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.

Blog tours, Book Reviews

Lies Like Wildfire Blog Tour

Ultimate Tour – Penguin

Lies Like Wildfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

     

Publisher: Penguin

Length: 384 Pages

Publishing: 7th September 2021

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lies-Like-Wildfire-Jennifer-Alvarez-ebook/dp/B08VFV5FXD

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/55894185

About the Book

An intense high-stakes story about five friends and the deadly secret that could send their lives up in flames, perfect for fans of Karen McManus and E. Lockhart.

In Gap Mountain, California, everyone knows about fire season. And no one is more vigilant than 18-year-old Hannah Warner, the sheriff’s daughter and aspiring FBI agent. That is until this summer. When Hannah and her best friends accidentally spark an enormous and deadly wildfire, their instinct is to lie to the police and the fire investigators.

But as the blaze roars through their rural town and towards Yosemite National Park, Hannah’s friends begin to crack and she finds herself going to extreme lengths to protect their secret. Because sometimes good people do bad things. And if there’s one thing people hate, it’s liars.

My Review

This was a fast paced and well-written read. The suspense kept building and kept the reader hooked. The main characters were realistic, but not all of them were likeable. A couple of them didn’t care about the consequences their actions brought to others, which annoyed me, but they were all fully developed.

This is a pretty intense book with a lot of details about the wildfire and the damage it caused, so fair warning for any possible triggers. I think readers who enjoy fast-paced YA thrillers like Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s The Naturals series as well as the Charlotte Holmes series by Brittany Cavallaro will enjoy this one as well.

About the Author

I received my B.A. in English from the University of California at Berkeley. I’m fascinated by underdogs and power dynamics between groups of people. 

I’m the author of LIES LIKE WILDFIRE, a teen thriller soon-to-be published by Delacorte Press, and two middle grade book series, each published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, THE GUARDIAN HERD (a quartet) and RIDERS OF THE REALM (a trilogy). Before this, I self-published a middle grade fantasy called THE PET WASHER. 

When I’m not writing, you’ll find me galloping my little black mare through the foothills of Sonoma County or teaching free creative writing workshops to kids and adults at various branches of our local library system. 

The Healdsburg Literary Guild selected me as their 2019/2020 Literary Laureate for my work in building literacy in my community. It is an honor I hold dear. I am also the current SCBWI Sonoma County Coordinator and a volunteer on the Sonoma County Library Advisory Board.

I live in Northern California with my husband, three children, and more than my fair share of pets!

Blog tours, Book Reviews

Mirroland Blog Tour

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I’m thrilled to be part of this blog tour hosted by https://www.thewritereads.com/.

Ultimate Tour – Scribner

Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone

About the Book

Twelve years ago my life began again.

But it was a lie.

With the startling twists of Gone Girl and the haunting emotional power of Room, Mirrorland is the story of twin sisters, the man they both love, and the dark childhood they can’t leave behind.

Cat lives in Los Angeles, about as far away as she can get from her estranged twin sister El and No. 36 Westeryk Road, the imposing gothic house in Edinburgh where they grew up. As girls, they invented Mirrorland, a dark, imaginary place under the pantry stairs full of pirates, witches, and clowns. These days Cat rarely thinks about their childhood home, or the fact that El now lives there with her husband Ross.

But when El mysteriously disappears after going out on her sailboat, Cat is forced to return to the grand old house, which has scarcely changed in twenty years. No. 36 Westeryk Road is still full of shadowy, hidden corners, and at every turn Cat finds herself stumbling on long-held secrets and terrifying ghosts from the past. Because someone—El?—has left Cat clues all over the house: a treasure hunt that leads right back to Mirrorland, where she knows the truth lies crouched and waiting…

A sharply crafted mystery about love and betrayal, redemption and revenge, Mirrorland is a propulsive, page-turning debut about the power of imagination and the price of freedom. Perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, Ruth Ware, and Daphne du Maurier.

My Review

Wow! This book had me on the edge of my seat, and I read it in two sittings. I enjoyed the writing style, and the suspense built at the story progressed, keeping me invested in what was happening.

I really liked the main character, Catriona. I found her relatable, especially with the back and forth relationship between her and her sister. I think anyone who has siblings can probably relate to that on some level. I liked how they created their own fantasy world as children, something that me and my siblings also did when we were young. I loved how the author weaved the fairytales and fantasies into the story and I loved all the references to classic literature.

The twists just kept coming, even up to the very end, and some of them I didn’t see which is unusual for me as I typically have the story figured out before the end. Also, I have to say that ending was very satisfying – something that is not always the case for some books like this. If you enjoy fast-paced, twisty psychological thrillers, you’ll enjoy this one – if you liked Gone Girl, you’ll like this one as well.

About the Author

Carole Johnstone is an award-winning writer from Scotland, whose short stories have been published all over the world. Mirrorland, a psychological suspense with a gothic twist, is her debut novel.

Having grown up in Lanarkshire, she now lives in the beautiful Argyll & Bute, and is currently working on her second novel: a very unusual murder-mystery, set in the equally beautiful Outer Hebrides. You can visit her at  https://carolejohnstone.com/about/.

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.

Goodreads Buy a Copy

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.

Book Reviews

The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones Book Review

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Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC copy of this ebook!

Synopsis:

It’s the summer of 1955. For Ethan Harper, a biracial kid raised mostly by his white father, race has always been a distant conversation. When he’s sent to spend the summer with his aunt and uncle in small-town Alabama, his Blackness is suddenly front and center, and no one is shy about making it known he’s not welcome there. Except for Juniper Jones. The town’s resident oddball and free spirit, she’s everything the townspeople aren’t―open, kind, and full of acceptance.

Armed with two bikes and an unlimited supply of root beer floats, Ethan and Juniper set out to find their place in a town that’s bent on rejecting them. As Ethan is confronted for the first time by what it means to be Black in America, Juniper tries to help him see the beauty in even the ugliest reality, and that even the darkest days can give rise to an invincible summer.

My Review:

Be ready to cry your eyes out! This book gave me so many feels. Summer has always been my favorite season, and I think it’s partly because of all the epic adventures my siblings and I had with our cousins on our grandparents’ farm. Ethan and Juniper’s adventures reminded me of them.

The characters were so well-developed and vibrant, I felt like I was in the story with them. The lush summer descriptions of the lake and town added to the story’s charm. And the best part was, that despite dealing with some difficult things, in the end, the reader is left with a sense of hope for a better tomorrow.

Fans of Bridge to Terabithia and Tuck Everlasting will enjoy this book, as well as anyone who loves a great friendship story full of hope.

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think?

 

Blog tours, Book Reviews

Emmie and the Tudor Queen Book Review

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I’m excited to be part of the Favourite Pages Book Club’s blog tour for Emmie and the Tudor Queen by Natalie Murray.

About the Book

book cover (3)Emmie and the Tudor Queen (Hearts and Crowns Book 2)

Release Date: August 25th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Synopsis:
True love has never been more deadly in this lush sequel to the best-selling Emmie and the Tudor King.
For an extraordinary love, Emmie Grace has given up her life in the modern world to move to the sixteenth century and marry the Tudor king she bravely saved from a dreadful fate. However, not everyone is pleased to see the glorious King Nick betrothed to the unknown and uncultured Emmie—especially the noblemen commanded to protect her.
As Emmie is drawn deeper into Nick’s sumptuous and savage world—where beheadings are way more popular than time travelers—the Tudor court heads on progress across the country, and a growing rebellion against the promised queen looms.
With life and love at stake, Emmie must face the cost of changing the path of history and realize that her greatest sacrifice is yet to come.

My Review

This book is full of romance, history, and adventure. I loved the way the author weaved lots of historical details into the story. The romance is believable (everything is not perfect all the time), and the story is fast-paced.

Emmie has a strong voice and a great sense of humor. And I couldn’t help but wonder while reading, could one really be willing to give up the modern life for love? It definitely has some Outlander vibes (just on a YA level). I think fans of the Princess Diaries books as well as fans of My Lady Jane will enjoy this book.

About the Author

Natalie Murray is the author of EMMIE AND THE TUDOR KING (June 11, 2019) and EMMIE AND THE TUDOR QUEEN (August 25, 2020). A fast-paced YA time-slip romance, the Emmie and the Tudor King trilogy follows an American high school girl to a reimagined Tudor England, where she meets a doomed, but utterly dreamy, Tudor king. Emmie and the Tudor King has already received acclaim from Foreword Reviews, YA Books Central, and popular YA authors Brigid Kemmerer (A Curse So Dark and Lonely) and CJ Flood (Infinite Sky), among others. You can visit Natalie at nataliemurrayauthor.com.

Blog tours, Book Reviews

Roaring Book Review

tour banner (1)

 

I’m excited to be part of the Favourite Pages Book Club blog tour for Roaring by Lindsey Duga.  A fantasy set in the roaring twenties? Yes, please!

About the Book

 

book cover (2)

Roaring

Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC (Teen)
Release Date: August 3rd 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Synopsis:
Colt Clemmons is an agent in a specialized division within the Bureau of Investigation—one that hunts down not just mobsters, but also monsters.
For reasons that are kept top secret, Colt is the only person who can resist a siren’s voice. But he’s never had a chance to test this ability. The last siren left in the world mysteriously disappeared years ago.
Then one night, with a single word, she reveals herself. It seems too good to be true.
And it is. Because nothing about this siren—her past, her powers, or her purpose—is what it seems…

My Review

I loved that this book was set in the 1920’s, and it was full of all the things that make that time period seem glamorous: speakeasies, mobsters, and romance. And it had lots of mythical creatures. At first, I was unsure how about how the roaring twenties theme would work with the fantasy element, but the author seamlessly weaved the two together and created a magical story.

I like how the book alternates between the siren’s viewpoint and Colt’s viewpoint.  Both are fully-developed, relatable characters, and I quickly found myself pulled into their story and rooting for them. I also liked the mystery surrounding both Colt’s and Eris’s past. It gave the story a bit of a noir film vibe.

The book is fast-paced, and I flew through it in basically one sitting. If you love vintage stuff and mythical creatures, you’ll enjoy this book.

 

About the Author

Lindsey Duga is a middle grade and young adult writer with a passion for fantasy, science fiction, and basically any genre that takes you away from the real world. She wrote her first novel in college while she was getting her bachelor’s in Mass Communication from Louisiana State University.
Other than writing and cuddling with her morkie puppy, Delphi, Lindsey loves catching up on the latest superhero TV show and practicing yoga.

Giveaway

Be sure to check out the giveaway on Instagram. The winner recieves a signed copy of Roaring as well as a signed copy of Glow of the Fireflies, artwork based on Roaring, and a $25 Amazon gift card.