Friday, July 24, 2015

Justice Buried - Hilary Thompson

Title: Justice Buried
Author: Hilary Thompson
Series: Starbright #1
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: January 2014
Source: Netgalley

Isn't this cover just gorgeous?  I won't lie.  I totally chose to read this one because of the cover.  I couldn't help myself.  Thankfully reading this one did not end up being a mistake.  The story contained within is truly worthy of this beautiful artwork.


Imagine yourself in a future world where everything is dictated by what astrological sign you are born under.  Your vocation, the colors you are allowed to wear, who you will eventually partner with, it is all decided by what your zodiac sign is.

Now imagine yourself in a city that is underground.  No one alive and living in the city has ever seen the sky, the moon, or the sun.  They have only experienced life living in a city that exists in a cave.  History tells you that at least two other cities have existed outside and above ground, but no one alive knows if they are still there - as your city was created to save humans from dying for a horrible sickness.

This is the world Astrea has grown up in.  However, she has even fewer choices than normal girls her age.  Astrea is part of a prophecy.  Her birth, and the birth Lexan the boy she is told she must partner with when they are old enough, was a sign that it will soon be time for the citizens of Asphodel to come out from their cave city and explore the world above.  To top it off, Astrea is expected to be the leader of this new world.  Astrea really hates not having choices and she really hates that one day she will be partnered with Lexan.

As the day Astrea and Lexan are to officially "choose" each other as partners for life, Astrea's world starts to unravel.  She isn't sure who she can trust.  She isn't even sure if her own parents are there to help her or not.  All she knows is that her life is in danger.  Then to top it all off, she meets a boy from the outside world.  Can she at least trust him?


This world was brilliantly crafted.  I had absolutely no trouble imagining it as I read along.  I thought the Zodiac idea was excellently executed and very creative of Hilary Thompson.  She did really well showing the personality traits of the signs into their owners.  Astrea definitely felt like an Aries.

Like many YA books, there is a love triangle.  I thought it was done well.  I must say though that at this time I still do not trust either boy.  I like Astrea as the head strong female she is and I hope her character never fully develops into one that constantly needs a boy to help her.

One of the things that irked me the most about Justice Buried was that I felt Astrea went a little backwards in her development.  She is a very head strong, dependent female.  She ended up losing herself a bit at one point.  This would be fine if she found herself again, but I don't feel that she ever really did.  I hope this problem is rectified in the sequel.


This book was very engrossing.  I enjoyed the world immensely.  I definitely recommend people pick this one up.  

My Rating
4 out of 5 stars

This review is based on an eARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Max the Brave - Ed Vere Trailer Teaser!!

"Are You My Mother?" meets "I Want My Hat Back" in the hilarious new picture book, Max the Brave, by author and illustrator Ed Vere.  Follow fearless Max as he encounters every other creature except the one he's searching for...mouse.  Check out the trailer!

I am pretty excited about getting to read this one for my little bug.  She is growing up to be such a bookworm!  You can expect a review for this title from me come mid September!  Can't wait to share my thoughts on this one with you!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Red Pyramid - Rick Riordan

Title: The Red Pyramid
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: Kane Chronicles #1
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: May 4, 2010
Source: Purchased

I am glad I finally got around to reading this book.  For some reason or other, I had ended up with the impression of that this book was not very good.  This this book, and the series that it belongs to, is not that great.  That I shouldn't waste my time on it.  That  Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series was the only stuff worth reading.

That initial impression I had of this book turned out to be completely wrong.  I enjoyed this book immensely and am so glad that I finally got around to reading it.

This story has two narrators, Carter and Sadie.  Carter and Sadie take turns telling the story from their perspective.  We get to learn Egyptian mythology right along with them.  The two are brother and sister and are thrown into a world where Egyptian Gods are real and the particularly nasty Set, the God of Chaos, is attempting to destroy human civilization - starting with Phoenix, Arizona.  Set also happens to have their father held captive and they want nothing more than to rescue him.

I have never been a huge fan of Egyptian mythology, but I found what I learned from this book to be very interesting.  Though I must admit, there are many pieces and bits of this mythology that I am still unclear on.  I do not think this is a fault of Rick Riordan and how he wrote this book.  I think it is because Egyptian mythology just happens to be a very complex subject.

I do have one rather nit picky criticism for this book.  It has to do with the way Sadie narrated the story.  She is supposed to have a British accent.  There are points where she does use British lingo, but there didn't seem to be enough of it to keep that bit of her character alive in my head as I read.  She did not continually have the British accent for me as I read through the story.  Now, this does not take away from the story.  It was just something that kind of bothered me as I read through the 500+ page book.

If you were like me and have put this book off because of impressions that others gave you of this book, I suggest you take the jump and read it for yourself.  I went from thinking there was no way Rick Riordan could achieve a second time what he achieved with Percy Jackson, but I was wrong.  I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Peter and the Starcatchers - Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Title: Peter and The Starcatchers
Author: Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Series: Peter and the Starcatchers #1
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: May 1, 2006
Source: Purchased

Peter and the Starcatchers is fabulous retelling of the beloved Peter Pan fairy tale.  The first in the series, this story sets up this wonderfully frightening world for us.  We get to meet a cast of characters, many of which we know from the Peter Pan we have come to know and love - with a twist, and some new ones we have never had the pleasure of meeting before.

In this story, we learn how Peter and the other orphan boys come to be on Neverland.  We also learn why Peter is enemy number one with the Captain Black Stache and the pirates.  As well, we are introduced to group of characters we have never met before in any Peter Pan story, Molly and the rest of the Starcatchers.

I will be honest with you, the Peter Pan story was never on, or even near, the top of my favorite fairy tale stories.  However, I was still very much able to get into this story and enjoyed watching it evolve.  I found it fun trying to guess who the characters in this story were portraying from the original story.  It was quite interesting to see how the authors tied their versions of the characters to their original counterparts.  It was all very imaginative and very well done.

I found this book to be slightly darker than I thought it would be, but overall, it wasn't that dark.  There were no overly gory details.  You had the bad guys being bad guys and pirates being pirates, but it was not inappropriately done for the age range this book was intended for.  That being said, as an adult I still found this book very engaging without those kinds of details.

This story was not without its faults.  I found there to be some slow points and there were some parts where they story was not really able to hold my attention, but over all it was really good.  I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Bug in a Vacuum - Melanie Watt

Title: Bug in a Vacuum
Author: Melanie Watt
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Tundra Books
Publication Date: August 25, 2015
Source: Netgalley

This picture book, unfortunately, is one of those that needs to be in existence.  It covers the hard topic of grief.  This is not an easy topic to talk to a child about, especially a younger one, but thankfully this one is written in a way that is child friendly.

This book is about a bug.  In the beginning the bug is doing his little bug thing - flying around and having a grand old time.  He is minding his own business.  He is on top of the world (literally)!  And then he gets sucked into a vacuum.  Poor little guy.  The bug then goes through the 5 stages of grieving.  It is quite a journey that we get to go on with this bug.

This book is beautifully illustrated.  Each stage is wonderfully depicted.  This book will help open up a conversation with a little one about grieving.  It will help the child understand what they are going through and that it is normal.  More importantly, it will help open up a discussion that will help the child express what they are feeling.

I am very happy that this book was created.  I think it was beautifully and tastefully done.  The illustrations are gorgeous.  It is definitely a book I will be recommending in the future to those that unfortunately will have to discuss grieving with a young one.

On a less serious side note - I totally loved the dog in the book!

This review is based on an eARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Ever Near - Melissa MacVicar

Title: Ever Near
Author: Melissa MacVicar
Series: Secret Affinity #1
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing, LLC
Publication Date: September 2013
Source: Netgalley

Let me start off by saying that I am absolutely in love with this book.  It has caused me to lose sleep on more than one occasion.  I was only willing to put it down when I just could not keep my eyes open any longer.  IT. WAS. THAT. GOOD.

This story is about Jade.  Jade can see ghosts.  She has been able to see ghosts since she was 10 years old.  Not of the encounters have ever been exactly pleasant.  The ghosts tend to scare her.  The ghosts tend to freak out and attack her.  Jade has no idea what to do about these encounters or why it happens to her, so she just does her best to avoid ghosts and the places where she has met them.  Also, no one else knows that she can see and talk to ghosts.  Not even her best friend who was there when she met her first one.  Jade has been keeping her ability a secret from everyone.  The fear that those she cares about will think that she is a freak and insane is too strong.

Unfortunately for Jade, she has moved with her mother into the Fair Ever estate with her mothers fiance and his two sons.  Fair Ever happens to house one very confused and angry ghost.  Now that Jade is stuck facing this ghost head on she has to figure out how to deal with her special ability.  This is no easy task when the ghost loves to pop up every where, even in Jades dreams.  Also, the ghost tends to freak out every time Jade attempts to talk to her - doing weird melty faces, attacking her, etc.

Then to top it all off, she is now living across the hall from a boy she has had a HUGE crush on and he is soon to be her step-brother.  Talk about complicated.

I loved loved loved this book.  The further into the story I got, the better it was.  Melissa MacVicar has a wonderful way with words.  Her descriptions are so vivid and the world she has crafted is so beautiful.  You cannot help but feel you are there with Jade as she stumbles around trying to figure out how to deal with her complicated life.  You cannot help but feel what she is feeling and wishing you were able to help her.

This is a book I will be forever recommending to people who ask me what they should read next.  It has found itself a permanent home in my heart along with my other favorite stories.

5 out of 5 well deserved stars

This review is based on an eARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley for my honest review.

Friday, July 17, 2015

As Red as Blood - Salla Simukka; Translated by Owen F. Witesman

Title: As Red as Blood
Author: Salla Simukka
Translator: Owen F. Witesman
Series: Lumikki Andersson/Snow White Trilogy #1
Publisher: Skyscape
Publication Date: August 1, 2014
Source: Netgalley

 So, originally, I was drawn to As Red As Blood by Salla Simukka because I thought it might be a retelling of the every popular Snow White story.  It wasn't.  I guess I shouldn't assume things and read the book blurb.  Though I wasn't totally disappointed, there were some fairy tale references in the story.

What this story is about is a girl named Lumikki Andersson.  An outcast by choice.  She trusts absolutely no one and prefers to fly very far under the radar.  Unfortunately for her, that is rather hard to do when you walk into a dark room that has a ton of money hanging up all around it.  The part where it had been covered in blood just makes it that much harder to ignore.

Thanks to her discovery of the money, she ends up helping the trio that did find the money solve a mystery.  Why was it left in Elisa's yard?  Was her father, the cop, involved in something very serious and illegal?  And, why was it covered in blood?

I enjoyed following along with Lumikki while she worked on solving the mystery and getting to the bottom of the whole thing.  In the beginning I found it to be a bit of a tough read, but once I got used to all the names (the story was not originally written in English), it flowed a lot smoother.

My biggest complaint about As Red As Blood would have to be that parts of the story did not seem to flow from one part to the next very smoothly.  You would be reading part of the story in the now, and then all of a sudden be in a flash back.  Or you would be with one character, and then you would find yourself with another.  I wish these transitions had flowed better or, at the very least, had more obvious breaks when the transitions were happening.  Also, some bits of flashbacks for Lumikki could have been in better parts of the story.  Her character is such a mystery in and of itself that some of those flashbacks would have been nicer early on.

As well, I think there may have been some translation issues.  I would bet this story is infinitely better in its original language.  While it isn't bad, I am sure there are parts that got lost when it was translated into the English language.

Also, just to note, this book is marketed as a Young Adult book.  However, I would say that this is for the more mature reader or the older YA crowd.  There is violence, murder, and a small bit of language.

In the end, I give this book 3.5 stars.  I enjoyed the story a lot.  It pulled me in and kept me engaged.  I also commend Salla Simukka for not ending the story in a place that he very well could have that would have been a HUGE cliffhanger.  As a reader, I appreciate that.

This review is based on an eARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Secret Garden - Johanna Basford

Title: Secret Garden - An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book
Author: Johanna Basford
Publisher: Lawrence King Publishing
Publication Date: March 26, 2013
Source: Purchased

I do not plan to make it a habit to review coloring books, but I just couldn't help myself with this one.  I love it that much!

When you look at the cover, you cannot help but notice the amount of detail on it.  It is filled to the brim with flowers, vines, leaves, etc.  However, you may find yourself wondering "are the pages on the inside like what I see on this cover?"  The answer is a very strong and profound YES!!

Inside you will find many pages to help you relax.  Each one is filled with a design consisting of flowers, leaves, animals, and other things one might expect to find in a garden.  There are a lot of small details to the items on the page which will keep you pretty busy.

Not only will you find things to color, but some of the pages have prompts for you.  These include, but are not limited to, adding your own small designs to preexisting flowers, adding on to Johanna Basford's designs with your own drawings, and mazes.

This coloring book has a lot for you to do.  You will find hours of entertainment within just this one coloring book alone. 

It is sure to help you relax after a stressful day and help you feed your creative side.  However, from what I can tell it is not exactly easy to get your hands on this one, or her other titled Enchanted Forest, from what I can tell.  So, if you see one, I suggest you pick it up or you risk missing out!

This is easily a 5 out of 5 star item!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Ruby's Misadventures with Reality - Samantha Bohrman

Title: Ruby's Misadventures with Reality
Author: Samantha Bohrman
Series: Emerald City Mystery #1
Publisher: Entangled: Select Suspense
Publication Date: July 14, 2015
Source: Netgalley

I keep finding myself drawn to books that have been inspired by fairy tales and other previously told stories.  Ruby's Misadventures with Reality by Samantha Bohrman is one such title.  You can probably guess from the title which story this one is based off of, but just in case you can't - it is based off of the ever popular Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.  However, this one isn't much of a retelling of it.  It is more inspired by it than anything.

In this story we follow along Ruby.  She is a misguided girl working, as little as possible, in a law firm.  We start the story with her waking up the morning after a one night stand that she cannot recall for the life of her.  She only knows that is covered with purple sticky stuff, that the guy is a hunk named Noel, and they visited the dollar store to buy condoms (something she can only recall because she found the receipt for them).  

The rest of the story is us following along Ruby as she stumbles through her life.  We learn of her preexisting relationships and watch other relationships bud and grow.  We also get to watch Ruby grow a little bit as a person through situations in life that are more or less forced up on her.

In my opinion, this book is a nice introduction to a world that I hope we do get to see more of.  It explains how her town is the way it is, who the powerful forces are, who her friends are and how she knows them.  Sadly though, I found the adventures she went on in this installment tended toward the dull side.

I also hope that in future books we get to see Ruby grow more.  She was a bit of a free loading whinny brat throughout the story.  Yes, she did grow a bit in this one, but I really wanted to see her grow more.  Some of the growth that we got to see also seemed a bit forced and I wanted it to be a bit more natural feeling.

I also thought that the romantic relationships were forced and not well developed at all.  That they just jumped from one place to the next without any real explanation as to how they got there.  More detail to those would have been wonderful.

I give Ruby's Misadventures with Reality a solid 3 stars out of 5.  I am very open to reading further installments about Ruby in the future.  If nothing else, this story made me feel connected to Ruby and I want to see where things go for her and I want to watch her grow.

This review is based off of an eARC provided by the publisher, Entangled: Select Suspense, via Netgalley.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Confessions of a Queen B* - Crista McHugh

Title: Confessions of a Queen B*
Author: Crista McHugh
Series: The Queen B* #1
Publisher: Crista McHugh
Publication Date: July 28, 2015
Source: Netgalley

Oh how I wanted to like this book.  I really did.  However, the further I got into it the more certain bits of it annoyed me.  We will get into that in a moment...

The story is about Alexis, the Queen B*.  She has managed to make almost her entire school hate and fear her.  How did she pull this off you ask?  Aside from being rude to anyone that attempted to ever speak to her, she would leak secrets and gossip onto her blog for everyone to see.  It kept everyone far away from her, just the way she liked it.

Then one day, in health class, they are assigned partners to raise a fake baby.  She ends up being partnered with Brett - the star quarterback and one of the most popular kids in school.  Alexis wants nothing to do with Brett, but he is determined to get under her skin.

Along with watching her interact with Brett, someone is also posting videos of the cheerleaders changing clothes in the locker room onto youtube.  This includes Taylor, the little sister of Alexis.  Thus, to protect her little sister, Alexis is set on discovering who is putting up the videos and stopping them.

Now you may recall me mentioning something about bits of this book annoying me.  First and foremost, I should have kept count of how many times Alexis caught Brett checking out her chest.  I was rather sick of reading about it over and over again.  There are a lot more ways to create tension of any kind between characters than that.  Also, most of the story was Alexis freaking out about how she may be attracted to Brett.  After a point, you just don't want to hear about it again and again and again.  It was these kind of instances that filled up over half of the story.  It got old and repetitive.

Thankfully, Crista McHugh seemed to find her stride towards the end of the story.  It finally picked up pace and Brett wasn't always checking out Lexi's chest.  However, it wasn't quite enough to redeem this story for me.

Overall, this story was very reminiscent of Mean Girls, Clueless, or other such high school angst stories.  I give this one 3 out of 5 stars.

This review is based off of an advanced reading copy provided by Netgalley.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Serafina and the Black Cloak - Robert Beatty

Title: Serafina and the Black Cloak
Author: Robert Beattie
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: July 14, 2015
Source: Netgalley

I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised Serafina and the Black Cloak.  Not often does a book manage to keep me on my toes and wondering exactly what is going on, but this one pulled it off.  I did have my suspicions, but I was never 100% sure of anything until I reached the point wither Robert Beatty wanted me, the reader, to know the answer.   I am pleased to report that not all of my suspicions were correct either.  It was very refreshing to discover a book where I wasn't able to guess all of the answers.

This book is about a girl named Serafina who lives with her father in the basement of the Biltmore Estate in the year 1899.  Serafina is not an ordinary girl.  She doesn't look like most other people.  Her hair is multiple colors, she has only 4 toes on each foot, and shes very thing.  She also has exceptional hearing and great sight in the dark.  However, probably the most interesting thing about her is her bone structure.  It is not the same as others.  She is missing some of her bones and others are not connected in the regular way.  This makes her very nimble allowing her to fit into very small confined spaces with ease.

One night while out catching rats in the mansion to dispose of them, she sees a girl in a yellow dress running away from someone - a man in a black cloak.  She follows them, determined to save the girl, but ends up seeing more than she bargained for.  She watches the man in the black cloak grab the girl in the yellow dress and the girl vanish!

The rest of the story follows Serafina as she tries to discover the mystery behind the man in the black cloak.  Who is he?  Where does he come from?  Why does he seem to only take children?  Who is next?

Overall, I thought that the storytelling skills of Robert Beatty were topnotch.  There was one point I felt the story was a bit rough, but it smoothed back out.  Robert Beatty's attention to detail was also very good.  I had absolutely no issue visualizing the characters or the scenery.  It was very well done.

I would say that over all I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5.  It is a great mystery that will keep you on your toes the whole way through.  Also, I just want to note that I absolutely love cover and think it is beautifully done.

This review is based off of an advanced reading copy provided by the publisher, Disney Hyperion, via Netgalley.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I just added my blog to bloglovin to assist you all with following it a bit easier.  I hope it helps.  I will have a new review up for you all soon!