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Spellbook of the Lost and Found – Moira Fowley-Doyle

Spellbook of the Lost and Found – Moira Fowley-DoyleTitle: Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle
Publishing Info: August 8, 2017 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 11, 2017
Related Posts: The Accident Season

One stormy summer night, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. It starts with simple items like hair clips and jewellery, but soon it’s clear that Rose has lost something bigger; something she won’t talk about.

Then Olive meets three wild, mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel and Rowan. Like Rose, they’re mourning losses - and holding tight to secrets.

When they discover the ancient spellbook, full of hand-inked charms to conjure back lost things, they realise it might be their chance to set everything right. Unless it’s leading them towards secrets that were never meant to be found . . .

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I loved Moira Fowley-Doyle’s atmospheric writing in her debut, THE ACCIDENT SEASON, so I was very excited to read SPELLBOOK FOR THE LOST AND FOUND which sounded fall-ish (it actually takes place in spring/summer. Oops) and I was very excited to start it when I received an audio copy for review!

SPELLBOOK FOR THE LOST AND FOUND has that air of magical realism and a touch of mystery, so it was an interesting read! The story overall didn’t really catch me as much as I had hoped because I felt like it took a little too long to set up and get into all of the inky details (yes, that is a Zenon reference — 10 points to you if you spotted it) and it felt a little lost (no pun intended) when trying to put the pieces together. Once the story really started coming together, it was actually really, really cool. There were so many things that I could have picked up on but didn’t (I was also working while listening so my brain wasn’t trying TOO hard to piece things together, which actually makes for a pretty fun experience sometimes) and I really loved the way everything resolved. The book didn’t feel long per se but it also didn’t really pull me through like I had hoped.

The characters were just… okay for me. Some of the personalities blended for a bit until I got to know them better towards the middle of the book, especially with essentially four different point of views happening in three to four different circles, until a few of the merged. I didn’t quite engage with the characters as much as I had wanted to but I did still connect with them. I think I would have rather had a bit smaller of a focus and gotten to know a few more of those characters better!

Hmmm I guess mild spoiler for the ending! I won’t give anything away but you know, end-of-the-book-talk: I did like how everything concluded but I also wasn’t sure if this really WAS supposed to be magical realism or just a “true story” (to the characters anyway) that only had seemingly magical properties. But then again, I think that was kind of the point. The characters are left wondering a little and there’s still an element of magic there but at the same time, so much was rationalized out that it kind of took away from some of that magic. So to be perfectly difficult, I liked it but didn’t all the same time.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

I’ve been horrible about giving my narrator impressions lately so here it is! The author/setting/characters are Irish so I’m glad all of the narrators were Irish as well! There were three different female narrators to take on the points of view that predominantly narrated the story. I love Irish accents but I’m not used to listening to them on audio so it was different and also fun! I’m really glad it brought that atmosphere and setting to the audiobook because I personally would not read an Irish accent to myself in my head when reading a print copy so it’s nice to listen to those accents in an audiobook to keep me in the location that it takes place! All of the narrators were pleasant and I thought they did a great job! I didn’t find anyone particularly excellent like omg I need to listening to everything she narrates, but I would also definitely be up for anything they did work on in the future — I just wouldn’t go seeking books out specifically for any of them like I do with some of my favorites.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Magical Realism. Magical realism was something I had never been interested in before and I actually picked this one up because it was magical realism. When done well, I love it. When not done well, it’s very hit-or-miss. This one was interesting but the twists actually kind of took away some of that magic for me.
Left Me Wanting More: Magic. I think I was hoping for a bit more magic. The cover looks a bit more witchy and given the title, I was thinking this was more witchy than it was, but it was still enjoyable.

Addiction Rating
Try it

If you like magical realism, you may like this book, or if you don’t like it, it could be a good intro to the concept. It’s a little split between magic, mystery, and contemporary!

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BOOKS LIKE SPELLBOOK OF THE LOST AND FOUND

          

The Ends of the World (The Conspiracy of Us #3) – Maggie Hall

The Ends of the World (The Conspiracy of Us #3) – Maggie HallTitle: The Ends of the World (The Conspiracy of Us #3) by Maggie Hall
Publishing Info: July 18, 2017 by Penguin, Listening Library
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 20, 2017
Related Posts: The Conspiracy of Us (The Conspiracy of Us #1), Map of Fates (The Conspiracy of Us #2)

The Circle is hers. But Avery West has lost everything else: her mother, the family she’d just found, and the one boy she trusted. In their place are unfathomable power, a staged relationship that makes her question every real feeling she’s ever had, and a mission to find the cure to the virus that’s made her own blood a weapon.

Then disaster strikes, turning Avery, Stellan, Jack, and Elodie into the most wanted people in the world. To clear their names and the growing rift between the families of the Circle before the world dissolves into World War Three, they’ll have to make a desperate, dangerous final race for Alexander the Great’s tomb. What they will find inside will mean the world’s salvation—or destruction.

Avery will have to decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice—for the world, for family, and for love—in this conclusion to the Conspiracy of Us series.

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That was such a solid ending of this series, and done just right, I think! I often times worry with series-enders because it’s so hard to wrap things up. I think THE ENDS OF THE WORLD was just the right amount of action, romance, resolution, devastation, and consequences all rolled into a solid conclusion.

I listened to the first two books back-to-back on audio and I almost wish I had waited until this book was out so I could have binged all three because I always forget a little bit from the previous books, so I did have a tiny bit of a gap in remembering exactly what happened! Fortunately it wasn’t a lot since I read them not TOO long ago, but it still did affect my reading experience just a tiny bit. What I really did love is that Maggie Hall kept all of her characters true to themselves. They really grew throughout the series and their decisions were normal and logical for everything that they had been through. Avery is a very different person from the beginning of the series and I loved how she said it herself — she’s definitely not the same but her experiences changed her and she grew from them. I really loved how the characters evolved but really stayed true to their personalities and beliefs. It happens all too often that things start to really stray from the first book by the time you hit the last book so I’m so happy that Maggie Hall kept a very cohesive feel to this series all around!

Being the last in the series, obviously things had to take some dire turns before they could wrap up! I really liked the amount of danger present in this book and the sacrifices that were made. It wasn’t always easy to read but everything resolved really well, I think, and it was a satisfying ending without being too cheesy. I loved the extra few sentences that stated that even though it was a positive final result, everyone had still gone through so much and it would take a long time for everyone to be okay, if ever. It really put that into perspective that these characters went through some STUFF and it’s not all fluff and cotton candy after it was all over. They have a long road ahead of working to put things back into place, sorting out a lot of political stuff, and working on relationships as well. It was great to see some reality brought into a happy ending while still feeling a little gooey about it.

Without talking about any spoilers, the plot did take a turn that I wasn’t so crazy about? Not bad in any way but I guess you could say it that was one step further that took things into more of a jump outside of reality that I just didn’t know if I could wrap my brain around it. It wasn’t paranormal or fantastical or anything like that but it was an added element to the story that really affected the plot and I was just like of like HMMM. How do I feel about this? I think it took one step past the international espionage and added almost a mild sci-fi element? Ugh, it’s hard to explain without giving things away but anyway, that was my one very small hang-up, and totally a personal opinion.

Overall, I LOVED this series and I love international thrillers like this! There aren’t a lot of really good YA espionage/modern political novels like this (I guess for lack of a better term, a sort of Da Vinci Code concept) and I would love to see more of this in the YA world! I’d absolutely pick it up. No matter what Maggie Hall is writing next, I am totally on board! I loved the details that went into this series, the feel and atmosphere were fantastic, the characters were strong, and the whole series stayed true to itself. Highly recommend and can’t wait to read more from Maggie Hall, whatever that may be!

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Kept Me Hooked On: International thrillers. I hate having to compare every international thriller like this to THE DAVINCI CODE so I’m gonna make a reference to this series from now on! We need more books like this!
Left Me Wanting More: Reality? It was fun but I also felt like the plot went a little too outside of my comfort zone to wrap things up. I understand where it was heading but I also wasn’t the biggest fan. I think I want more thriller less… mythology I guess.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This series is so well done. I love these characters, the locations, and the action!

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     THE FIXER     HEIST SOCIETY

Blog Tour: There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins | Book-Inspired Candle + Giveaway!

Blog Tour: There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins | Book-Inspired Candle + Giveaway!

Welcome to the blog tour for
THERE’S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE by Stephanie Perkins

Stephanie Perkins is one of my favorite authors and I’m so obsessed with ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS! I was so excited to read THERE’S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE, which is the very first Stephanie Perkins book (aside from short stories) outside of the Anna-verse! I don’t normally read horror but I do enjoy books exactly like this — a little mystery, a little thriller, and pretty much a 90s slasher movie! I’m way too chicken to read scary horror but I do love the thriller murder-mystery!

Before we jump into the tour, let’s take a second to check out some details about the book:

Blog Tour: There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins | Book-Inspired Candle + Giveaway!Title: There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
Publishing Info: September 26, 2017 by Penguin
Genres: Young Adult, Thriller, Horror
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 9, 2017
Related Posts: Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, Anna and the French Kiss, Isla and the Happily Ever After, My True Love Gave To Me

Scream meets YA in this hotly-anticipated new novel from the bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss.

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.

International bestselling author Stephanie Perkins returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down.


ABOUT STEPHANIE PERKINS

Stephanie Perkins is the New York Times bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss. She has always worked with books—first as a bookseller, then as a librarian, and now as a novelist. Stephanie lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her husband. Every room of their house is painted a different color of the rainbow.

BOOK-INSPIRED CANDLE: THERE’S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Ever since I started making candles, I’ve been so much more in tune with the sensory notes in the books that I read. I feel like aromas in a book are easily skipped over and forgotten once a reader has finished because noticing and committing a smell to memory is such a unique experience that it’s harder hang onto if you haven’t experienced it first hand. I know at least for me, when a book draws on a familiar smell, I’m instantly hit with memories and nostalgia that have the potential to tie me to a book more than any other scenic description so I feel like those smells that add to the atmosphere are not to be overlooked!

I usually try to pick out specific scent descriptions in books, but when you’re reading a murder mystery like THERE’S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE, so many of those scents tend to be… unpleasant haha! But not to worry — there was still plenty more to choose from even if they weren’t specifically mentioned.

THERE’S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE takes place in the fall, specifically around Halloween, and fall scents are my FAVORITE scents. The book also takes place in the cornfields of the midwest, so there are a lot of outdoors, fields, and corn inspirations to draw upon. The overall feel of this candle is Halloween in the midwest, with delicious fall spices cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg, a touch of softer harvest fruits, fallen leaves, hay, and grain. It’s a lovely overall combination and I had so much fun making this candle for the book and one of my favorite authors!

FRAGRANCE PROFILE: 

Top notes: cinnamon, clove, nutmeg
Middle notes: fallen leaves, hay
Base notes: harvest fruits, grain

So what do you think?! Which scents do you think are the strongest sensory inspirations? Which are your favorites?


Don’t miss the rest of the blog tour stops for THERE’S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE! I’m smack in the middle so make sure you check out the posts that are already up and follow along with the rest of these amazing posts!

Week One:
September 18 – Mostly YA Lit – Author Q&A
September 19 – Here’s to Happy Endings – Review
September 20 – Peace Love Books – Review
September 21 – Lost in Lit – Book Photography
September 22 – Novel Novice – How You’re Going to Feel While Reading TSIYH
 
Week Two:
September 25 – Stories & Sweeties – Review
September 26 – In Wonderland – Book Photography
September 27 – Book Addict’s Guide – Bookish Candle
September 28 – YA Romantics – Horror Movie Quiz
September 29 – Twirling Pages – Author Q&A
 
Week Three:
October 2 – Adventures of a Book Junkie – 5 Reasons to Read TSIYH
October 3 – Oh the Book Feels – Review
October 4 – Andi’s ABCs – Author Q&A
October 5 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Event Recap
October 6 – YA Bibliophile – Top Fall Activities as Inspired by TSIYH
 
Week Four:
October 9 – ButterMyBooks – Author Q&A
October 10 – BookCrushin – Top 10 Horror Villains in Movies & YA
October 11 – The Wednesday Blog for Books – Review      
October 12 – Swoony Boys Podcast – Dream Casting
October 13 – Don’t Fold the Page – Review

GIVEAWAY

There are TWO exciting giveaways for my stop on the blog tour today! The first is through Penguin for a chance to win a copy of the book! See rules and details below and enter the first Rafflecopter form for you chance to win!

BOOK GIVEAWAY (from Penguin)

Enter for a chance to be one (1) of three (3) winners to receive a hardcover copy of There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins. (ARV: $17.99 each).
 
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on September 18, 2017 and 12:00 AM on October 16, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about October 18, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CANDLE GIVEAWAY (from me)

The second giveaway is my own personal contribution to this blog tour stop for the candle inspired by this book! The candle giveaway is for one 4oz tin called “In the Killing Fields”. Open to US entries only. Must be 13 years of age or older to win. Candle giveaway open from 9/27/17 through 10/3/17 . Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jane, Unlimited – Kristin Cashore

Jane, Unlimited – Kristin CashoreTitle: Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
Publishing Info: September 19, 2017 by Penguin, Listening Library
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Alternate Reality, Parallel Universe
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 6, 2017
Related Posts: Graceling (Graceling Realm #1)

Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions.

Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family's island mansion called Tu Reviens.

Jane remembers her aunt telling her: "If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you'll go." With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn't know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price.

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JANE, UNLIMITED is literally the most unique book I’ve ever read. It’s unlike anything else, with a unique concept, characters, plot, and structure, and this both enhanced my reading experience and left me utterly confused.

I need to go into books blindly so I don’t ruin the twists and the overall experience for myself so I did some reading up on the book immediately after finishing to help ground me a little bit, and I found (which I actually had heard before and completely forgot) that the concept originally started as a sort of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novel and developed into what it is. It’s quite impossible to really discuss the book without mentioning specific spoilers so for spoiler-free thoughts, I’ll say that it was quite a wild ride and listening to an audiobook may have made it even more complicated, not able to SEE what was going on with the print on the pages, but I also thoroughly enjoyed the audio performance (one of Rebecca Soler’s best, in my opinion).

Without knowing the CYOA concept, the book seemed unmoored — flowing from story to story not really knowing where one ended and the next began. Once I understood that these were actually telling different parts and weren’t following a chronological timeline, it made a lot more sense to me and I was able to appreciate it more. I thought at first that things were just non-sequential and I kept trying to put each part back into the first to follow through with the same timeline and it was just so confusing, but again, that probably would have been more easily deduced if I was reading a print copy and not the audio version. It also made a LOT more sense once I figured out that these were being told in different parts because I was thinking as I was listening that this story feels like it’s wrapping up but holy cow, I have a LONG way to go to finish this book haha!

That being said, I enjoyed most of the adventures. The first few parts were more enjoyable than the last few because things really started to go off the deep end towards the end of the book. It sort of starts in the more probable and drifts towards the more fantastical with each story and it was hard to grasp so many different genres within the same book as possibilities all at once, but I will say that it was incredibly interesting and I found them all fascinating, even if I didn’t particularly love each one. I DID love that each part revealed a little something and tied back to a point that was made in the beginning of the book or a part of another story. There were so many things going on in this peculiar house and Jane ended up discovering them all… just not all in the same version. I’m really glad the readers get to see why the characters are doing peculiar things, why the house feels a little bit emotional, and why the art plays such a big part of everything. Though I still don’t know why umbrellas are such a big deal.

One of my disappointments with the book was just that I needed a little something more from the ending. I would have been really impressed if the book had wrapped up with a singular ending that sort of put all of the stories at peace because none of them really ended and I would have been SUPER impressed if Kristin Cashore somehow tied them all up, sort of how the beginning set them all up. Instead they all kind of just taper off and there’s not a solid conclusion for any of them. I don’t mind open endings but I think this was a little TOO open and I would have been super impressed with something closing all of those open doors.

Usually when I’m confused about a book, the more I write about it, the more I realize how disappointed I was but I’m actually finding the opposite with JANE. The more I talk about it, the more fascinated I am and I wouldn’t be opposed to another collection of JANE stories somewhere down the road with even more possibilities. It’s a story with infinite worlds to explore and I’m sure even more things could be touched upon that I haven’t even thought of. I don’t think it’snecessary to know the structure of the book before starting but it did help me understand it more after finishing and helped me appreciate it more. I still would love that one last thing to tie it all together though.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Listening Library has basically been my reading savior this year. With so many candle things to do, I just don’t have time to sit and read anymore and they are so kind as to keep me on their reviewer list for audiobooks. I’ve been listening to one right after the other this year and I was so excited to see JANE, UNLIMITED as one of the options!

I knew I was in good hands with Rebecca Soler as the narrator. If the name sounds familiar, it’s probably because she narrated The Lunar Chronicles audiobooks but personally, I feel like this is her best audiobook performance yet. I think her voices were more distinct in this book than in previous books and her voice and tone just really fit the overall feel of JANE, UNLIMITED.

The audio was probably a little bit harder to follow than the print copy due to the nature of the book but it still totally works and probably isn’t confusing if you don’t go into reads blind like I do!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Extremely unique formatting. I love seeing new and unique things not only in YA but anywhere in the literary world. This book cobbled together the different decisions that Jane could have made and it was interesting to see each one of them play out!
Left Me Wanting More: Closure. I didn’t really feel like the ending of the book really closed it off. I guess the point is kind of that the choices really are unlimited… I’d totally be up for another book full of possible endings though!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was so clever and so unique. The tone was also a LOT of fun with a neat cast of characters, including a house that was a character in itself.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE JANE, UNLIMITED

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Warcross (Warcross #1) – Marie Lu

Warcross (Warcross #1) – Marie LuTitle: Warcross (Warcross #1) by Marie Lu
Publishing Info: September 12, 2017 by Penguin, Listening Library
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 10, 2017
Related Posts: Legend (Legend #1)

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

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WARCROSS is only my second Marie Lu book (I’ve only read LEGEND. I know, how horrible am I? I loved it too…) and I’m so glad I had the chance to get back into her writing! Every since READY PLAYER ONE, I’ve been dying for more video game/virtual reality-type adventures and I know there are others out there but WARCROSS was one that really caught my eye, both because of author and concept.

Either this book was shorter than I thought or time just flew by as I was listening! I listened to the audiobook (thanks, Listening Library!) while I worked and it seemed like this story just flew by, which I guess means that I was really enjoying it! I really enjoyed WARCROSS! It was a fun, futuristic read that reminded me of READY PLAYER ONE meets THE HUNGER GAMES but still in its own original way. I loved the game aspect behind it and I think games within a story really pull me into the action! There were plenty of action-packed moments, especially during the games themselves, which were not at all like Quidditch but reminded me of the action breaks that Harry Potter took to play out a Quidditch game. It brought some fast-paced scenes to the book and added more the the character relationships, meanwhile adding a dash of plot all at the same time. The game sequences also really added to the world-building, showing exactly how Warcross worked and why everyone was so excited for these competitions. It’s essentially like everyone playing sports and then the tournaments featured here are like the Olympics.

I really enjoyed all of the different relationships throughout the book! Emika is kind of a loner to start and as the book progresses, she learns how to work on a team and finally starts to let people back in. She also lets go of her heart a little bit and ends up with an unexpected relationship (or at least more than friends) with a prominent figure in the book and the romance was sweet and exciting all at the same time! I really liked the team aspect and how that really brought Emika in, as much as she didn’t want or expect that, and I always love gangs of characters who might not have otherwise been friends coming together like that.

I’ve only read one Marie Lu book but I feel like she’s good at keeping readers on their toes! One thing I really enjoyed was a nice set of twists that she incorporated into the plot. I totally saw one twist coming and was like, “Oh yeah, predictable…” and then BAM! A totally different twist caught me by surprise. I’m not sure if I was supposed to see the one coming but I definitely appreciate that it threw me off for the other one, thinking I had already caught the “twist”.

The book ended before I knew it and I was so engrossed in the audiobook that I didn’t even realize it was coming to a close! Marie Lu left us on a hell of a cliffhanger which I loved but also whyyyyy! I’m so anxious to read the next book and as much as it sucks to be left on a cliffhanger sometimes, I’m definitely left wanting more as soon as possible!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Gaming books. I’m not a gamer but I actually love reading about virtual reality and gaming-type books. I love the sense of competition and how reality and games meet!
Left Me Wanting More: Oomph. I loved the book but it was missing just a touch that would have pushed it towards the edge for me. I’m not sure what it was, but either way, it was still a great read!!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

What a fun start to a series! I can’t wait to read more, I love where this is going, and this was such a solid beginning.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE WARCROSS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) – Renee Ahdieh

Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) – Renee AhdiehTitle: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) by Renee Ahdieh
Publishing Info: May 16, 2017 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 27, 2017
Related Posts: The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1)

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

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Welp. The hype got this one for me. I actually went in with an open mind because I had no idea what to expect and despite not totally loving THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, I wanted to go into a new series with no reservations. I still ended up hitting some of the same issues that I encountered with WRATH though without even realizing it until I was done with the book.

FLAME IN THE MIST turned out to be a much slower-paced fantasy than I thought. I don’t mind slower pace BUT I didn’t feel like there was enough character development to create that sense of a character-driven novel when plot isn’t action-packed. The story was moving forward and things were happening but it wasn’t a whole lot to actually continuously keep the plot engaging. I don’t need all action, all the time, to enjoy a book but when action slows down, that’s where characters shine and it didn’t feel like there was a lot of dialogue to really get to know the characters or interact with them.

Most of the book took place in the first chapter and the last 25%. I feel like I barely got to know the main characters at all and most of the things I knew about them, I was told instead of actually seeing. The relationships were confusing until the romance was clearly outlined because there was a little tension with a few people until the romance finally started developing into what it was. The plot could have used some cleaning up and there wasn’t a really clear focus for a while. Aside from Mariko surviving the attack in the first few chapters (not a spoiler – it’s literally in the synopsis and happens in the first chapter), I wasn’t sure what her motivation was or what the point of the book was. Revenge? That’s it? Which is fine, but the reader can tell that more political motivations will also be involved, being the daughter of an important family, and I just wanted to explore more of that right off the bat. Instead of something being introduced and working it into the story throughout the book, it seemed like a concept was introduced and had to be expanded upon right away instead of letting the story naturally unfold over time.

The whole book felt a little too… open. Like I always say, I don’t need things clearly spelled out for me but I would like a better feel of what the book is, where it’s going, and who these characters are. I just didn’t feel like enough was developed. I got bored waiting for something to catch me and this just didn’t do it for me. Who else is not surprised I’m a black sheep on this book? Sigh.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Non-European fantasy. So many high fantasy novels are based on European concepts or settings and I really enjoyed the Japanese influence in this book! I can’t really judge how well it was done since I don’t know much about the culture in specific there but it was refreshing to take a fantasy somewhere else.
Left Me Wanting More: Development. I love character-driven novels and I don’t always need jam-packed plots to keep me interested but I felt like neither the plot nor the characters were really developed enough to hook me into this world.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

I know I personally won’t be continuing this series. Maybe I just don’t click with Renee Ahdieh’s writing? I had a hard time with THE WRATH AND THE DAWN taking a while to get somewhere and then BAM it finally did, a little similar to FLAME IN THE MIST, so maybe it’s just a me thing! I know many people who have loved both series so far but I just don’t appear to be one of them.

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BOOKS LIKE FLAME IN THE MIST

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THE STORY SPINNER

A Million Junes – Emily Henry

A Million Junes – Emily HenryTitle: A Million Junes by Emily Henry
Publishing Info: May 16, 2017 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 17, 2017
Related Posts: The Love That Split the World

For as long as Jack “June” O’Donnell has been alive, her parents have had only one rule: stay away from the Angert family. But when June collides—quite literally—with Saul Angert, sparks fly, and everything June has known is thrown into chaos.

Who exactly is this gruff, sarcastic, but seemingly harmless boy who has returned to their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, after three mysterious years away? And why has June—an O’Donnell to her core—never questioned her late father’s deep hatred of the Angert family? After all, the O’Donnells and the Angerts may have mythic legacies, but for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them.

As Saul and June’s connection grows deeper, they find that the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers seem to be conspiring to reveal the truth about the harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations. Now June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored, and she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

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** Warning: This review DOES contain spoilers for the book! I will be talking about specifics! ** 

A MILLION JUNES was a very solid sophomore novel from Emily Henry with her debut, THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD, being one of my favorite reads of 2016. I’ve been having a hard time with sequels/sophomore novels lately so it was so refreshing to enjoy this book and get lost in the same sort of writing style that I experienced with THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD.

Emily Henry has a unique story-telling experience and her books are ones in which you totally lose yourself. While THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD was magical realism, it was a also a little bit science-fiction so it was really great to see the same sort of feel and concept with the magical realism aspects but ones that took the stage even more so in A MILLION JUNES. Depending on your view of the book, it’s magical realism meets paranormal and it’s truly a magical experience to read.

Possible spoilers in the rest of the review! No giveaways about specific plot points but things that may be a general spoiler if you want to go in blind to certain aspects of the shape of the book. The thing that I really took from this book the most is the family aspect. It’s not the usual family dynamic or lesson that you see in a lot of books because it approached the topic from a totally different angle. The O’Donnells and the Angerts have been in a feud for at least four generations and after the passing of her father, Jack IV (aka Junior aka June) is left to decide whether she wants to hold that grudge or let it go with her generation. Her mother still holds those feuding values although not as tightly as her father and and June loved her father so much that she had every intention of following in his footsteps until she falls unexpectedly head over heels for youngest Angert, Saul. Without rehashing the whole plot, throughout the book, June is able to experience the memories of her father through the “whites”, which are a sort of wraith or spirit (glowing white, hence the name) and through these memories, she learns a lot about her dad… and not all of it is good. The stories of the past lose shape and take on new ones the more they get told so June learns a lot about her family’s past, spanning back to the first Jack O’Donnell all the way down to her father and his relationship with his family, including June. She realizes that the truth about him and how their family history played out is very different than what she thought it was. It’s especially hard since he passed away when she was eight. She still idealized him and didn’t know some of the darker truths or grittier details and it was shocking to realize that her dad wasn’t as perfect as she thought it was, and I thought this was a really, really great concept to include in the book. It’s so interesting to think of your parents’ history. There are so many things I know about my parents through the stories they tell me of their pasts and childhoods and yet I know that there’s so much more that I don’t know or from which I’ve been shielded. It was really interesting to watch June go through this experience and wonder what exactly I’ve been missing from my own family’s history because it’s not a pretty story to tell. My parents have told me a lot of things throughout the years and I’ve gained a lot of family knowledge as we’ve grown up but it’s so interesting to think of really how much history there would be to learn when experiencing memories first-hand. There are only so many stories that get told and no one wants to constantly tell the negative ones so it was just a really curious thing to think about!

I really loved the connection between June and Saul. I loved the bond that brought them together so fiercely and how it was the requirement that they stay apart that patched their worlds. Their chemistry was excellent and I loved how real their characters felt. Both characters were simply them, not trying to be someone else and not wanting to be, and I could just feel their personalities really come through.

The ending was a little different than I thought it was and sometimes I have trouble when magical realism takes a little turn into a little bit more magical than I expected. There were a few things in the end that crossed over from magical realism into more of a fantasy-type concept so that changed the tone of the book for me a bit and I wasn’t a huge fan but it was still a solid ending to the book.

THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD holds a special place in my heart for the way it made me feel and the books that it reminded me of but A MILLION JUNES is a wonderfully solid novel and great sophomore book from Emily Henry. I’m a big fan of her writing and the atmosphere that she creates in her books and I really am able to feel myself in the story. I’m up for her next adventure and I can’t wait to see what it holds!

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Kept Me Hooked On: The blur between reality and magic. While THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD was magical in a sci-fi way, this was definitely more magic and hedging on the paranormal. There’s still a possible bit of a sci-fi angle but I love the uniqueness of how reality blends with the impossible.
Left Me Wanting More: Structure. I guess structure isn’t the right word, but the ending felt a little too… untethered. I think I just wanted something a bit more concrete and it kind of ventured more into the magic.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I love Emily Henry’s story-telling and this book continued on the great path of bending reality and expanding beliefs.

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BOOKS LIKE A MILLION JUNES

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    BONE GAP

Closer to Home (The Herald Spy #1) – Mercedes Lackey

Closer to Home (The Herald Spy #1) – Mercedes LackeyTitle: Closer to Home (The Herald Spy #1) by Mercedes Lackey
Publishing Info: October 7, 2004 by Penguin
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 13, 2017

Mags was once an enslaved orphan living a harsh life in the mines, until the King's Own Herald discovered his talent and trained him as a spy. Now a Herald in his own right, at the newly established Heralds' Collegium, Mags has found a supportive family, including his Companion Dallen.
Although normally a Herald in his first year of Whites would be sent off on circuit, Mags is needed close to home for his abilities as a spy and his powerful Mindspeech gift. There is a secret, treacherous plot within the royal court to destroy the Heralds. The situation becomes dire after the life of Mags' mentor, King's Own Nikolas, is imperiled. His daughter Amily is chosen as the new King's Own, a complicated and dangerous job that is made more so by this perilous time. Can Mags and Amily save the court, the Heralds, and the Collegium itself?

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This was my first Mercedes Lackey book and I had high expectations because of so many reviews! CLOSER TO HOME was actually nothing like I expected. It was lighter than I thought it would be and I actually was really surprised with the plot… And that there wasn’t one…?  I purchased this book in an Audible sale because I had heard so much about Mercedes Lackey and Nick Podehl narrates and he’s one of my favorites so this is how I ended up here!

I really didn’t know what the point of this book was, to be perfectly honest. It wasn’t until halfway through that the focus really started to shift to Brand and Violetta, but Mags and Amily are the main characters so it was confusing for a while what was really happening. I really did love Mags and Amily — Mags even more so — so it was kind of disappointing that they were more helpers of the plot and that the book wasn’t even really about them.

I have been told that this book starts a new series BUT it is also part of a kind of series of series about the world of Valdemar… But while a series of series is fine, it really did feel like it picked up in the middle of story instead starting its own series or a portion thereof. There was a mention of how Amily and Mags ended up coming back home but it was never elaborated on and so it felt really unfinished. There was so much more to discover as far as world-building, especially on the magical abilities, but I suppose that could be something I’m missing from a previous series of series.

I most just felt like I didn’t know what the plot of this book was. Even though things happened, it just didn’t seem like a large conflict and then at the end, all of a sudden it was this huge deal. It was a weirdly constructed book and I just didn’t quite connect with it, which was a shame because I really did like the characters and the world! As much as I’d like to spend more time with them, I don’t know what the rest of the series would be life and if it would be worth continuing.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Mind speech. I enjoyed the concept of mind speech here and how it was a different ability and could be used differently too!
Left Me Wanting More: Plot. This just didn’t have a clear direction and I was left wondering what the point of this book even was.

Addiction Rating
Start at the beginning

Mayyyyybe you shouldn’t start with this book like I did. In my defense, I didn’t realize what exactly this series was all about but if you want to start with these books, check out the first Valdemar book.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1) – Rae Carson

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1) – Rae CarsonTitle: The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1) by Rae Carson
Publishing Info: September 20, 2011 by Penguin
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 7, 2017
Related Posts: Walk on Earth a Stranger (The Gold Seer Trilogy #1)

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.
But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will.
Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.
Most of the chosen do.

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Well hello again from the black sheep side of the world! Sadly, it has not been long since I’ve been over here.

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS has been on my TBR for so many years and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it… But this first book, man. I had a very hard time with it.

The beginning was not a struggle. I enjoyed that Elisa was not perfect, not slender, not the favorite. She does bear the Godstone which brings about her important marriage to a king in another land. I appreciated so many things about Elisa but her character felt very young compared to other YA characters that have been thrown into the same situations and her naiveté just really bothered me at times. I appreciated that the romance was not a main focus BUT I was annoyed that there were three different non-romances that Elisa was involved in and it was bothersome for her to have at least some form of feelings for so many different people. I also had a hard time with knowing that Hector becomes such a big character in future books (because of everyone’s flailing) so the romances (or lack thereof) with other guys was just frustrating because I wanted it all to be Hector.

Can we just pause here for a second, though? Why. Is the stone. In her belly button. I don’t know why but that bothered me so, so, SO much. It was weird and annoying and she was getting some… intense sensations from it. (Okay, it was nothing sexual but the descriptions were weird sometimes.) I just really hated it.

I didn’t really ever get into the story either. I enjoyed the first part of the book and I was interested to see it go somewhere… and then in my least favorite plot turn ever in any book, everything is upended and the characters get taken somewhere brand new and are around 100% different people, totally changing everything that you spent time getting to know in the first third of the book. I also didn’t like the people that Elisa ended up with in the next part of the book when everything changed so it was really just all downhill from there for me. I also really didn’t like the ending of the book and I was hoping for something in a different direction.

Things just fell apart after the first third of the book for me and it was annoying enough that I don’t know if I even want to continue the series. I’ve heard such good things about the series but if I didn’t enjoy the plot and tone and where this one went… I don’t know if it’s worth continuing for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique heroines. I really liked the fact that Elisa wasn’t an easy heroine. We watched her learn and grow and struggle through some common things instead of being a perfect little snowflake.
Left Me Wanting More: Consistency. The story felt like it flipped halfway through the book and it just felt like a totally different story. I wished it had been structured much differently.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

So many people love this series but it just wasn’t a hit with me. I’m not sure if I’ll continue so I’d recommend checking out other reviews and not just mine!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THE WRATH AND THE DAWN

Strange the Dreamer | A Dream Come True + Giveaway!

I partnered with Little, Brown today for a really fun post all about one of my new favorite books, STRANGE THE DREAMER by Laini Taylor! I was asked to participate in this series of posts and when I heard about it, I immediately said yes. I want to continue spreading the love for Laini Taylor and her books and having just finished STRANGE THE DREAMER not too long ago, it’s a book that needs to be in everyone’s hands!

Before we jump into the giveaway (yes, there’s a giveaway), I have some fun DREAMER-related content as well as book info! I was asked if I wanted to share some fun optional content for my blog post today about a dream of mine that’s come true already or a dream that I would like to come true and the answer to this one was easy!

Strange the Dreamer | A Dream Come True + Giveaway!Title: Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) by Laini Taylor
Publishing Info: March 28, 2017 by Source: Audible, Anderson's Bookshop
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 18, 2017
Related Posts: Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1), Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2), Night of Cake and Puppets (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2.5), Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3), Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1)

A new epic fantasy by National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Laini Taylor of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy.
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around--and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he's been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries--including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo's dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? and if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?
In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.
Welcome to Weep.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laini Taylor is a New York Times bestselling author and a National Book Award finalist. She is the author of the global sensation the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy: Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight, and Dreams of Gods & Monsters, and the companion e-novella, Night of Cake & Puppets. She is also the author of the Dreamdark books Blackbringer and Silksinger, and the highly acclaimed Lips Touch: Three Times. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, and their daughter Clementine.

MY BOOKISH DREAM

I’m sure everyone knows by now but if not, I own and run the candle shop Novelly Yours Candles. When I started it, it was just a fun hobby that I wanted to share with friends by making candles available for purchase on Etsy so I could share them since I couldn’t afford to give candles away to everyone. Well, when I started it, it was really just for fun for myself and once I started sharing what I was doing, the interest really picked up. A year and a half later and I’m soooo close into turning this into my full-time job, and what a dream that would be!!! It’s hard and scary to be self-employed but doing this has been so amazing and I can only dream of what it would be like to work for myself while doing something that I love. Being able to spend time with my husband, doing a job that I really love and care about, seeing all of the joy that people share when receiving my product, and of course the perks of any vacation time I want and not having to get up at 5:30am every day! This would truly be a dream come true and one step close to really making this an even better business.

It’s scary going into business for yourself because I would become dependent on consistent sales which is never a guarantee and there are so many variables by making a living off of selling bookish candles, but it’s a big dream that just might work! It’s my current long-term goal and something my husband and I are currently working very hard towards! He’s been so helpful and encouraging throughout my candle endeavor and I couldn’t have set up my new work space without him!!

STRANGE THE DREAMER BONUS CONTENT

There is some awesome bonus content for this book as well, including videos and a quiz (which I am totally taking, by the way). Check out everything you need to complete your STRANGE THE DREAMER experience below!

Official Site + Social Media

 Bonus Content!

  • Which Godspawn are you? Take the quiz! (I got Feral!)
  • Download a variety of quote-art here.

Sneak Peek at the Book

Video Content

GIVEAWAY

The folks at Little, Brown are also providing a giveaway for today’s post! One lucky winner will win a hardcover copy of STRANGE THE DREAMER by Laini Taylor and a $25 Visa gift card to use to pursue one of your dreams! Giveaway open to US addresses only. Prizing and samples provided by Little, Brown & Co.

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