Book Reviews

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim Review

42815556Summary: Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

*I received an ARC of this book in return for an honest review.  Thanks to Randomhouse Children’s for the opportunity!*


Ok. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book, and I was so wrong.  It’s really good.  It is a beautifully written story that has everything you could want out of a YA fantasy novel.  The adventure is epic and fun, the romance is swoony, the system of magic is interesting, and the main characters are wonderfully likable.  I absolutely loved the Chinese culture in this book, especially its influences on the magic system.  It all works so seamlessly and transports us to a really vibrant world that I can’t wait to see more of.  The whole story has a traditional folklore feel to it as well, which adds a level of maturity and simplicity in the storytelling.  Maia is a great heroine and really comes into her own by the end.  I loved her arc, but I do wish we could have seen it progressing a bit stronger throughout.  The chemistry and tension with her love interest are fabulous from the get-go, and the pace of their relationship was perfect.  The journey they take together is fun and fantastical and super fast-paced.  The ending packs a punch and left me wanting more.  I am so pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book and I cannot wait to see where this series goes.

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Book Reviews

ARC Review: The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets by Molly Fader

41887422Summary: What drove their family apart just might bring them back together…It’s been seventeen years since the tragic summer the McAvoy sisters fell apart. Lindy, the wild one, left home, carved out a new life in the city and never looked back. Delia, the sister who stayed, became a mother herself, raising her daughters and running the family shop in their small Pennsylvania hometown on the shores of Lake Erie. But now, with their mother’s ailing health and a rebellious teenager to rein in, Delia has no choice but to welcome Lindy home. As the two sisters try to put their family back in order, they finally have the chance to reclaim what’s been lost over the years: for Delia, professional dreams and a happy marriage, and for Lindy, a sense of home and an old flame–and best of all, each other. But when one turbulent night leads to a shocking revelation, the women must face the past they’ve avoided for a decade. And there’s nothing like an old secret to bring the McAvoy women back together and stronger than ever. With warm affection and wry wit, Molly Fader’s The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets is about the ties that bind family and the power of secrets to hold us back or set us free.

*I received a copy of this book from Harlequin- Graydon House Books through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Release Date July 16th, 2019


My Thoughts: This book is the epitome of a perfect, well written, summer beach read.  The plot was paced so well and I could not put it down until I figured out all of the secrets.  It was easy to read and had some really poignant metaphors and descriptions, along with some well developed and loveable characters.  We get to read from the four perspectives of the McAvoy women and they all had a distinctive, yet cohesive, voice.  Each woman had their own struggles that were relatable, intriguing, and helped to build a complex and wonderful set of characters.  I loved watching their relationships with each other evolve and discovering what had happened to wreck their former closeness.  The mystery was handled so well, and it ended up being a lot more exciting and dark than I had originally expected.  It dealt with a lot of difficult topics like dementia, abuse, grief, and depression, but was overall a story about family and connection.  I became so emotionally invested in these characters and their experiences that I was moved to tears more than once.  The afterword really wrapped it all up in a great dramatic way that had my jaw on the floor.  Overall, this was a super quick and easily investable story that I highly recommend for anyone looking for a great and fast-paced summer read.

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Book Reviews

Review: Peter Green and the Unliving Academy by Angelina Allsop

41824802Summary: Fourteen-year-old Peter Green can’t remember how he died.
All he has are his pajamas, a silk tie, and a one-way bus ticket to Mrs. Battisworth’s Academy and Haven for Unliving Boys and Girls, a strange and spooky school for dead orphans like himself. But that’s all he needs: the Unliving Academy has everything, from vampires in the hallways, to monsters in the cafeteria, to ghosts in the basement.

And that’s just the teachers; the students are far stranger.

As Pete learns to fit in with his new supernatural schoolmates, he starts to discover his own uniquely undead abilities, and even begins enjoying his life after death…but he just can’t shake the feeling that he’s forgotten something (or somebody!) important.

Somebody he left behind in the land of the living.

Somebody he loved very much.

Somebody who’s in terrible danger. 

Peter Green and the Unliving Academy is the captivating first installment of Angelina Allsop’s Unliving series of young adult fantasy novels. If you like reading about fun-filled adventures, fully realized new worlds, and the most unlikely of heroes, you’re sure to love Allsop’s spirited coming-of-age tale.

*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review*


My Thoughts: This book has so much potential.  The concept is brilliant, the characters diverse, and the world is unique and interesting.  Unfortunately, all of it was a bit underdeveloped.  Peter Green has died and shows up in Purgatory with none of his memories, where he is sent to an AfterLife boarding school for children.  I was on board with this concept and plot right away and was ready to dive into this adventure and see this wild world of AfterLife… but there wasn’t enough world building for me.  Sure, there were a lot of cool things and crazy creatures, but there were no rules set to establish the world, and the systems of magic, concretely enough.  We got little hints of it while Peter is learning about his “skills” at school, but it just felt to me that anything could happen there and it would just be accepted as a kooky part of the world instead of having a true basis in the way the universe was set up.  I absolutely loved the different portals and purgatory, the magical skills to be learned, and the entire concept of having a full life- complete with a job, family, community, etc.- after death.  It was so clever and unique that I just wanted it to be established on a deeper level.  The characters were sweet, but once again underdeveloped.  I couldn’t remember who was who most of the time because all we really got about them were their names.  I don’t even remember what Peter Green looks like, other than that he wears pajamas and a tie, and he didn’t really have a memorable personality.  Peter’s new best friends Scoot and Charlie were fun.  I loved Charlie’s unapologetic vanity and hunger for gossip and Scoot’s toughness and I would have loved to see a deeper relationship build between them all.  The plot was exciting and fun, but unfocused.  There were a lot of great scenes and ideas but there wasn’t a solid enough through-line, and many of the plot points felt unnecessary and distracting, even if they added entertainment value.  I don’t think the plot was used to it’s fullest in helping to create the world and develop the characters.  Overall, the ideas in this book are out of this world and I loved the concept and I just don’t think the execution lived up to its potential.

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Book Reviews

Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small Review

42288387Summary: Best friends Marine Duval and Kate Sanders have trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School since childhood, where they’ve formed an inseparable bond forged by respective family tragedies and a fierce love for dance. When the body of a student is found in the dorms just before the start of their final year, Marine and Kate begin to ask themselves what they would do to win the ultimate prize: to be the one girl selected to join the Opera’s prestigious corps de ballet. Would they die? Cheat? Seduce the most talented boy in the school, dubbed the Demigod, hoping his magic would make them shine, too? Neither girl is sure.

But then Kate gets closer to the Demigod, even as Marine has begun to capture his heart. And as selection day draws near, the competition—for the prize, for the Demigod—becomes fiercer, and Marine and Kate realize they have everything to lose, including each other.


My Thoughts: As a dancer, the minute I saw this book I wanted to read it.  I was obsessed with the movie Center Stage when I was growing up, and this totally has similar vibes.  The ballet world can be so intense, which makes for great, and typically dark, stories.  Bright Burning Stars follows two students in the Paris Opera Ballet school, Marine and Kate, as they work up to “The Prize”, a coveted spot in the company.  The plot in this book was both fast moving and slow at the same time.  Events happened quickly, but overall I found it to be a bit dull and was looking for more umpfh.  It was definitely more character-based, delving into the psyches of these two pre-professional ballerinas.  Both girls find themselves in pretty dark places throughout the book, each of them dealing with the pressure in different, unhealthy ways.  I found myself liking, empathizing and rooting for Marine, but Kate was hard to like (Which is the opposite of how I expected to feel at the beginning.)  I definitely felt pity for her and just wanted her to get the help she so clearly needed.  Even though the plot was fairly slow, I found myself really invested in the fates of these two women.  The pressure put on these students was almost unbelievable, but I know from friends who are in the ballet world is very real.  The author was clearly a ballerina herself, which really helped in grounding the story in reality and gave it an authenticity that I appreciated.  The dynamics and workings of the ballet school were so fascinating, and I would be really interested to see how true to life it actually is.  This book was an interesting, if a bit depressing, read and would be great for fans of the movie Center Stage or the tv show Flesh and Bone.

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Book Reviews

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid Review

40597810Summary: Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.


My Thoughts: I’m late to the party with this one, but I’m so glad I finally read it.  This is one of my favorite books of the year so far and  I devoured it in less than 24 hours.  There are so many things to love about this book, but I think the format of it is my favorite part.  It reminded me of a VH1 Behind the Music documentary, and I loved the way that it created multiple unreliable narrators by showing different tellings of the same story.  It was both hilarious and added so much to the character development, all while leaving me wondering what is actually the truth.  I loved how all of the characters had real faults and weaknesses.  I also really liked how conflicted I was about Daisy herself.  I admired her in so many ways- her ability to just be herself, her confidence, her drive, her undeniable talent, but I also felt so much pity for her and hated some of her choices.  It was very effective to have her future self reliving and speaking of her past with perspective.  Her relationship with Billy was so complicated and beautiful.  I couldn’t help but root for them while at the same time wanting him to be faithful to his wife, Camila, who is a complete badass and is strong as hell.  All of the relationships in this book are amazingly nuanced and the dynamics of the band are so clear in the way they speak about each other and their experiences.  It’s what makes this book.  We as a culture are so fascinated with fame and the music business, and this book gives an entertaining and complex look into it and the darkness that can lie behind the lights.Copy of Untitled Design

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What did you guys think of Daisy Jones & The Six? Let me know in the comments! ❤
Book Reviews

ARC Review: Murder at Macbeth by Samantha Armstrong

45300231Summary: WHOSE DEADLY SECRET HAS TAKEN CENTRE STAGE?

When a talented, young actress unwittingly stabs herself live onstage after a prop knife is tampered with, suspicion immediately falls on her eclectic band of castmates.

But who had the motive to kill the show’s leading lady?

As the insightful, yet disillusioned, Detective Inspector Finley Robson and his shrewd partner, Detective Sergeant Nadia Zahra, interrogate the seven key suspects, secrets unfold to unveil a web of scandal, blackmail, and deceit.

Bitter rivalries, secret trysts and troubled pasts are just the beginning of the story…

Set against the backdrop of a gritty London theatre production of Macbeth, this compelling novel explores a dark world of mystery and intrigue. All is not as it seems…

A hugely gripping police procedural full of unpredictable twists and suspense, Murder at Macbeth will captivate you from the very first page and keep you guessing right until the end.

With an intriguing plot and distinctive characters, this English murder mystery is a compelling whodunnit which is perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins, Karin Slaughter and LJ Ross.

*I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review*


My Thoughts: As a theatre actress and obsessive Criminal Minds/ Law and Order SVU fan, I was so excited to read this book even though it is not my usual genre to read.   In this one, an actress accidentally stabs herself onstage when a prop dagger is switched for a real one and her castmates are the only suspects.  While I love watching them on tv, I do have to admit that police procedurals are not the most exciting thing for me to unravel in book form.  While the plot was interesting and held my attention, I found myself bored by the format (which I don’t think was the author’s fault, but rather my own personal genre preference).  There were some nice, more narrative-like, flashbacks that broke up the investigation and really helped build the tension and mystery which I was pleased with.  I had no idea who the culprit was going to be and was kept guessing until the last moments, but I never felt like I could fully invest myself in the story or its characters and therefore was underwhelmed at the conclusion.  I think that readers who enjoy this type of genre and format would really get into this one, and I’m glad I gave it a go, but the genre just not my cup of tea.

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Book Reviews

ARC Review: I Spy the Boy Next Door by Samantha Armstrong

PrintSummary: Four p.m. spy sessions are the highlight of Mallory Taylor’s day. Observing the boy next door—one with a body and an attitude to match—has her perched beside her window so often it can’t be healthy.

When she finally convinces her mom to let her go to public school, Mallory comes face to face with her neighbor, Troy Parker. And he makes it clear he wants nothing to do with her. His rejection awakens a newfound tenacity and maybe even a touch of recklessness. But when Troy starts to show up when she needs him the most, Mallory can’t help but wonder if there’s more to him than he’s let on.

Taking chances, breaking rules, and following her heart is all new to Mallory. And no one warned her just how fickle hearts can be. When she discovers that Troy isn’t at all the guy she imagined him to be, secrets rise to the surface that will change her life forever.

*I received a copy of this book from Koru House Press in return for an honest review! Thanks to them and Samantha Armstrong for the opportunity!*


My Thoughts: This book was really different than what I expected.  I anticipated a light-hearted, opposites attract YA romance and that is not what this was.  Our main character, Mallory, has lived a very sheltered, home-schooled existence for her whole life, all while crushing on Troy, her next door neighbor, from afar.  Once Mallory convinces her overprotective parents to let her go to school, she finally gets the chance to come face to face with him and the story begins… but nothing much happens for a while.  There is a lot of moodiness and unwarranted behavior from him, and confusion from her, but they don’t really have that many interactions.  I was so confused as to how they fell for each other when they had such minimal contact.  In fact, none of the relationships between Mallory and the other characters were really developed enough to be believable.  They would have one interaction, and then they’d be best friends.  There was a bit of very exaggerated sexual tension between Mallory and Troy, but without a strong build-up to their connection, it didn’t fully work for me.  Out of nowhere, the book becomes an episode of criminal minds and while I wanted to find out what was going to happen next, I was thrown by the sudden change in mood and plot.  The twist did help explain more about Mallory’s character, but overall the whole book just felt a bit incohesive and underdeveloped.  I think if Mallory and Troy’s relationship had a stronger foundation and actually built to a smolder instead of going from zero to 100, the whole thing might have worked better.  Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get on board with this one.

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Monthly Wrap-Ups

April 2019 Wrap-Up

MonthlyWrap - Up

After a pretty solid March in one place, my tour has been on the move every week in a new city.  We played a bunch of cities in California (Sacramento, Costa Mesa, and San Diego), headed up to Denver, CO (where dancing a mile above sea level was no joke), and rounded out the month in Tuscon, AZ.  Because of this crazy schedule, my reading has been a little slower, but I did manage to read some gems.  I’m excited about the new releases coming out in May, and can’t wait to see what else this month has in store.

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Books Read:

 

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë ★★★★

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer★★★★★

Again, but Better by Christine Riccio ★★★★★

Fracture Me by Tahereh Mafi★★★★


Favorite Book of the Month:

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Currently Reading:

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Challenge Updates:

Goodreads Challenge: 18 of 100

Classics Club Challenge: 6 of 50 (I FINALLY read another one!)


April Reviews

• Lovestruck by Kate Watson • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë Review • A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer Review • Again, but Better by Christine Riccio

April Posts

Top 10 Tuesday: Outrageous Things I’ve Done for Books • Cleaning Up My TBR: Down the TBR Hole #10 • Top 10 Tuesday: Rainy Day Reads • Game of Thrones Book TagTop 10 Tuesday: The First 10 Books I Reviewed •


Book Reviews

ARC Review: Again, but Better by Christine Riccio

41147279Summary: From one of the most followed booktubers today, comes Again, but Better, a story about second chances, discovering yourself, and being brave enough to try again.

Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.

Release Date: May 7th, 2019
*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! Thanks to St. Martin’s Press, Christine Riccio, and Netgalley!*

My Thoughts: WOW.  I am obsessed with this book.  From the first Harry Potter reference, I knew I was going to love it.  Riccio’s writing style and Shane’s voice are absolutely hilarious and there were times when I felt like she was inside my brain.  Shane is a totally lovable and entirely relatable character.  All of her bookish fandom and pop culture references killed me, and I just loved the way her mind worked.  I was rooting for her to come into herself the whole time and I loved watching as she figured out what she truly wanted.  As someone who fell in love with London on my own travels, I was so excited to be transported back and was definitely living through Shane’s study abroad experience.  Her flatmates were such a great grouping of characters who all had their unique, fun quirks.  Babe with her Disney obsession and aspiring actor, Atticus, were my favorites.  Then there was Pilot Penn, Shane’s crush.  Their dynamic and chemistry were fantastic and while there were moments that he made me mad, I totally understood the conflict.  I think my favorite thing about this book was reading their witty, flirtatious banter.  There were several swoon-worthy moments that had my stomach all fluttery.  The big twist in the middle of the book caught me totally off guard and seeing it play out was so exciting.  As you can tell, I just really loved this book and I have very little, if any, negative comments.  From the romance to the friendships, to the wanderlust, and finally discovering who you are meant to be, this book knocked it out of the park and I can’t wait to see what Riccio does next.

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Book Hangover

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: The First 10 Books I Reviewed

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When I started out book blogging, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.  All I knew was that I wanted to write about books.  I started checking out some other book blogs and fumbled my way through the first couple of months reviewing whatever books I was reading at the time.  This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl is the First Ten Books I Reviewed.  Looking these over I feel like I have definitely grown as a blogger since writing these, but I’m still proud of them all the same.


The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

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Strange Medicine by Mike Russell

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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

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The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

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A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

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Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

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Starswept by Mary Fan

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