Book Reviews

My Top Reads of 2020

Despite this rollercoaster year, I managed to read some pretty great books! Here are my top ten of the year:

  1. Straight on Till Morning by Liz Braswell. Part of Disney’s Twisted Tale series, this is a Peter Pan retelling. Check out my full review here.
  2. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. This was so good, and it’s one of those books I can’t believe I’ve waited so long to read. I’m excited to read the rest of the series to see how the three sisters’ stories end.
  3. Finish First by Scott Hamilton. Figure skating is my favorite sport to watch, and Scott Hamilton is one of figure skating’s greatest athletes. He is also an outstanding role model, and all of his books are uplifting and inspiring.
  4. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reed. This was an unexpected top read. I had heard lots of great things about the book, but the blurb did not really pull me in, and it is not my typical genre. So, I was sort of expecting this book not to live up to the hype. However, it did live up to the hype and made it’s way to my top ten list. 🙂
  5. Home Before Dark by Riley Sager. I have enjoyed all of Sager’s books, but this one along with Lock Every Door, are my favorites.
  6. Roaring by Lindsey Duga. I was lucky enough to be on a blog tour for this one. I was really intrigued by the unique blurb, but was not expecting to love it as much as I did. Check out my full review here.
  7. The Companion by Katie Alendar. I read a sampler of this book and was immeditely hooked. I bought the book as soon as I had finished reading the sampler. Check out my full review of this book here.
  8. Horse Crazy by Sarah Maslin Nir. I enjoyed this book so much, I’m doing my own spin on the premise of the book in a blog post. Coming soon!
  9. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson. This had everything I love in a YA mystery/thriller novel, and I am eagerly awaiting the sequel!
  10. Atomic Habits by James Clear. As someone who often struggles with forming good habits, I found the tips and strategies in this book to be very helpful. Many of them I will be trying out in the New Year. 🙂

What about you? What were your best reads in 2020? Let me know in the comments!

Reading Challenge

Introducing the Fairytale Reading Challenge!

For 2021, I am hosting a reading challenge! Since I write and love to read fairytale retellings, I decided to make that the theme for the challenge. 🙂

The challenge is pretty simple. Each month has a fairytale assigned to it, and you can choose any retelling of that fairytale to read for that month, or read the original fairytale. If you are feeling ambitious, you can read both. 🙂

Feel free to share the graphic on social media with #fairytalereadingchallenge. I’ve also created a printable bookmark with all the prompts which you can find below.

I’ll be participating in the #unreadshelfchallenge again this year (more about this to come in another post), and I’ve selected mostly unread books I have on my shelf for this challenge. Here are my picks:

My Picks

January – Unbirthday by Liz Braswell (Alice in Wonderland)

February – A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer, Rebel Rose by Emma Thieriault (Beauty and the Beast)

March – Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson (Peter Pan)

April – Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, The Wish Granter by CJ Redwine (Rumplestiltskin)

May – Entwined by Heather Dixon Wallwork, House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig (The Twelve Dancing Princesses)

June – Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay, A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan (Sleeping Beauty)

July – Part of Your World by Liz Braswell (The Little Mermaid)

August – Hood by Jenny Elder Moke, Sherwood by Meagan Spooner (Robin Hood)

September – Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George (Red Riding Hood)

October – The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad, The Stolen Kingdom by Bethany Atazedeh (Aladdin)

November – Enchanted by Alethea Kontis (The Frog Prince)

December – Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige, Conceal, Don’t Feel by Jen Calonita (The Snow Queen)

If you’re looking for books to fill a specific prompt, check out the Epic Reads list and the Fairytale Central list for some more options.

What about you? What fairytale retellings are you planning on reading this year? Let me know in the comments!

Uncategorized

My Christmas Recs – Books and Movies

Christmas is one of my favorite times of year! It’s the end of something, but it’s also bringing a new beginning. And this year, I think we are all ready for a new beginning.

Every year, I pull out my favorite Christmas books and movies, and set aside time to read and watch them as part of my own personal Christmas celebration.

Favorite Christmas Books

  1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Although this is not strictly a Christmas book, it’s opening scene takes place at Christmas, and the whole book gives you cozy Christmas-like vibes. When I have the time, I like to do a reread (or listen to the audiobook) of this classic.
  2. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Speaking of classics, this one is a must read for every Dickens fan or any fan of Christmas. And truthfully, this is my favorite Dickens book.
  3. The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand. This is a YA retelling of A Christmas Carol and it is so good! Once I finished reading it the first time, I knew it was going to be a yearly reread.
  4. Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore. I know this one is a children’s picture book, but there is just something so magical about the rhyming prose. I have loved this one for as long as I can remember.
  5. Everything I Need to Know About Christmas, I Learned From a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow. There’s a whole series of these humorous books, that just happen to look like Little Golden Books themselves. And I may be giving away my age a little here, but as a kid, I loved Little Golden Books.

And of course, I always find some new books that I want to read, so here are my most anticipated reads for this Christmas:

  1. In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren. I’ve heard so much about this book, and seen it all over the place, so it’s at the top of my TBR pile. 🙂
  2. Snowed In by Rachel Hawthorne. While not specifically Christmas, this book is touted to still have all the cozy Christmas vibes, so I’m pschyed to read it.
  3. The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody. Written by the author of Save the Cat Writes a Novel (find out more about this awesome book here), this one has been on my TBR pile for a bit. After rereading the book’s blurb, I decided I wanted to read it this year. This one is set on New Year’s Day.
  4. The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale. This is a Nutcracker retelling and was on my Christmas TBR list last year, but I didn’t get to it, so it’s near the top of my list this year.

Favorite Christmas Movies

  1. A Mom for Christmas. This is an old favorite from childhood. It originally aired on TV as a Hallmark movie, and my grandparents taped it on a VHS tape for all the grandkids to watch at Christmas. (My grandfather loved doing this – taping movies and having them ready for us to watch either at Christmas or during the summer when we come and stay awhile.) Bonus: Olivia Newton John plays the wished for “mom”.
  2. Mickey’s and the Muppets Christmas Carol Movies. These are another couple childhood favorites that I always try to make time to watch each year.
  3. Elf. You knew this was going to be on here. 🙂 I don’t always like the slapsticky comedy, but this one has its own sort of charm. Maybe it’s the Christmas setting that makes it such fun.
  4. Season of Miracles. This is another Hallmark movie, but it’s a throwback one, so it has a slightly more complicated plot than girl finding the perfect man.
  5. While You Were Sleeping. Not only is this one of my Christmas favorites, it’s one of my favorite Sandra Bullock movies and I’m willing to watch it anytime of the year.

Movies on Netflix/other worth a watch

  1. Holiday in the Wild – Set in Africa, the beautiful scenery itself makes this worth a watch, but it also has a good storyline too.
  2. Christmas Chronicles – So cute! This is a fun Santa story.
  3. The Knight Before Christmas – So this one might be a little cheesy, but I really enjoyed it!
  4. Noelle (Disney+) – This is another fun Santa story, with a twist.
  5. Godmothered (Disney+) – This one is new this year and is so fun! Perfect for a family movie night.
  6. The March Sisters at Christmas (Hulu, possibly available other places too.) A modern day retelling of Little Women, with a Christmasy theme.

And of course there are a few I’m highly anticipating, but have not watched yet:

  1. Christmas Chronicles 2 (Netflix)- The first one was great, so of course I want to see this one too.
  2. Jingle Jangle (Netflix)- I’ve heard a lot of great things about this one.
  3. Operation Christmas Drop (Netflix) – The preview for this movie caught my eye and so it’s also on my watchlist.

What books are you reading this holiday season? What movies are you watching? Let me know in the comments!

Blog tours, Book Reviews

Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy Book Review

I’m excited to be part of Turn the Page’s blog tour for Melissa de la Cruz’s new book Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy. I’ve really enjoyed every book I’ve read by Ms. Cruz, and if you have followed my blog for very long, you know I love fairytales, so I signed up for this blog tour right away. 🙂

Don’t forget to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the post to enter the giveaway!

About the Book

Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy
by Melissa de la Cruz
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Releasing on December 1, 2020

Nothing ever happens in Filomena Jefferson-Cho’s sleepy little suburban town of North Pasadena. The sun shines every day, the grass is always a perfect green, and while her progressive school swears there’s no such thing as bullying, she still feels bummed out. But one day, when Filomena is walking home on her own, something strange happens. 

Filomena is being followed by Jack Stalker, one of the heroes in the Thirteenth Fairy, a series of books she loves about a brave girl and her ragtag group of friends who save their world from an evil enchantress. She must be dreaming, or still reading a book. But Jack is insistent—he’s real, the stories are real, and Filomena must come with him at once!

Soon, Filomena is thrust into the world of evil fairies and beautiful princesses, sorcerers and slayers, where an evil queen drives her ruthless armies to destroy what is left of the Fairy tribes. To save herself and the kingdom of Westphalia, Filomena must find the truth behind the fairytales and set the world back to rights before the cycle of sleep and destruction begins once more.

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My Review

The author did not disappoint with this book. Exciting and fast-paced, it was a quick read that I really enjoyed. I love the way the fairytale world was woven into the real world, and I thought Filomena was a relatable character. Being a book lover myself, I also appreciated Filomena’s eagerness to read the next book in the Never After series. I loved the diverse characters, and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Fans of Rick Riordan’s books as well as the Ridley Pearson’s Kingdom Keepers series will enjoy this book!

About the Author

MELISSA DE LA CRUZ is the #1 New York Times, #1 Publisher’s Weekly and #1 Indie Bound bestselling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for readers of all ages, and edited the inspiring anthology of true stories, Because I Was a Girl. She grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. At Columbia University, she majored in art history and English. Melissa de la Cruz lives in West Hollywood with her husband and daughter.

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Giveaway

Click here to enter the giveaway: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d14/

Blog tours, Book Reviews

The Cup and the Prince Blog Tour Review

I’m excited to be part of The Favourite Pages Book Club’s blog tour for The Cup and the Prince by Day Leitao.

About the Book

The Cup and The Prince (Kingdom of Curses and Shadows #1)

by Day Leitao

Release Date: October 15th, 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Age: 15+

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Bookdepository

Synopsis:
One prince wants her out. Another wants her as a pawn. Someone wants her dead. 
Zora wants to win the cup and tell them all to screw themselves. 
Yes, 17-year-old Zora cheated her way into the Royal Games, but it was for a very good reason. Her ex-boyfriend thought she couldn’t attain glory on her own. Just because she was a girl. And he was the real cheater. So she took his place. 
Now she’s competing for the legendary Blood Cup, representing the Dark Valley. It’s her chance to prove her worth and bring glory for her people. If she wins, of course. 
But winning is far from easy. The younger prince thinks she’s a fragile damsel who doesn’t belong in the competition. Determined to eliminate her at all costs, he’s stacking the challenges against her. Zora hates him, hates him, hates him, and will do anything to prove him wrong. 
The older prince is helping her, but the cost is getting Zora entangled in dangerous flirting games. Flirting, the last thing she wanted. 
And then there’s someone trying to kill her. 
Disclaimer: Mentions of cheating, and alludes to virginity and sexual relationships. No steamy content.

My Review

It took me a little while to get into this one (I think this was because there was some backstory before it really got into what’s promised in the premise), but once I did, I enjoyed it.

I liked the contrast between Zora and Alegra. I also loved how Zora named her sword Butterfly. I got some strong Arya Stark vibes from her. The worldbuilding was good, and I’m interested in reading more about it.

Fans of The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski and The Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beaty would probably enjoy this book.

About The Author

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Bookbub

I’m originally from Brazil but I’ve been living in Canada for over 10 years now. I have some influence from Brazilian writers and Brazilian culture, but I also read popular books in English. I watched some Anime as a kid, my favorite being Yamato. I’m a longtime Star Wars fan and I’m active in the fandom podcasting at Lords of the Sith as Denise. 
I’ve always loved to write stories, and I like to always include romance, action and humor in my writing. I think stories can touch us deeply. I live in Montreal, Canada, with my son. 
My books include the YA fantasy series Portals to Whyland, and the sci-fi standalones, The Sphere of Infinity and Star Spark
Check out my blog for some news, updates, and nonsensical ramblings.

Blog tours, Book Reviews

The Opal Amulet Blog Tour Book Review

I’m excited to be part of The Favourite Pages Book Club blog tour for The Opal Amulet by Victoria Drozda. Be sure to check out my post on Instagram to get in on the giveaway!

About the Book

The Opal Amulet (The Forbidden Gems of Regalia #1)

by Victoria Drozda

Publisher: BookBabyRelease

Date: October 14th 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy

Goodreads | Amazon | BookDepository | B&N | BookBaby

Synopsis:
Fourteen year old Emberly Tollens doesn’t dream often but when she does its never a good sign, especially when its the same dream. Some nights she would dream of the sweet nothingness of time. Other nights the voices would get louder, the running faster, and the staff colder. Ice cold. But this is just the beginning of her problems.
Things get even stranger when she finds a dangerously beautiful opal necklace lying on the ground at school. Not strange at all. And definitely not strange when your once kind of nice teacher turns into a fire-breathing creature from the past, right?
Now with the help of her hazel eyed friend named Olive and a cute mysterious fire throwing boy. They’re going to discover there’s a lot more going on than what they think.

My Review

First of all, I absolutely love the cover. The cover is what first drew me to this book. The story is interesting and fun. Emberly has a strong voice and is relatable. I liked how she had a good relationship with her mom and a dependable friendship with Olive.

To me, the book seemed like more of a middle grade book than a YA book. Emberly is just a freshman in high school, fourteen, which is young for a YA herione. The story is appropriate for younger readers as well, though older readers who don’t care if the MC is younger than they are would probably also enjoy it.

Fans of the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull and the Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi would enjoy this book.

Favorite Quotes

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book, were the great descriptions in the book. Here are some of my favorites:

“A lustrous silvery and violet light stemmed from her amulet, disentangled itself from Emberly’s hands, and wove it’s way into the owner’s body.” (Chapter 8)

The castle was a deep midnight blue, with three black towers that had thick silver vines climbing up the dark stones. Tall, illuminated clear windows lined the walls, sparkling like diamonds.” (Chapter 10)

They rode to Max’s house, her phone leading them, the warm fall wind hitting their faces with a strong scent of pine and upcoming rain. Blurry splats of orange, yellow, and red flew past them in a leafy fire of autumn.” (Chapter 13)

About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Instagram

Victoria Drozda started The Opal Amulet (book one to The Forbidden Gems of Regalia series) in the summer of 2016 before her freshman year of high school and later finished the book in 2020. She is an upcoming college student and enjoys spending her time reading, drawing, baking and of course writing. She currently resides in California and is eagerly working on the next book in the series.

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop (Sept. 25th)

This hop is hosted by Billy at Ramblings of a Coffee Addict.  I missed last week’s prompt, but still wanted to answer it, so I’ve included it here with this week’s prompt.

Last week’s prompt:

So, the cover has to draw me in initially, but the summary is also important. One book I recently purchased because of the beautiful cover is The Storyteller’s Daughter by Victoria McCombs, and this was a total cover buy. However, if the summary on the back had been uninteresting to me, I probably would have resisted the urge to buy the book. I love fairytale retellings, so the blurb totally convinced me to buy it.

I just love this cover! 🙂

Yes! My biggest pet peeve is when the story doesn’t match up with the blurb. You know those books where you read the blurb and you’re like, “Yes, I have to read this”, and then halfway through you’re like,”What happened to the stuff I read about on the back cover? This is not what I thought it was going to be like.” Then you go read the back blurb again because you wondering if you read it wrong.

What about you? Do you buy books just because of a beautiful cover? Do you have any pet peeves about books? Let me know in the comments!

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

This hop is hosted by Billy at Ramblings of a Coffee Addict. And this week’s question is:

I’m from the US, and I read a lot of books from other English-speaking countries (England, Scotland, Australia ect.) I speak a some Spanish and a little French, but not well enough to read a book in those languages. However, someday I would like to be proficient enough to read a book in one of those languages.

I’ve also read some books from other countries that have been translated into English. One of my favorites is The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glaser which was orginally published in German.

What about you? Do you read books from other countries? Let me know in the comments.

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

I just learned about this Book Blogger Hop, so my post for this week is a bit late, but I wanted to join in the fun! 🙂

This hop is hosted by Billy at Ramblings of a Coffee Addict.

The question for this week is:

I got through three books over Labor Day weekend, and started another three:

My favorite read was Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot. I also love the Princess Diaries and have found that I really enjoy reading anything Cabot has written. I’m nearly finished with Horse Crazy by Sarah Maslin Nir and am loving it as well. Look for my review to come soon!

What about you? Did you read a lot over the long weekend? Let me know in the comments!

Blog tours, Book Reviews

Dawn Rising Book Review

Today I’m posting my review of Dawn Rising by Lisa M. Green as part of the Favourite Pages Book Club’s blog tour.

About the Book

Dawn Rising (Awakened #1)

by Lisa M. Green

Publisher: Trident Publishing

Release Date: September 3rd 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Adult, Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Adventure

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | BookDepository | iTunes | Kobo | Google Books
Synopsis:
Note from the author: I’m officially categorizing it as Adult, but several betas assumed it was YA (The main character is 20 and most characters are 20-24ish, but themes are very heavy on YA-type ideas like coming-of-age).

ONCE UPON A TIME, A GIRL WAS BORN. A HUNDRED YEARS LATER, SHE GREW UP.


Aurianna must rewrite the past in order to save the future. She was supposed to be the answer to an enigmatic prophecy discovered on the night of her birth. But a terrible curse changed her life forever.
That is, until a mysterious stranger arrives to break the spell. He awakens Aurianna to the truth of her past and the powers she never knew she had.
When he sweeps her back in time, she discovers there is more to her life than she ever imagined. The world she encounters is both strange and familiar. But learning to control her newfound elemental powers will be the least of her problems.
She must race against time to uncover the truth about a catastrophe that will leave the world broken, divided, and at war.
Aurianna just wants answers. But the people need a savior.

My Review

It took me a little while to get into this book. There was a lot of explaining about things that were part of the book’s world, that are foreign to the real world. I feel like the next book will be better because the reader will already know about these things that are specific to the book’s world.

I liked the relationship between Aurianna and Javen. It was sweet and believable. I also loved Oracle, Aurianna’s horse and all the scenes with her. The book’s world was unique, and there were a lot of different kind of characters there. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next book.

Don’t forget to check out the giveaway at the bottom of the post!

About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Youtube

Lisa M. Green writes stories of myth and magic, weaving fairy tales into fantasy. Lisa began writing at a very young age and even considered a career in screenwriting or journalism. Throughout her childhood, she drove everyone insane with her constant stories and plays. Lisa enjoys reading, writing, cooking, traveling, hiking, and playing video games that girls aren’t supposed to like. Visit lisamgreen.com for more information about the author and her books.

Giveaway

Prize: Win (1) of (2) copies of DAWN RISING by Lisa M. Green (US Only)

Starts: 3rd September 2020

Ends: 17th September 2020

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