Review: The City on the Other Side

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Title: The City on the Other Side
Author: Maighread Scott
Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Publisher: First Second
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

When a wealthy and sheltered young girl stumbles into a pitched war between two fairy kingdoms, the fate of San Francisco itself hangs in the balance!

The first decade of the twentieth century is coming to a close, and San Francisco is still recovering from the great earthquake of 1906. Isabel watched the destruction safely from her window, sheltered within her high-society world.

Isabel isn’t the kind of girl who goes on adventures. But that all changes when she stumbles through the invisible barrier that separates the human world from the fairy world. She quickly finds herself caught up in an age-old war and fighting on the side of the Seelie—the good fairies.

Review:

I really enjoyed this middle grade fantasy graphic novel!

Isabel crossed the barrier between the human world and the fairy world. There are two types of fairies, the Seelies and the Unseelies. It was hard to distinguish between the Seelie and Unseelie because each fairy was a different creature and they didn’t have any defining characteristics.

Isabel was a great character. She gained a lot of strength while in the fairy world. She had to problem solve to find the princess. She was also a very dedicated girl, since she didn’t give up on her quest to find the princess, though she didn’t know anything about that world.

I loved that there was an explanation of the creation of the story at the end. It explained the setting of San Francisco and the earthquake that happened in 1906. It also explained that many different fairies were inspired by mythological creatures. This was so helpful, because I was wondering why they all had such unusual appearances.

This is a great graphic novel for middle grade readers!

Review: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

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Title: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Source: Purchased
Release Date: March 20, 2015
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

Review:

This book definitely lived up to the hype. I met Jenny Han at a book signing last year, and I have all the books in the series, but I hadn’t read any of them until now.

I loved Lara Jean. I found her very relatable. She makes mistakes and can own up to them. Even though it wasn’t her fault that her letters were sent out, she still accepted that it happened and tried to move on.

I liked the family dynamics of the story. The Covey family is unique. Their mother died when they were young, and their father works as a doctor, so most of the housework and cooking fell on Margot’s shoulders because she was the oldest. Then she has to pass that off to Lara Jean when Margot left to go to school in Scotland. The youngest sister, Kitty, was so funny. She was sarcastic and wise beyond her years, so she made many funny comments.

I loved this book. I already had some spoilers to what happened since I’m reading it so late, but I still really enjoyed it.

Review: Goldie Vance, Volume 1

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Title: Goldie Vance, Volume 1
Author: Hope Larson, Brittney Williams, Sarah Stern
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Boom Entertainment
Source: Purchased
Release Date: October 18, 2016
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

GOLDIE VANCE IS ON THE CASE

Sixteen-year-old Marigold “Goldie” Vance has an insatiable curiosity. She lives at a Florida resort with her dad, who manages the place, and it’s her dream to one day be the hotel’s in-house detective. When Walter, the current detective, encounters a case he can’t crack, together they utilize her smarts, skills, and connections to solve the mystery…even if it means getting into a drag race, solving puzzles, or chasing a helicopter to do it!

Review:

I loved this graphic novel! I wish I had read it sooner!

Goldie Vance reminded me a lot of Nancy Drew. However, Goldie has more nerve than Nancy. Goldie doesn’t think twice about breaking the rules in order to solve a mystery. In this book she even stole, or “borrowed,” a car in order to recover a stolen item.

There was a lot going on in the story around Goldie as well. She had to deal with her parents, who are divorced. Her father was always running around working at the same hotel with Goldie, and he didn’t seem to have much time for her unless she was doing something wrong. She also had a few friends who helped Goldie solve her mysteries. All of her friends were going on dates, but Goldie didn’t, so I’m wondering if she will have more of a romantic storyline in the future volumes.

I’m really excited to continue this series. This is a great start to the story!

Blog Tour: Suitors and Sabotage

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Title: Suitors and Sabotage
Author: Cindy Anstey
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Source: Xpresso Book Tours, NetGalley
Release Date: April 17, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Shy aspiring artist Imogene Chively has just had a successful Season in London, complete with a suitor of her father’s approval. Imogene is ambivalent about the young gentleman until he comes to visit her at the Chively estate with his younger brother in tow. When her interest is piqued, however, it is for the wrong brother.

Charming Ben Steeple has a secret: despite being an architectural apprentice, he has no drawing aptitude. When Imogene offers to teach him, Ben is soon smitten by the young lady he considers his brother’s intended.

But hiding their true feelings becomes the least of their problems when, after a series of “accidents,” it becomes apparent that someone means Ben harm. And as their affection for each other grows—despite their efforts to remain just friends—so does the danger. . .

Review:

This book was great! I didn’t enjoy the last couple of books I read, so this was a great book to get me out of that rut.

I love Victorian novels, and this was a great twist on the traditional love story. Imogene is conflicted between two suitors. And even worse, the suitors are brothers! This would be too scandalous for Victorian times, but it made a great conflict for a contemporary story.

The story was very fast paced. It has mystery elements that keep the story moving. It appears that someone is trying to harm Ben’s reputation, which also would have been a scandalous storyline for the main character of a real Victorian novel.

This was a very exciting story. I loved it, and I highly recommend it!

About the Author:

Cindy.jpgWhenever she is not sitting at the computer, throwing a ball in the backyard, gardening or reading, Cindy can be found–actually, not found–adventuring around the world with her hubby.

She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester. Love, Lies and Spies is her debut novel.

Author links: 
Purchase:

Giveaway:
Tour-wide giveaway (US/CAN)

  • Paperback copy of Suitors and Sabotage

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

April 16th
SERIESous Book Reviews >> Review
The Book Drealms >> Guest post
The Bookish Thought >> Review
Tale Out Loud >> Review
QUITE THE NOVEL IDEA >> Review

April 17th
The Book Dutchesses >> Review
Jill’s Book Blog >> Review
Rattle the Stars >> Excerpt
Dani Reviews Things >> Review
Darque Dreamer Reads >> Review

April 18th
Love in a Time of Feminism >> Review
Lisa Loves Literature >> Interview
Little Library Muse >> Excerpt
The Book Maiden >> Review

April 19th
Milky Way of Books >> Review
Bibliobibuli YA >> Interview
Reading With Wrin >> Review
I Smell Sheep >> Guest post
Charmed Book Haven Reviews >> Review

April 20th
What Cathy Read Next >> Review
Smada’s Book Smack >> Review
It’s a Book Life >> Review
Belle’s Book Blog >> Review
The Heart of a Book Blogger >> Review


Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours for letting me participate in this blog tour.

Review: Isle of Blood and Stone

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Title: Isle of Blood and Stone
Author: Makiia Lucier
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: April 10, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Ulises asked, “How can I look at these maps, see this riddle, and do nothing? They are my brothers.”

Elias reached across the table and flicked aside two shells with a fingertip. The map curled into itself. “It’s bound to be a goose chase. You know that?”

“Or a treasure hunt,” Ulises countered, “and you’ve always been good at those.”

Nineteen-year-old Elias is a royal explorer, a skilled mapmaker, and the new king of del Mar’s oldest friend. Soon he will embark on the adventure of a lifetime, an expedition past the Strait of Cain and into uncharted waters. Nothing stands in his way…until a long-ago tragedy creeps back into the light, threatening all he holds dear.

The people of St. John del Mar have never recovered from the loss of their boy princes, kidnapped eighteen years ago, both presumed dead. But when two maps surface, each bearing the same hidden riddle, troubling questions arise. What really happened to the young heirs? And why do the maps appear to be drawn by Lord Antoni, Elias’s father, who vanished on that same fateful day? With the king’s beautiful cousin by his side—whether he wants her there or not—Elias will race to solve the riddle of the princes. He will have to use his wits and guard his back. Because some truths are better left buried…and an unknown enemy stalks his every turn.

Review:

I loved this book!

It was very fast paced. I read the first half of the book in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down. Everything moved very quickly, so it was never boring.

The beginning of the story was a little confusing because it starts right in the middle of the action. At first, it was difficult to connect the prologue to the rest of the story, but it quickly becomes clear how the events of the prologue are important to the story.

I loved the ending of Elias’s search. I had no idea where the story was going to end up, but I think a clever reader could figure it out before the end. There were a few twists that I didn’t see coming, though!

I’m so excited about this story! I can’t wait to see where the rest of the series goes!

Blog Tour Review and Guest Post: Happily

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Title: Happily
Author: Chauncey Rogers
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: self-published
Source: Author
Release Date: April 3, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

If the shoe fits, wear it.
If it doesn’t,
make it.

Laure is a teenage street urchin just trying to get away. Where the rest of the world sees an enchanting love story, Laure sees royal incompetence and an opportunity to exploit it. She’ll have wealth and a way out of a life she detests, if she can only manage to hoodwink the royal family and survive to tell the tale.

Review:

I loved this unique twist on the story of Cinderella. Rather than telling the story of Cinderella, it tells the story of Laure, a girl who tried to trick the King and Prince into thinking she was the girl from the ball.

Since the story gave a different perspective of the Cinderella story, it was unpredictable. Laure wanted to get a glass slipper made that matches the one at the palace to deceive the King into believing that she was the girl who the Prince fell in love with at the ball. This led her on a journey with her new friend Luc (who she met when she destroyed his family’s cart) to find a glass blower who could make her a glass slipper.

I loved this different perspective of the story! It’s a fresh take on a story that’s been told a thousand times. Laure was a poor street girl, similar to Cinderella’s poor position, but she was very sneaky since she wanted to deceive the kingdom. Laure seemed like a more realistic girl than Cinderella. She wasn’t afraid to fight or lie or do whatever it took to get what she wanted. That made her an unpredictable character.

This is a great story! And the best part is there will be a sequel! I can’t wait to read it!

Guest Post:

Sticking (to) the Ending – Concluding Happily

Thank you Jill for hosting today!

It goes without saying that the ending of a story is a crucial element. Of course, so are the beginning and middle of the story. But the ending has to fulfill all the promises and answer all the questions (or at least enough of them). It has to deliver the big payoff that the reader has been working towards, and it has to leave the reader so satisfied that they’ll talk with others about it and pick up your other work.

It’s a lot of pressure.

But I’m not going to talk about endings in general. I’m going to talk about the ending of Happily in particular. So I will try to avoid spoilers, but be ye warned: we arediscussing the ending. Even if no specific spoilers are named, there still might be some general spoiling that occurs. So, please read with caution.

Okay, with that out of the way, I just want to open up about the ending of Happily a bit, and what that process was like for me.

For starters, I dread endings that drag on. This may be a byproduct of having viewed The Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition too many times. Regardless, I worry about having too much follow after the main resolution. Anyone who has read my other works will notice that I do very quick wrap-ups. Once the main action is over, resolve anything that’s left and BAM! The End.

But Happily was going to be tricky. I knew that even before I began to write the ending. The problem was that Laure’s key conflicts, which needed to be resolved, where not the only key conflicts that had to be wrapped up. There was also the issue of the shoe and the real Cinderella, and what would happen to her, which was a question both for Carl and (I presume) the reader.

However, I didn’t feel like I could come off the main action sequence, and then continue the hunt for the missing girl. It also seemed to me that adding anything would have separated the end of the book too far from the story’s climax.

For example, having some kind of wedding ceremony between Carl and Laure, with the steorotypical “Speak now or forever hold your peace” bit being interrupted couldhave been done, but not without adding a fair amount to the story. Perhaps somebody else could have done it, but I didn’t see a way that I felt worked.

The other thing I want to address is the big plot twist that comes at the end of the story. Some people love it, and some people felt like it was a lot to digest, came too close to the end, came out of nowhere, and was totally unnecessary.

Alas, I find myself in both camps on this one.

I definitely love it for sentimental reasons. I don’t know if I could have written it for my daughter without including that bit. But I also agree with those other remarks.

Interestingly, however, in the original draft there were more hints of it coming. Some of my clever early readers spotted it coming, and so I decided to tone back the foreshadowing and alter some of the clues, with the result being that it is, perhaps, too well hidden to be a satisfying reveal for some.

As for it being too close to the ending, or being unnecessary, or the wrap up being too fast, I have a few final thoughts on that.

The chiefest thought, though, is that this is intended to be a Cinderella backdoortelling, as well as a Cinderella retelling.

Yes, Laure interacts with the traditional Cinderella. But Laure is also her own Cinderella. She’s a girl who goes from rags to riches, finds true love, is rescued from bad situations, and has a lot to do with a pretty shoe.

To me, the big twist at the end plays a big part in making Laure into her own Cinderella. It’s a huge reversal for her, and while there is a romance story within Happily, the true love that she finds at the ending is not the same as the romance plot line within the book. For me, that big twist at the end was the best way to deliver on the promise of true love.

And in closing, the quick wrap-up is also a trademark piece for Cinderella stories. The shoe fits, a few nice words, and *SNAP, just like that, you’re at the wedding sequence. It’s kind of just how they go. 🙂

I know this post was a bit rambly, but hopefully it gave you some insights into why Happily has the ending that it does. And anyways, with the announcement of a sequel we all know that this isn’t really the ending anyways. 😉

About the Author:

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Chauncey Rogers was born in Arizona, and since then has hopped back and forth between the mid-western and western United States. He married in 2012 while attending school in Utah. His favorite movie since he was three is Jurassic Park, and he wishes very badly that Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster were real, though he doesn’t believe in them as much as he used to.

In March 2017, he published his first novel, Home to Roost. In October 2017, he published Cleaving Souls.

He currently lives in Kansas City with his wife and two children.

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Thank you Reads and Reels for letting me participate in this blog tour.

Review: Sunny (Track #3)

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Title: Sunny (Track #3)
Author: Jason Reynolds
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher
Release Date: April 10, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Sunny tries to shine despite his troubled past in this third novel in the critically acclaimed Track series from National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds.

Ghost. Patina. Sunny. Lu. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds, with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team—a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics. They all have a lot of lose, but they all have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves. Sunny is the main character in this novel, the third of four books in Jason Reynold’s electrifying middle grade series.

Sunny is just that—sunny. Always ready with a goofy smile and something nice to say, Sunny is the chillest dude on the Defenders team. But Sunny’s life hasn’t always been sun beamy-bright. You see, Sunny is a murderer. Or at least he thinks of himself that way. His mother died giving birth to him, and based on how Sunny’s dad treats him—ignoring him, making Sunny call him Darryl, never “Dad”—it’s no wonder Sunny thinks he’s to blame. It seems the only thing Sunny can do right in his dad’s eyes is win first place ribbons running the mile, just like his mom did. But Sunny doesn’t like running, never has. So he stops. Right in the middle of a race.

With his relationship with his dad now worse than ever, the last thing Sunny wants to do is leave the other newbies—his only friends—behind. But you can’t be on a track team and not run. So Coach asks Sunny what he wants to do. Sunny’s answer? Dance. Yes, dance. But you also can’t be on a track team and dance. Then, in a stroke of genius only Jason Reynolds can conceive, Sunny discovers a track event that encompasses the hard hits of hip-hop, the precision of ballet, and the showmanship of dance as a whole: the discus throw. As Sunny practices the discus, learning when to let go at just the right time, he’ll let go of everything that’s been eating him up inside, perhaps just in time.

Review:

This is another great story in the Track series.

This book has a different form from the other two books. Sunny tells his story through his diary entries (and yes, it is a diary, not a journal. He makes that clear at the beginning). He speaks directly to his diary about what is going on in his life, so it seems like he’s speaking directly to the reader.

Like all of the main characters in this series, Sunny has a unique family situation. He lives with his father, who he calls by his first name, Darryl. Sunny’s mother died while giving birth to him. Darryl has always felt like Sunny should take his mother’s place, because he replaced her in the world, so he made Sunny follow his mother’s dream of running. But the problem is that running was what Sunny’s mother dreamed of doing, not Sunny. In this story, Sunny has to embrace his own dream of dancing, and with the help of Coach he discovers a way to bring dance into his track life.

I loved this story! I can’t wait to read the next one!