Reviews: A Hilarious Memoir, a Heartbreaking Historical Fiction, a Surprising Murder Mystery, and an Addictive Assassin Fantasy!

As promised, here I am with some reviews of some recently (and not-so-recently) read titles! I haven’t written a review in such a long time, so let’s hope I remember how! Also, instead of including all of the book info in the post, I’m going to link to Goodreads for this one, don’t hate me.


29102966MY MAD FAT DIARY: A MEMOIR (Rae Earl, #1) by Rae Earl

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Special thanks to St. Martin’s for providing me with a copy of the book for review!

Reading a whole lot like fiction, this memoir is a book that I’m so glad I took a chance on. Rae’s writing on her teen life is so relatable, fun, and utterly hilarious. Any fan of YA contemporary will immediately fall in love with Rae and her story, so don’t let the fact that it’s a memoir scare you away! I really can’t picture anyone not enjoying this book.

5 hearts


25614492SALT TO THE SEA by Ruta Sepetys

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Wow, what an incredible story. This was my first time reading Ruta Sepetys, and I was blown away. Her storytelling is beautiful and heartbreaking. She took me on a journey of survival, love, loss and hardship following a group of individuals whose stories history often neglects to tell.

I’m an avid reader of historical fiction , particularly about the second World War, and this book did not disappoint. I can’t wait to read the companion, Between Shades of Gray.

5 hearts


29995905CITY OF SAINTS AND THIEVES by Natalie C. Anderson

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Special thanks to Penguin Random House for providing me with a copy of the book for review!

I went into this looking for an intense mystery or thriller, but what I got was so much more. Tina is the definition of a badass female heroine. She’s extremely stubborn, fierce, and can’t be controlled. But among these somewhat common elements of YA are unique and interesting focuses on Africa’s poverty, refugees, and warfare that I’d never read about before.

5 hearts


30011014POISON’S KISS ( Poison’s Kiss, #1) by Breeana Shields

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Special thanks to Penguin Random House for providing me with a copy of the book for review!

I really enjoyed this book and it was a super quick read! The concept of a kiss that kills is nothing new, but the addition of the Indian folklore was an element that kept the book from being more of the same. It kept my interest but I still had some problems with the ease of resolution to some major events. The ending felt more like an epilogue than a final chapter, but I’m still very excited to see what the second installment brings!

3.5 hearts


As I mentioned above, it’s been a while since I’ve written reviews, so these were rough. But I hope that you enjoyed it, and will check out some of these lovely titles!

xo

Three Things I Loved About TELL ME THREE THINGS by Julie Buxbaum

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: April 5th, 2016
Series: N/A
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher via First In Line
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance
Synopsis from Goodreads:

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

my rambles

Special thanks to First In Line for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!


Three Things I Loved About
TELL ME THREE THINGS

1. Jessie’s friendships with Dri, Agnes, and most of all, Scarlett.

Jessie has lots of relationships in this book. There’s family, friends, guys, mean girls, a step-brother… the list goes on and on. But one of my favorite parts about the story was Jessie’s relationship with her best friend pre-move, Scarlett. Their friendship was raw, and definitely not without its flaws, but I loved how it was given a lot of discussion, and made important. I also really enjoyed her friends at the new school, Dri and Agnes. It was clear that they were good friends to Jessie, and their bonds would be lasting. The story also touched on a bit of jealousy over new relationships that formed for both Jessie and Scarlett after they were separated. Everything about how these friendships were portrayed seemed real and full of emotion. Normally I don’t cry over friendships, but Jessie and Scarlett’s was one that I couldn’t help it.

2. The continuous conversation between Jessie and SN (and how it was adorable, yet real).

The mysterious SN was a character that I loved. He and Jessie communicated almost all the time, thanks to instant messaging. Originally he intrigued me because of the mystery, but as the story progressed he became more than just words on a computer screen. Their conversations were so raw and full of emotion, you couldn’t help but root for Jessie to finally find out his identity so they could be together! She poured out all of her feelings to him, and took a leap of faith that he was genuine.

3. Trying to figure out who SN was!

Ah, of course solving the mystery had to make my list. As I mentioned in #1, Jessie makes lots of new relationships, some of which are with guys. There is tons of build up at the end when she’s hoping SN is one person, but worried it may be another. I was biting my nails, hoping that SN would be the same guy that she was falling for in real life. I guess you’ll just have to read it and see for yourself…


Really, I could share more than just three things that I loved about this book, because I have a lot! But in all seriousness, Tell Me Three Things gave me all the feels. I was an emotional mess while I was reading this (but what else is new with me), which I wasn’t expecting to be. But in all honesty, if you enjoy true to life contemporaries with strong friendships and an emotional story, Tell Me Three Things is your book!

9xo

Review: GIRL IN THE BLUE COAT by Monica Hesse

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 5th, 2016
Series: N/A
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Genre(s): Historical Fiction
Synopsis from Goodreads:

An unforgettable story of bravery, grief, and love in impossible times

The missing girl is Jewish. I need you to find her before the Nazis do.

Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days procuring and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, her nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the Germans invaded. She likes to think of her illegal work as a small act of rebellion.

On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman’s frantic plea to find a person–a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such dangerous work, but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations that lead her into the heart of the resistance, open her eyes to the horrors of the Nazi war machine, and compel her to take desperate action.

Meticulously researched, intricately plotted, and beautifully written, Girl in the Blue Coat is an extraordinary, gripping novel from a bright new voice in historical fiction.

my rambles

Special thanks to The Novl for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

Girl in the Blue Coat is a truly unforgettable and utterly incredible story that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it. It’s a heartbreaking look at not only the impact of the horrors of the Nazis on Jews, but also on those who joined the resistance, or resisted on their own. It shines a light on the little known stories of the fighters in the Netherlands, and the underground resistance groups that did as much as they could to help others survive the war.

The moment this book popped up on my radar, I knew I had to read it. I’ve always been fascinated by WWII, and this book seemed like it would share yet another perspective that I’d never read from before. I learned so much that I never knew. The workings of the resistance groups were amazing, and the ways in which people rebelled against the Nazis in any way they could was extremely touching. Reading the author’s note on historical accuracy at the end of the book was even more illuminating. Trust me when I say that this story was so well researched, accurate, and beautifully written.

It’s really a story about love, friendship, and bravery. There are passages where Hanneke reflects back on a past romance, and lost friendship that she is trying to cope with while the main story is going on. Because of those past memories, I got a good sense of what shaped Hanneke to be a wary fighter, and what she was like before the war affected her life. I found this book to be unique in it’s focus on how the war and cruelty affected everyone, not just Jews. The friendships that were created for Hanneke from being thrust into her quest to find Mirjam, the missing Jewish girl, showed–dare I say it– a positive side to the war. But it also showed how the war tore people apart.

The story was fast paced, but lacked no emotion for want of more excitement. The book left me in awe for many reasons, but the build up to the end had a lot to do with it. I could tell that the way the story unfolded was clearly intricately planned out, and hints at the truth were dropped throughout the story — we just didn’t know it yet. I was very surprised at the complexity of the revelation. I was definitely not expecting the story to play out the way it did. But as I said before, none of the serious and extremely important issues were sacrificed for the fictional story.

I won’t be forgetting any of these characters any time soon. Girl in the Blue Coat was a stunning and heart-wrenching story showing a unique perspective on WWII, and the way it affected the lives of everyone during the time period. If you are interested in WWII books, or historical fiction, Girl in the Blue Coat should be at the top of your TBR!

 9

Psst! I wrote a guest post on Ely’s blog as a part of a WWII blog event a little while ago sharing the 5 reasons why I was SO EXCITED to read this book. If my review hasn’t convinced you, go check that out! And be sure to check out the other posts from other amazing bloggers to find more WWII titles to add to your TBR!

xo

Review: INTO THE DIM by Janet B. Taylor

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 1st, 2016
Series: Into the Dim, #1
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Genre(s): Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Synopsis from Goodreads:

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.

Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail, Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens.

my rambles

Special thanks to HMH BYR for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review! All quotes are taken from the ARC and are subject to change with the final printing.

Into the Dim had been so hyped up for me, I was a bit nervous that it wasn’t going to live up to that hype, and in turn my high expectations. But man was everyone singing it praises spot on! It had everything I could ever want in a book, and was written beautifully.

The very first line hooked me:

Everyone in town knew the coffin was empty.
-ARC, page 1

That’s a pretty amazing first line! The beginning did start off a bit slow, but once it picked up, it didn’t stop.

I’ve read very few books centered around the idea of time travel, so this was a refreshing and different storyline for me. There’s lots of interesting theories about ley lines, ancient historical places with strong currents, and other scienc-y stuff that has to do with time travel in the book. Also talk of famous inventors and scientists that all make the possibility of time travel seem convincing and real when you read it. I also loved the way that Janet B. Taylor weaved all the history into the story. The scenes set in the past were my favorites by far. The descriptions were vivid and rich, bringing you right into the past with the characters. Some of the characters in the book were real historical figures, too. I always find them super interesting, and end up researching tons about them after the fact. That happened with me and Eleanor of Aquitaine in this book. I hadn’t learned much about 12th century England prior to this, and I always love it when I can widen my knowledge of history! I also really liked seeing Hope’s reaction to actually meeting the people she’d been studying for so many years. It’s kind of twisty thinking about all of the rules of time, time travel and paradoxes. Hope actually poses the question: Did history play out the way that it did because I went back in time? Or would it have been the same anyway? It’s quite an interesting theory to ponder…

The characters were also a bunch of fun! Hope was a relatable character, although I haven’t been through many of the same things. There was just something about her that made you like her, feel for her, and root for her to succeed. Her actions, and reactions, to the crazy situations she was thrown into made the story seem that much more real. Phoebe and Collum were two others that I absolutely loved! Phoebe was so bubbly and fun, the polar opposite of her brother Collum who was strict, serious, and loyal. The friendship that formed between Phoebe and Hope was sweet, and even Hope’s relationship with Collum was a banter-y, but adorable one. I also loved the historical characters: sweet little Rachel, wise Sister Hectane, and strong Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. There’s also Bran, who I quite liked. He’s cocky and confident, but with a brooding, dark side. What’s not to love?! The one character that I didn’t like was, unfortunately, Sarah, Hope’s mother. Her actions and conversations with Hope didn’t seem natural. I mean, come on Sarah, your daughter just travelled through time to save you and you don’t really help her out that much… But we don’t get to see too much of her in this book, so maybe we’ll get some more mother/daughter love in the next book.

And yes of course, there’s romance. I hate to say it, but I wasn’t a huge fan. The introduction is hinted at very early on, and it’s a common thought in Hope’s head ever after that. I really, really loved how Hope actually rationalizes with herself when she catches herself thinking about a boy instead of her mom after learning about the whole time travel thing. It’s not often you see that in YA. The romance did grow on me throughout the book, though. The more information you learn about Hope’s past, the more it makes sense. I just felt like it developed a bit too fast to seem realistic. She was also a little naive at points, when concerning said love interest. This was the only thing that kept me from giving Into the Dim a full five star rating! But here’s the real reason I couldn’t completely jump on board with the whole romance: I ship Hope with someone else! There will be minor spoilers ahead, highlight to read! I shipped Hope with Collum so hard!! And I thought that maybe there would be a love triangle because I caught some subtle hints that Collum was developing feelings for Hope. But, alas, not in the first book at least. Maybe it was more a brotherly protection vibe I was getting? But the way he is so loyal in protecting her, and warning her about falling for Bran… I don’t know, maybe it was just me. Spoilers are over now!

Romance aside, Into the Dim is a fantastic read. It’s filled with excitement, tons of detail, and a story like none other! Wonderfully written, no small detail is left out. It’s clear tons of research went into crafting this incredible and magical story.

I cannot wait to read the second book! The ending provided some closure, but there is a lot more I want to learn about in this world!

8

xo

Review: TITANS by Victoria Scott

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: February 23rd, 2016
Series: N/A
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Genre(s): Adventure, Sci-Fi
Synopsis from Goodreads:

From Victoria Scott, author of FIRE & FLOOD, comes a thrilling story of impossible odds.

Ever since the Titans first appeared in her Detroit neighborhood, Astrid Sullivan’s world has revolved around the mechanical horses. She and her best friend have spent countless hours watching them and their jockeys practice on the track. It’s not just the thrill of the race. It’s the engineering of the horses and the way they’re programmed to seem so lifelike. The Titans are everything that fascinates Astrid, and nothing she’ll ever touch.

She hates them a little, too. Her dad lost everything betting on the Titans. And the races are a reminder of the gap between the rich jockeys who can afford the expensive machines to ride, and the working class friends and neighbors of Astrid’s who wager on them.

But when Astrid’s offered a chance to enter an early model Titan in this year’s derby, well, she decides to risk it all. Because for a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, it’s more than a chance at fame or money. Betting on herself is the only way she can see to hang on to everyone in the world she cares about.

my ramblesSpecial thanks to Scholastic for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

When I first heard about Titans soon after its announcement, I knew I had to read it. I say that a lot, but I loved every aspect of what I heard about it. It seemed like it would be unique in ways that other YA books aren’t. Mechanical horses, a protagonist who is financially unstable, and a story centered around friend and family relationships instead of a romance. Add in the adventure of the Titan Derby, and you’ve got one heck of an awesome book!

The book is really fast-paced. The chapters are quite short, which I like when reading adventure stories. It makes me feel like I’m flying through the story, and that kind of writing style is definitely fitting for a book like this. The race scenes are intense. I was on the edge of my seat, gritting my teeth, rooting for Astrid to go for the win!

Speaking of Astrid, the characters are an aspect of this book that make the story what it is. Astrid was an incredible main character. She’s strong and fierce, and will do anything to save her family. She’s also incredibly stubborn, but you can’t help but root for her. The relationship between her and her entire family, particularly her and her father, was touching. Magnolia, Astrid’s best friend, was another part of the book that I loved. The female friendship was refreshing to see. Both girls are in similar situations, and it’s clear the love they have for each other. Then there’s Rags, first introduced as a grumpy old man, but you’ll come to love him. He becomes the much-needed father figure for Astrid. The dynamic of the whole group is one that is both comical and heartwarming, seeing the relationships build.

But possibly my favorite part of the whole book was the star of the show: Padlock, Astrid’s Titan. Unlike the other Titans, Padlock is given the ability to have emotion. It was sometimes hard to envision a metal horse having feelings and showing affection, but Victoria Scott wrote it pretty darn convincingly! I loved Padlock just as much as her Pandoras. The relationship that formed between him and Astrid was definitely different, but a memorable one. The Titans in general were really cool. I would have loved to have learned more about their build and operation, other than the quick remarks Astrid mentioned for racing. Like, how did Padlock get programed to have emotion? It seems we’ll never know.

Titans is action-packed and intense, but also filled with heart. The characters, relationships, and story is not one that I’ll be forgetting anytime soon. Another win for Victoria Scott!

7

xo