Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Book Review: Grace and the Fever by Zan Romanoff


Media Type: Ebook
Title: Grace and the Fever
Author: Zan Romanoff
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: hardcover, 352
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Source: Author/Penguin Random House
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HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy coming of age stories and have ever loved a boy band

Add it on: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble 

Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl meets Jenny Han’s The Summer I Turned Pretty in this contemporary YA about what it means to be a fan—and what it means to be a friend—when your whole world is in flux.
 
In middle school, everyone was a Fever Dream fan. Now, a few weeks after her high school graduation, Grace Thomas sometimes feels like the only one who never moved on. She can’t imagine what she’d do without the community of online fans that share her obsession. Or what her IRL friends would say if they ever found out about it.
 
Then, one summer night, the unthinkable happens: Grace meets her idol, Jes. What starts out as an elusive glimpse of Fever Dream’s world turns into an unlikely romance, and leads her to confront dark, complex truths about herself and the realities of stardom.
 
From the author of A Song to Take the World Apart, Grace and the Fever is a heart-clutching reminder of what it’s like to fall in love—whether it’s with a boy or a boy band—and how difficult it is to figure out who you are after you’ve fallen out of love again.
Where to start? I knew this would be a great read as soon as I started it. Grace is a pretty typical teenager who happens to be obsessed with a boy band. As someone who once had N'Sync and Backstreet Boys posters all over my wall, I immediately related to her interests. Unlike her friends, Grace never outgrew her love of Fever Dream and it caused her to grow apart from them.

This coming of age story really covered a lot of relationship issues that young adults deal with and I really enjoyed getting to know Grace through all of them. While the main focus was on Grace's interactions with Jes and the band, reading about her navigation through her friendships was equally important. This book tackles some basic parenting/friendship issues but also goes through the online identity stress and of course, celebrity privacy issues. It sounds like a lot, but the story was well rounded and a very fun read.

There is so much going on with Grace as she meets her idols and subsequently gets pulled into their world, it was refreshing to feel the nervousness and trepidation she experienced. The author does a wonderful job of pulling you into the moment and running away with it. I didn't want to put the book down.

The celebrity lifestyle comes with a lack of privacy and a lot of its own subculture. Jes' character was realistic and full of surprises. His acknowledgement of his lack of "regular" experiences hit me right in the heart. Adolescence is such an important part of growing up and a rock start lifestyle definitely isn't a normal youth experience. I imagine most young stars would relate to those feelings.

I would highly recommend this book to YA readers, especially those who really enjoy a story about coming into your own skin and learning from some hard life lessons.







FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Author Interview + Giveaway: CALL ME SUNFLOWER by Miriam Spitzer Franklin

Happy Tuesday, bookish friends! I'm hoping you had a chance to recharge during this long weekend, and hopefully get some reading done as well! I know that I did.

Anyway, I'm here today to share with you a fun spotlight on Call Me Sunflower by Miriam Spitzer Franklin! If you follow my bookstagram account, you might have noticed that this book arrived for my review recently. Well, guess what? Now you can read this wonderful book right along with me! Yes, that's right. Not only is Miriam Spitzer Franklin here with an interview, but she's also offering up a gorgeous signed copy of her book for giveaway. Read on friends, because this isn't something that you want to miss!

Sunny Beringer hates her first name—her real first name—Sunflower. And she hates that her mom has suddenly left behind her dad, Scott, and uprooted their family miles away from New Jersey to North Carolina just so she can pursue some fancy degree. Sunny has to live with a grandmother she barely knows, and she’s had to leave her beloved cat and all her friends behind. And no one else seems to think anything is wrong.

So she creates “Sunny Beringer’s Totally Awesome Plan for Romance”—a list of sure-fire ways to make her mom and Scott fall madly in love again, including:

Send Mom flowers from a “Secret Admirer” to make Scott jealous and make him regret letting them move so far away.
Make a playlist of Scott’s favorite love songs—the mushier the better—and make sure it’s always playing in the car.
Ask them about the good old days when they first fell in love.

But while working on a photo album guaranteed to make Mom change her mind and rush them right back home, Sunny discovers a photo—one that changes everything.

Sunny’s family, the people she thought she could trust most in the world, have been keeping an enormous secret from her. And she’ll have to reconcile her family’s past and present, or she’ll lose everything about their future.

I know, I know. Now you desperately want to read this, am I right? Doesn't it seem like the sweetest, most perfect summer read ever? I thought so too.


* If I had to choose one word to describe myself, it would be determined.

* My favorite color is blue.

* I'd describe my "currently reading" bookshelf as mostly MG contemporary with some YA thrown in.

* Diet Coke with lime is something I definitely need while writing. Chocolate is something I need when facing revision letters AND rejections!


What was your favorite part about writing this book? What kind of research did you get to do? 

That's a hard question! I loved the animal rights scenes since it's an issue close to my heart, and I enjoyed the scenes that explored the different relationships between Sunny and her family. Incorporating Odyssey of the Mind themes into the book was fun, too!

As for research, I've participated in many animal advocacy groups over the years and have been to my share of protests so I was able to write those scenes based on my experiences. My daughter has participated in Odyssey of the Mind for the past six years and I've coached the last four years so this was something I knew a lot about. However, I did a search for the actual long term problems from a few years ago because I thought the themes worked in well with my story.


Was there anything that you learned while writing this book that really surprised you?

I was having difficulty getting all the subplots of the book to fit together, and had been advised by some critique partners and potential agents that I needed to streamline the story and downplay the animal rights aspects. My very first draft of this book focused on Sunny and her grandma's fur store and I felt strongly about the issue, so I knew I had to find a better way to incorporate it into the book. So I put the manuscript aside for a while, and like all good inspiration, the solution came to me when I was totally focused on another project. There were definitely times during this journey where I felt I was trying to cover too much, but it was amazing when I figured out the connections and the pieces actually fit together like a jigsaw puzzle!


Were there any moments that made you really emotional while writing them?

The scene with Sunny and her grandmother when they're dealing with the injured cat was definitely an emotional one for me! Also, I have a soft spot for the scenes with Sunny and Scott because I feel they have a really special relationship.


Finally, what would you say to readers who are looking at picking up your books?

My characters aren't perfect and they make plenty of mistakes, but they are full of heart. So if you're looking for books that show real kids trying to navigate the real world which is sometimes messy and unpredictable, full of ups and downs, but always has moments of joy and laughter, then please take a look at CALL ME SUNFLOWER or EXTRAORDINARY!

And if you enjoy my books, please let me know. There's nothing better than receiving a letter or email from one of my readers!


Much love to Miriam for taking the time to answer these questions!

Click here to visit Miriam!
I live in North Carolina with my husband, two daughters, and two cats.

I am thrilled about my debut middle grade, EXTRAORDINARY, finally making its way into the world. It has been a long journey, and I have learned so much every step of the way.

Here’s one important lesson I’ve learned: If you quit when you feel discouraged, you’ll never find out what you could have done if you’d stuck with it instead.

Or, even better: The ONLY way to fail is to quit!

Besides reading children’s literature and writing, I love to teach. I’ve taught from kindergarteners up to eighth graders in public and private schools. My favorite subject to teach? You guessed it– reading and writing!

Currently, I’m teaching language arts classes to homeschoolers. I also coach my daughter’s Odyssey of the Mind team, which is an amazing amount of fun. I love watching creativity at work.

In addition to homeschool classes, I love to work with students in schools or other community groups. If you’re interested in workshops, please see my page about Author Visits.


Giveaway is for U.S. Mailing Addresses only! Ends on 6/4.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 29, 2017

Book Review: Seeds of Eden by A.P. Watson


Media Type: Ebook
Title: Seeds of Eden
Series: The Concilium #1
Author: A.P Watson
Publisher: 1st Ride Enterprises
Pages: ebook, 338
Release Date: January 25, 2017
Source: Author/Xpresso Tours
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Genres: New Adult, Paranormal, RomanceContent Screening: Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy horror, romance and an interesting take on religious figures.

Add it on: Goodreads / AmazonBarnes & Noble 
Visions of decapitated corpses, pools of blood, and a masked executioner have haunted Evey for as long as she can remember. Torn between a life in the waking world and dreams of the dead, she realizes her normal existence is nothing more than an illusion. As the veil between reality and her subconscious dissipates, she begins to question her own sanity. Each night as she closes her eyes, she wonders what wrongs she committed to warrant such a curse.

When a handsome stranger suddenly appears in Evey’s life, he is able to provide her with the answers she seeks. However, the only thing more mystifying than Conrad's appearance in one of her nightmares is the undeniable attraction she feels for him. It is only when he confesses their fates and souls have been intertwined for centuries that an ancient secret is revealed. Now, the two of them must outrun a great darkness or it will claim their lives again.

Full disclosure, I totally missed the "part 1 of a series" in the title of this so I was not expecting a cliffhanger ending. So be warned, you may have to wait a bit to get some resolution from these characters. That being said, I would also recommend this as a YA book as opposed to New Adult audiences. I will explain why in a moment.

Let's start with the things I really enjoyed about this novel. Based on the description I was expecting some intrigue and revelations and it did not disappoint. This fresh take on reincarnation and some prominent religious figures gave the story depth and kept me turning the pages. If you are looking for a bit of historical fiction with your paranormal romance, this is definitely the book for you.

A few things that I enjoyed less: the high school drama/immaturity of the main character. Now hear me out, I love a good YA story, this was not advertised as such so when Evey and Helen fight over Conrad it felt out of place and a bit annoying. I did like that Evey questioned everything that was being thrown at her and didn't take anything at face value. She asked a lot of questions and didn't go into full blown hero mode ignoring all other factors, which made her much easier to relate to. She grieved the losses and wasn't ready to move on, and asked for help when she needed it.

Conrad's character felt a bit creepy at times and I wasn't really rooting for him by the end of the book. Despite his history with Evey and the Concilium, the way his romantic interests came to light was a bit awkward. I cannot pinpoint exactly what bothered me about it, maybe the fact that he remembers their history and Evey doesn't, but it left me feeling uneasy.

As I stated earlier, I think this book would be better categorized as YA instead of New Adult, given the maturity level of several main characters, but I would still recommend it. The ideas and storytelling are new and interesting and I'm still mildly curious what will happen in the next book.








FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Book Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman


Media Type: Print Book
Title: American Gods
   *Series: American Gods #1
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages: Paperback; TV Tie-In; 792
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Source: HarperCollins / TLC Book Tours
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Genre: Urban Fantasy / Fantasy

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who love rich, deep stories with mythology to spare. Fans of Gaiman!

Add it on: GoodreadsHarperCollins | Amazon | B&N
First published in 2001, here is the New York Times bestselling novel that became an instant classic and was hailed by USA Today as “a powerful, searing force that makes readers confront what is real and what is not…”—now a TV series from FremantleMedia North America is coming to STARZ with Bryan Fuller and Michael Green as showrunners, and starring Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane, Crispin Glover, Cloris Leachman, and Gillian Anderson.

Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.

But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and a rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.

Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined. Soon Shadow learns that the past never dies... and that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and that he is standing squarely in its path.
First, a confession. I confess that I am shamelessly in love with Neil Gaiman. If you are worried that this will sully my unbiased review of this book, worry not. In fact, this was my second read through of American Gods and, truth be told, I wasn't all that in love with it the first time I read it. Maybe it was where I was at in my life, or the current reading mood I had, but despite my love for Gaiman this book and I just didn't click. So, when I was offered the Author's Preferred Text version for review, I was eager to give it another chance. Oh, I am so glad I did. So, so very glad. This book is an experience. Brutal at times, beautiful at others, and full of things that will have you questioning reality. In other words, it's Gaiman. At his finest. I don't know why I ever thought otherwise.

Shadow's journey is a strange, and fascinating one. Whether you're familiar with the Norse Gods or not, Shadow will always be there to stumble right along with you. Here's the thing though, Shadow is infinitely more steady than I expected him to be. He's a character who, despite having done things in the past that he regrets, still believes in the inherent good in people. He walks around partially blinded to the world that he's found himself wrapped up in, and yet he never seems inept. I loved Shadow. Every single messy part of him. The book is long, this is true, but with Shadow as my guide I didn't mind one bit.

Then there are the Gods themselves that slither, flap and saunter through this book as if they own every page. Gaiman's broken world pits the Gods of old against the Gods of new. Odin and Bast against the manifested Gods of technology and progress. It's an intriguing premise. If a God is birthed and sustained through worship, why wouldn't we have birthed new ones that relate to cell phones, internet and music? Simply fascinating. What's more interesting than that though, is all of the underlying lore that is penned into these pages. Stories of Thunderbirds, coins that bring back the dead, and areas that shouldn't exist but do. It's so easy to lose your footing in reality and go crashing, right along with Shadow, into this world.

In an effort not to endlessly ramble on, let me assure you that this book easily made my favorites shelf this time around. As I mentioned, this is the Author's Preferred Text version, and actually contains quite a bit of content that was originally cut out. I think it's perfect. The story, the extras, the whole package is perfect. Pick this up! You won't believe how easily you can get lost in Gaiman's world. American Gods is well worth your time.



FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Book Review: Lemons by Melissa Savage


Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: Lemons
Author: Melissa Savage
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Pages: Hardcover; 236
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Source: Publisher
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Content Screening: Dealing with loss.

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy quirky characters, and stories that have amazing messages.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Fans of Kate DiCamillo's Flora & Ulysses and Katherine Applegate's Crenshaw will fall in love with this charming adventure story about a girl learning to accept her new life, her quirky detective neighbor, and their epic search for Bigfoot.

Lemonade Liberty Witt's mama always told her: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But Lem can't possibly make lemonade out of her new life in Willow Creek, California--the Bigfoot Capital of the World--where she's forced to live with a grandfather she's never met after her mother passes away.

Then she meets eleven-year-old Tobin Sky, the CEO of Bigfoot Detectives Inc., who is the sole Bigfoot investigator for their small town. After he invites Lem to be his assistant for the summer, they set out on an epic adventure to capture a shot of the elusive beast on film. But along the way, Lem and Tobin end up discovering more than they ever could have imagined. And Lem realizes that maybe she can make lemonade out of her new life after all.
Friends, this is an absolutely wonderful story. You all know that I consistently praise Middle Grade books for dealing so well with life lessons, and tough topics. Lemons is a shining example of exactly that. It was fitting, I think, that I was working my way through my own loss right around the time I was in the middle of reading this book. Middle Grade or not, this book really helped me sort things out. As Lemonade learned and grew, I worked my way through my issues right along with her. Which should tell you how wonderfully written Melissa Savage's book really is. Lemons is a wonderful story, no matter what age group you happen to fall in.

Lemonade Liberty Witt is the kind of character that I fall instantly in love with, every time. She's quirky, fiesty, and strong in a way that only young people who have suffered an unexpected loss can be. At the same time, she's every one of us no matter what our age. She's lost, confused, hurt, and feels like she may be drowning in her own sorrow. Tough on the outside, hurting on the inside, and just trying to make it all okay. I felt for her so deeply, and loved her all the more for it.

On the flip side is darling Tobin. Dealing with his own loss, in a completely different way, and just as quirky and original as Lemonade. When these two met, I just knew exciting things were going to happen. The fact that the backdrop of this story includes Bigfoot hunting? Well, that just made it all the more perfect. I wanted to believe in them just as much as Tobin did, and I wasn't at all disappointed.

Honestly though, I could gush about this book for paragraph upon paragraph. I loved the relationships between the characters, the unexpected friendships that were made, and the fact that everyone seemed to care so much for one another. I won't lie, I teared up more than a few times while reading this. It's tough not to when you're remembering the good times about people who have passed. Whether they are happy tears or sad tears, well, I'll let Lemonade school you on that.

I highly recommend this book to any young reader out there, and think it would make an excellent parent-child buddy read. Give it a shot! You might be pleasantly surprised at what you find.



FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Book Review: The Door in the Alley (The Explorers #1) by Adrienne Kress


Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: The Door in the Alley (The Explorers #1)
Author: Adrienne Kress
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: Hardcover; 320
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Source: Publisher
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Content Screening: Nothing of note

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy smart, fast-paced stories with fascinating characters!

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Featuring a mysterious society, a secretive past, and a pig in a teeny hat, "The Explorers: The Door in the Alley" is the first book in a new series for fans of "The Name of This Book Is a Secret" and "The Mysterious Benedict Society. "Knock once if you can find it but only members are allowed inside.

This is one of those stories that start with a pig in a teeny hat. It s not the one you re thinking about. (This story is way better than that one.) 

This pig-in-a-teeny-hat story starts when a very uninquisitive boy stumbles upon a very mysterious society. After that, there is danger and adventure; there are missing persons, hired thugs, a hidden box, a lost map, and famous explorers; and there is a girl looking for help that only uninquisitive boys can offer.

"The Explorers: The Door in the Alley" is the first book in a series that is sure to hit young readers right in the funny bone."

So much fun! That was the first coherent thought that raced through my brain as I crossed the finish line of The Door in the Alley. Everyone knows that I love a good middle grade book. Coincidentally, my favorite type of middle grade book though, is the kind that doesn't talk down to its readers. The kind that is smart, funny, and filled with adventure. That, my friends, is exactly what The Door in the Alley is. It is a wonderful ride!

Our story begins with Sebastian, a studious and mild mannered boy who loves to stick to the rules. So, of course, when his path is crossed by a pig in a teeny hat, he's not sure what to make of it. When that same pig then leads him into an adventure that he never expected, that's where things really take off! I loved watching poor Sebastian, with his rigid ideas of the way the world worked, suddenly thrown into the madness that was The Explorer's Society. His personality was the perfect contrast to such an imaginative place, and looking at this new world through his eyes was fascinating.

Then Evie entered the picture, and things got even more exciting. Imagine finding out that you've actually been part of a grand cover up your entire life. That you've always felt that you were ignored, and are now the most important person in the story! That's exactly what happened to Evie, and I warmed to her instantly. She's the type of character who I love, because she isn't quite sure of herself and yet does what needs to be done anyway.

Oh, and the adventure! If you have a young reader (or, like me, are just a young reader at heart) who loves books like A Series of Unfortunate Events, this is the book for you. It's funny, a bit worrisome at times, and full to the brim with courageousness and growth. Both Evie and Sebastian, although completely different in personalities, were absolute perfection in this story. You'll giggle, you'll gasp, and you'll love every minute of it. Pick this up! It's well worth your time. Meanwhile I'll be sitting here, eagerly awaiting their next adventure.




FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Monday, May 15, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (5/15/17)


I hope all our bookish mommies out there had a fabulous Mother's Day! At the very least, I hope that you had some time to sit around, relax, and read. That, right there, seems like a pretty good gift to me.

I spent my weekend, once again, playing catch up. The good news is that I had some time to write some of my backlog reviews down, so you'll get more content this week! I'm really trying to get more organized again, so I don't leave you with long bouts of radio silence.

Here's how my reading has been shaping up so far this week.




As I mentioned last week, I've been powering through books lately. So quickly, in fact, that I haven't had the time to write reviews for them. Which, honestly, hasn't been all that bad. With the exception of 5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior, the other two books above were things I chose to read instead of reading to review. It's been nice! My re-read of The Demon King was especially enjoyable because I forgot how much I missed this series.



One of my bookstagram friends finally pushed me to read Sleeping Giants, and I'm so glad that she did! It's been excellent so far, especially because I'm listening to a full cast audio book and they're really bringing it to life! I'm also re-reading The Voyage to Magical North in anticipation of reading Journey to Dragon Island, the sequel!




I actually started The Deathday Letter, but put it aside for a while. I've been on a Shaun David Hutchinson kick, but I needed a break from sad for a while, to focus on Fantasy and Sci Fi! I'll be back though soon, to devour this and sob over it.

That's it for me! What are you reading this week?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Cover Reveal: Ever After by Aya Ling



Happy Sunday my lovely bookworms, and for all the Mother's out there in bookland, Happy Mother's Day as well! To celebrate this fabulous day, what more could you want than this stunning gem. Ever After would be a wonderful addition to your TBR list!


Ever After
Aya Ling
(Unfinished Fairy Tale Series, #3)
Publication date: May 20th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Kat has survived. She returns to Athelia as herself, Katherine Wilson. Edward, elated at learning she is alive, vows to bring her back to the palace. The obstacles, however, seem impossible to overcome. Marriage between a royal and a commoner is not recognized, not to mention that he is already legally bound to Katriona Bradshaw, who will do anything to keep her position as princess.
And there’s even more to worry about. Due to an uncommonly harsh winter, the people of Athelia have been suffering from inflated food prices, and are getting irritated at supporting the small, elite group of aristocrats. An uprising in a neighboring country only adds fuel to the fire.
Can Kat and Edward finally get a happily-ever-after?
Previous books in the series:


Author Bio:
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.
She is currently working on Ever After, Book 3 in the Unfinished Fairy Tales series, to be released in 2017. For exclusive bonus scenes, giveaways, and new release info, visit ayaling.com

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Graphic Novel Review: 5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior by Mark Siegel and Alexis Siegel


Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: 5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior
   * Series: 5 Worlds #1
Author: Mark Siegel and Alexis Siegel
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Pages: Paperback; 256
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Source: Publisher
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Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Middle Grade readers who love action, and stories with a lot of heart.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
The #1 New York Times bestselling creator of Amulet, Kazu Kibuishi, hails this first book in this groundbreaking sci-fi/fantasy adventure series as a magical journey, as fun as it is beautiful! Think Star Wars meets Avatar: The Last Airbender! 

The Five Worlds are on the brink of extinction unless five ancient and mysterious beacons are lit. When war erupts, three unlikely heroes will discover there s more to themselves and more to their worlds than meets the eye. . . .

The clumsiest student at the Sand Dancer Academy, Oona Lee is a fighter with a destiny bigger than she could ever imagine.

A boy from the poorest slums, An Tzu has a surprising gift and a knack for getting out of sticky situations.

Star athlete Jax Amboy is beloved by an entire galaxy, but what good is that when he has no real friends?

When these three kids are forced to team up on an epic quest, it will take not one, not two, but 5 WORLDS to contain all the magic and adventure!

Since you are all well aware of my obsession with Middle Grade fiction at this point, let's go ahead and skip that. Can we instead please focus on the growing existence of Middle Grade graphic novels? I am so pleased that there are more and more of these out there, and I'm determined to champion all of them! Kazu Kibuishi's blurb had me from the moment I saw this book. So I was thrilled when I was asked to join the blog tour. Warning: there's some gushing ahead. Let's go ahead and get the small qualms that I had out of the way first, though. 

I think this graphic novel could definitely have benefited from a bit more action. It was heartening to see that the authors weren't afraid to bring the real idea of war alive on these pages. I love when MG readers aren't treated with kid gloves. However I think this book needed to move at a bit quicker of a pace. The illustrations are gorgeous, (I can't wait to actually see them all in color.) but some of the filler panels felt like a bit much. I wanted more of Oona's quest, more of their desperate rush to save the day, and just more tension in general. This first volume was missing that epic feeling that stories like this usually have for me.

That being said, the characters were absolutely lovely. Oona, An Tzu and Jax were all vivid, and easy to fall in love with. I loved how each of them came from a different background. The concept of race is alive and well in this book, and the idea of racism is gently touched upon as well. It makes me happy to see authors putting these things out into the world for readers of this age group to start to digest. Oona overhears people of different worlds talking badly about people of other worlds, and making mean jokes. She sees some people get upset about what others are saying. Young readers can start to get a grasp here on unity, diversity, and especially empathy. It's an amazing thing.

Add in the fact that the ending of this book has a twist I wasn't expecting, complete with a cliffhanger, and you have my complete attention. Mark Siegel and Alexis Siegel have started something beautiful and magical with the 5 Worlds series. They've opened up a dialog that I think is important, in a way that is easy to digest and a lot of fun to read! Readers, young and old alike, will love this series. My only regret is that there isn't more of Oona's story to devour yet. I NEED to know what happens next.    




FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Breaking the Radio Silence


When I logged in to my laptop tonight, for the first time in over a week I might add, I quickly realized that the last time that I posted in here was last week. Oh, dear. Sorry bookish friends! It's been a whirlwind start to the month and work has been forefront on my mind. The good news it that I've been reading like mad. The bad news is that I haven't had the time to sit down at all and write out reviews. For those of you who don't know, I stockpile them in drafts to post when it's time for them to go live. Right now my drafts are empty.

So bear with me for a bit longer! Tina has a review schedule for Wednesday, and then I have two reviews going up on Friday and Saturday! So this week will actually have more content for you. My goal this weekend is to get some backlogged books reviewed, and then they'll be more posts next week. I so love blogging, but sometimes balancing it with the rest of everyday life gets a little challenging.

We're here though! So let me get caught up this weekend, and things will be back on track. As always, thanks for sticking with us. We appreciate you!


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Book Review: The Things They've Taken by Katie McElhenney


Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: The Things They've Taken
Author: Katie McElhenney
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pages: Kindle; 278
Release Date: May 1, 2017
Source: YAReads Blog Tours / Publisher
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Content Screening: Nothing of note.

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who are looking paranormal reads that feature family bonds.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
All Lo Campbell wants is to be a normal teenager—to go to one high school, live in one place, and have one real friend. Instead, she travels the country with her mother, chasing the unknown, the “what else” that’s out there… Until one day, the “what else” chases back. Determined to rescue her mom from whatever supernatural being took her, Lo will need more help than a badly dressed demon obsessed with country music. She’s going to need a Tracker—and lucky for her, she finds one. Shaw is strong, good-looking, possibly available, and utterly infuriating. Sure, he may have secrets, and his help costs more than a brand-new car, but she’ll have to deal with him if she wants to find her mother—and get her home alive.

Argh, so on the fence about this book. On the one hand, The Things They've Taken has a lot going for it. It's equal parts creepy and humorous, the characters are well fleshed out, and the story itself will keep you reading on well into the night! On the other hand, I'm not a fan of instalove or characters who are overly indecisive. So, again, on the fence! Let me try to break it down for you.

This story starts off at a manic pace, as Lo sets out on her mission to save her mother. I was riveted as she navigated the world of the demons, and learned how to bargain with these terrifying beings. McElhenney does an excellent job of building up the tension and anxiety, even from the beginning, to a point where you're just as worried as Lo is. After all, it's her mom who is missing and she has no idea how to get her back. That in itself is a terrifying thought.

Now let's talk instalove. I know that there are plenty of readers out there who don't mind it, and so I'm here to tell you that this book is definitely well worth your time! Unfortunately, I'm the type of reader who can't stand characters who whine and pine, as I like to call it. So I was a little disappointed that Dolores went that route. She starts out as this amazing character who is tons stronger and I would ever be, in her situation. Then Shaw enters the picture, and suddenly she's an impulsive, jealous and fairly tough to love character. Why is it that hunky paranormal boys tend to do that to YA girls?

The other issue I had, and this honestly bothered me a bit more than the instalove, was the fact that this book ends without tying up all the loose ends. Admittedly, there's a pretty amazing twist towards the end that I didn't see coming, but I really wanted more closure before the story was over. I suppose this means that there will be more of Dolores' story to come, but it's a little frustrating to be left out in the cold like that. Let's hope this isn't over yet!

For the introduction of some great mythos and a paranormal story that hooked me and kept me reading to the end, I'll happily offer up a three star rating to The Things They've Taken. Fans of paranormal romance novels will love this one, and will be pleasantly surprised at how much action actually happens here! If you're a fan of broody and hunky paranormal boys, then this is the book for you.

Follow the Tour

Katie McElhenney was born in Philadelphia into a big family of curious kids and patient adults. A voracious reader and unapologetic daydreamer, she knew she wanted to become a writer someday. With the support of an amazing family, great friends, and some truly spectacular teachers she has written short stories, poems, and novels. A solar-powered human, she now lives in Los Angeles and uses the great weather for year-round trips to the beach and long runs (where the best inspiration happens).

Find out more about her at katiemcelhenney.com

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FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

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