Book Reviews

Chasing Starlight Book Review

So I’m finding that I really love these historical murder mysteries! I’m probably going to have to do a post on all the ones I have read, but that will be for another time. 🙂

The Blurb

1938. The Golden Age of Hollywood. Palm trees and movie stars. Film studios pumping out musicals, westerns, and gangster films at a furious pace. Everyone wants to be a star―except society girl and aspiring astronomer Kate Hildebrand, who’d rather study them in the night sky. She’s already famous after a childhood tragedy turned her into a newspaper headline. What she craves is stability.

But when Kate has to move to Hollywood to live with her washed-up silent film star grandfather, she walks into a murder scene and finds herself on the front page again. She suspects one of the young men boarding in her grandfather’s run-down mansion is the killer―maybe even her grandfather. She searches for clues.

Now, Kate must discover the killer while working on the set of a musical―and falling in love. Will her stars align so she can catch the murderer and live the dream in Old Hollywood? Or will she find that she’s just chasing starlight?

My Review

This book was so good! I was immediately drawn into Kate’s world, and I cared about what would happen to her. I loved how she was into astronomy and wanted to go to school to study it. I also loved the romance between her and Hugo.

The setting and atmosphere were great! A creepy old mansion and the glamour of old Hollywood sets. And even though it started out rocky, I loved seeing how Kate’s relationship with her grandfather developed into one of true and trusted family. I also really liked the way Kate came to terms with what happened in her past and became stronger for it!

And the Nancy Drew reference! I love it!!

If you love Nancy Drew, you’ll definitely love this book, but I think it will also appeal to fans of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson and the Truly Devious series by Maureen Johnson.

Have you read this one? What’s your favorite historical fiction murder mystery? Let me know in the comments!

Book Reviews

Unbirthday Book Review

This was book was my pick for January as part of the #fairytalereadingchallenge. If you missed the post about the challenge, you can check it out here.

About the Book

What if Wonderland was in peril and Alice was very, very late?

Alice is different than other eighteen-year-old ladies in Kexford, which is perfectly fine with her. She’d rather spend golden afternoons with her trusty camera or in her aunt Vivian’s lively salon, ignoring her sister’s wishes that she stop all that “nonsense” and become a “respectable” member of society. Alice is happy to meander to Miss. Yao’s teashop or to visit the children playing in the Square. She’s also interested in learning more about the young lawyer she met there, but just because she’s curious, of course, not because he was sweet and charming.

But when Alice develops photographs she has recently taken about town, familiar faces of old suddenly appear in the place of her actual subjects-the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter, the Caterpillar. There’s something eerily off about them, even for Wonderland creatures. And as Alice develops a self-portrait, she finds the most disturbing image of all-a badly-injured dark-haired girl asking for Alice’s help. Mary Ann.

Returning to the place of nonsense from her childhood, Alice finds herself on a mission to stop the Queen of Hearts’ tyrannical rule and to find her place in both worlds. But will she able to do so . . . before the End of Time?

My Review

While I enjoyed this book, I did not think it was as good as some of the other books in the Disney Twisted Tale Series. I liked the way it portrayed Alice – an intelligent girl not easily swayed by whatever those around her believed. I loved that she was a photographer, and I liked how the author used Alice’s photography to connect her with Wonderland.

I also like how each Wonderland character had a real world equivalent, and I especially liked Katz.

This book had a fair amount of silliness, which of course is on par with the nonsense of Wonderland, and for a minute I was afraid I was not going to like how the book ended. The ending was unexpected, but satisfactory. However, the book is quite long, right at five hundred pages, and I think some of the silly stuff could have been cut without taking away from the story.

Also, I think I had pretty high expectations for this one after reading and loving Straight on Till Morning so much. It was enjoyable, but not my favorite of the Twisted Tales.

Have you read Unbirthday? What did you think of the book? 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!

Blog tours, Book Reviews

The Cousins Book Review

I was so excited when I heard about this ultimate blog tour hosted by TheWriteReads! I love Karen M. McManus’s books and was eagerly looking forward to this new release. I was thrilled to get to read it early!

About the Book

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus 
Published by Penguin UK on December 3rd 2020 
Genres: MysteryYoung AdultThrillerSuspense 
Pages: 304 
Format: PaperbackARC 
Source: Publisher 
Buy on Amazon 
Goodreads 

Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised… and curious.

Their parents are all clear on one point—not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother’s good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it’s immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious—and dark—their family’s past is.

The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn’t over—and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.

About the Author

Karen M. McManus is the #1 New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying, Two Can Keep a Secret, and One of Us Is Next. Her fourth novel, The Cousins, will publish in December 2020. Her work has been translated into more than 40 languages worldwide. Karen lives in Massachusetts and holds a master’s degree in Journalism from Northeastern University, which she mostly uses to draft fake news stories for her novels. 

For more information, visit www.karenmcmanus.com or @writerkmc on Twitter and Instagram. 

My Review

This book was fast-paced and thrilling, just like McManus’s other books. I enjoyed the way she moved back and forth between the viewpoints of the three main characters. I think that technique works really well for this kind of novel. With each additional chapter, you discover another piece of the puzzle. There was also a flashback point of view at several intervals, which I thought was a nice touch.

The characters were likable and relatable, and I was immediately invested in finding out what was going to happen to them. There were lots of twists – some I knew were coming, but there were a few I did not see coming. This is always impressive to me, since it is not often that I don’t see the twists coming beforehand.

If you’ve enjoyed McManus’s other books, you’ll enjoy this one too! It will also appeal to fans of Kara Thomas’s books, the Pretty Little Liars series, the Truly Devious series, and A Good’s Girl’s Guide to Murder. Basically, if you like dramatic teen thrillers, you’ll like this. 🙂

Have you read any of McManus’s books? If so, how did you like them? Let me know in the comments!

Blog tours, Book Reviews

But For The Mountains Blog Tour Book Review

About the Book

But For The Mountains

by Erin Riha

Publisher: REUTS Publications

Release Date: June 3rd 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Fantasy

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Bookdepository | iTunes | Kobo

Synopsis:
Arden Thatcher wasn’t meant to be chosen.
But when her name is announced, she’s presented with something she never thought she’d have: a future away from her abuser. Shuttled off to attend the prestigious National Women’s Institute, Arden will receive Nordania’s highest honor, studying with other elite candidates to become leaders, diplomats, and ambassadors on the world stage.
Only, the institute’s not quite what she expected. Paraded around in gown after gown, the tests seem less about educating and more about a different competition, with a very specific prize at stake—the Nordanian Prime Minister’s son. Despite the dean’s protestations that angling for an engagement leads to expulsion, Arden sees the truth. There’s a secret bubbling beneath the institute’s refined surface, and those who refuse to play along may well wind up dead.
With the danger escalating, and the return of her abuser on the horizon, Arden’s shiny future becomes a gilded cage. And this time, she’s going to need powerful allies to escape.
Political intrigue, swoon-worthy romance, and a dash of dystopian flare, But for the Mountains begs the question, how do you change the world when you’re not allowed to try?

About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Erin Riha writes young adult fantasy novels about ambitious girls who don’t know they’re not supposed to exceed expectations. She has an undergraduate degree in Political Science, a Law Degree, and a deep reverence for the power of using exactly the right word in exactly the right moment. She lives in wonderfully weird Portland, Oregon, with her super dreamy husband, where they’re raising a future train engineer and a future chicken whisperer. When not writing, she’s a music director for a teen theater company, traveling the world, or dreaming of traveling the world.​Her debut novel, BUT FOR THE MOUNTAINS, was published by REUTS Publications June 2, 2020.

My Review

I was immediately drawn into the story. The story was fast-paced and the stakes were high, both things which kept reading until the end.

Arden was relatable and engaging. I also liked the love triangle aspect in the story. Though I sometimes find love triangles annoying, it worked with this story, and it was well-written.

When I first heard about this book, the title intrigued me. I love that moment when the title finally makes sense, and I loved this particular quote from the book:

“A familiar voice called to her and said, ‘What has taken you so long to find what you seek?’ She replied, ‘But for the mountains I would have found it sooner.’ The voice replied, ‘Look at yourself. Look at the mountain. Look at the crevices, the blood stains, the gashes, the bruises. They are your character, your story. But for the mountains you would not have found yourself.” 

This book will appeal to fans of The Selection (though fair warning, this book is a bit darker than The Selection) and The Jewel by Amy Ewing.

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 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.

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Reviews

The Companion Book Review

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I first found out about The Companion by Katie Alendar through Bookishfirst (a site I talked more about here). I read the first four chapters and was hooked. I bought the book immediately, but of course had to wait for release day, which was last Tuesday (August 25th, 2020). And it didn’t disappoint! I’ve added to my “Top Reads of the Year” list.

About the Book

The other orphans say Margot is lucky.

Lucky to survive the horrible accident that killed her family.

Lucky to have her own room because she wakes up screaming every night.

And finally, lucky to be chosen by a prestigious family to live at their remote country estate.

But it wasn’t luck that made the Suttons rescue Margot from her bleak existence at the group home. Margot was handpicked to be a companion to their silent, mysterious daughter, Agatha. At first, helping with Agatha–and getting to know her handsome older brother–seems much better than the group home. But soon, the isolated, gothic house begins playing tricks on Margot’s mind, making her question everything she believes about the Suttons . . . and herself.

Margot’s bad dreams may have stopped when she came to live with Agatha – but the real nightmare has just begun.

My Review

I was immediately hooked, and I loved so many things about this book.

The characters were a big part of what instantly drew me in. Margot has a strong voice and was so relatable. Laura was well-developed and intriguing, and Agatha tugged at the heartstrings.

The setting was awesome – the exact type of thing I love in a book. A creepy, old house with mysterious, locked rooms. A beautiful, but haunting garden. An unexplainable tension hanging in the air. And the pacing was perfect – I was on the edge of my seat until the final page.

The plotline was also strong. Some things I knew fairly quickly, but there were others that took me by suprise. I loved the nods to classic literature as well. There was a bit of a Secret Garden vibe, as well as a Jane Eyre vibe.

Have you read The Companion yet? Let me know in the comments

You can find out more about the Katie Alendar on her website or follow her on Twitter.