Blog tours, Book Reviews

Clean Sweep Book Review

I’m excited to be part of The Write Reads blog tour for Clean Sweep by E.B. Lee.

About the Book

Carli Morris is looking forward to a quiet retirement. Earning billions from the sale of her
Madison Avenue ad agency, she dreams of spending her golden years painting and giving back to society. But the heartbreaking discovery of a homeless woman poisoned to death on the streets of Manhattan reopens the wounds of Carli’s own tragic loss.

Realizing her busy career turned her away from the vulnerable, she throws herself on a mission to get the defenseless off the streets. But as she sacrifices her own needs to support others, her new colleague’s mental illness and Carli’s unresolved grief collide in a staggering sequence of events that will alter her life forever.

Can Carli dig deep and make a powerful, personal impact?

Clean Sweep is a dynamic literary novel. If you like moving revelations, gut-wrenching
decisions, and life-affirming transformations, then you’ll love E. B. Lee’s enlightening tale.

My Review

This book is a bit different from what I usually read. It was a bit heavy and sad, though that can be gathered from just reading the blurb. It deals a lot with the homeless people of New York City and their plights.

The characters were interesting and unique, though I figured out where the storyline was going pretty early on. There is also a Christian element to the story, as Carli works with a church group to help the homeless.

If you enjoy heavier reads, you will probably enjoy this one. Fans of The Book Thief, Dark Places, and It Ends With Us will probably also enjoy this one.

About the Author

E. B. Lee was raised in Weston, CT and enjoyed the best of a then-rural town and easy access to the high-energy world of New York City. She brings together elements of both in her debut work of literary fiction, Clean Sweep, a heartfelt story of human connection, tough choices, and compassion. Prior to writing, Ms. Lee was a flower farmer and worked in the environmentalfield. She earned a Masters Degree from Yale School of the Environment and undergraduate degree from Yale. E.B. Lee now writes in North Carolina and Connecticut.

World Princess Week

World Princess Week – Mulan Book Recs

It’s World Princess Week, so I am pairing books with some of the Disney princesses. If you missed the first post (Cinderella and Belle, you can read it here.)

Mulan values family. She doesn’t want to disappoint them even though she doesn’t fit into the mold of the “perfect daughter”. In the end, she finds that by being true to herself she is able to bring honor to not only her family, but also her entire country. Mulan is resourceful, independent, and resilient.

  1. Reflection by Elizabeth Lim – This is one of my favorite twisted tales. It takes quite a different spin on Mulan than the original movie does, but it is so good!
  2. Robin Hood – It took me a little while to determine what classic I wanted to pair with Mulan, but I think this one is perfect. Just like Mulan, Robin Hood is in disguise, and he is also fighting for what he believes in.
  3. To Best the Boys by Mary Weber – The heroine of this book must also disguise herself as a boy in order to find the things she needs to save her family.
  4. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale – Like Mulan, Miri has to leave her home and face the unknown, and she ends up saving her school.
  5. Sugar Town Queens by Malla Nunn – Amandla displays many of the same qualities as Mulan. She cares about her family, and embarks on a journey to find out more about the father she doesn’t know, finding herself along the way.
  6. Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows – Like Mulan, Mira doesn’t fit into the mold expected of her. She faces challenges she knows nothing about, but finds her inner strength to overcome them.
  7. National Velvet by Enid Bagnold – Of all the Disney princesses, Mulan’s horse is featured the most and her bond with him is clear. Like Mulan, Velvet disguises herself as a boy to compete in a horse race.

You can shop these books on my Bookshop list here.

What books do you think Mulan would read? Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments! Up next is Tiana.

World Princess Week

World Princess Week – Cinderella and Belle book recomendations

It’s World Princess Week, so I’m sharing book recs for some of the Disney princesses. These are books I think they would read and love. I’m also sharing a retelling that I love for each one. (If you follow me on Instagram, you may have voted in the poll to help choose these princesses.)

First up is Cinderella. Some of Cinderella’s best qualities are often overlooked. She is kind – even in the face of unkindness she still remains kind. She is courageous – despite the unfortunate circumstances she faces she looks for the best in every situation, and she still dreams of a better life. She is confident – even though she has been mistreated, she still knows her own value, and she knows she is eligible to go to the ball despite what others try to tell her.

  1. So This is Love by Elizabeth Lim – I chose this as the retelling of Cinderella. I really enjoy these twisted tales, and I absolutely love the cover of this one!
  2. From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon – So after I read this, I immediately thought of the Cinderella motto – “Have courage and be kind”. Cinderella values both kindness and bravery, and Twinkle exhibits both of these qualities in this light-hearted read.
  3. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon – Natasha faces adversity, but also finds some unexpected things, like falling in love, along the way.
  4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – Katniss also faces hardship, but she still maintains hope for a better future.
  5. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli – Stargirl stays true to herself despite what others do or say to her.
  6. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – Pip’s adventures are much like Cinderella’s, and he also gets his happy ending.
  7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – Fair warning: This book will make you cry, but the spirit of it is amazing! Liesel faces unspeakable horrors and still mananges to stay positive and rise above them.

You can shop for these books on my Bookshop list here.

Next up is Belle. Belle is a dreamer and a life-long learner, combing through books to find the knowledge she seeks. She also yearns for adventure. She values family – giving up everything for her father’s freedom. Belle is loyal, curious, and compassionate.

  1. Lost in A Book by Jennifer Donnelly – This is my absolute favorite Beauty and the Beast book, so it had to be my retelling pick!
  2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – In the Disney version, Belle doesn’t have sisters, but her familial bond with her father is very strong. Family is one of the most important things to Belle. I also think she would relate to Jo’s independent spirit.
  3. Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley – Belle would relate to Daunis’s curiousity and drive to figure out what really happened to her father and her friend.
  4. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson – Pippa also shows a desire to find the truth, just like Belle.
  5. Educated by Tara Westover – This is the only nonfiction book on the list, but we all know Belle reads widely. She, just like Tara, has a desire to seek out the truth and learn everything she can.
  6. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – Kaya was seen as different, and so was Belle. Yet like Belle, Kaya found ways to broaden her world through books.
  7. The Messy Lives of Book People by Phaedra Patrick – Belle would pick this one up just based on the title alone (kind of like I did), and find enjoyment in the adventure Liz sets off on in an attempt to finish her late boss’s book.

You can shop these books on Bookshop list here.

Who is your favorite Disney princess? What book or books do you think they would read? Let me know in the comments. Up next is Mulan!

Blog tours, Book Reviews

With Fire in Their Blood Book Review

About the Book

With Fire In Their Blood is a simmering supernatural romance set in the crumbling Italian city of Castello, where mafia clans make the rules, dark magic pulses the streets and the sins of the past threaten to consume the present. Perfect for fans of These Violent Delights, The Darkest Minds and V.E. Schwab.

When sixteen-year-old Lilly Deluca arrives in Castello, she isn’t impressed. A secluded town in the Italian mountains is not where she saw her last years of high school playing out.

Divided for generations by a brutal clan-family war, the two halves of Castello are kept from destroying each other by the mysterious General, a leader determined to maintain order and ‘purity’. . . whatever the cost.

Lilly falls in with the rebellious Liza, brooding Nico and sensitive Christian, and sparks begin to fly. But in a city where love can lead to ruin, Lilly isn’t sure she can trust anyone – not even herself.

And then she accidentally breaks Castello’s most important rule: when the General’s men come to test your blood, you’d better not be anything more than human . . .

My Review

This book is very atmospheric and I love it! There are lots of Gothic-y elements and one scene actually reminded me of Miss Havishim’s dining room in Great Expectations. There were so many lush descriptions, the setting really came alive for me. Being set in another country, especially in an isolated setting, also added to the intrigue of the story.

The characters were compelling and diverse. Lilly was relatable and likable. She had a strong voice that pulled me into the story and kept me there. I liked how she discovered things from the past that were affecting her present. Liza, Nico, and Christian are all complex characters that gave depth to the book.

I think this will appeal to any reader who enjoys dark or Gothic books, especially fans of Chloe Gong, The Darkest Minds series, and Lakesedge.

About The Author

Kat Delacorte was eleven years old when her family moved from the United States to a small town in central Italy. She soon began writing stories about her new friends developing superpowers, and hasn’t looked back since. She graduated with a BA in History from Columbia University, and lives in Venice, Italy.

Book Reviews

The Agathas Book Review

I recently finished reading The Agathas by Kathleen Gasglow and Liz Lawson, and I really enjoyed it! This book was released yesterday, May 3rd. The launch event took place at a local bookstore, One More Page Books, and I was able to attend. It was a lot of fun and another bookstore for #22in22, so I’ll be posting about that experience soon. (To find out more about the #22in22 challenge, check out this post.)

About the Book

Last summer, Alice Ogilve’s basketball-star boyfriend Steve dumped her. Then she disappeared for five days. Where she went and what happened to her is the biggest mystery in Castle Cove, because she’s not talking. Or it was, at least. But now, another one of Steve’s girlfriends has vanished: Brooke Donovan, Alice’s ex–best friend. And it doesn’t look like Brooke will be coming back. . .

Enter Iris Adams, Alice’s tutor. Iris has her own reasons for wanting to disappear, though unlike Alice, she doesn’t have the money or the means. That could be changed by the hefty reward Brooke’s grandmother is offering to anyone who can share information about her granddaughter’s whereabouts. The police are convinced Steve is the culprit, but Alice isn’t so sure, and with Iris on her side, she just might be able to prove her theory.

In order to get the reward and prove Steve’s innocence, they need to figure out who killed Brooke Donovan. And luckily Alice has exactly what they need—the complete works of Agatha Christie. If there’s anyone that can teach the girls how to solve a mystery it’s the master herself. But the town of Castle Cove holds many secrets, and Alice and Iris have no idea how much danger they’re about to walk into.

My Review

This book was so good! I loved the nods to Agatha Christie, and the suspense kept me turning pages. I’m also really hoping that this will become a series, because I think it would make a good series, and I want to read more about Alice and Iris. (At the launch event, the authors did confirm that there is second book in the works, slated to be released in May 2023.)

The character development was great! I liked how the Alice and Iris were from such different backgrounds but were able to find common ground and cultivate a friendship. This book also had all the great things about a classic mystery story – It wasn’t immediately obvious who the killer was, and there were some nice twists to keep the reader guessing.

For me, this was right up there with One of Us is Lying and A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, and I think fans of both those books will also enjoy this one. I think any fan of the classic who-dun-it story and Agatha Christie or Nancy Drew will also like this book.

About the Authors

Kathleen Gasglow

Kathleen Glasgow is the author of THE AGATHAS, YOU’D BE HOME NOW, GIRL IN PIECES (a New York Times bestseller and Target Book Club pick), and HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE DARK. Visit her on Twitter (@kathglasgow), Instagram (misskathleenglasgow), her website (www.kathleenglasgowbooks.com), or TikTok @kathleenglasgow.

Liz Lawson

Liz Lawson’s debut contemporary YA novel, THE LUCKY ONES, released from Delacorte Press/Random House in 2020. Next up is THE AGATHAS, a YA mystery she had the pleasure of writing with Kathleen Glasgow (NYT Bestselling author of GIRL IN PIECES).

Currently, Liz resides in the DC metro region, where she lives with an adorable toddler, a fantastic husband, and two VERY bratty cats.

Find her on Instagram and Twitter: @lzlwsn.

Book Reviews

Carnival Of Ash Book Review

I was excited to recieve a copy of The Carnival of Ash by Tom Beckerlegge as part of The Write Reads blog tour. Read on for my review!

About the Book

Book Info

Genre: Adult Fantasy

Length: 528 Pages

Publishing: 15th March 2022

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1786185008/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58438204-the-carnival-of-ash 

Blurb

An extravagant, lyrical fantasy about a city of poets and librarians. A city that never was.

Cadenza is the City of Words, a city run by poets, its skyline dominated by the steepled towers of its libraries, its heart beating to the stamp and thrum of the printing presses in the Printing Quarter.

Carlo Mazzoni, a young wordsmith arrives at the city gates intent on making his name as the bells ring out with the news of the death of the city’s poet-leader. Instead, he finds himself embroiled with the intrigues of a city in turmoil, the looming prospect of war with their rival Venice ever-present. A war that threatens not only to destroy Cadenza but remove it from history altogether…

My Review

This book was very creative and different from any other book I’ve read. It is labeled adult fantasy, rather than YA fantasy, so that could be partly why. It is well-written, written in the style of literary fiction.

The book was not exactly what I was expecting from the blurb, as it ended up being more political and historical than an actual fantasy story. And I was a little disappointed that the libraries played such a small part in the story.

I liked the world building, and I thought some of the characters were relatable. However, there were a lot of characters, so at times it could be tricky to keep straight who was who. Also, it was difficult at times to tell how the characters were all connected.

I think fans of political historical fiction will actually enjoy this more than fans of fantasy as there were no actual magical elements to the story.

Just FYI, there are some trigger warnings – violence and sexual content.

About the Author

Tom Beckerlegge grew up in the northwest of England in a house filled with books. Writing as Tom Becker, he won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize with his debut novel; The Carnival of Ash is his first adult book. He lives in Enfield with his wife and young son.

Book Reviews

Dog Star Book Review

I recently finished Dog Star by Megan Shepherd, which I really enjoyed. I recieved a ARC in exchange for a review. This book was released on Tuesday, January 11th, 2022.

About the Book

Laika is a Cold Dog, a stray pup fighting for her life on the streets of Moscow. Then, one winter night, she is plucked from her alley to become a starflyer, a dog trained to travel into space. Distrustful of people, Laika tries to do everything she can to escape. That is, until she meets Nina.

Nina is a Cold Girl, lonely and full of questions. Her best friend has moved to America in a rush, leaving Nina to face the school bullies all by herself. Plus, her father’s work as a scientist in the Soviet Space Program grows more secretive by the day.

When the two meet in her father’s laboratory, their growing bond slowly warms the chill that has settled in each other’s hearts. As the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union grows fierce, Laika and Nina uncover shocking secrets and hard truths that will test their friendship. How will they find the courage to chase their dreams all the way to the stars?

Based on an incredible true story, Carnegie Medal nominee and New York Times–bestselling author Megan Shepherd crafts a harrowing, propulsive girl-and-her-dog tale that will linger in your heart long after the last page.

My Review

I really enjoyed this book. It’s great for the classroom, as it covers historical events as well as lots of other topics that are great for discussion. I loved the way there were alternating chapters from the dog, Laika, and the girl who loves her, Nina. Megan Shepherd did a great job of telling the story from both the girl’s and the dog’s POV.

Both characters had strong voices and that is part of what kept me turning pages. I also enjoyed reading about the history of the space dogs, especially since it is something I didn’t know much about before.

One spoiler (because this is something I’d appreciate knowing going into the story), since the story is based on history, the dog dies in the end of the book. However, I will caveat that by saying that the author does an excellent job of writing this instance so that it is not sad.

I think anyone who loves middle grade books, as well as historical fiction fans will enjoy this book.

Also, Megan Shepherd just announced that she’s publishing her first adult thriller – Malice House and I can’t wait to read it!

About the Author

New York Times bestseller and Carnegie Medal-nominated author Megan Shepherd grew up in her family’s independent bookstore in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She is the author of many acclaimed middle grade and young adult novels including The Madman’s Daughter series, The Cage series, The Secret Horses of Briar Hill, and the Grim Lovelies series. She now lives and writes on a haunted 125-year-old farm outside Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband and children, cats, chickens, bees, and an especially scruffy dog.

Book Reviews

The Little Women Devotional Review

I’m SO excited to be part of the launch team for The Little Women Devotional. Little Women is one of my favorite books and as soon as I heard about this devotional, I knew I wanted to read it!

About the Book

The Little Women Devotional offers lovely inspiration that explores the themes of faith, family, contentment, wisdom, and joy in the classic Louisa May Alcott novel, cherished by generations of readers.

Each reading corresponds with a chapter from the book and invites you to embrace God’s guiding hand in your life as His cherished daughter. This beautiful chapter-by-chapter devotional includes original artwork throughout, and each reading includes examples from the novel, scripture, life application, and prayers perfect for groups, book clubs, or personal reflection.

My Review

If you have been following my blog long, you know how much I love Little Women, so I was so excited to find out about this book. And it didn’t disappoint. It is so encouraging, and I love the way each devotional piece corresponds to a chapter in Little Women. It was a lot of fun to read through a chapter of Little Women and then read the corresponding devotional. There are some adorable illustrations included throughout the book as well. It’s a devotional you could read over again and still gain some new insights. I’m planning to read it again and journal my thoughts for each day as I read through the book.

I think this book is perfect for literature enthusiasts as well as anyone who enjoys Little Women.

Do you have a favorite devotional book? Let me know in the comments!

About the Author

RACHEL DODGE is the bestselling author of The Anne of Green Gables Devotional: A Chapter-by-Chapter Companion for Kindred Spirits and Praying with Jane: 31 Days through the Prayers of Jane Austen. Rachel teaches college English; speaks at libraries, literary groups, and teas; and writes for Jane Austen’s World. A true kindred spirit at heart, she loves books, bonnets, and ballgowns. You can visit her at RachelDodge.com or on Instagram @kindredspiritbooks.

Uncategorized

My Favorite Romantic Movies

It’s hard to believe we are more than a week into February already! It’s one of my favorite months, mainly because it’s my birthday month, and I love celebrating all month long. This year one of the ways I’m celebrating is by watching some of my favorite romcoms. A few are not actually romcoms, and I’ve noted these. So in no particular order are the movies I’m planning to watch:

  1. How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days – Matthew McConaughey and Kate Husdon work well together and this one always makes me laugh.
  2. Miss Congeniality – This is an all-time favorite. Sandra Bullock is one of my favorite actresses and I’ll watch anything she starrs in.
  3. Ever After – (Not technically a romcom)This one is also an all-time favorite. I love that it is a Cinderella retelling and that Da Vinci plays a role in the story!
  4. 27 Dresses– I also love this one. It’s a unique storyline, and I think that’s why I like it so much.
  5. Just My Luck – This one is another kind of unique story line which is why I think I like this one as well.
  6. When in Rome – I really like Kristen Bell and watch pretty much everything she is in. I also liked the whole traveling to another country aspect in this movie.
  7. John Tucker Must Die – This one just makes me laugh so much!
  8. Yesterday – This is the newest movie on the list. I think it came out in 2019, and it was one the best movies I’ve seen in the last few years, so it made the list.
  9. 13 Going on 30 – This is another all time fav. I love the flashback to the eighties too!
  10. What A Girl Wants – This is another teen flick, but I really like it, especially because of Daphne’s laid back vibe.
  11. While You Were Sleeping – Another all time favorite                                  
  12. The Proposal – Sandra Bullock, what can I say? 🙂                                                              
  13. Never Been Kissed – another classic favorite.                                                                             
  14. Just Go With It – Another one that makes me laugh everytime.                                            
  15. Life As We Know It – This one features one of my favorite tropes – parents die and unsuspecting couple has to raise their kid(s).

And these last five are based on books:

16. The Princess Diaries – I love this one! It came out my senior year in high school, so there’s a lot of nostalgia tied up in this one. Also, Julie Andrews as Queen – yes please!

17. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – I read the book first, but really like the movie too!

18. Water for Elephants – (Not a romcom) I saw the movie first and loved it, then read the book and loved it even more. It was a book I couldn’t stop thinking about for awhile after I read it.

19. Emma (1996 version) – I haven’t actually watched the new one yet, because I’m kind of afraid to. I feel like Gwyneth Peltrow did such a good job portraying Emma, that no one else could surpass it.

20. Little Women (1994 version) – (not a romcom) I did enjoy the newest version that came out in 2019. However, I thought Beth wasn’t portrayed accurately – she doesn’t have red hair for one, and her character came off as too flat to me. So the 1995 version is still my favorite. There’s also nostaglia tied up in this one as it’s the one I watched over and over as a kid.

Have any of the same favorites? If not, what are your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

Reading Challenge

The Storygraph – A Book App

I’ve seen this app on both Bookstagram and Litsy and decided to take the plunge. I do love a bookish app. Some people apparently use this as an alternative to Goodreads, but I am still going to be using both because there are different advantages to each, so rather than a replacement it feels like an addition to me.

The Storygraph is cool, because it gives you all kind of stats about your reading.

You can also join reading challenges and track you progress with them on the app. It allows you to create your own reading challenge which others can join in on if you want them too.

I decided to add my #fairytalereadingchallenge to the app. (If you don’t know about the fairytale reading challenge, you can find out more here.)

My username on The Storygraph is charityann, if you’re already on the app, feel free to add me as a friend!

Are you on Storygraph? Do you have a favorite bookish app? Let me know in the comments!