Reading Challenge

My Reading Challenges for 2022

So, once again I am participating in several reading challenges. Most of them are on Instagram, one is on Litsy, and one is my Goodreads challenge.

First up is the DInsey Reading Challenge:

This challenge is on IG, and it lasts all year. Each of the five movies have five prompts and there is also a bonus prompt:

Next up are the Taylor Swift reading challenges, one for Red, Taylor’s Version, and one for 1989, as we’re all hoping we get Taylor’s Version soon! 🙂 These challenges are hosted by @aliciaclarereads on IG, and last all year.

I’m also doing an Agatha Christie challenge hosted by @officialagathachristie on IG. Also a yearly challenge, there is a prompt for each month. I’m starting with Death on the Nile since the movie is coming out soon. 🙂 To get the prompts you have to sign up for their email list.

I’m hosting the #fairytalereading challenge both on Instagram and Litsy. You can read about all the details here.

Next, I’m doing my usual Goodreads Challenge to read 200 books this year:

I’m also reading twelve books recommended by friends on IG. Here are the twelve recommendations I recieved:

And last but not least, I’m doing the #bookspin challenge hosted by @theAromaofBooks on Litsy. Each month, you choose 20-25 books, the host rolls two numbers, #bookspin and #doublespin. You can read one or both, and/or complete the bingo board the host also makes to go along with the books. You can check out all the details on the host’s blog, here. I’m all in, so here’s what my board looks like:

What reading challenges are you doing this year? Let me know in the comments!

Book Reviews

Top Ten Best Reads of 2021

Hi everyone! I read a lot of books this year, not quite as many as last year, but I met my Goodreads goal, so I’m happy!

I read a lot of thrillers this year, both YA and adult, which is a bit of a departure from what a typically read, YA fantasy. I also joined a book club at my local bookstore, and that turned out to be a good thing, since a few of my top ten picks were the book club choices. Here are the ones I chose as my top ten:

  1. Chasing Starlight by Teri Bailey Black (YA historical mystery) – This book has a great vintage vibe and was a NetGalley read. Check out my review here.
  2. A Curse So Dark and Lonely and Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer (YA fantasy) – I combined two here since they are by the same author, but I really enjoyed both of them. A Curse so Dark and Lonely is the first book in the Cursebreakers series. Defy the Night, the first in a new series, is the author’s latest book. My local bookstore chose this book as the book club pick and I was able to meet the author and get my copy signed. If you like YA fantasy, you’ll likely enjoy both of these.
  3. Lost in the Neverwood by Aiden Thomas (YA fantasy) – This is a retelling of Peter Pan. It was very good, but fair warning, it will probably make you cry.
  4. The Broken Girls by Simone St. James (Adult thriller) – This a book I chose for one of my Book of the Month boxes. A journalist investigates a haunted hall where students had been killed fifty plus years earlier.
  5. Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone (Adult thriller) – This was another ARC read, a book I recieved as part of a blog tour. You can read my review here.
  6. Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon (YA contemporary) – I also read this one as part of a book tour. It was another great read, but be warned that it’s not just a fluffy story – you’ll probably cry, I did. You can read my full review here.
  7. The Stranger in the Mirror by Liv Constantine (Adult Thriller) – This was another book club read from my local bookstore, and again I was able to meet the author and get my book signed. This is a thriller where the main character cannot remember who she is. She only has her husband’s word telling her who she is, but more and more things happen causing her to doubt him. I could not put this one down and finished it in two sittings.
  8. I Don’t Forgive You by Aggie Blum Thompson (Adult Thriller) – Another book club read, I also got my copy of this book signed by the author. This is about a photographer who has just moved to a cliquely DC suburb, and on top of navigating the new setting, she also gets framed for murder. I read this one in one sitting.
  9. Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain (YA Thriller) – A girl returns to the small town where she spends her summers. But things are different because one of her best friends has been missing for six months. As she tries to figure out what happened, she uncovers secret after secret. Set in the swamps of Louisiana, the setting only added to the suspense.
  10. Shiver by Allie Reynolds (Adult Thriller) – I just read this one last month, but I’d had it on my TBR for awhile. Five friends who have not seen each other for a decade get invited to a ski resort. The same ski resort where one of their friends went missing ten years ago. No one knows who invited them and they appear to be the only ones there. Strange things keep happening making them believe someone else is there watching them. Creepy and haunting, I read this one in a day.

What were your favorite reads of 2021? Let me know in the comments!

Reading Challenge

Fairytale Reading Challenge 2022

I’m bringing back the fairytale reading challenge for 2022. Just like last year, this is a pretty laid back challenge. Each month there is a fairytale prompt. You can read a retelling or the original fairytale. For 2021, several people also watched a movie for each prompt as well.

Share what your reading on social media with #fairytaleretellingchallenge.

Here are the prompts:

And there is also a printable bookmark again this year.

Let me know what fairytale you are most excited to read in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Blog tours

The Goblin and the Dancer Blog Tour

Today I’m excited to spotlight The Goblin and the Dancer by Allison Tebo as part of the book launch tour. It’s a retelling of The Steadfast Tin Soldier, which was one of my favorite fairy tales as a child. I love the cover, and I can’t wait to read this retelling!

About the Book

Grik the goblin spends his days as a janitor cleaning the Metropolitan Dance Hall, drawn to the Elvish world and tired of the darkness of his underground home. He secretly pines for the ballet company’s lead dancer, Rosanna, but his own ugliness and shyness stand in the way of confessing his love. When a handsome soldier named Paul appears on the scene to make a bid for Rosanna’s affections, Grik’s jealousy bubbles over and he commits the unthinkable, plunging all of them into the river and down into the depths of the earth. Determined to redeem himself, Grik leads Rosanna and Paul through the place he calls home: but even a goblin can’t be prepared for everything that is found underground. Trapped in the dark, nightmares both within and without rise to the surface, threatening to destroy them all.


A magical and heartfelt retelling of The Steadfast Tin Soldier about finding your worth.

BUY NOW / ADD TO GOODREADS

Check out all the stops for the blog tour via the links below and don’t forget to scroll all the way down to enter the giveaway!

BLOG TOUR SECHEDULE
Sept 10 th
Guest Post With Sawyer: https://sundropgirls.wordpress.com/
Author Interview with Abigail: http://www.abigailfalangaauthor.wordpress.com
Sept 11 th
Author Interview With Kylie: http://www.kyliehuntthefilmdirectorswife.movie.blog
September 12 th
Book Review by Maegan: http://BloomingwithBooks.blogspot.com
Sept 13
Book Spotlight by Charity: http://www.charityrau.wordpress.com
Sept 14th
Book Spotlight by Julia: http://www.dropsofinspira.blogspot.com
Sept 15 th
Book Review by Merie: https://imperialscribis.wordpress.com/
Book Spotlight by Laura: https://www.lauraagrace.com/
Sept 16th
Author Interview Laurie: http://www.landsuncharted.com
Author Interview with Mae: http://www.maeheller.com
Sept 17 th
Book Review by Joellen: http://www.joellenkemper.com
Guest Post With Laura: https://www.lauraagrace.com/

About the Author

Allison Tebo is a writer committed to creating magical stories full of larger-than-life characters, a dash of grit, and plenty of laughs. She is the author of the Tales of Ambia, a series of romantic comedy retellings of popular fairy tales, and her flash fiction and short stories have been published in Splickety, Spark, Inklings Press, Rogue Blades Entertainment, Pole to Pole Publishing, and Editing Mee. Allison graduated with merit from  London Art College after studying cartooning and children’s illustration and, when not creating new worlds with words or paint, she enjoys reading, baking, and making lists. 

Website: https://allisonteboauthor.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/allisonteboauthor/
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/TalesOfAmbia
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/allisonteboauthor
Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/d0d50e008fc2/allisontebo Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Goblin-Dancer-Retelling-Steadfast-Villains-ebook/dp/B093ZFFXDQ/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=the+goblin+and+the+dancer+allison+tebo&qid=1630421246&s=digital-text&sr=1-2
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57895701-the-goblin-and-the-dancer

Giveaway

Allison is giving away a signed paperback of the book. Here’s the link for the giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/7da968f57/?G

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

Wicked Little Deeds Blog Tour

Publisher: Penguin

Length: 400 Pages

Publishing: 5th August 2021

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Wicked-Little-Deeds-Kat-Ellis-ebook/dp/B08L75VKPD

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55600867-wicked-little-deeds

About the Book

From its creepy town mascot to the story of its cursed waterfall, Burden Falls is a small town dripping with superstition. Ava Thorn knows this well – since the horrific accident she witnessed a year ago, she’s been plagued by nightmares.

But when her school nemesis is brutally murdered and Ava is the primary suspect, she starts to wonder if the legends surrounding the town are more fact than fiction.

Whatever secrets Burden Falls is hiding, there’s a killer on the loose, and they have a vendetta against the Thorns…

My Review

This book was fast paced and a little twisty. It held my attention and kept me interested in the storyline, and I was a little suprised by the twist at the end.

I thought the main character, Ava, was relatable. Dominic was also an interesting character, but some of the side characters were not as well developed, and I would have liked to have seen more characterization with them.

This is not one of my favorites, but I did give it a solid three star rating. Some FYI – there was a bit of language and some weird references to Satan (i.e – “thank Satan” instead of “thank God”).

Fans of #Murdertrending, All Your Twisted Secrets, and White Fox would probably also enjoy this book.

About the Author

Kat Ellis is a young adult author whose novels include Wicked Little Deeds/Burden Falls (August 2021), Harrow Lake (July 2020), Purge (September 2016), Breaker (May 2016), and Blackfin Sky (May 2014). She is a fan of all things horror and sci-fi, and a keen explorer of ruins, castles and cemeteries – all of which are plentiful in North Wales, where Kat lives with her husband.

You can find out more about Kat at http://www.katelliswrites.com or connect with her on social media.  

Email: katelliswrites@gmail.com

Website: katelliswrites.com

Facebook: facebook.com/katelliswrites

Instagram: @katelliswrites

Twitter: @el_kat


Blog tours, Book Reviews

Instructions for Dancing Blog Tour

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Ultimate Tour – Penguin

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

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About The Book

#1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything and The Sun is Also a Star Nicola Yoon is back with a new and utterly unique romance.

Evie is disillusioned about love ever since her dad left her mum for another woman – she’s even throwing out her beloved romance novel collection.

When she’s given a copy of a book called Instructions for Dancing, and follows a note inside to a dilapidated dance studio, she discovers she has a strange and unwelcome gift. When a couple kisses in front of her, she can see their whole relationship play out – from the moment they first catch each other’s eye to the last bitter moments of their break-up.

For Evie, it confirms everything she thinks she knows about love – that it doesn’t last.

But at the dance studio she meets X – tall, dreadlocked, fascinating – and they start to learn to dance, together. Can X help break the spell that Evie is under? Can he change Evie’s mind about love?

Praise for Nicola Yoon:

‘Gorgeous and lyrical’ New York Times

‘Powerful, lovely, heart-wrenching’ Jennifer Niven

‘This extraordinary first novel about love so strong it might kill us is too good to feel like a debut’ Jodi Picoult

My Review

When I first started this book, I thought it was just going to a fun YA romcom, and it was that, but it was also so much more. And to be honest, I cried so much when reading this one, and I don’t often do that while reading. But this book was just so good!

I really liked the characters. Both Evie and X were so relatable. Fifi was hilarious, and Martin was an awesome best friend! I also loved the ballroom dancing element – I love watching Dancing with the Stars, and so of course I enjoyed reading about a ballroom dancing competition.

The plot of the story is both gripping and heart-warming. It really captures the spirit of what it’s like to be eighteen and just discovering both the beautiful parts of love as well as the ugly, heart-breaking bits. But you don’t have to be eighteen to enjoy this book. I think anyone who loves romcom books, ballroom dancing, and learning to love life will enjoy this book. If you’ve enjoyed any of Nicola Yoon’s other books, you’ll enjoy this one, and fans of Kasie West and Taylor Jenkins Reid will also like this one.

About the Author

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Nicola Yoon is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Instructions for Dancing, Everything, Everythingand The Sun Is Also a Star. She is a National Book Award finalist, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book recipient and a Coretta Scott King New Talent Award winner. Two of her novels have been made into major motion pictures. She’s also co-publisher of Joy Revolution, a Random House young adult imprint dedicated to love stories starring people of color. She grew up in Jamaica and Brooklyn, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, the novelist David Yoon, and their daughter. You can find out more about her at https://www.nicolayoon.com.

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!

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: Mystery, Young Adult, Thriller, Suspense 
Pages: 304 
Format: Paperback, ARC 
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!