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!

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.

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.

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

Kingdom of the Cloud Blog Tour Schedule

TOUR BANNER

I’m excited to part of the Kingdom of the Cloud blog tour hosted by the Fantastic Flying Book Club.  Lots of great book blogs are participating in the tour, so be sure to check them out.  Here is the blog tour schedule:

May 14th

May 15th

Annej Reads – Story Behind the Cover
Sometimes Leelynn Reads – Review + Favourite Quotes
BiblioJoJo – Review

May 16th

Bookish Looks – Character Interview

L.M.Durand – Review
Precious books world – Review + Favourite Quotes

May 17th

Kait Plus Books – Official Book Playlist
Abooktropolis – Review
BoundbyWord – Review + Favourite Quotes
bewitchingwords – Review

May 18th

The Reading Life – Character Interview

Nay’s Pink Bookshelf – Review + Favourite Quotes
Levicorpvs Blog – Review

May 19th

@the.magicalpages – Guest Post
Books And Dice – Review + Favourite Quotes
Bookishly Nerdy – Review
Ya It’s Lit – Review + Favourite Quotes

A Lot Of Pages – Review

May 20th

Books, Tea, Healthy Me – Interview
Foals, Fiction & Filigree – Review + Favourite Quotes
BoundbyWords – Review
The Baroness of Books – Review

 

book cover

BOOK INFORMATION:                                                                                                              Kingdom Above the Cloud (Tales from Adia, #1) by Maggie Platt
Publisher: Ambassador International
Release Date: April 17th 2020                                                                                                      Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Allegory

Synopsis:

What if the nine Fruit of the Spirit and the Seven Deadly Sins were locked in a battle for control?

Abandoned as infants, Tovi and her twin brother were raised by an eclectic tribe of warm, kind people in a treehouse village in the valley. After her brother’s sudden disappearance Tovi questions her life and her faith in an invisible King. Ignoring her best friend Silas’ advice, she decides to search for her brother in the kingdom on top of the mountain.

Above the cloud, the Council of Masters receives their orders. Tovi and her brother are the objectives. King Damien has a plan and Tovi is the key. The Council of Masters want her, but will she remain unscathed?

Amidst the glamour of the kingdom above the cloud Tovi is torn between her own dark desires and unanswered questions. It starts with a snake and a crown. When the ring is complete, will her life be over?

Book Reviews

Straight On Till Morning Book Review

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Straight on Till Morning, by Liz Braswell, is part of the Twisted Tale series, a series of Disney books that retell the classic Disney stories with some kind of twist. This one is a retelling of Peter Pan.

Wendy’s brothers have grown up enough that they are now away at school. Wendy loves to tell stories about Neverland, but no on wants to listen to them anymore. After her parents tell her that she’s to be sent away to become a governess, she decides it’s time to escape her life by going to Neverland.

The twist in this book – Peter doesn’t bring Wendy to Neverland, instead she makes a bargain with Captain Hook to get there. Once there, she finds out it’s not quite the Neverland of her dreams.

I loved this book! In fact, it might be my favorite book of the Twisted Tales series. There are many reasons I enjoyed this book.

First, I really connected with Wendy. She loves to tell stories, even though others think she’s strange to still be telling stories at her age. She’s a dreamer who isn’t afraid to think outside of the box.

I loved seeing how she grew throughout the story. I liked how she developed a great friendship with Tinker Bell. Peter, while not the villain, is accurately portrayed as the immature, selfish boy he is, and Wendy realizes that he is not worthy of the ardent admiration she held for him. She also realizes that she can make choices that do make a difference in the world, and returns home with a new mindset.

I also loved all the nuances in this book. The were metaphors for the passage of time, and the reality that everyone gets older and sometimes dreams change because of that was a prevalent and relatable theme throughout the book.

Overall, it was a good read and a great addition to the Twisted Tale series!

Have you read Straight on Till Morning or any of the other Twisted Tales? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

Reading Challenge

#Armedwithabingo – What I’ve read so far…

So I just discovered this bingo, and I’ve added it to the reading challenges I’m doing this year. It lasts the entire year, and you get a personalized bingo card. It’s hosted by Kristi and Ariel, and you can find out all the details here.  The cool thing about this challenge is that it fits right in with any other challenges you might be doing.

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So here’s what I’ve read so far:

Poetry collection – Ink Knows No Borders

Book in the middle of a series – Blizzard of New Moon (Magic Treehouse Series) by Mary Pope Osbourne

Book published in the last decade – A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahareh Mafi

A YA novel – Heart of the Moors by Holly Black

A memoir – Wildflower by Drew Barrymore

Friendship/family – Drama by Reina Telgemeier

Fantasy – Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Bestseller – The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Meant to read last year – Final Girls by Riley Sager

Nonfiction – You Can Only Yell at Me for One Thing at a Time by Patricia Marx

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Do you have any suggestions for any of the prompts? Let me know in the comments.

Also, if you haven’t seen the Little Women challenge and giveaway I’m doing yet, you can check that out here.

Uncategorized

My Best Reads of 2019

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So I haven’t been as active on here as much I would have liked to lately. The holiday busyness, a sick dog (who is doing better now 🙂 ), a new position at my day job, and multiple car issues  have all contributed to a crazy start to the New Year.  Thankfully, things have calmed down some now and I’ve had the time I’ve needed to get in some writing time.

So, I had to share my best reads of the 2019:

1. Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly – A retelling of Cinderella that’s more about one of the stepsisters than Cinderella. I love retellings and this one didn’t disappoint. If you’re a fan of retellings, you’ll want to check this one out.
2. The Blood Spell by C.J. Redwine – Another Cinderella retelling. I love the worldbuilding and the characters in this world.
3. My Plain Jane by Jodi Meadows, Cynthia Hand and Brodi Ashton – At first, I wasn’t sure what to think of the humorous take on famous literary/historical characters, and then I read this almost 500 page book in two sittings. It was so good! You just have to read it to understand. 🙂
4. My Squirrel Days by Ellie Kemmet – Sometimes the celebrity memoirs are a bit over the top, sounding more like made-up or at least exaggerated stuff. This one wasn’t like that. A fellow Midwestern girl, I found it really easy to relate to Ellie’s experiences as a kid.
5. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager – So I read all three of Sager’s books this year, and he’s become one of my favorite suspense writers. I can’t wait for the new book to drop this year!
6. Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody – An excellent writing source, and if you’re a writer you need to have this book in your library. It’s one of the best writing books I’ve ever read. It gets to the heart of what makes a story work.
7. Last of her Name by Jessica Khoury – Another favorite author, this book was a bit of different take for Khoury – a spacey sci-fi story – but I still loved it.
8. My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – This one was so good! Braithwaite balanced suspense and humor masterfully. I loved the dynamic between the sisters, and as an older sister I can totally relate to the “always cleaning up my sister’s messes ” thing. I will read anything else Braithwaite writes without even having to read the blurb.
9. Educated by Tara Westover – Oh, this one! It hit me right in the heart. Her story is amazing and it shows the resilience of the human spirit.
10. Escaping From Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco – Another great addition to the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. I really wanted to read Capturing the Devil last year too, but didn’t get to it, so it’s up next on my TBR. 🙂
11. The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson – This is part of another mystery series, and the third book comes out Tuesday! I can hardly wait.
So what about you? What was your favorite read of 2019? Did you read any of these? Let me know in the comments!
Top Ten Tuesday

Summer TBR – Top Ten Tuesday

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I’m so excited about today’s Top Ten Tuesday theme because summer is my favorite season, and I love finding great books to read at the beach or by the pool. 🙂 Here are the ones I’ve chosen for this summer:

1. My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton – I’ve read books by both Jodi Meadows and Cynthia Hand and really enjoyed them, plus this is a Jane Eyre retelling, so it’s a must read for me.

2. Save the Date by Morgan Matson – I’ve had on my TBR for awhile, and it’s a perfect read for summer – with the wedding shenanigans and all.

3. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – My sister recommended this one, and I haven’t gotten around to reading it, though I’ve had it on my shelf a long time. I decided it’s time to read it.

4. For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig – I got this one at a book festival earlier this year. I met the author and got my copy signed, so I’m pretty psyched to read it.

5. The Jewel by Amy Ewing – This one has been on my shelf and my TBR for like years. So it’s high time I get to it.

6. The Beholder by Anna Bright – I got an advanced reader copy not too long before the book was released, and I loved the premise. Also, the author works at a local bookstore that hosts all kinds of great YA events.

7. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier – I’ve also had this one on my TBR awhile. I loved the movie, so I’m sure I’m going to really enjoy the book.

8. Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson – This whole series has been on my TBR for a long time as well. The premise sounds so intriguing, and every time I see it on my shelf I think “I need to read this,” so on the summer list it goes.

9. Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly – My summer list wouldn’t be complete without a mermaid tale. I meant to read this last summer, but didn’t get to it.

10. Lifeguard by James Patterson – I also got to have a good mystery on this list, and what’s more summery than a lifeguard?

In conjuction with these books, I’m also participating in the Goodreads Summer Reading Challenge. If you haven’t heard about that yet, you can check it out here. And if you haven’t added me as a friend on Goodreads, you can do that here. I’m always looking for new bookish friends! 🙂

How about you? What are you reading this summer? Are you doing the Goodreads challenge? Let me know in the comments.

 

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Girl. To find out more about the top ten theme, or to join in the fun go here.