books I have read (not the reasoning behind it that’s eventually revealed, but I’m not giving spoilers). and at times seems a little bit…silly. But I can feel her pain and  the embarrassment it causes her.

Then there is Thorn, who is very attractive and has the saddest back story ever and of course melts our collective heart with his wounded hero-ness. He’s not perfect, which is nice – he’s made some rather crappy choices in life and even though he tries to make amends and be a good person there are all those dark shadows. I like to consider myself immune to wounded heroes, but the truth is…I’m just not.


Ahhhh! The setting is the definition of atmospheric. Rune’s boarding school is set in an old theatre, complete with lonely hidden rooms and dingy passages, old gardens and older chapels. I adore it. I want to live in the gardener’s hut. *wink wink* You’ll have to read it to find out about the hut…Oh, did I mention it’s set in Paris, France? So jealous. I want to visit Europe sooooo badly.


I never lost my interest, all the way through this story. Considering I read this in the middle of one of the worst reading slumps I’ve had in a couple of years, that’s quite an accomplishment. The plot is a little predictable, as most romances/gothics are, but I didn’t think it was so much so as to make it unenjoyable! Also, while this is more of a sequel, of sorts, to the original Phantom of the Opera, there are enough similarities to leave few surprises for someone familiar with the original. Thankfully though, Rune is not the hapless, vapid Christine. I liked the way it was resolved and I really wish there was going to be a sequel!

5/5 stars, 3/5 flames because phew, Rune and Thorn do get the blood flowing just a little bit! If you need a chocolate-truffle-brain-candy sort of book, I highly recommend Roseblood and another of A.G. Howard’s books, The Architect of Song! Oh, and this book would be a PERFECT atmospheric read for Halloween, especially if you’re participating in the Halloween Read-A-Thon. 😉

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Oct 06

Review of Achilles by Greg Boose

Book Reviews 0 ★★½

Review of Achilles by Greg BooseAchilles by Greg Boose
Published by Diversion Publishing on September 26th 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
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Goodreads two-half-stars

The year is 2221, and humans have colonized an earthlike planet called Thetis in the Silver Foot Galaxy. After a tragic accident kills off dozens of teenage colonists, Thetis's leaders are desperate to repopulate. So the Mayflower 2, a state-of-the-art spaceship, sets off across the universe to bring 177 new recruits to the colony. For Jonah Lincoln, an orphaned teen who's bounced between foster homes and spent time on the streets of Cleveland, the voyage is a chance to reinvent himself, to be strong and independent and brave the way he could never be on Earth. But his dreams go up in smoke when their ship crash-lands, killing half the passengers and leaving the rest stranded--not on Thetis, but on its cruel and unpeopled moon, Achilles. Between its bloodthirsty alien life forms and its distance from their intended location, Achilles is far from an ideal resting place. The situation is already dire, but when all of the adults suddenly disappear, leaving the teenage passengers to fend for themselves, Jonah doubts they'll survive at all, much less reach Thetis. Especially when it appears Achilles isn't as uninhabited as they were led to believe.

I wanted to love this book. It sounded so cool, and like a break from the ton of fantasy/fairy tale type books I’ve been reading. Achilles was a book that, try as hard as I might, I just could not really get into. However, if you’re big on science fiction you might love it! It did remind me of the first season of LOST…which, I, ahem, also discontinued a couple of episodes into Season 2 because I simply couldn’t stand all the craziness and constantly losing people.

Me, pretty much the entire book.


I’m very character oriented when I read books. Characters are more important to me than world-building or excitement factor.  In Achilles, the characters feel very flat and many of them feel the same. I got so confused because I could NOT keep many of the supporting cast separate. Not helped by the fact that many of them weren’t even given names (referred to as “the hacker,” etc.) until several chapters after they appeared. Jonah, our MC, I thought was going to be likable but he turns out to have a bad case of navel-gazing and I just…cannot. I feel bad for him but I spent most of my time being annoyed at the way he was written. Also, he’s supposed to be this hard-ass kid that’s suffered abuse and came out still standing, yet his reactions to a lot of the things that happen are not how abuse victims and soldiers (he’s been in a military training facility for some time by the time the book starts) react. It makes the whole thing kind of unbelievable – really jolted me out of my suspension of disbelief, which is necessary for any kind of fantastical fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk, fill-in-the-blank). I really didn’t feel anything for the rest of the characters either, and I was a little – ok, a lot – put off by how some of them did unexplained 180-degree flips without any real reason. Very suspicious and never explained, so the conclusion I am left with is that the author just…didn’t notice? Ugh.

Oh, also – CAN WE PLEASE HAVE MALE AND FEMALE INTERACTIONS WHERE THE MALE IS NOT SUDDENLY OVERCOME WITH AN UNAVOIDABLE HARD-ON?? I swear, so many times, when a book is written from the male perspective, he’s so distracted by female characters physicality that he turns into an idiot and it gets really old. I refuse to believe that the male population of the world is run solely by hormones.


I think this is where the author spent most of his time! The world of the moon Achilles is harsh and brutal and I actually felt grossed out by some of the descriptions of the creatures inhabiting it (hard to do…I’m an EMT and few things turn my stomach anymore). It seemed like something new was introduced in every chapter. Sometimes it was hard to keep up but it was definitely intriguing.


I usually put this section first, but this time I am putting it last because…er. I really didn’t have any. This book failed at making me feel anything but relief it was over. I am not interested in finding out what happens next. It didn’t really end on a cliffhanger, though there are lots of things about Earth’s colonization of Thetis that are not explained and have very dark implications – the main points of the story were wrapped up and that’s all I cared about.


Thank you very much to Diversion Books for sending me the ARC! I was delighted to read and review even if it turned out to not be my cup of tea. 

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Aug 06

Review of Night Swimming by Steph Bowe

Book Reviews 0 ★★★½

Review of Night Swimming by Steph BoweNight Swimming by Steph Bowe
Published by Text Publishing on April 3rd 2017
Genres: Modern, Young Adult
Pages: 311
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Goodreads three-half-stars

Imagine being the only two seventeen-year-olds in a small town. That’s life for Kirby Arrow—named after the most dissenting judge in Australia’s history—and her best friend Clancy Lee, would-be musical star.

Clancy wants nothing more than to leave town and head for the big smoke, but Kirby is worried: her family has a history of leaving. She hasn’t heard from her father since he left when she was a baby. Shouldn’t she stay to help her mother with the goat’s-milk soap-making business, look after her grandfather who suffers from dementia, be an apprentice carpenter to old Mr Pool? And how could she leave her pet goat, Stanley, her dog Maude, and her cat Marianne?

But two things happen that change everything for Kirby. She finds an article in the newspaper about her father, and Iris arrives in town. Iris is beautiful, wears crazy clothes, plays the mandolin, and seems perfect, really, thinks Kirby. Clancy has his heart set on winning over Iris. Trouble is Kirby is also falling in love with Iris…

I bought this book after reading a review of it over on Paper Fury. Because Cait does amazing reviews, and I’d be wanting to read something from an Australian writer/publisher, and she’s Australian so obviously she would be a good judge of Australian YA books! Perfect. This was, actually, my very first Aussie read (I feel embarrassed admitting that but ehhhh I’m going to try not to feel awkward). So without further ado, my review of Night Swimming!

Feels: Just…awwwww. Lots and lots of awwww moments. Between the besties Kirby and Clancy to the awkward anxiety of a new crush, there was just so many times I got a case of the warm fuzzies. Also, Kirby’s grandfather. My heart hurt for him, and for Kirby and her family. I remember my great-grandmother as dementia set in for her, and it was absolutely heart breaking. It’s difficult sometimes as a teenager or young adult to see our loved ones growing older when we feel like we’re just starting out in life.

Characters: I love Kirby. She is unapologetically (though sometimes embarrassed) nerdy and unfashionable, and I wish I had her self confidence. Her quirky family, complete with unaffectionate mother and absentee father, is endearing even while they exasperate Kirby. Clancy is just hilarious and unpredictable (except to Kirby, who knows him better than he knows himself, it seems) and I loved how he repeatedly scandalized their small town with his antics.

There is a lot of minority representation in this book. That was probably my favorite part, besides the general Australian-ness (is that a word?) of it, which had me chuckling over slang I didn’t quite understand. Kirby is gay, while Clancy and Iris are both minorities. I was a little sad that the book glossed over Iris’s mental health issues, but I guess you can only do so much in a relatively short book.

Plot: So, this is where I felt the story was a bit weak. The plot line just sort of dragged while it skipped around somewhat and left me a little bit confused about what was going on in places (though maybe if I had paid a little more attention to the dates at the top of some of the chapters, that would have helped). There are a couple of side plots that were interesting but then turned out to not be so interesting or they were just finished off so quickly it felt a bit disjointed. Then at the end it felt like the author realized something exciting needed to happen and threw that little disaster in the works to shake everything up. Which it did, but it didn’t have enough time to resolve, in my opinion.

Oh! How could I forget.

You’re welcome.

STANLEY! You should definitely read the book just for Stanley. Because everyone, apparently, needs a pet goat.

Overal, 3.5 stars. 1 flame because there are a couple slightly sexy scenes but nothing over the top or that I felt would be inappropriate for a young teen reader.



Jul 12

Review of The Hate U Give

Book Reviews 2 ★★★★★

Review of The Hate U GiveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
on February 28th 2017
Genres: Modern, Young Adult
Pages: 453
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Goodreads five-stars

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

I’ve been trying to write a review of The Hate U Give for weeks and weeks now. It’s difficult to put my thoughts about it into a cohesive form, so I’m just kind of going to put a few things out there. Also, I’m aware that this book is HUGE because of it’s subject matter and representation. I read it BECAUSE of that, because I know that I am in the majority and I want to understand what the minority goes through and feels. I realize a book will never give me a complete understanding, but I do think reading #ownvoices books can help. The entire point of reading is to learn and to travel and experience things in our mind that we can’t or don’t have the opportunity to experience in our place in the world.

THUG is an important book because it so thoroughly places the reader into another person’s shoes. Because it was written by someone who has been there. She didn’t have to do research to see how Starr and her friends and family would talk – she knew, because her family is Starr’s family, her town is Starr’s town. This isn’t someone from the outside looking in and writing about it, this is someone writing what they have seen right in front of them.

Read The Hate U Give to see the world outside your comfort zone. Read it to understand why people have and do react the way they do to words, implications, and events. READ. IT.


The truth casts a shadow over the kitchen—people like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice. I think we all wait for that one time though, that one time when it ends right. Maybe.

The Great 

  • Angie Carter does a fabulous job of giving her characters unique voices. I could hear each character distinctly and it was amazing. I felt like I was following Starr around, eavesdropping.
  • I was completely immersed in the story. When the pivotal point of the story, the shooting, happened, I felt like I’d been sucker-punched. I felt sick. I had to put the book down and go compose myself. At first I tried reminding myself that it was just a book, but of course that didn’t work because OH YEAH STUFF LIKE THIS HAPPENS PRETTY OFTEN and IN OUR WORLD and…yeah.
  • This book helped me understand a lot of things. It helped me see a lot of things for the first time. Every town I’ve ever lived in (except in Korea, heh) had two sides and I never completely understood why it was that way, when segregation was a thing of the past decades ago…supposedly. Starr’s struggle to be more, her struggle with her feelings for Chris, and to bridge what seems to her (and to the reader) to be the two sides of her life, encapsulated everything I’ve ever been confused about or wondered why when it came to those two sides of town.
  • FAMILY. I freaking love Starr’s family. Her parents’ relationship isn’t perfect but it’s there. Her entire family – her blended family, there are step and half brothers and sisters in there too – is there for each other. They pull together. They may picker and fight but in the end they are there and it’s amazing.

The Other Thing:

  • I, personally, was really disturbed by the wrecking of the town and the looting/destroying of property that went on during some parts of the book (mirroring, obviously, a lot of actual events as well). HOWEVER. What really came home to me was that while no, I didn’t agree with the characters doing it, I finally understood to some extent why. I understood that it was a form of expressing how angry and scared Starr and her friends and neighbors were, of the injustice and prejudice that seem to meet them at every turn. Did that make it right? No. Starr even says so later. But I finally had some sense of why things like that happen.

Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.

5 stars.