Tuesday, April 30, 2019

April 2019 Wrap Post

Happy Tuesday lovely people, and happy end of April! While last month felt like it flew by, this month felt long enough that it more than made up for it. So, I'm ready to say goodbye to April. Come on May! Be a good month? Please?

I haven't done a wrap post in quite a while, so I thought it was time! It's actually been a pretty amazing reading year so far. I've worked my way through 55 books! Here's the breakdown for April.
5 Stars

This book was amazing. Bleak, yes, but also full of the kind of female characters that make my heart sing. They were tough, they were real, and I loved every single minute of this book. This is a must read.

Wishes and Wellingtons by Julie Berry
4 Stars

Julie Berry stole my heart with this story. It was sweet, full of adventure, and featured a main character that I just loved. Perfect audio book too. Highly recommended.

3 Stars

I didn't love this one, but I do see the draw. It's billed as a ghost story, but it's really more of a mystery with a gothic feel to it. Recommended to fans of slow burn reads.

Will Haunt You by Brian Kirk
3 Stars

This book was odd. That's about all I can say about it, really, without giving too much away. It's gory too, so not recommended to people with weak stomachs.

3 Stars

Another YA book that I didn't totally love, mainly because it felt like everything else I've been reading lately. It did have a nice creep factor to it though, so it was fun.

The Nest by Gregory A. Douglas
3 Stars

A creature feature to the core, this book featuring mutated cockroaches pulls no punches. If you're a fan of small towns being overrun, this is for you.

The Test by Sylvain Neuvel
5 Stars

Holy moly this tiny book packs a punch. I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't what ended up being between these pages. A must read.

The Cormorant by Stephen Gregory
3 Stars

A weird story that I didn't dislike, but didn't really love either. I was especially mad at the MC in this one, but hey... I'm an animal lover.

The Red Labyrinth by Meredith Tate
2 Stars

I, very truthfully, barely finished this book. It was cliche, and full of slow moving portions. However if you like dystopian books, you might enjoy this.

4 Stars

So. Much. Fun. This book was such a wild ride! The audio is great, the characters are great, the whole story is great. Entertaining from beginning to end.
10 books in one month, not too shabby! I'm glad that the majority of them were good reads too, because the year started off so well and I want to keep it going!

I can't wait to see what May brings me!

Monday, April 29, 2019

Book Blitz + Giveaway: As Silver Is to the Moon by Ryan A. Watt

Happy Monday friends! I have a treat for you today. What mysteries lie in small town Santa Isadora? We're about to find out! Grab this new release today. 

As Silver Is to the Moon
R. A. Watt
Publication date: April 28th 2019
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
New school. First love. A psychotic werewolf that wanted me dead. And it was only week one in Santa Isadora.
For fifteen-year-old Teavan Laurent and his older sister Suzanne, Santa Isadora seemed like a sleepy and idyllic California town to finish high school after their unexpected move west from New York City.
As he struggles to make friends in a town shrouded in secrets, Teavan soon finds himself the target of an irrational tormentor and rumored-to-be werewolf. The revenge-obsessed psycho vows to wipe out Teavan and his small family due to past wrongs beyond Teavan’s control or knowledge. The twisted legacy left to him by his late grandfather brings Teavan at odds with everything he knows to be true—or at least everything he thought to be true.
The impossible truth of the tale begins to gain traction at his first wolf sighting, and Teavan and Suzanne soon find themselves in the crosshairs of the dark and secretive lycan world of Santa Isadora.
Stalked by a legend that shouldn’t exist, Teavan must decide how far he is willing to go to save those that he loves and come to terms with what lurks from within.

Minutes—or hours later—I awoke.

Everything was different.

The evening sounds were incredibly loud, like my ear buds were connected to microphones placed in each garden and tree in the area.

And the smells.

As I lay sideways in the grass and took in a deep breath, I could swear it had been freshly watered then cut just minutes ago. It was overwhelming.

Hunger. My stomach burned, but not with pain now, but with need. Ravenous hunger throttled me awake, and I opened my eyes, blades of grass an inch away as I lay on my side.

Things were not right, but I was feeling better. Much better.

The most delicious scent possible waffled past me. It was like the moment the lid was removed from a freshly cooked roast beef; when the humid aromas escaped the pan’s enclosure and flooded your senses.

I needed to eat it. Now.

I jumped to my feet, and my legs instinctively carried me at lightning speed through the yards and bushes of the street. The scent of roast became more pungent with each step.

Only it was like I was being carried along for the ride; fast, and low to the ground. Willing myself to slow, I looked down and stumbled.

Two giant gray paws stood in the grass.

They moved as I willed them to.

Before I could register the shock, I was running again. My quarry was not far, and my body craved the nourishment it would provide. There was no choice, it was instinctual.

The roast turned out to be a brown rabbit, which I caught off guard and quickly took down under the umbrella of a pine tree. I tore at the fur and meat as it kicked and pulsed in my jaw, nothing had ever tasted so good. All other thoughts vanished to the back of my mind.

More. I needed more. Meat was all I could think of.

Ryan is a husband and a father of three children. A lover of food, wine, sunshine, skiing, and fiction.
Although his background is in finance, he has always had a love of books, particularly fiction, since a young age and has been an avid reader ever since. Ryan's favorite books are deep, engrossing novels that may not necessarily win Pulitzer Prizes, but are difficult to put down.
Reading should be fun, absorbing, and a step away from our ordinary world. No matter what the critics say about the book on your nightstand, if you don't look forward to reading each night it's not the right book for you!


Friday, April 26, 2019

Book Review: Monster Hunter International (MHI #1) by Larry Correia

Media Type: Audio Book
Title: Monster Hunter International
   * Series: MHI #1
Author: Larry Correia
Publisher: Audible Audio
Narrator: Oliver Wyman
Run Length: 24 hours
Release Date: March 15, 2011
Source: Purchased
Genre: Urban Fantasy / Paranormal

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who love action packed, rollicking adventures!

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Monsters are real.

And some people kill them for a living.

Monster Hunter International is the premier eradication company in the business, and Owen Zastava Pitt -- CPA, average guy, and survivor of a brutal supernatural attack -- is the companys newest employee. When MHI takes on a new contract, Owen and the girl of his dreams unwittingly find themselves in the path of an ancient evil. A creature known as the Cursed One has returned to fulfill a centuries old vendetta. And when he does, its the end of the world.

And that would be bad for business.

Okay, this book was pure fun. That might sound odd, seeing as I'm talking about a book that deals with killing monsters for a living, but it's the truth! I went into this book with no expectations at all, and that actually made it even better. My book club wanted something action packed, Goodreads suggested this, and I chose it just because the cover is some epic art. Oh, I'm so glad this made it on my radar. I have so much catching up to do.

The hilarious part of all of this is that this isn't just an action novel. Oh, sure, it's filled to the brim with epic monster fights and all manner of skirmishes. If you're at all squeamish, you might want to stay away from this series because Larry Correia pulls no punches when it comes to battle wounds. However this book is so much more than all of that. Correia also creates characters who you genuinely want to root for. Owen himself is especially easy to follow along with. He's just a normal guy, an accountant, who suddenly finds himself enmeshed in a world that is far beyond what he ever thought existed out there. Owen becomes a somewhat unwilling monster hunter, and it turns out that he's damn good at it too.

Even better, Holly, Julie, Tripp, and all the rest get these lush backstories that just makes you want to keep reading about them. Correia never does infodumps, which is so refreshing. Every piece of lore, every piece of monster related information, is placed in a manner that it feels completely organic. I learned right alongside the "newbie squad", as they prepared for their first fight. I saw how, no matter how much they studied, there is never any way to be 100% prepared. This story had me so committed to these characters, so invested in their lives, that I literally yelled out loud the first time someone died. As I said, this isn't a nice book when it comes to deaths. Death is bloody, violent and, because I loved these characters, often devastating.

What I loved even more was that this book doesn't take itself to seriously. There are bits of humor, silly puns, and every character has their own amazing personality. Everything about this story just wrapped me up in a world that I didn't even know I wanted to visit, and spit me back out on the other side as a total fangirl. I'd read this again in a heartbeat, if there weren't more books in this series to turn my attention to. Bravo Larry Correia! This may not have been my perfect read and gotten that last star, but damn was it fun read. I can't wait to get to the next one!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Book Review: The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

Media Type: Print Book
Title: The Devouring Gray
Author: Christine Lynn Herman
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: Hardcover; 368
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Source: Publisher
Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy stories that are dark and atmospheric.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Branches and stones, daggers and bones,
They locked the Beast away.

After the death of her sister, seventeen-year-old Violet Saunders finds herself dragged to Four Paths, New York. Violet may be a newcomer, but she soon learns her mother isn't: They belong to one of the revered founding families of the town, where stone bells hang above every doorway and danger lurks in the depths of the woods.

Justin Hawthorne's bloodline has protected Four Paths for generations from the Gray—a lifeless dimension that imprisons a brutal monster. After Justin fails to inherit his family's powers, his mother is determined to keep this humiliation a secret. But Justin can't let go of the future he was promised and the town he swore to protect.

Ever since Harper Carlisle lost her hand to an accident that left her stranded in the Gray for days, she has vowed revenge on the person who abandoned her: Justin Hawthorne. There are ripples of dissent in Four Paths, and Harper seizes an opportunity to take down the Hawthornes and change her destiny-to what extent, even she doesn't yet know.

The Gray is growing stronger every day, and its victims are piling up. When Violet accidentally unleashes the monster, all three must band together with the other Founders to unearth the dark truths behind their families' abilities—before the Gray devours them all.

I don't know, I think that Young Adult books and I are in kind of a rut right now. There's not anything inherently wrong with The Devouring Gray. It's dark, and brooding. In fact, the first few chapters actually had me firmly in their clutches with the build up of the founders and the dark secrets that they kept. It's really not difficult for me to fall for a story that has monsters in it, whether supernatural or of the people persuasion, so this should have been a book that I genuinely loved. Alas, it was not.

To be fair, the truth is that for the most part I did really enjoy this story. Herman can write, that's for darn sure. Reading this story was like getting lost in a lyrical version of some foggy, haunted woods. A tiny town, filled with secrets, and constantly covered in overcast weather is my kind of setting. Every sentence felt expertly placed and, impressively, even the large cast of characters felt like they fit in perfectly. I'm normally not a fan of large casts of characters, but this was right on the money. There's a great diversity here, down to a realistic bi-sexual representation. There's even some great notes on friendship, relationships, and that weird space in between, which I appreciated.

So what was lacking for me? I think this book moved more slowly than I would have liked. Violet did a lot of brooding, and a lot of learning, that probably could have been condensed down to far less pages. My other issue was that after a while Isaac felt like the only real character in the whole book. Everyone else was so caught up in trying to prove something, or trying to change someone, that they started to become caricatures of themselves. Events started to feel trite, and I essentially figured out the big reveal before it happened. It was a gradual thing, but I started to feel like this was turning into every other story out there like this that I had read. I didn't have enough investment in anyone (except maybe Isaac) and that hurt my love of this story.

Perhaps I just need a small break away from YA. Perhaps this story was too like ones that I had read before. What I do know is that The Devouring Gray is definitely going to be a story that the majority of you out there are actually going to enjoy, despite my qualms. So if you're looking for a dark and atmospheric story that has Stranger Things vibes? This should be your next read.

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, April 22, 2019

Cover Reveal: The Veil of Ashes (Princess Vigilante #2) by S. Usher Evans

Hi everyone! Today I’m excited to participate in the cover reveal for THE VEIL OF ASHES by S. Usher Evans! This is the second book in an epic YA Fantasy series and book one, THE CITY OF VEILS, just released on April 16th! Check below the beautiful cover designed by Jo Painter and don’t forget to enter the INTL giveaway.

About the Book:
Title: The Veil of Ashes
Series: Princess Vigilante #1
Author: S. Usher Evans
Publisher: Sun's Golden Ray Publishing
Publishing Date: July 9, 2019
Genres: YA Fantasy
Goodreads | Preorder: SGR Pub | Amazon | iBooks
Blindsided by betrayal, Brynna has been licking her wounds away from the city she loves. But the call to duty soon becomes too much to bear, and Brynna embarks on a quest for friends and allies who'll help her reclaim what was once hers. But vengeance comes with a heavy toll, one Brynna isn't sure she's willing to pay.

The Veil of Ashes is the blockbuster sequel to The City of Veils, which Foreward Reviews calls, "entertaining from the first page to the last."

Excited about this, and want to read the first book in the series?

You're not alone. Here's the info for THE CITY OF VEILS, which is where you can start if you're new to this series like I am!

Title: The City of Veils
Series: Princess Vigilante #1
Author: S. Usher Evans
Published: April 16, 2019
Genres: YA Fantasy
Goodreads | Buy here: http://www.sgr-pub.com
For the past three years, Brynna has been patrolling the streets of Forcadel as a masked vigilante, protecting the innocent and beating up bad guys. Her current target is Lord Beswick, a slumlord businessman who keeps the townsfolk in a vicious poverty cycle. But one fateful evening, she's captured by Felix, the captain of the king's guard, and told a shocking truth: her father and brother are dead, and she needs to hang up her mask and become queen.

Before long, she negotiates a deal with Felix: attend to her royal duties during the day and continue her vigilante mission to take out Lord Beswick at night - at least until her coronation. But the politics of Forcadel are as volatile as the streets, and Brynna isn't sure whom she can trust in the castle. With two royals dead in less than a month, she must use all her wits to make sure she isn't the third.
S. Usher Evans was born and raised in Pensacola, Florida. After a decade of fighting bureaucratic battles as an IT consultant in Washington, DC, she suffered a massive quarter-life-crisis. She decided fighting dragons was more fun than writing policy, so she moved back to Pensacola to write books full-time. She currently resides with her two dogs, Zoe and Mr. Biscuit, and frequently can be found plotting on the beach.

Evans is the author of the Demon Spring Trilogy, the Razia Series, the Madion War Trilogy, the Lexie Carrigan Chronicles, and Empath.

Website | Twitter | Instagram

A copy of The City of Veils plus a preorder of The Veil of Ashes from Book Depository.
Open International.
(More chances to win by entering in all the Instagram accounts participating with #TheVeilofAshesMTMC)


Thursday, April 18, 2019

A shameless plug!

I just wanted to give a shoutout to my bookstagram account on here, in case any of you would like to come and visit! Right now I'm hosting a bookish bingo game (#springsummerbingo) that has a whole bunch of really amazing prizes up for grabs! Just like with any bingo, you read books and check off squares. Get a bingo, get points. Get a blackout, get more points!

There are also weekly giveaways coupled with photo prompts, and a group full of fellow participating bookworms who are eager to chat! Come and join us!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Book Review: The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: The Invited
Author: Jennifer McMahon
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: Hardcover; 384
Release Date: April 30, 2019
Source: NetGalley / Publisher
Genre: Paranormal Thriller / Mystery

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who are looking for a slightly spooky mystery with a historical feel.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
A chilling ghost story with a twist: the New York Times bestselling author of The Winter People returns to the woods of Vermont to tell the story of a husband and wife who don't simply move into a haunted house, they start building one from scratch, without knowing it, until it's too late . . .

In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate abandon the comforts of suburbia and their teaching jobs to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this charming property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. As Helen starts carefully sourcing decorative building materials for her home--wooden beams, mantles, historic bricks--she starts to unearth, and literally conjure, the tragic lives of Hattie's descendants, three generations of "Breckenridge women," each of whom died amidst suspicion, and who seem to still be seeking something precious and elusive in the present day.

My thoughts about this book are jumbled mess. I've been holding off on writing a review because, truth me told, I just couldn't pinpoint what about this story it was that didn't resonate with me. This isn't a poor story, by any means. It has a gorgeously rendered setting, and characters that feel like real people. The Invited even has a mystery that was complex enough to keep me guessing for a good portion of the story. Still, this book and I didn't really ever mesh and that was a pity.

Although Helen and Nate were excellently rendered characters, I had a hard time falling for them. They drove me a little bit crazy with their incessant bickering and wild spending habits. Helen especially grated on my nerves at the beginning. I know it's probably just me, but I have a hard time with a character who constantly overreacts. She did grow on me as the book progressed and, in fact, as the mystery started to unwind I found myself drawn more and more to this couple. I definitely appreciated that they cared so much about their new home, and the nature that surrounded it. The fact that the home that they were building was also steeped in such terrible history had me rapt. 

As I mentioned above, the mystery was actually fairly well structured also. There were just enough clues peppered throughout to really keep me guessing as to what the ending would be. Unfortunately I did figure out the twist about halfway through and, after that, I was more just reading for the glimpse of any haunted happenings. I love stories that have rich atmosphere, especially when there are ghosts involved. In this case, all the atmosphere was there. The potential for a really excellent ghost story was just in sight. It just never panned out the way I hoped it would. This story meandered, and lacked the bite that I desperately wanted.

I suppose that the fact of the matter is that this story just wasn't for me. I love ghost stories. I love horror. The Invited doesn't really meet either of those marks, in my opinion. This is honestly more like a really well written mystery that happens to have a ghost as part of the plot. There's a lot to love here, and I know that there are plenty of readers out there who are going to adore this book. I'm unfortunately just not one of those people. For a lovely setting, well written characters, and the fact that I did indeed finish it, I'll happily give this three stars.

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, April 16, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Rainy Day Reads

Happy Tuesday lovely people! We worked our butts off this weekend, doing all of the Spring chores that it's been too windy or rainy to do until now. The front of our house now sports adorable handmade window boxes, and a potting ledge! We even re-mulched the front planters and re-screened our windows. Hahaha. Ah, home ownership. It's a thing.

Now let's get to the prompt.
Top Ten Rainy Day Reads

This is hilariously appropriate because, despite the weather not telling us, it's totally sprinkling outside. What are you gonna do?

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

This is actually a book that I'm leading a group read of right now, and one that I've read before! Sarah Addison Allen weaves such beautiful magical realism stories, that it makes it the perfect place to escape to on a rainy day! Garden Spells, in particular, is one of my favorites. 

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

So I might be just a little bit biased, because this is one of my favorite stories of all time, but this is an excellent rainy day read. Foggy moors, unrequited love, and the kind of witty banter that can only come out of the mouth of a Bennett. 

The House With A Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs

A perfect rainy day read needs a little bit of mystery, and that's where this book comes in. A little spooky, but with the kind of characters who make you want to explore right alongside them. It's one of my favorite books and, in my opinion, an excellent rainy day choice.

Elevation by Stephen King

In my opinion, novellas are excellent rainy day reads because there's not a lot of commitment there. You can start in the morning, meander through, maybe even nap, and you can still finish by the evening. I loved this Stephen King story, even though it had a lot of divided reviews. I recommend it!

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry

Looking for a witty, unapologetic read that will equal parts make you giggle and gasp? That's this book. I think a boarding school is just an excellent place to spend a rainy day, and the girls from this particular school are such fun company!

Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton

I think I rainy weather would only accent a read of this beautifully written book. It's already full of the kind of emotional tension that puts you on edge, but it's also written in a way that makes you swoon.

The Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston

If you're looking for a historical fiction book for your rainy day, I highly recommend this one. It's so calming to read about a small town, with one pub and all manner of old buildings. It's also so magical to get lost in the world that our main character finds herself in, transported back in time. This book had the perfect romance, and I loved it.

The Rules of Magic  by Alice Hoffman

If there is anyone I love more than Sarah Addison Allen (or maybe an equal amount?) it's Alice Hoffman. This prequel to her amazing Practical Magic is a must read, especially on a day when you're trapped inside anyway!

To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

To me, a perfect rainy day Fantasy is one that I can easily fall into and be totally enamored with. This book fits that bill easily, and will enchant you too! Who doesn't love a story with a good forbidden romance?

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

It feels only fitting to end on this book, since it's one of my all time favorites. Anything Neil Gaiman is a rainy day read. Anything Neil Gaiman is an excellent audio book to doze to, or knit to, or pretty much just sit and zone out to. This man is magical, and this book is one of his best.

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, April 12, 2019

Book Blogger Hop (4/12/19)

I decided to join in the weekly Book Blogger Hop this week!

It's honestly been a while since I've done one of these, but I'm in need of inspiration and I loved the question for this week! Friday is finally here, so let's do this thing!
When reading a series, do you re-read the previous book/s before reading the newly released book? (submitted by Angelica @ Paperback Princess)
In a perfect world, where I had all the time I wanted to read, I would so want to re-read previous books! Sometimes it actually takes me a few months to start the newest book in a series that I've been dying to get my hands on, simply because I don't have time to re-read the book that came before it. I did this with the newest Kate Daniels book. I finally had to give in and just read it without going backwards. Hahaha.

If the books are on the shorter side, I'll usually go back and give a re-read to the last one released! I've also found that even skimming the last few chapters clicks on that AHA light that reminds me of what happened. So there are coping mechanisms! At least until we finally make full-time reading a job that pays well.

Happy Friday y'all!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Book Review: Lovestruck by Kate Watson

Title: Lovestruck
Author: Kate Watson
Publisher: Flux
Pages: Paperback; 300
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Source: NetGalley / Publisher
Content Screening: Nothing of note.

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy lighter reads with great messages.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Sixteen-year-old cupid-in-training Kali is in an Olympus-sized mountain of trouble. Rule number one in arrow-toting matchmaking: don't stick yourself. But accidents happen, and Kali instantly falls hard for her indie rock, bass-playing target, Benicio.

The God of Love is going to kill her. Even if he is her dad.

Being the daughter of Eros isn't all it's cracked up to be. For one thing, a girl can get jaded when her parents have the most beautiful and fatalistic love story in history. For another, immortality royally sucks when the Oracle condemns you to eternity in the wrong profession. Do the Gods care that Kali wants to ditch the love stuff and be a muse?


To reclaim her heart and her destiny, Kali is left with no choice but to defy the Gods, tempt the Fates, date the mortal love-of-her-life, and hope she doesn't lose her best friend, Hector, in the process.

Where to start with this book? I should start with the fact that I do love stories about Gods and Goddesses. Their personalities, their whims, the fact that they're all powerful, it all wraps up into something that has me firmly invested in books revolving around them. So when Lovestruck appeared on my reading list, I was pretty darn excited. As a Cupid in training, and a reluctant one at that, I hoped that Kali and I would get along swimmingly. After all, who doesn't love a story about star crossed love?

I'm going to start with the honest fact that Kali and I didn't get along as well as I'd hoped. While I absolutely understood that this is a YA story, Kali's character felt really young to me. The fact that Kate Watson set Kali on a path that she wasn't 100% sold on, really touched my heart. I felt hopeful and anxious right along with her, as she tried to figure out how to get around her supposedly inevitable fate. However I also felt frustrated with her, a lot. Her attitude towards her friends, and her inability to see how selfish she was being, made me want to smack her more than a few times. I did feel like she ultimately learned and grew up by the ending, but Kali isn't an easy character to love. That might be rough for some readers.

Still, the story that Watson weaves around Kali's fate fueled dilemma is an excellent one. She perfectly weaves backstories for each of the Gods and Goddesses who are featured, without it ever feeling like something overwhelming. I loved watching Kali interact with all of them, and giggled quite a bit at the parent/child relationships in this book. It should be noted that there are also really excellent messages woven into the tapestry of this book. Watson touches on familial relationships, one-sided friendships, and (best of all, in my opinion) on what a real romance looks like. I can't count the number of times that I found myself nodding my head along with Kali's realizations that the relationship she was in might be toxic. Oh, to have read this book as a teenager.

Lovestruck also has its fair share of laugh out loud moments! The interactions between godly brothers and sisters had me cracking up. I love that these ethereal beings are just as silly and petty as all of us here on Earth. This book moves so quickly, and 300 pages all but flew by. Overall, I had a really good time with this book. It might read a little younger than I'm used to for YA, but it has a ton of heart. For that, I happily award it 3 stars.

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, April 9, 2019

Graphic Novel Review: Operatic by Kyo Maclear

Title: Operatic
Author: Kyo Maclear
Illustrator: Byron Eggenschwiler
Publisher: Groundwood Books
Pages: Hardcover; 160
Recommended Age Group: Upper MG/YA
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Source: NetGalley / Publisher

It’s almost the end of middle school, and Charlie has to find her perfect song for a music class assignment. The class learns about a different style of music each day, from hip-hop to metal to disco, but it’s hard for Charlie to concentrate when she can’t stop noticing her classmate Emile, or wondering about Luka, who hasn’t been to school in weeks. On top of everything, she has been talked into participating in an end-of-year performance with her best friends.

Then, the class learns about opera, and Charlie discovers the music of Maria Callas. The more she learns about Maria’s life, the more Charlie admires her passion for singing and her ability to express herself fully through her music. Can Charlie follow the example of the ultimate diva, Maria Callas, when it comes to her own life?

This evocatively illustrated graphic novel brilliantly captures the high drama of middle school by focusing on the desire of its finely drawn characters to sing and be heard.

I really enjoyed reading Operatic. Not only is this graphic novel filled with stunning illustrations, it's also a story with a ton of heart. If you've ever felt inspired by music at all, even a little bit, this story will resonate with you. All of the other messages that were wrapped up in this story were simply icing on an already beautifully created cake.

I thought that this graphic novel perfectly captured the tumultuous feelings that come along with transitioning from middle school to high school. Poor Charlie isn't sure where she fits into the world and so, when her teacher tells them to find their own perfect song, she's equally confused about what would really describe her. Watching her mull over her choices, and ultimately find someone who inspired her, made my heart happy. It's hard not to feel emotional while reading this, partially because of the content and partially because the illustrations just have so much movement and atmosphere wrapped up in them.

If I had one complaint, it would be that this story does jump around a lot. There are a lot of items to fit into one girl's story, including crushes, lost friends, and feeling unsure of oneself. Still, I kind of felt like this also fit with the content. After all, a middle school brain is definitely exactly like that. Lots of emotions, lot of skipping around, essentially a torrent of new and processing information. So, I gave that a pass. As I said above, the illustrations are honestly too beautiful to ignore either way. I never felt all that lost during Charlie's story. In fact, I saw a bit of myself.

Lovely story, stellar illustrations, and an all around beautiful read.

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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