Book Review: Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy

I enjoy a good fairy tale retelling, and Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy was a fun romp through the fairy tale realm.

Filomena is your typical middle school girl, who loves to read and is kind of an introvert. She’s a huge fan of the Never After series of books, but when she goes to the bookstore on publication day of the thirteenth and final book of the series, she finds out the book isn’t being published.

As she leaves the bookstore to head home, she notices she’s being followed – by the main characters from the Never After books!

Jack the Giant Stalker and Alistair Bartholomew Barnaby are trying to save Never After from the ogre queen – and Filomena has some connection to saving the fairy tale realm!

I loved all of the connections between fairy tale characters – like Jack Stalker and Jill (from Jack and Jill) are cousins. And the twisted fairy tales, the “real” tales as these characters call them, definitely make the reader look at the fairy tales as we’ve known them in a different way.

I read this so fast, the story was such a fun read and the writing was so fast paced. I could absolutely see this story being turned into a movie or TV show. Every time I put this book down, my thoughts were still with this crew, wanting to know what happened next in Never After, to Jack, Alistair and Filomena. 

While this is a middle-grade book, it definitely held my attention and I enjoyed this fantasy story.

Thank you to Turn the Page Tours and author Melissa de la Cruz for this gifted copy!

Giveaway Details

Enter to win one (1) finished copy of Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy by Melissa de la Cruz! Open USA only. There will be 1 winner.

Giveaway starts: Monday, November 30, 2020

Giveaway ends: Monday, December 8, 2020 at 12:00 a.m. CST

Direct link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d14/? 

Synposis: 

Real life and fairy tales collide in Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy, book one in the new middle-grade Never After series from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Descendants series, Melissa de la Cruz.

Nothing ever happens in Filomena Jefferson-Cho’s sleepy little suburban town of North Pasadena. The sun shines every day, the grass is always a perfect green, and while her progressive school swears there’s no such thing as bullying, she still feels bummed out. But one day, when Filomena is walking home on her own, something strange happens.

Filomena is being followed by Jack Stalker, one of the heroes in the Thirteenth Fairy, a series of books she loves about a brave girl and her ragtag group of friends who save their world from an evil enchantress. She must be dreaming, or still reading a book. But Jack is insistent—he’s real, the stories are real, and Filomena must come with him at once!

Soon, Filomena is thrust into the world of evil fairies and beautiful princesses, sorcerers and slayers, where an evil queen drives her ruthless armies to destroy what is left of the Fairy tribes. To save herself and the kingdom of Westphalia, Filomena must find the truth behind the fairytales and set the world back to rights before the cycle of sleep and destruction begins once more.

Author Bio:

Melissa de la Cruz is the #1 New York TimesUSA TodayWall Street JournalLos Angeles Times-and Publishers Weekly-internationally bestselling author of many critically acclaimed books for readers of all ages, including the Alex & Eliza trilogy and Disney’s Descendants novels.

Author Links:

Home

https://www.instagram.com/authormelissadelacruz/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21911.Melissa_de_la_Cruz#

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44280835-never-after?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=x7O1szxehq&rank=1

Book Purchase link:https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250311214

Review: Songs of Autumn

I’ve been reading more YA Fantasy recently – I think it’s because I want some escape from 2020 and there’s nothing like escaping into a completely fantastical world and carried along on a magical journey.

They description of Songs of Autumn caught my attention immediately:

“What if your entire life you knew the exact day you were going to die? ​Liz does.”

First – wow. So many bucket list items I’d want to check off the list. Second, tell me more!

Liz is the “Red Princess” who the prophecies told would save her kingdom from endless winter by being a blood sacrifice. However, on the day of the ceremony, Liz and her friend Tia escape the palace and run into the forest, heading for the mountains and hopefully far enough away from Liz’s husband/murderer as possible before winter hits.

I came into this book expecting my heart broken, but not as much as this book hurt my heart.

I loved Liz and Tia – their relationship so sweet. In fact, I fell in love with the entire journeying party Liz and Tia fall in with while traveling over the mountain passes.

The growing romantic relationship between with Matioch Steele and Liz is also incredibly romantic – with plenty of heat and tension. (But still very PG-13 for YA readers!)

I absolutely couldn’t put this book down and loved every minute of it. But the cliffhanger at the end. Ugh! I cannot wait until book two is released – because I need to know what happens NOW!

Thank you to Turn the Page tours for including me on this and to Lauren Sevier for providing me with this free copy in exchanging for my honest opinion.⁠

Book Description: 

What if your entire life you knew the exact day you were going to die?

​Liz does.

​Magick in the Kingdom of Aegis has almost run out. When that happens, the seasons will stop changing, the tides will cease to turn, and the sun will no longer be able to rise and set. The only way to save the lives of her people is if Liz agrees to be a blood sacrifice in a brutal ceremony that will take her life.

​The problem is, Liz isn’t ready to go.

​With the help of a mischievous wanna-be soldier, Matioch Steele, Liz dares to take her fate into her own hands. Defying a blood-thirsty sorcerer, her desperate flight teaches her how to truly live while Mat finds out what’s worth dying for. Each other.

​Love, Death, Magick, and Mystery come together to weave one girl’s epic tale of self-discovery.

​Her song will echo within us all.

Author Bio:

Lauren Sevier lives a simple life in small town Walker, Louisiana with her family and two mischievous dogs. She’s a proud firefighter wife and mother to her miracle son, born through IVF after an eight-year battle with infertility. She works full-time for a non-profit hospital in Cardiology caring for the elderly and low-income families all over the state of Louisiana in satellite and outreach clinics. Writing and being in the service of helping others are her two passions in life.

She started writing song lyrics and poems on the front porch swing of her family home nestled amidst a 200-year-old pecan tree orchard that was once part of a Civil War plantation. She’s inspired the most by Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, and JK Rowling. Her background in Theatre introduced her to classic British literature, playwrights, and poets from a very young age. This helped her to understand story concepts, dramatization, and character development the way Shakespeare once did, as an actor.

Now her biggest inspiration for writing is her son who, like all children, learns by example. Lauren is determined to set a specific example for him; to live simply, work hard, and to never stop chasing her dreams. Because, one day, you just might catch them.

Author Links:

https://www.laurensevier.com/

https://www.twitter.com/laurensevier/

https://www.instagram.com/laurensevier/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUeZHxk_ovbB93BIVeInF1A

GIVEAWAY:

Enter to win one (1) digital copy of Songs of Autumn by Lauren Sevier! Open USA and international.

Giveaway starts: Sunday, November 15, 200

Giveaway ends: Sunday, November 22, 2020 at 12:00 a.m. CDT

Direct link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d7/

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49204479-songs-of-autumn?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=Hi1KhKlNke&rank=1 

Book Purchase links:

Review: Crisanta Knight: Inherent Fate

I truly enjoyed reading “Crisanta Knight: Inherent Fate.” 

I jumped into this series on this book – and  never felt lost or like I was missing part of the plot because I jumped into to series on book three.

While I wish there had been a little bit more action in the book, I appreciate that this is book, and this series, is an epic adventure quest and the story isn’t just about the action.

I loved the overarching story that focuses on finding who you are inside – finding your inner strength. (I may or may not have been humming Reflection from Mulan while reading parts of this.)

While this book focuses on Crisa and Daniel for the majority of the book, they do meet back up with their friends in the last quarter. And I really enjoyed the dynamic of the whole team together.

That said, I honestly want to go back and read books one and two because the dynamic shift between Crisanta and Daniel throughout this book is heartwarming. But, I would love to go back and see the beginning of that relationship.

Possibly my favorite part of the book, which really said a lot to me about Crisa as a person, was a very small scene when she and Daniel are in Germany. As they are getting ready to leave, she activates her Hole Tracker and leaves a cryptic note in one of Yunru’s books which will lead her to Alderon. I  hope to see Yunru again in a future Crisanta Knight book!

After reading this, if I was ever confused about the terms “antagonist” and “protagonist” I definitely have them figured out now! I truly loved that the group’s quest was to find the Author (although 100% expected the Author’s name to be Geanna! Imagine my surprise when it wasn’t!)

I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in Crisanta’s adventure. Thank you to author Geanna Culbertson for providing me with this  free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Review: My Riot

⁠My Riot started out with a very scene that felt very poignant: rioting happening in the streets of what would otherwise be a quiet suburb.

I wasn’t sure where the rioting and the main character, Val, a shy, awkward high school student who finds solace in her ballet class, was going to go.

The graphic novels, set in the 90s (but feels very modern), tells the story of how Val grows and finds her voice through friends, ballet, family, and music.

I know, that sounds like a lot and some cliche, but it’s a fun read.

Val decides she wants to learn to play the guitar while she’s grounded. As she’s learning, she jams with her friend Kat over the phone, who’s learning to play the drums because they’ve decided they want to be in a band. And at their first show, they only know a few covers and are screechy and stumble over them. But they love it.

To the point where they keep rehearsing, practicing new songs, and start writing their own. Songs about women’s empowerment, about feminism, and about being a woman in the world.

I adored the illustrations and the subtle use of color in this graphic novel. Enough to give the illusion of movement and shadow while not being full color.

Thank you to @netgalley and @onipress for the review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

Review: Fly for the Both of Us

I can’t decide if Fly for the Both of Us was the most romantic book I’ve red recently, or if it was the most frustrating book I have read this year. And here’s why.

The story follows star-crossed lovers Ben and Kai over the course of four years. They meet at Ben’s dad’s photography studio in Hong Kong, when Kai is there for a modeling photo shoot. Ben is a shy, reserved, nerdy guy, whereas Kai is more sociable and outgoing.

Their romance starts over a “lunch swap,” where they decide to bring lunch for the other person over the course of a few weeks. (This to me, by the way, sounds like a great way to get to know a person and expand your food horizons.)

Once their agreed upon “lunch swap” timeframe ends, Ben and Kai’s relationship keeps going. Through the summer, through the school year, through the next summer, until Kai is offered a modeling gig in LA.

I loved the characters of Ben and Kai – I felt like I knew them, and I know people JUST like both of them. Ben: shy, reserved, feels like he has to hold the whole world together on his own and only focuses on what is directly in front of him. Kai: a little self centered, a little dramatic, a little dense, but always means well and wants to be helpful.

The love, the tenderness and the tension in Ben and Kai’s relationship over the four year time span and the 7,235 miles between them kept me coming back to this story. What drove me crazy was the lack of descriptions of the setting or a sense of place other than “Hong Kong” or “LA.” 

In fact, at one point, Kai thinks “I try to imagine what it’s like to see all of this from Ben’s point of view.” I wanted to scream, “so would the reader! Tellustellustellus!”

I’m fortunate to have visited both locations. I fell in love with  Hong Kong last fall and the promise of that setting and the chance to fall back in love with the city drew me to this book. I would have loved if the buzz and the beauty of Hong Kong had been translated to the page.

Fly for the Both of Us is an own voices contemporary young adult novel, that does contain mild sex, drug use, and eating disorders.

Thank you to Turn the Page Tours and E. Mellyberry for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book. 

Review: The Puppetmaster’s Apprentice

Thank you to Turn the Page Tours and Page Street YA for hosting this tour!

I LOVED this The Puppetmaster’s Apprentice! The story was so immersive and I enjoyed the gender swap retelling of Pinocchio. 

Set in an old world German-style town, I felt like I could walk right in and become part of this town. The town, the shops, the maker’s, even the local pub felt so real. 

And the makers – I loved them all, especially Nan who felt like the big sister to everyone. Taking care of them all, but also a little sassy.

As Pirouette works for the Margrave and she enlists the help of the makers, I fell in love with each of them all over again. Their friendships are so beautiful and honest and the way the come to each other’s aid is heartwarming.

The use of forbidden magic in the town was used well. The tension between Pirouette’s existence and what brought her to life was palpable. And use of magic and its consequences throughout the book helped to thread the tension throughout the story.

I found myself reading through this story quickly; Lisa DeSelm’s writing is engaging and easy to read. I loved that the elements of the Pinoccio story came through, but DeSelm made the story her own.

BLURB

Impressed by the work of the puppetmaster and his apprentice, Tavia’s ruler, The Margrave, has ordered dozens of life-size marionette soldiers to be sent to Wolfspire Hall. When the orders for more soldiers come in with increasingly urgent deadlines, the puppetmaster’s health suffers and Pirouette, his daughter and protégé, is left to build in his stead. But there is something far more twisted brewing at Wolfspire—the Margrave’s son wants Pirouette to create an assassin. And he wants her to give it life.

With Tavia teetering on the brink of war and her father dying in the dungeons, Pirouette has no choice but to accept. Racing against the rise of the next blue moon—the magic that will bring her creations to life—she can’t help but wonder, is she making a masterpiece…or a monster?

Review: You Know I’m No Good

I absolutely devoured this book! Jessie Ann Foley’s writing in You Know I’m No Good is fast paced and continually left me breathless. Not to mention the short chapters almost always ended in something of a cliff hanger that had me turning the page for just “one more chapter” despite the hour or what household chores needed to be done.

I don’t want to go into too much detail in my review, as I don’t want to give too much away from the story. That said, I don’t typically give star ratings in my reviews, but this is definitely a five-star read.

The reader truly feels and lives through Mia – her pain, her happiness, her sorrow. And when she has that break through emotionally – ahhh! – it cut deep in the feels. 

And then Foley works her author magic, building Mia and the reader back up, bringing both together through the hard work Mia does emotionally. Healing hearts, souls, and relationships.

And the ending! Just, ugh! So much love.

In the span of these pages, Foley broke me down, filled me with hope, and built me back up. She also beautifully opened a dialogue and discusses many tough topics, such as teen drug and alcohol use and self-harm.

Thank you to Jessie Ann Foley and Turn the Page Tours for this hosting this tour of You Know I’m No Good and this free copy in exchange for my honest review.

TRIGGER WARNINGS: Sexual Assault, Suicidal Ideation, Drug and Alcohol Use, Self-Harm

GIVEAWAY INFO: Up for grabs is ONE copy of Jessie Ann Foley’s You Know I’m No Good. This giveaway is open to US residents only, and will run from October 9th – October 16th at 11:59PM CST. Enter to win via the rafflecopter link below.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d6/?

BLURB:

From Printz Honor winner and William C. Morris Award finalist Jessie Ann Foley comes the story of one girl’s battle to define herself as something other than her reputation.

Mia is officially a Troubled Teen she gets bad grades, drinks too much, and has probably gone too far with too many guys. But she doesn’t realize how out of control her parents think she is until they send her away to Red Oak Academy, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Minnesota.

While there, Mia starts confronting her painful past, and questions the purpose of Red Oak. After all, if the Red Oak girls were boys, they never would have been treated the way that they are. Amidst the revelations that cause her to question the way that society treats young women, circumstances outside of her control force Mia to discover what happens when she makes herself vulnerable enough to be truly seen by the rest of the world.

AUTHOR INFO

Jessie Ann Foley’s debut novel, The Carnival at Bray, was a Printz Honor Book, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book, a YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults title, and a William C. Morris Award finalist. Her second novel, Neighborhood Girls, was an ALA Booklist Editors’ Choice and a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults title. Sorry for Your Loss, her third novel, was an Illinois Reads selection. You Know I’m No Good is her fourth novel. Jessie lives with her husband and three daughters in Chicago, where she was born and raised. To learn more about Jessie, visit her online at www.jessieannfoley.com.

Review: Roaring

Gangsters! Speakeasies! And Monsters! Oh my!

It took me a little bit to get into the story in Roaring. This book is told in multiple POVs – Eris and Colt.

Eris works in a speakeasy in Boston as a bartender also sings with the house band. Oh, and she doesn’t speak – hasn’t said a word in more than seven years.

Colt is a Bureau of Investigation, Specialized  Organized Crime Division Agent, and has been put on the case of bringing in the last siren – who has been located in Boston.

Set in the 1920s, speakeasies and flappers play major roles. Eris and Colt go on the run from the BOI and the the other groups who are after Eris. This is where the action really takes off – and when I went from having a hard time getting into the story to not being able to put the book down.

I found Colt to be the most enjoyable and relatable character, and my heart reached out to him as I learned more of his backstory. I appreciated that he grew and changed throughout the course of the book.

Thank you to Entangled Teen and NetGalley for the review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Review: The Mall

Oh, the nostalgia! I thoroughly enjoyed The Mall – it was a fun read that made me reminisce about my time as a teenager hanging out at the mall with friends. And working at one of the mall stores through college.

(WARNING SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD!)

After her grand “Plan” for life after high school crumbles in front of her eyes (just like the America’s Best Cookie job she’s just be fired from), Cassie Worthy searches for another job at the mall and a new path in life. She finds herself working as the bookkeeper at Bellarossa Boutique and working with her friend from middle school – Drea. 

One night, Drea mentions the rumors of treasure hidden in the mall, and the two girls work together to find the treasure.

This was a fun read – Cassie and Drea spend time in my favorite mall stores: B. Dalton, KB Toys, Sam Goody. But, the treasure hunt left me with some questions. It’s 1991 – the treasure was hidden in 1983. And no one’s gone looking for it previously?

And, considering the “clues” were hidden in plain sight where many, many people saw them everyday. And no one questioned seeing an old school Cabbage Patch doll floating around a decade after they were the “It” toy? Really?

I will say, I didn’t expect what the treasure wound up being. It did make me laugh out loud.

Overall, this was a fun read. Will it be memorable? Probably not. Will it be made into a movie or television series? Probably yes.

Thank you to NetGalley and publisher Wednesday Books for a free advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: I Love You So Mochi

OMG! I Love You So Mochi was such an adorable YA romcom, and definitely has me yearning to travel to Kyoto, Japan!

Kimi loves taking everyday pieces of clothes from the thrift store and turning them into “Kimi Originals” – outfits that make her and her friends feel brave and like the ultimate versions of themselves. However, her mom thinks this is a distraction from her painting and her future at a prestigious fine art academy.

However, when a letter from her estranged grandparents inviting her to Kyoto for spring break, she takes the opportunity to change her scenery and hopefully find her passion and decide her future path.

Kimi’s journey to finding herself and her passion is such an enjoyable read. I also adored Akira – he’s so sweet and I could just hug him! I could see myself becoming friends with him, too! And their young love is written so perfectly! Butterflies, holding hands, covert kissing.

Following Kimi’s journey of finding her passion was inspiring and a good reminder that what you love and what you’re passionate about is not just frivolous. (I promise, no spoilers!)

I also found myself researching the tourist places in Kyoto that Kimi and Akira visit. The Fushimi Inari Taisha has me in awe and has definitely been added to the bucket list!

And I loved how Kimi found inspiration for her fashion designs from the places she visits in Kyoto. The designs described – I could picture them and would love to see more fashion that is inspired by beautiful places in the world!

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