Monday, July 31, 2017

Review: Sparks of Light - Janet B. Taylor

Sparks of Light
Janet B. Taylor
Series: Into the Dim, #2
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
For the first time in her life, Hope Walton has friends . . . and a (maybe) boyfriend. She’s a Viator, a member of a long line of time-traveling ancestors. When the Viators learn of a plan to steal a dangerous device from the inventor Nikola Tesla, only a race into the past can save the natural timeline from utter destruction. Navigating the glitterati of The Gilded Age in 1895 New York City, Hope and her crew will discover that high society can be as deadly as it is beautiful.
This review is tough to write, because I CANNOT SEE THROUGH MY TEARS!

I would like to commend Taylor here, because in my opinion, she avoided the second book slump. When I first started reading this book, I was afraid I would not remember anything, since I had read Into the Dim back in 2015, but bits and pieces of the previous book were thoughtfully woven into the early chapters, which got me right back into the world and ready to go on a new adventure. I was just re-reading my review of the first book, and I like this book for essentially all the same reasons. 

What I Liked
  1. The Time Travel: This time we travel to Victorian New York. Being in 19th century NY made me really appreciate now-NY. I forgot how horrifying some aspects of life were back then, and I thought Taylor picked an interesting cross-section of social issues from that time period to explore. And, well, we also got to interact with Tesla, who is one of my favorite scientists, which was very exciting for me. 

  2. The Romance: I really feel like the swoon factor was turned up in this installment. I found myself furiously highlighting passages from the chapters where Hope and Bran interact. I am so firmly aboard this ship with all my heart. And to compound their lovely love, we get to take trips through Hope's memory as she begins to find pieces of her past life, and when she first met Bran. *heart-eyes*

    Apples = Love

  3. The Family: Yes, I am taking the word family out of quotes, because this group of people are a family. They don't need to share blood to share the love and ties of a family. There are so many things that happen, which just drives the point home. There are some sacrifices, HUGE sacrifices made and some lines drawn and crossed, but this is exactly what family does for one another. There are some joyous times shared, and a some really sad times shared, and I am so happy Hope had all these lovely people there to share them with. 
  4. The Mystery: And the plot thickens. Just when you thought you knew what was going on between the Viators and the Timeslippers, Taylor introduces another wrinkle in the form of yet more nefarious characters. Our villain group is either growing or shifting. Not sure yet, but looking forward to finding out how this is going to play out. 
  5. The Science: Like I said, we actually get Tesla on page, which is cool. There is less geek speak in this one, as we kind of already know the science behind the machinery, but there is a little bit here and there. 
  6. BONUS - The Highland Games: This was one of my favorite parts of the book. Here the characters were all together celebrating their heritage. They were eating, drinking, dancing, tossing cabers, and there were some really romantic things that happened here too. 

Overall: A strong sequel filled with action, happiness, swoon, and some serious tears there at the end. 

**I would like to thank the publisher for the advanced copy of this book.

Have you ever watched the Highland Games?
Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sundays with Sam - The Sunday Post

Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where I can share my wrap up of the past week, as well as plans for the current week.

My Week in Review

Last week I complained about the weather, so this week, I am going to show some gratitude. Yesterday was the day we left our home of 16 years, and I bit my nails all morning as the forecast called for rain. But Murphy's law was not ruling my life for once, and we actually had a great day. Overcast, but low humidity and in the 70s. Winning! And now, I am kind of like

My current situation is total chaos, but at least my bed is made. I have decided to just unpack the things I need right now. I am being loaned out to another team at work to help with some initiative, so I cannot take time off right now, BUT as long as I have my clothes and shoes handy, it should be ok. I don't want to complain, but it would be nice to have some skills like Mary Poppins ....

I read a blog post this past week, that mentioned how nobody wants to read book reviews on book blogs. I then cried and rocked in a corner, because I like to review and talk about books. I guess I will continue screaming into the void. 

Last week on WLABB:
What I Read Last Week

I had a rather pleasant reading week. My top read was Dress Codes for Small Towns. I absolutely loved it. Every character was interesting, and the book was funny, touching, and thought provoking. I finally read one of the three Emery Lord books I own, and I really did enjoy it, but I am starting to think she likes to leave her endings a little open, which we all know I am not a huge fan of. In fact, three of the books I read this week did the open-ended thing. They were still good/great reads, but needy-greedy me wanted more.

What I Am Currently Reading

I am currently listening to Torn Between Two by Mia Kayla. I really liked Everything Has Changed, and I am hoping this one is just as good. I am also reading Taming the Rebel, which I am finding quite fun right now, and I am loving the summer camp setting.

What I Plan to Read

I need help coming up with books for two of my challenges. For one, I need a book with a non-Western setting. I had wanted to read The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, but my co-blogger took that book to school, and I will have to wait to read it. I also need a book in which the season, the elements, or the weather plays a role in the story. I got nothing here. Any ideas? My reading week looks like a contemporary binge, but no apologies from me, it's my fave.

How was your week?
Let us know in the comments!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Review: Changes in Latitudes - Jen Malone

Changes in Latitudes
Jen Malone
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
A "road" trip romance that takes place at sea!
All Cassie wants is to get some solid ground under her feet following the shock of her parents' divorce. So when she learns of her mom's plans to take Cassie and her brother, Drew, on a four-month sailing trip from Oregon to Mexico, she's stunned. There is absolutely nothing solid about the Pacific Ocean.

Cassie is furious. And nervous. It's been hard enough keeping Drew sheltered from what Cassie knows about her mother's role in breaking their family apart, but living in such close quarters threatens to push her anger past its tipping point. Enter Jonah, a whip-smart deckhand who's as gorgeous as he is flirtatious. Cassie tries to keep him at a distance, but the more time they spend together--wandering San Francisco, riding beachside roller coasters, and exploring the California coastline--the harder it is to fight the attraction.

​Cassie wants to let herself go, but her parents' split has left her feeling adrift in a sea of questions she can't even begin to answer. Can she forgive her mom? Will home ever feel the same? Should she take a chance on Jonah? With life's unpredictable tides working against her, Cassie must decide whether to swim against them... or dive right in.
This year had already taken its toll on Cassie due to her parents' divorce, which seemed to come out of nowhere, and she had been having difficulty dealing with the changes in her family dynamic. Her father moved overseas and, she was no longer on good terms with her mother. Cassie was just counting down the days until she would be away from it all on a road trip with her two besties. Then her mother informed her that they would be embarking on a trip of their own, aboard a small sailboat, for four months! Cassie needed space, but her mother had other ideas.

This is the second book I have recently read, that dealt with a broken family in need of healing. I loved that Cassie's mom made such a bold choice to trap them in close quarters for such long period of time. It was a good choice, because Cassie was very angry, and something drastic had to be done in order to try and mend that relationship.

The added bonus of this taking place on a sailboat, is that we got to go on a pretty awesome trip along with the characters. I really felt like I was right there sight-seeing with Cassie and her caravan, and I was delighted by the sights and sounds of the west coast. I also liked that I wasn't really there, because there were some close calls, and those parts must have been written well, because I was scared for all the people aboard the boat.

I previously mentioned that Cassie was pretty angsty, and normally I struggle with this type of character, but Malone fleshed her out and gave her more than one speed. We were shown the angry Cassie, but we also got to see the fun Cassie, the generous Cassie, and the sweet Cassie. Malone also did a good job of putting us in Cassie's head, so I understood where the angst was coming from, and was also privy to the inner battles she was having with all her emotions.

You know how they say it takes a village? Well, it took quite a few people to help Cassie see her way out of this state. She was not accustomed to so many disappointments, nor was she used to them being this major. This was a HUGE thing she had to work through, and it took a while for her to face it all and do the growing up that was necessary to maybe not be at peace with all the changes, but rather to accept that they happened and try to keep moving forward.

I was really feeling all the evolving relationships in this one. This trip was such a plus for so many of the characters. It gave Cassie a chance to bond with her brother, and the whole experience really opened her eyes to how much he had grown up. It gave her a chance to mend her relationship with her mother. The loss that both mother and daughter were experiencing due to this rift was palpable. My heart went out to both of them, and I was really rooting for them, for the whole family to get to a better place, together.

Cassie also got to build a relationship with Jonah. Jonah won me over from his first time on the page. There was just something so special about him, and my goodness, he made me swoon, and swoon, and swoon. I loved the exchanges between him and Cassie. They talked, like really talked, and their connection was so obvious and real. He was a little damaged, but as with almost all our main characters, this trip was beneficial for him too.

I would love to say I got all the closure I needed from the ending, but I did not. *Sad face*. For those of you who have read my reviews before, you know this is a thorn in my side, because I need loose ends tied off. The ending definitely had things going in the right direction, but it was so open, and with this being a stand-alone, I am forced to imagine the perfect ending in my head.

Overall: A lovely story about accepting the hand the universe dealt you and leaning how to sail in.

**I would like to thank the publisher for the advanced copy of this book. Quotes are from an ARC and may change upon publication.

The majority of this story takes place on a sailboat. I have been on cruises, but never on a small ship. 

Do you like to sail?
Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Review: Spellbook of the Lost and Found - Moïra Fowley-Doyle

Spellbook of the Lost and Found
Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Magical Realism
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
One stormy summer night, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. It starts with simple items like hair clips and jewellery, but soon it’s clear that Rose has lost something bigger; something she won’t talk about.

Then Olive meets three wild, mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel and Rowan. Like Rose, they’re mourning losses - and holding tight to secrets.

When they discover the ancient spellbook, full of hand-inked charms to conjure back lost things, they realise it might be their chance to set everything right. Unless it’s leading them towards secrets that were never meant to be found . . .
Olive, Rose, Ivy, Rowan, and Hazel are all searching for things they've lost, both tangible and intangible. But as they hunt for what is missing, things are also found.
"If you don't get lost, you'll never be found."
Fowley-Doyle won me as a fan with The Accident Season, and she delivered more of what won my heart in Spellbook of the Lost and Found. I was once again treated to her beautiful prose with its ethereal quality, that kept me mesmerized from page one. Fowley-Doyle has such a talent for creating atmosphere in her stories with descriptions that are so vivid. I really felt like I was in each and every situation with the characters. This book, much like her last book, puts the reader in a little darker place, which fit perfectly with a story about secrets and losses. And BONUS! There were times it was feeling a little reminiscent of The Craft, which is a plus in my book.

"Be careful what you bargain with; Every lost thing requires a sacrifice -- A new loss for every called thing found."
But it's not just the writing that is great, Fowley-Doyle gives us a great story too. I loved navigating my way through this tale, as she slowly fed me breadcrumbs to follow. I was engrossed in the stories presented by each of the three narrators, one from each group of friends, but I did not see a connection. As the story played on, two groups merge, and then I was really scratching my head about that third group. I did not figure out the connection until about two pages before the reveal. So, Fowly-Doyle deserves quite a pat on the back, for once again delivering a twist I really didn't see coming, and later, hitting me with one I REALLY didn't see coming.
"Maybe we need to lose some things to make room for others."
Every character in this book was interesting and jumped off the page. Fowley-Doyle always does such an incredible job fully realizing her complex characters. This was, by no means, a simple feat in this book, as there were quite a few major players in this story.
"I kiss her neck until I forget everything but this feeling and honestly it's a lot less like losing my heart and more like finally being found."
There is a big overarching theme of loss in this book, and I loved all the different angles Fowley-Doyle chose in her exploration of loss. Loss of tangible things, of self, of friendships, of trust. She also posed the idea, that not all loss is bad. Loss of a bad habit, of addiction, of a heart. But, there was also this idea of things found: physical items, a heart, independence, a friend, a sister, one's self. This book just left me thinking about so many things!
"Be careful what you wish for; Not all lost things should be found."
This book has some diversity, mostly in the sexual orientation realm. Two of main characters, Rose and Olive, are bisexual, and another, Hazel, is a lesbian. In addition to being bisexual, Rose is also half Indian, and it becomes a minor point of discussion with respect to ethnic beauty, which I found interesting. There is also a bit of feminist centered discussions, and a bunch of other important talk, which I will not reveal, because I don't want to spoil anything here.
"I've lost my heart. Not all losses are bad."
Overall: An captivating tale of love, loss, friendship and family filled with an air of mystery and magical realism.

**I would like to thank the publisher for the advanced copy of this book. I also would like to thank GoodReads and the publisher, as I won a physical copy through a GoodReads giveaway. Quotes are from an ARC and may change upon publication.

Do you have a favorite book that features magical realism?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Discussion: Reckless Abandon - That Time I Quit a Series

Do you remember that feeling, when you read this amazing first book in a series. Then you patiently or impatiently wait for the next book. You were so pumped, you could not wait to read more of this series, but then, you abandoned the series.

How could this happen? How could something I was so excited about fizzle out? These are the things I want to discuss today.

I had recently talked about finishing series, and that made me think about some series I DNFed. I just left them and never looked back.

One series that I abandoned is Red Queen. I LOVED the first book. I was so sad that I had to wait to find out what happened next. I was giddy with anticipation when I had Glass Sword in my hands, but that enthusiasm fizzled fast. I plodded through the book, but the ending was pretty good, so I put my name on the hold list for King's Cage. It was months until my hold came through, but when it did, I found I really didn't want to read it.

My reasons why

  1. The second book took me what seemed like forever to finish. I just checked the page count - 444. That book should have taken me two weekdays worth of reading time to finish, but it took me 3 work days and a Saturday. I remember putting the book down a lot and distracting myself. It felt like a chore to me. Why didn't I DNF the book? I was encouraged by so many positive reviews, I had adored the first book, and I was giving it time to get better (which it did).

  2. When I finally got the third book, I looked at the over 500 pages, and asked myself if I really wanted to invest more time in this series or use my time on other books. 

  3. I went and looked at the reviews. Readers were all over the place on this one, but the reviews that caught my attention were from people who had loved the previous books, and suddenly had no love for the series. Seeing this brought me back to point 2: do I want to read over 500 pages more of this series, which declined for me in the second book?

  4. I thought this was going to be a trilogy, and now there is a forth book. Do I want to commit to another book? I think with series, you reach a point where you are in so deep, you cannot quit, because you just need to know what happens. 

  5. I just felt like I lost interest in the series. I didn't like the direction it was going, and I didn't find myself invested in the future of these characters. There are so many books I want to read. I cannot bring myself to read out of a sense of obligation. 

I used Red Queen as an example, but I covered many of the reasons I have abandoned series. I would love to hear any and all thoughts on you have on this topic. Do you always finish series? What would make you abandon a series? Have you never abandoned a series? Inquiring minds want to know. 

**Note: Just because I didn't like this series, doesn't mean others won't enjoy it. It just wasn't for me. 

Have you ever abandon a series? Why? 
Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Review: Daughter of the Burning City - Amanda Foody

Daughter of the Burning City
Amanda Foody
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mystery
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Thanks to Harlequin TEEN for the ARC I received at BookExpo!

When I read the blurb for Daughter of the Burning City, I knew that I needed to make it a priority to grab at BEA - having loved Caraval, an endorsement from Stephanie Garber really sold me on this carnival-centric book. After reading the book, I can say that it definitely did not disappoint me, and I loved every second of it.
"Wicked, wicked to the core, the city will burn forevermore."
Daughter of the Burning City follows Sorina and her Freak Show in the traveling city of Gomorrah's festival. Sorina is an illusion worker, which immediately intrigued me since I had just recently finished The Rose Society, but besides just projecting illusions into the minds of others, she can also create living illusions. These not-so-imaginary creations are Sorina's family and are a part of her show's act, but everything changes when one of her illusions ends up dead.

The city of Gomorrah is a fascinating setting for the story. I think the idea of a carnival always has two sides - the excitement of the performances paired with a sort of creepy undertone, a darkness behind the flashing lights. The city of Gomorrah is built in a similar way. The uphill area is family friendly, filled with fun performances, including Sorina's Freak Show. On the other hand, the downhill is a dark place filled with pickpockets, prettywomen, and assassins. As the proprietor's daughter, Sorina will someday inherit the job, but this story follows her as she is exploring the downhill for the first time as part of her investigation into her illusion's death.

I loved the layers that Amanda Foody built into Gomorrah as well as the surrounding cities. The cities outside of Gomorrah, in a way, mimic the city itself: there is the Upmountain, filled with religious zealots and wealth, and the Downmountain, a place seen by the Upmountainers as filth. Additionally, the Upmountain disciples of Ovren view jynx workers like Sorina as devil workers, unclean and unnatural. Now imagine the Upmountain and drop Gomorrah, a city of sin, in the middle. Besides the dynamic of the city itself, Amanda Foody was able to add in elements of the world around them while still crafting a mystery and romance and much more. IN UNDER 400 PAGES!!! Honestly, iconic. There was no point where I felt like the world building was forced or hard to follow - it was all laid out in a way that made it easy to understand and natural.

As for the characters, I was amazed by how vivid each of the characters were. Even though Sorina was the main character, her illusions and other secondary characters were still so real. Even a pickpocket who wasn't heavily involved in the story was still given layers, leaving me caring for him even though he was kind of a crook. Sorina's illusions' lives didn't revolve around her - they all had lives of their own.

Sorina was a really interesting character in that she had a lot of insecurity that she had to work past. Sorina was constantly second guessing herself, letting others who she viewed as smarter than her take the lead in situations where she was fully competent. I really enjoyed watching her grow throughout the book, finding her way and the confidence to ask the hard questions and find the hard answers.

And then there was the romance. I don't want to give too much away, but it was definitely unexpected in some ways. Regardless to the circumstances, it was super swoony and there was humor and support and basically it was an ideal, healthy relationship in the end, which is really nice to see in YA since I feel like a lot of romance focuses on the struggle rather than the support.

Overall, Daughter of the Burning City was a brilliantly crafted story filled with mystery, magic, and so much more. While I personally had a bit of a rocky start getting into it, this book quickly grabbed my attention and drove me crazy when there were pieces of the puzzle that I wasn't seeing. Filled with solid character building, flawless world building, a quick pace, and enticing mystery, this book will not disappoint.

If you had a circus act, what would it be?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Review: Love and Other Alien Experiences - Kerry Winfrey

Love and Other Alien Experiences
Kerry Winfrey
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
In this heartwarming debut by HelloGiggles blogger Kerry Winfrey, a young agoraphobe begins a journey of first love that leads her to the true meaning of home—just by taking one small step outside of her house.

My name is Mallory Sullivan.

My therapist says I have an anxiety disorder.

My brother says I’m an “optimistic recluse.”

Everybody else says I'm a freak.

And they kind of have a point, because I haven't left the house in 67 days and only attend class via the webcam on my laptop. The person I talk to the most other than my mom and brother is the completely obnoxious BeamMeUp, and all we do is argue on New Mexico’s premiere alien message board.

But after yesterday, I have something: a chance. If I can win the homecoming crown by convincing resident hot popular guy and Friday Night Lights spawn Brad Kirkpatrick to go as my date, then maybe #stayathome will never appear next to the name @Mallory_Sullivan ever again.

First, I have to leave my room.
This, for me, was the right book at the right time. I had just set aside a book that I was not getting into, and I found myself immediately absorbed in Love and Other Alien Experiences.


  1. The Sullivan Family: I was a huge fan of Mallory and Lincoln. They had a very special sibling bond. It was endearing they way they looked out for each other, and seriously, how could I not love a family with the motto: "Why Be Serious When You Can Be Sarcastic?" I have found my people. 
  2. AlienHuntress and BeamMeUp: I was shipping this online couple from their first interaction. The banter and nerdy talk made me all sorts of happy, and I really thought that Mallory had found a kindred spirit in BeamMeUp. I know I would love a bouquet of Twizzlers. 
  3. Mallory and Her Battles: Mallory had anxiety disorder which blossomed into agoraphobia. I thought Winfrey really did an admirable job capturing that struggle of wanting to be able to conquer something, but not quite being able to. Mallory was trying to manage her disorder by working with a therapists and making small efforts such as going out into the backyard. Sometimes it was one step forward, two steps back. I thought Winfrey handled her disorder with care, and her journey seemed realistic to me. 
  4. "It's not like I'm Anxious Beauty and the touch of his lips is going to cure me. I still have my problems, and he still has his."
  5. The Nerd Culture: Mallory was an X-Files fangirl who speculated about aliens online. She was science savvy, and was fluent in nerd. I so enjoyed all the science and pop culture references. You couldn't imagine how exciting it was to me that they kept brining up physics. But don't worry, this was balanced out with sports, makeup, and puppies. 
  6. The Boys Next-door: I will not lie, I loved both Kirkpatrick brothers. Brad was the happy-go-lucky sweetheart, and Jake was the brooding and often overlooked brother. I admit, I fell harder for Jake, because I was into his quiet but awesome ways, and I fell a little more in love with him as I learned more of his backstory. 
There are definitely more reasons to read this book. It was such a cute and touching story of friendship, love, support, and tapping one's own inner strength. I laughed tons, and had also swooned. I rooted for Mallory and celebrated each of her successes. This book made my heart full and I just wanted to jump for joy. 

**I would like to thank the publisher for the advanced copy of this book. Quotes are from an ARC and may change upon publication.

Mallory works on a physics project during this book and Jake is a physics genius. My undergrad was in Chemical Engineering and my graduate degree is in physical science education, so every time they talked about physics I was pretty excited. 

Do you like physics?
Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sunday Post - The Week I Spent in an Inferno

Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where I can share my wrap up of the past week, as well as plans for the current week.

My Week in Review

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few that sum up the weather this week:

The highlight of my week, was getting an email from Toms telling me about their new LLAMA SHOES!!! Of course I ordered a pair for me and Kiersten, because LLAMA SHOES!

So, that is something I have to look forward to.  😊

I was also very excited to see the announcement about the film adaptation for To All The Boys I've Loved Before. I remember Han talking about this at a BookCon panel (I think 2016?), and how she originally passed, because they did not think the Song girls needed to be Korean. Way to hold out Jenny Han! This means a lot to me as the mother of mixed race child (Chinese/white).

Last week on the blog:
  • Monday: I reviewed Wesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn
  • Tuesday: I shared by Mid-Year Freak Out, because I thought I should punish myself a little by forcing myself to pick some favorites. 
  • Wednesday: I gave some love to A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland with my Can't Wait Wednesday post.
  • Thursday: We hosted a blog tour stop for Tied Up in You by Erin Fletcher. **The giveaway for an Amazon gift card is still open. 
  • Friday: I reviewed Witchtown by Cory Putnam Oakes. 
What I Read Last Week

I was really happy with my reading week. So many unexpected surprises! The Dazzling Heights was a very satisfying sequel, and it looks like maybe a 3rd book is in the works from the way things were set up. But my most favorite book of the week was The Art of Feeling. I don't know. I think I am in love with grief books, because I have been lucky enough to read so many that were simply stellar. I thought the premise for this one was brilliant - a boy who cannot feel no physical pain being part of a the healing journey for girl, who is in constant physical pain. There were tons of funny and beautiful moments in this book, that were topped off by a fairly entertaining cast. Loved. It. I had a few reads that started out shaky, but redeemed themselves by the end, and earned a half star or so back.

What I Am Currently Reading

I am just starting Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink, so I don't have much to say. I am keeping with my tradition of listening to my adult romances with another Rachel Gibson audiobook. This one has a little murder mystery in it, which is adding to my enjoyment.

What I Plan to Read

I am going to try and show some shelf-love again this week. I really need to do more of that. I hope to read some of my physical ARCs soon too, but since they are all currently in boxes, it makes it quite difficult.

How was your week?
Let us know in the comments!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Review: Witchtown - Cory Putman Oakes

Cory Putman Oakes
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
When sixteen-year-old Macie O’Sullivan and her masterfully manipulative mother Aubra arrive at the gates of Witchtown—the most famous and mysterious witch-only haven in the world—they have one goal in mind: to rob it for all it’s worth.

But that plan derails when Macie and Aubra start to dig deeper into Witchtown’s history and uncover that there is more to the quirky haven than meets the eye.

Exploring the haven by herself, Macie finds that secrets are worth more than money in Witchtown.

Secrets have their own power.
I feel like the blurb did not do a good job describing this book, so I'll do a little intro.

Following the Second Inquisition, witch havens were established as places where both natural and learned witches placed on the National Witch Registry lived openly as witches. Macie and her mother, Aubra, had spent the past decade inserting themselves into these havens only to rob them blind. In the last haven, Macie made the mistake of breaking one of the fundamental rules for being a con, she formed an attachment and fell in love.

Shortly thereafter, Macie and Aubra fled and sought refuge in the utopian haven of Witchtown. Aubra promised Macie, that this would be the last heist, and afterward, they would settle down and establish roots, the way most witches did. However, as their time in Witchtown grew shorter, Macie began to doubt her mother's promise, and also suspected that her mother was harboring a much bigger secret, which involved both her and her mother.

I enjoyed my trip to Witchtown, and found this to be an entertaining tale with filled with some really great characters and some captivating magic.

Things I liked:

  • The main character, Macie, was quite complicated. She was struggling with the life she knew and the life she wanted. In Witchtown, she found a solid group of friends, who believed she was good. They supported her and were there for her when she really needed them. This was a huge change from how she was treated by her mother, and she began to rethink a lot of her ways and beliefs as a result of coming to Witchtown. 
  • There were some great secondary characters too. I found Tayla and Kellen to be pretty awesome friends, who really showed Macie that she could trust other people. They opened her up to letting others in. Both Tayla and Kellen were keeping some major secrets, but in the end, they were there to help Macie uncover a huge secret, which was standing in the way of her happiness. 
  • I liked Witchtown. This town was billed as a utopia, and it did not disappoint. Witchtown was green and self-sufficient. The citizens lived in harmony and were always there to lend a helping hand. It's no wonder that Macie grew to love and care about this town and the people in it, because it seemed like such a charming place. 
  • This is a lighter type paranormal. There is conflict and tension and even some violence, but it's never too much or too heavy. I felt that the relationships Macie was building in Witchtown played a bigger role in this story, and therefore, were featured more prominently. 
  • I cannot forget the romance. This was sort of a twofer. We get one romance in the form of flashbacks, and a second that plays out real-time in the story. Both were important with respect to Macie's personal journey, and I always love a good romance. 
  • The ending was strong for me. Although there were still some unresolved plot points at the end of the story, this did not detract from my enjoyment of how Oakes left the story. It was in a neat enough bow and filled with sufficient hope and promise, that I was left happy. 
Overall: a lighter-side paranormal with enough magic and mystery to entertain.

**I would like to thank the publisher for the advanced copy of this book.

Do you have a favorite witch book?
Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Blog Tour: Tied Up In You - Erin Fletcher

Tied Up In You
Erin Fletcher
Series: All Laced Up, #2
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Entangled: Crush
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Everyone says hotshot goalie Luke Jackson is God’s gift to girls, but the only girl he wants is his best friend, Malina Hall. He’s always known how brilliant she is, but now that he’s “accidentally” kissed her, he can’t stop thinking about her…or wanting to kiss her again.

Problem is, things have been a little…awkward since the kiss. Because she likes him, too? Hopefully, but even if she did, their futures—and the ridiculous schedules that come with them—are in the way. And now one of his teammates is showing interest, and the guy has more in common with Malina than Jackson ever will.

As her best friend, Jackson should get out of the way. But if there’s one thing he’s learned from hockey, it’s that you have to go for what you want, even if it means falling flat on your face. And he’s definitely falling for Malina.

Disclaimer: This book contains a hot hockey player who goes after what he wants, a super-hot, super-distracting shirtless workout, and the kind of best friends to lovers romance every girl in the friend zone has dreamed of.

If I had to sum up my thoughts about Tied Up in You, it would be that it was terribly cute.

I love friends to more books, especially when the hero and heroine have shared a long friendship. Malina and Jackson had been friends since they were small children. They shared a past and knew each other so well. Therefore, there was a lot of that awkward getting-to-know-you stuff out of the way.  BUT we also had all that push and pull and resistance to the attraction, as they didn't want to complicate their friendship with romance. I expected this, and part of the fun with this type of story, is the stuff that plays out as they try to deny and fight their true feelings, which resulted a few really amusing scenes that arose as Malina and Jackson worked through their emotions. 

I really liked the way Fletcher incorporated the auxiliary characters. Malina had a fabulous best friend, Izzy, who more or less stole every scene she was in, and I adored her. I also loved Malina's family. Her relationship with her mother and Tutu (that's Hawaiian for grandmother) really tugged at my heartstrings. I will say it right now: the way to my heart is through the grandmother, because I become a total sap for every grandma I encounter in a book. I had a fabulous Oma, who doted on me and treated me like a princess. So, I guess they just remind me of her. Speaking of Tutu, I loved getting a little lesson in Hawaiian culture from her. It was a nice touch to pepper the story with some Hawaiian words, crafts, and food. Jackson also had a great relationship with his mother and sister, and there was an ease to their relationship that helped me understand Jackson a little more. 

These two did run into a few roadblocks, but the drama was low, which is the way I like my drama. And the drama arose, because they each want the best for each other. But fights are ok, as long as they make up, and I got a sort of grand gesture out of it, so a total win for me. 

I love sports romances, so a hockey playing hero is totally my style, but I could not have asked for more in a heroine. This girl was a STEM princess, and that whole girl in science thing, is a conduit to my heart. This girl with her love of astrophysics just made me giddy. I love seeing smart girls score the jock, and I like seeing that there is more to the jock than meets the eye. 

Overall: A sweet and adorable friends to lovers story, which left me with a gleeful disposition. 

**I would like to thank the publisher for the advanced copy of this book.


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Erin is a young adult author from North Carolina. She is a morning person who does most of her writing before sunrise, while drinking excessive quantities of coffee. She believes flip-flops qualify as year-round footwear, and would spend every day at the beach if she could. She has a bachelor's degree in mathematics, which is almost never useful when writing books.


Have you been to Hawaii or had any Hawaiian food?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday: A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Tessa at Wishful Endings that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I can't wait for A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland!

A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares
Krystal Sutherland
Series: n/a
Release Date: September 5 , 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam and Sons Books for Young Readers
Waited on by: Sam
From the author of Our Chemical Hearts comes the hilarious, reality-bending tale of two outsiders facing their greatest fears about life and love one debilitating phobia at a time.

Ever since Esther Solar's grandfather was cursed by Death, everyone in her family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime. Esther's father is agoraphobic and hasn't left the basement in six years, her twin brother can t be in the dark without a light on, and her mother is terrified of bad luck.

The Solars are consumed by their fears and, according to the legend of the curse, destined to die from them.

Esther doesn't know what her great fear is yet (nor does she want to), a feat achieved by avoiding pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces, and crowds are all off-limits. So are haircuts, spiders, dolls, mirrors and three dozen other phobias she keeps a record of in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.

Then Esther is pickpocketed by Jonah Smallwood, an old elementary school classmate. Along with her phone, money and a fruit roll-up she d been saving, Jonah also steals her list of fears. Despite the theft, Esther and Jonah become friends, and he sets a challenge for them: in an effort to break the curse that has crippled her family, they will meet every Sunday of senior year to work their way through the list, facing one terrifying fear at a time, including one that Esther hadn't counted on: love.

The number one reason why I want to read this book is because it is written by Krystal Sutherland. I so adored Our Chemical Hearts. It was a little different from the books I normally love, as this one sort of broke my heart into a thousand pieces, but it did so in such a lovely way. So, as with any great book, I am hoping that Sutherland can deliver another stupendous reading experience for me.

In the synopsis for this book, the words "curse" and "hilarious" jumped out at me, and I knew I could enjoy it. I kind of like the idea of such an odd start to the friendship too. I don't know if I had ever befriended a person after they robbed me. And to have someone there, trying to help you conquer your fears one by one sounds pretty fantastic to me.

I am totally looking forward to this one, and know I will be reading it come September.

What are you waiting on?
Let us know in the comments!