archive: 2016

3:28 PM

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling | Rating: ★★★★★ 
"My philosophy is that worrying means you suffer twice."

A lot of people are going to blow the lid off on this one for various reasons. I'm not going to argue with you on that--there are many reasons to be put-off by this one. There's no use denying it. That's that. But, I think the first thing that needs to be said is that I didn't like the screenplay only because J.K. Rowling penned it. I liked it because it was something that captivated me from the get-go. 

Newt Scamander is far more likable than I was expecting when I picked this up. You need to know this and you also need to remember that he is not Harry Potter. It's easy to compare him to Harry if you allow yourself but that's a mistake. And while it is set in the same world (with differences and similarities, as well as mentions of characters we knew of from Harry's story)--this isn't at all the same story. 

I find the characters we're introduced to have the same shimmering magic that we've come to expect from J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World. You (or rather, I) can't deny this because there's just something about them. From Newt, to Tina, to Queenie, to Jacob--there's something that draws you in from the start and keeps you in their orbit. If ever there were four characters that belonged around each other, it's them. And the way they form a connection with one another feels very permanent and indescribable. 

archive: 2016

2:55 PM

Dark Parties by Sara Grant | Rating: ★★☆☆☆

I can't change what happened. If I'm honest, I don't want to. I won't regret it. I'll keep those memories trapped in a bubble away from labels of good and bad and right and wrong. 

I've been trying to put together my thoughts on the good, the bad and the in betweens in Sara Grant's novel Dark Parties for at least a week now. But, I can't. There was something so disappointing about it--and a bit patchy in terms of how things tied together--but I am having difficulty putting it into words. I think I expected something else entirely when it came to this novel due to its intriguing blurb. There's something about the description that holds a promise for a dystopian novel that is unique in a sea of similarities.

But Dark Parties seems to trip over itself on more than one occasion and it is what ultimately makes this read to be so tedious. It just felt like at every damn turn, the concept could have really worked but didn't quite make the mark. The entire time you felt like you knew what would happen--that you'd read it in some other variation before. Like literature deja vu. Except you hadn't, not really. Dark Parties isn't a bad novel, it's just not terribly good and hits so many speed bumps on the way.

Which kind of makes no sense because Sara Grant isn't an awful writer.

archive: 2016

1:05 PM

Girl Online by Zoe Sugg, Siobhan Curham | Rating: ★★★☆☆

“Sometimes you have to face up to your fears to realize that they aren’t actually real.” 

As a note, a copy of this novel was sent to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

I've been a fan of Zoella's Youtube channel for years and years but I'll be honest: I'd been hesitant to pick up this book for quite some time. In fact, I've started to pick it up on multiple occasions but always talk myself out of it. I've had this feeling that I'd burned myself out on this genre in the years since I'd begun reading--plus, it felt like I may be out of the target age group as well. So, it never really stuck with me to actually give it a go.

When I saw it up on Net Galley, I threw caution to the wind and found myself quite surprised by how much I enjoyed Girl Online. It really, really was a fun read and I'm kicking myself for not having picked it up sooner. My first, and perhaps only, description of it is the warm and fuzzies. Girl Online just has that automatic feel-good vibe to it that will ultimately please its audience; no matter the age. I can't explain it, really, but it's just a delight to feel that way when reading a contemporary novel.


12:43 PM

Priest by Sierra Simone | Rating: ★★★☆☆

" was rewriting my mind and my soul, my future and my life..." 

If you’re not easily offended, or overly religious, and you love some seriously steamy sexy times and if you are just looking for an easy read to pass the time, Priest is for you. I'm pretty positive it's going to be one of the next big things and the way it's crafted is in a league of its own. For those of you who have friends that devour romance novels, this is the perfect holiday present for them.

Perhaps one of those novels that is attached to controversy in a big way, Priest is still--somehow--equally thrilling, captivating and cringe worthy. It's certainly much more beautifully written than many novels in its genre. One things for certain: it will grip its readers and refuse to let it go until the final pages. Heavy on angst and lust, it is a ride, to say the least.

The worst thing a reader can do is take the novel too seriously. This isn't real life and it's not always going to be the most realistic and actively accurate read you've ever picked up. It's not meant to be. And in spite of all of this, it's still the type of novel that captures your attention instantly. I was surprised by how much heart there was--and the level of honesty involving both Poppy and Tyler's life before they met was fascinating, if a little underdeveloped, and heartfelt.

!jessica talks

Instagram Roundup: November 2016

2:12 PM

Just like that, November has come and gone! What a month, though, what a month. I'll let my pictures tell the story--because really, what else can you do when you're rounding up your Instagram posts for the month? For those of you who don't already follow me on Instagram, I mostly post bookish stuff, and plants if I'm feeling ambitious, you can find me here.

*I only add my square images to my roundups to keep the format even. I'm so picky. 

archive: 2016

1:54 PM

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, Sarah Rees Brennon and Robin Wasserman | Rating: ★★★★★ 

As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via Edelweiss by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

There's no shortage of companion novels these days amongst the young adult book series which dominate the scene. In the case of Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, it had a lot to live up to--even in a side by side comparison with its previous companion novel, The Bane Chronicles. Nearly a decade has passed since Cassandra Clare's publication of the first of six novels in The Mortal Instruments series and with that milestone, the world has expanded to multiple series, two companion novels of short stories, one film and one television adaptation. And there's more to come in the future.

With no signs of stopping, Cassandra Clare enlisted some help once more to expand her Shadow world and reintroduces us to our favourite characters from all of her series. Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy primarily focuses on the events of fan-favourite, Simon Lewis, as he grapples with his newfound life as a Shadowhunter-to-be and struggles to regain his memories. Seeing Simon grow in his own short stories is a lot different from the growth--and loss--we saw in the original series run; it's bittersweet and promising, it's a new light on self discovery and armed with heartfelt prose and with humour.

archive: 2016

5:50 PM

The Amateurs by Sara Shepard | Rating: ★★★★☆

Raise your hand if you're utterly addicted to anything that Sara Shepard writes! ME! That's me. I'm a self-proclaimed uber fan of Sara Shepard's work and probably always will be. She is one of the few authors that I've carried over from my teenage years (has it REALLY been ten years since PLL was first published?!) and still frequently return to. There's something so devilishly feel-good about her indulgent mysteries. From Pretty Little Liars to The Lying Game and everywhere in between, Shepard dominates her genre and has continued to show us her story telling skills.

The Amateurs is no different and may be her best release in recent years. Fans who found themselves disappointed in The Perfectionists will find their Queen of Stylish Suspense once more with this delightful young adult mystery that reminds us why she's been a bestselling author for so long. I think we all know by now that nothing is ever what it seems in Shepard's books and The Amateurs will slap you down with a huge plot twist, I promise you: your head will be spinning.

I love that the pace was really solid: quick but not too quick, the relationships were set up perfectly. And the typical Sara Shepard signature "I've got you now, don't I?" because, let's face it. It's Sara Shepard's world and we're just living in it. 

archive: 2016

5:33 PM

Kiss Cam by Kiara London | Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2.5)

Kiara London's Kiss Cam is another case of the "I wanted to like this novel, but couldn't get fully into it" blues. You know the type: an interesting premise, a promise of fluffy fun and a whole lot of romantic goodness. In terms of a contemporary novel, it wasn't at all bad. Sadly, it wasn't my cup of tea and was nearly one of those books I couldn't keep up with or bring myself to continue.

So, what went wrong? I'm not entirely sure. I wouldn't go as far as too say that the novel wasn't good or that the writing failed it. I am sure there will be a lot of readers out there who appreciate it for what it was--but the way it played out, the way it was paced felt almost dull and dated for me and what could have been an intriguing read. Kiss Cam had a lot going on for it: the humor, for one, will quirk your lips upward. It's got a sense of itself down pretty well. I think that, perhaps, I am just in a slump and far out of the target age group--hell, we all have that. A book can be good and hold a lot of promise, but you just can't connect with it.

That's my issue with it. I couldn't connect with it.

And I'm not even sure if I could have connected with it in high school.

after series

3:36 PM

Nothing More by Anna Todd | Rating: ★★★☆☆

Let's just be upfront about it, shall we? I'm becoming more and more of a sucker for trashy romance novels. It's not that I love them, it's more or less that they are simply a good escape from life. Anna Todd has, in just under a few years, become something of a fan favourite due to her highly popular After series and its cult following.

You may remember After as something many tipped to be "the next Fifty Shades of Grey" which is equal parts compelling and offensive, depending on who you ask. Getting her start as an author of One Direction fanfiction, Todd has built herself a massive following and career that is only going up from here on out. Her novels are sloppy, messy, and campy--in with toxic, stormy relationships that will strike a chord with its target audience due to its explicit sex scenes and high stakes drama. In all ways, Anna Todd's novels are the typical trash scene of New Adult but that isn't a bad thing until readers begin to emulate it and decide they are "relationship goals" and all that jazz.

But, I've said my piece in the past and I'm not here to ridicule it in any way further. Nothing More, luckily, isn't all that like After in terms of its toxicity and romance. Todd, thankfully, takes a different formula with our characters we've come familiar with in the timeline. Fan favourites return, this time with Landon as our lead and his love life takes the main stage. Which is quite refreshing and gives us a glimpse into who he is outside of his platonic friendship with Tessa. I enjoyed seeing his point of view because it's a breath of fresh air and has a distinctly comical edge to it.

a doubter's almanac

3:12 PM

A Doubter's Almanac by Ethan Canin | Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2.5)

"Are there not a thousand forms of sorrow? Is the sorrow of death the same as the sorrow of knowing the pain in a child's future? What about the melancholy of music? Is it the same as the melancholy of a summer dusk? Is the loss I was feeling for my father the same I would have felt for a man better-fit to the world, a man who might have thrown a baseball with me or taken me out in the mornings to fish? Both we call grief. I don't think we have words for our feelings any more than we have words for our thoughts."
As a note, a printed galley of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.  Originally posted a year ago. 

There are a lot of reasons why I loved and loathed A Doubter's Almanac. I loved it exclusively because the writing is beyond superb. I loathed it because it was full of something I'd read before and I didn't actually love the story. Which makes approximately no sense, I know. But here's the thing: Ethan Canin has a voice to be reckoned with in literature. No one's going to argue me on that one. He has a place in it and there's no doubt about it.

a mad wicked folly

2:58 PM

A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

A strange thing, words. Once they're said, it's hard to imagine they're untrue.

I wasn't sure what to expect when picking up A Mad, Wicked Folly. Like, at all. Speaking from experience it often feels overdone when it comes down to historical fiction in that era. And, I'll admit it, I was more-so intrigued by the cover art than its timeline. Save it, all the judgment, I've been punishing myself for choosing a book by its pretty cover for years and I have it covered. Despite this, the novel itself appealed to me because it seemed to be one of those cozy, indulgent books you'd pick up to escape the world and relax. A comfort read.

A Mad, Wicked Folly in a nutshell is exactly what I expected it to be. It was fast paced, enjoyable and full of life. But there were plenty of things wrong with it. I enjoyed it. I devoured it. I steadily indulged in it and its characters--but when I was done? I'm sorry say it wasn't something I would feel an itching desire to return to. I think there's a lot of fluffy goodness to be had in it and it's equal parts perfect for a day at the beach or a day by the fire--it's versatile.

In terms of historically accuracy, you can tell that Sharon Biggs Waller did her research and put forth a ton of effort in keeping it true to its timeline. There's just a general tone of realistic life in it that balanced with the fluffy, predictable bits quite well (without making up for it) and you have to give her that. She put forth a tone of vividness that really paints an elegant image of what Vicky is like and where the story could go.

archive: 2016

2:39 PM

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee | Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

It's safe to say that most of are familiar with Lee's classic To Kill a Mockingbird--for years, it's been one of the most challenged books and is a frequent in high school curriculum. If you've never read it yourself, you almost absolutely know it from a distance and have formed your judgment on where it stands. I will say this much: I wasn't much of a reader when we studied this in English when I was growing up. But, much like the study around The Outsiders, I actually didn't completely hate studying it.

Which is--naturally--a huge deal for some students. That being said, originally promoted as a sequel to the novel above, Go Set a Watchman is actually a draft of what later became To Kill a Mockingbird. There's a definite palpable energy to it that feels like Harper Lee but doesn't quite reach it like so many of us had hoped. In turn, Go Set a Watchman is choppy and a lot of, well, unsavory pages. Many readers will have long ago remarked that, while it is well-written, the fact that it's a draft is blatantly obvious to anyone who picks it up.

It may be fascinating to have this been released, a relief for many, and I'm sure many have enjoyed it far more than me. But (but!) I can't help but to cringe at its publication as a general thing. There are many flaws in Go Set a Watchman that I'm sure you've already heard in the time since it was published--it's taken me ages to finish it because it was equal parts frustrating, out of character and boring--and one question remains: was this really necessary?

alice hoffman

12:50 PM

Faithful by Alice Hoffman | Rating: ★★★★☆

As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

In true Alice Hoffman fashion, Faithful is one of the most buzzed about releases this year. If you're as big of a fan as I am, you'll know what to expect from Hoffman's words: an emotional roller coaster that will leave a world of thoughts at your fingertips. As poignant as it is warm, and breathtaking, Faithful paints the image of a life still learning and defining itself.

Filled with elegant, thoughtful, soul-filled prose, you find yourself sucked in from the very start. If you're reading Faithful and are yet to feel a deep settling love for the characters, you will. They worm their way into your thoughts and it provokes a great many emotions within readers of all ages. Faithful is not for the faint of heart--it focuses on life and its many complexities, it will tug on your heart strings and comes with more than a few of its fair share in trigger warnings. Please, look into the story a bit to get an understanding of what to look for: don't put yourself in any situation that could be triggering to you.

12:19 PM

The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace | Rating: ★★★★★

The Princess Saves Herself in this One is a triumph in modern poetry and I'm not just saying this because I've followed Amanda for years on her Tumblr and admired her blog from afar. I'm saying this because it's the first thought that comes to mind when reading this. If ever there were a release this year worthy of hype, it's this one.

It came to me during a reading slump and brought me from it. Actually, I can't stress how important this collection is to me because reading it was something truly magical and didn't just pull me out of a reading slump.

(I regret not having purchased a physical copy of it but am privileged nonetheless in the fact that I was able to read it. And can't wait to get my hands on the newly revised edition that is to be published around my birthday.)

Ultimately, words can't do this one justice; much like my feelings toward Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, there is this tone of honesty to it that feels beyond personal.  

Sometimes it's overwhelming in the best ways possible.

archive: 2016

1:45 PM

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur | Rating: ★★★★★

As a note, Social Book CO provided a copy of this novel for review purposes. This does not effect my opinions in any way. 

Where to begin, where to begin, where to begin? Oh, bother. I feel like I have to stress that Amanda's thoughts on this novel is the exact feeling I possessed upon finishing it: if you are to read only one collection of poetry in your entire life, make it Milk and Honey. Rupi Kaur captures the essence of life in such a breathtaking way, you literally feel it in each line of her prose. One of the first thoughts that comes to mind when looking back is that it's such an intimate look into her soul, you can't help but to pause and say wow.

Milk and Honey is a raw, honest-to-its-core journey of life. Kaur casts a spell on her readers with an ease that isn't often accomplished at any age. There are four parts to the collection and each part is better than the last. Just when you think her writing couldn't get anymore honest or captivating, it draws you back in and you quite frankly lose your breath. It reminds us why we read  and write poetry. It's a promise of what brilliance is to come. It's exactly the kind of poetry you'll feel connected to in an instant--be sure to keep tissues and tabs on hand, because there are so many standout moments in the collection that will require it.

archive: 2000s

1:22 PM

Invitation Only by Kate Brian | Rating: ★★★★☆

Sequels can often be a bore but in the case of the second novel in the best-selling Private series by Kate Brian, it's even better than our introduction to Easton. Invitation Only picks up immediately where Private ended and toys with us as we grow more and more captivated to the now-luxurious everyday life of Reed Brennan. Just a bit of time she's spent at her new, ultra-exclusive boarding school, Reed has found herself as the newest member of the campus' most notorious housing department: Billings.

The Billings Girls are everything anyone has ever dreamed to be and certainly the most sought-after dorm throughout the entire school. They're the brightest and most beautiful female students and with her newfound position amongst their ranks, Reed's future seems brighter than ever. If you ignore her missing kind-of-boyfriend Thomas Pearson, the pressure of excellence and the probability of being hazed (what is she, their maid?) by her new dorm mates before officially becoming one of their own.

Just as Reed is finding her way around these speed bumps at her new school, it is obvious that things are just going to keep her on her toes. From the ever present affection from one of the senior boys, who insists on showering her with gifts, and with whom she has no real feelings for but her former roommate Constance does, to becoming Billings unofficial maid, to wondering where the hell Thomas is and if she should move on, to her currently roommate Natasha seemingly blackmailing her--threatening her entire future at Easton--it's obvious to say that Reed has a lot more on her plate than she'd ever expected.

archive: 2016

12:47 PM

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins | Rating: ★★★★★

But then I think, this happens sometimes, doesn’t it? People you have a history with, they won’t let you go, and as hard as you might try, you can’t disentangle yourself, can’t set yourself free. Maybe after a while you just stop trying.

Let's start with one simple fact: this is one of my favourite mystery/thrillers from the last few years. I'm sure you've heard the buzz surrounding it, what-with it's big screen adaptation that came out this fall. A lot of people have been quick to call it out as literature's next Gone Girl. Which is equal parts fair and unfair: there are a great many similarities between the two novels but at the end of the day, it's its own story.

Paula Hawkins unleashed a deep, tangled up tale of mystery and intrigue with The Girl on the Train that won't be for everyone but it certainly was for me. I loved every minute on every page and couldn't help but to get lost in it. For the first time in years, I finished a novel only to reread it again that very week--I couldn't get enough of its inner workings and can honestly say that Hawkins is on the fast-track to being one of the next big authors in the literature world.

The Girl on the Train takes you by storm; weaving you into the minds of three women who all have at least a few things in common. Each voice is unique and full of life that you can't help but to love each of them in different ways. It is their flaws you love. It is their voice you love.

archive: 2016

12:17 PM

Grave Surprise (Graphic Novel) by Charlaine Harris & Royal McGraw | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

It's no secret Charlaine Harris has been one of my favourite novelists for years. After the captivating Sookie Stackhouse series, and its adaptation on HBO, I find I'm always down for some new material by her. Although Grave Surprise isn't a new release exactly, the graphics featured in this newly republished version are. And boy, do they bring a certain level of fire to this already well-known series.

Really, it gives it a massive kick in the butt and draws in a new sort of excitement for the Harper Connelly series. I'm very fond of the way the mystery unfolds for our favourite psychic and it's a classic Harris release of thrilling edges we get cut on as readers. Sharp, fast paced and full of questions. I don't need to tell this to longtime fans but for those of you who have yet to give Charlaine Harris a chance: this is my call-out to you.

But let's focus more on the new additions to the story: illustrations.

archive: 2006

11:55 AM

Private by Kate Brian | Rating: ★★★★☆

Here were buildings of brick and stone, topped by shingled roofs and spires, tradition and pride oozing from every dated cornerstone. Here were ancient, weathered, arched doorways, thick wooden doors on iron hinges, cobblestone walks lined by neat beds of flowers. Here were pristine playing fields of bright green grass and gleaming white lines. Everything I saw was perfect. Nothing reminded me of home. 

With the arrival of autumn and the days to winter growing closer, I tend to get very nostalgic. I repeat: very nostalgic. Back in my early years of high school, I had been obsessed with books in the similar vein as Private--the idea of boarding school life, the juicy drama of Gossip Girl. I remember just wandering the shelves at Barnes & Noble with the lunch money I had saved up (instead of eating school lunch? Yes, please.) and there was this little end cap with the first book in a new series that was so obviously targeted at girls my age. When I read the summary of Kate Brian's latest, I was in it to win it or whatever it is they say.

When I picked up the book the next morning during study hall, instead of doing my French homework, I knew I was a total goner. I haven't really touched the entire series in years but the books have had their place of display on my bookshelf for years and they just felt so appealing. Picking up Private again after so many years felt like coming home--I missed Reed Brennan and her adventures at Easton with the Billings Girls. Kate Brian's writing is just a smooth, fluffy and fast paced as I remembered it.

archive: 2016

11:31 AM

The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford | Rating: ★★★★☆ 

As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

The relationship between reader and novels set in historical time periods can be a tricky one to navigate. Often, you lose interest in the pages and wonder where they got there information. Moments that seem to fictional or too out of the general story path. Taking a reader to specific times and places is always a sticky matter but when it comes to incorporating much of the central plots, not a lot of authors can do so coherently.

The Woman on the Orient Express is not one of those published pieces and instead, is a refreshing turn to both its timeline and the familiar material inside its story. I remember looking at the description and thinking, oh, this could go so wrong. You have a 1920s setting and a fictional spin on Agatha Christie. Queen of mystery novels. That's what is going to make most readers do a double take of both good and bad varieties: we've got Agatha Christie as a character rather than an author.

!jessica talks

Instagram Roundup: October 2016

1:27 PM

That awkward moment when you blink and the month is literally over. October was a busy one for me! Aside from general autumn hijinks (i.e. Halloween) I was quite active over on Instagram. Here are my favourite posts I uploaded in October 2016. If you don't already follow me on Instagram, you can click here to view my page.

*I'm only including the images that are square in dimension because I'll get too annoyed with it being uneven.

a shadow bright and burning

3:14 PM

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess | Rating: ★★★★☆

As a note, a printed galley of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.  

First things first: I have to admit, I had both doubts and intrigue when it came to this novel. Mostly doubts. I'm a huge fan of a good fantasy novel that deals in witchcraft and the like. So much so that sometimes I get a bit jaded. I naturally hesitated. Hear me out: it took me a bit of time to really get into it, but my guess it was because I had been reading it in between time at work/while I was at the doctors office with my friend. But when I did get into it?

Holy cow, it was so bloody good. Actually, it was fire. I'm telling you guys, this book was practically as flame-worthy as the stunning cover art you see next to my thoughts. Jessica Cluess paints a dark, vivid and magical world in A Shadow Bright and Burning--one thing's for certain based on this release: we're in for a lot as the series continues. I'm more than ready for this adventure.

I should warn you guys that A Shadow Bright and Burning is a fantastic trip but it also had its moments where things felt a bit slow or underwhelming, like we'd been here before. There will be elements that you've seen in other releases of similar plots. But (but!) that's okay because while it did have these hiccups, it was still an excellent read that was fast paced and fulfilling. I found the novel, as a whole, to be a huge page turner once it really got into its groove and it definitely doesn't allow its flaws, nor its slow start, to define it.

archive: 2016

2:53 PM

Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehric | Rating: ★★★★☆

As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

Readers who appreciate a good old fashioned mystery/thriller will flock to one of the latest YA offerings in the genre above. Last Seen Leaving, out October 4th, is the perfect read for autumn. Told in a format that is thoughtful, breezing and thrilling, the main themes all will resonate with younger and older readers alike. It's more than a mystery--it's a tale of growing up and out, the ups and downs of relationships and so much more.

There's quite a lot happening in it and while Last Seen Leaving isn't exactly the most original mystery (it isn't meant to be), it's still an ultimately satisfying read that will leave its audience feeling something. It's the kind of mystery that leaves a long list of suspects and motives; tying into a bigger picture of the missing girl, January, and what could have happened to her.

Our mystery unfolds in a chilling find: January, the girl who has a backstory you would expect from such a novel, has gone missing and the biggest clue we've got is her bloodied clothing. I like that we get to see the layers to her and the flashbacks we've witnessed when it boils down to her relationships with our narrator, Flynn. We see his attempts to find out what happened to her and a budding relationship in the meantime--all the while, secrets and more questions unravel.

archive: 2016

12:18 PM

Marrow: A Love Story by Elizabeth Lesser | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (2.5)

As a note, a printed galley of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.  

When I was growing up, my Grandmother used to tell me I had to give a book a real chance and dig deep to understand it. I find this is probably one of the reasons I never leave a book unfinished, even if I am not fond of the story in question. Marrow, a memoir that hits you right in the heart, was one of those books that I almost didn't finish at times but damnit, I could feel my Grandma shaking her head at me in spirit. Because it is a memoir, there's this underlying feeling of intimacy to it that will keep readers focused in some of its more pivotal moments.

However, Marrow did have its slow moments. Many, actually. It's not going to be for everyone and while it moved me on many occasions, it's not something that I will pick up again in the future. Marrow is all about family and reconnecting. It's about what illness can do to a person and those you are, or once were, connected with. In this, it stands out in recent non-fiction releases and Lesser really put her heart and soul into this.

allison van diepen

11:39 AM

Run the Risk by Allison van Diepen | Rating: ★★★☆☆

As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via Edelweiss by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

First things first: I'm relatively unfamiliar with Allison van Diepen's work and I had to get acquainted to her previous releases to really get Run the Risk. Based upon the summary of this particular story, I was incredibly intrigued from the start. That's something huge to note: there aren't many stories out there like this one, at least in the contemporaries I've been reading, and it's a standout in that sense. If you're looking for something new and heartfelt and intriguing, Run the Risk is the very sort of novel that you should be checking out.

Let's start with the basics, shall we? We've got a relationship that is fun and a bit darker to look into (on the how's, I won't say since the release date is still a bit off)--it leads to a sort of suspense and vulnerably that will captivate its audience. Both have solid back stories that play into the novel's biggest plots. They have a past, together and apart, that meshes with each other in a way that's smart and fast paced. Allison van Diepen really understood these characters and where the story was to go. She has this honest tone that is unbelievably breathtaking and full of spirit and complexities, I loved that so much.


12:39 PM

Lucy & Andy Neanderthal by Jeffrey Brown | Rating: ★★★☆☆  

As a note, a printed galley of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.  

As someone who is looking further into graphic novels and children's books for my best friends young daughter, it goes without saying how thrilled I was to see a galley of Jeffrey Brown's release Lucy & Andy Neanderthal waiting for me when I got home. In fact, I daresay I've gotten spoiled when it comes to the kids books I've received this year alone. 

Don't let the reviews scolding the so-called accuracy (or lack thereof) when it comes down to the nature of the characters names. This is a children's book and it should be thought of as such and not taken seriously. I mean, come on, don't get so picky about historical accuracy--this is a humorous book targeted at children. Sorry. I'm getting a bit testy because I find it so utterly silly to go into entertainment with a mindset along those lines. I'm serious. Lucy & Andy Neanderthal isn't something I would personally pick up again but it's the perfect read for your children (or your friends children, in my case) to round up their summer or say hello to the autumn at last.

archive: 2016

12:21 PM

Four by Veronica Roth | Rating: ★★★★★

Dead people can be our heroes because they cant disappoint us later; they only improve over time, as we forget more and more about them.” 

What's the first word that comes to mind when I think of Four? Four as in both this collection and the character? Swoon. Swoon, I think about swooning. Actually, come to think about it I do more than think about swooning, I swoon the heck on out of this Popsicle stand and before you know it, my icy exterior has melted to the sidewalk like that ice cream cone I wept over as a child. But that's neither here nor there and I'm soooo not bitter about it or anything. 

Honestly, though. Four--Tobias Eaton, if you prefer--is one of my top ten book boyfriends of all time and frankly I loath the term book boyfriends but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, you know? And Four is completely worth the silly hair twirling (which, admittedly, I found myself doing in the more romantic scenes of his) and that's a pretty high compliment from me. 

Typically I'm not one for collections of short stories. None of my favorite series have little bonus stories in their line-up (that's a lie; The Darkest Minds and Splintered have done so and those were fantastic, too) so I tend to sprint in the opposite direction when I do see installments as such. While many authors and publishers do so only to bank on the success of their series and make that $$$$ (get that money, y'all!) Roth, instead, uses to build onto the series we already know and love. I love, love, love the collections that I listed above but Four goes above and beyond that.

archive: 2016

6:32 PM

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi | Rating: ★★★☆☆

“And we are quotation marks, inverted and upside down, clinging to one another at the end of this life sentence. Trapped by lives we did not choose.”

My first thought on the action-packed finale of the Shatter Me series isn't all that full of praise. Whereas the two which came before it were magical, steamy and thrilling, something about Ignite Me fell short for me. Lackluster would be the accurate way of processing it, really, and that is painful to say--as I loved the first two books. See, the prose was still full of magic and excellence and there was plenty of action and romance, but something about this installment left me feeling less than what I'd desired or come to expect. 

This isn't to say it wasn't good. It is the weak link in the series and that's a damn shame, because I liked where things were going until I didn't. I felt like a lot was rushed and left a weird feeling with me in terms of development. There were moments when the characters grew and reflected who they were in the first two books and then there were the frustrating moments in which you asked yourself, "Who are they?" at familiar faces. While some character growth was pleasing and made sense, there were other things that felt chopped up and off. You know, the very opposite of character growth and I hated it. 

archive: 2016

1:21 PM

The Girls by Emma Cline | Rating: ★★★★★

That was our mistake, I think. One of many mistakes. To believe that boys were acting with a logic that we could someday understand. To believe that their actions had any meaning beyond thoughtless impulse. We were like conspiracy theorists, seeing portent and intention in every detail, wishing desperately that we mattered enough to be the object of planning and speculation. But they were just boys. Silly and young and straightforward; they weren't hiding anything.

You know that feeling when you've read a book and you're completely engulfed in it, you don't notice the passage of time? There could be a literal storm pouring outside and you would barely notice it, because you couldn't stop flipping the pages. Someone could walk past you, playing the theme to Star Wars on a tuba, while wearing a tie-dyed gnome costume with reindeer antlers firmly on their head and you wouldn't have the slightest idea because, holy shit, I can't put this book down!? I know you guys know what I'm talking about and The Girls is that book for me.

Impossible to put down. Excellent pace. Phenomenal writing. Complex characters. Thrills. Quotable to the highest degree. A quality I noticed about The Girls right away was that it was otherworldly. It takes your breath away. Something about it causes your heart to speed up and down and go all over the place in the most deliciously maddening of ways. It can chill you to the bone just as much as it could warm you up. The Girls is haunting, it is everything. It is familiar and incredibly put together.

archive: 2016

12:48 PM

Losing Gabriel by Lurlene McDaniel | Rating: ★★★☆☆

It is no secret that I have been a fan of Lurlene McDaniel's work for over a decade. I am proud to say that I've read nearly all of her printed works from her career, which has spanned for multiple decades,  and to say I was excited for Losing Gabriel would be an injustice to the emotions I feel when McDaniel publishes new work. At all defining moments of my life, there have been a few authors whom I adore as much as I do her. Even in her weakest points, even when the stories feel lackluster or familiar, her words are home. Something deeply tangled into her stories helped shape who I became. 

I should clarify, right here and now, that while her stories opened many doors for me and sparked one of many interests, I am no longer in her targeted audience. Obviously. But the thing is, despite this, I was moved multiple times by Losing Gabriel. From start to finish, the story stirs something inside the readers and does so in the way that only Lurlene McDaniel can. I know what to expect when reading a novel by her: you need tissues and to prepare for the tears which surely will come. 

This one is no exception. 

If you don't have tears in your eyes by its final pages, I don't know what to say to you. 


1:25 PM

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee | Rating: ★★★★★

As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via Edelweiss by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

There's something sparkly and new yet oddly undeniably familiar about The Thousandth Floor. Think of it as Gossip Girl set in the not so far future. I need to stress that this novel is one of those stories that the only way to read it wrongly is to expect it to be more than it is. It's a light but entirely vivid and delectable read that keeps you on your toes from start to finish. I liked the theme that 'the more things change, the more they stay the same'--the futuristic New York City that McGee paints us is incredibly different from our own, in terms of appearance, but is still filled with the same social climbing, reckless teens we've come to expect.

In place of the city that we love, stands a tower that goes up and up and up and up. And the tag line THE HIGHER YOU ARE, THE FARTHER YOU FALL, is perhaps one of the best descriptions of what is to come. We start off with a bang right away--a girl has fallen from the very top of the tower. This sets the stage wonderfully for a backdrop of luxury, technology and scandal. Katharine McGee's writing is similar to Cecily von Ziegesar and Sara Shepard except her words feel a bit more polished and eye-catching, which is a huge compliment coming from me considering I've been fans of the other two for the better part of a decade. Indeed, McGee's writing is delicious and fast paced; simple and an incredible ride for fans of the genre.

addicted series

12:52 PM

Hothouse Flower by Krista & Becca Ritchie | Rating: ★★★★★

“You’re a hothouse flower,” I tell her. “You can’t grow under natural conditions. You need adventure. And security and love in order to stay alive.”

Is anyone completely addicted to Addicted and The Calloway Sisters? It's relatively new territory to me because I find it so difficult to get attached to most new adult releases. I guess it's something of a rule for me but if one series were to be the biggest exception, it's Addicted. I can't remember the last time I was so attached to the characters and their mental health and relationships, but I'm very invested in how things end up for all the characters we meet.

There’s something about Krista and Becca Ritchie’s world of characters that draws you in from the get-go. Perhaps this is because, unlike a lot of novels in its genre, the characters are fully fleshed out and flawed to high degree but still remain as something to be admired. In Hothouse Flower, the second of The Calloway Sisters spin-off series, we follow the lives of fan-favorites Daisy Calloway and Ryke Meadows; their feelings for one another is at the forefront of the plotline as these two wild cards remain entangled in the lives of Lily, Lo, Connor and Rose. Elements of love, addiction, mental illness, pregnancy, family and risk fill the pages in a way that keeps readers on the edge of their seats.


2:24 PM

Homecoming (The 100 #3) by Kass Morgan | Rating: ★★★★☆ (3.5)

Endings and beginnings are inseparable, like the moment before dawn and the moment after.

I waited so long to get my hands on this bad boy and now that I have it, and have read it, I can't decide what I'm feeling. On one hand, I am glad to see how the series has improved in terms of... well, everything

Kass Morgan's writing is so smooth and fast paced, and remains delightful and action packed with every chapter. Everything that was flawed about the series' first two novels has vastly improved and I have really, quite a lot more than I'd expected, enjoyed watching it grow. While many may argue that the show is better than this series (I disagree--with the exception of the grounder plots, Clarke's sexuality and Commander Lexa, which FYI, I'm still in denial about her death but that's nether here nor there) I think that both are on even footing in terms of good vs. bad. 

That being said, Homecoming was originally intended to be the finale of the trilogy that was the books and I'm glad to say that it isn't. Morgan will be returning with a fourth installment--hooray! It would have been a mistake to end the book series so quickly because in terms of endings and closure, this book was pretty lackluster. Many fans disagree with me heartily on that note, that it was a solid end to the books, but hear me out: I just don't feel it as an ending and think Morgan can, and will, do better. It's been such a joy reading and seeing her work grow and come to life. As I've already said, the growth and improvement has been far more pleasurable than I'd ever anticipated. 

book reviews

1:49 PM

What the Dead Want by Norah Olson | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (2.5-ish)

As a note, a printed galley of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.  

With a premise as unique and chilling as What the Dead Want, it's easy to see why I was so excited to receive a copy to review. But overall, there were a lot of problems with the novel--for me--that felt like every page and promise lacked something. It felt like a world of wasted potential because there were so many things that could have made this spooky tale, well, sparkle.

Firstly, the summary was so eye-catching that it just felt like this was going to be it. Do you know what I mean? I went into What the Dead Want with a world of expectations that just weren't met--and maybe that was my problem, but the pacing was slow and lackluster and felt like it could have been so much more than what it was. I didn't necessarily hate the novel, but I certainly didn't love it and felt that there was so much that could have been improved. There was so much potential for a richly drawn world upon first glance but there was a lot that just didn't fit.

You see, there was this unique tone to its description that felt like it would be in a similar vein to Ransom Riggs' work and maybe--to an extent--improve on it. I liked the idea of fantasy and ghost stories in this one and went into it thinking, hey, this is going to be the perfect read for autumn. But all my hopes were brushed aside within the first quarter of the book. I don't think it was that the writing was bad--indeed, Norah Olson has a solid prose that could be built on and it had its moments of greatness.

!jessica talks

Wattpad Wednesday: Twelve Stories to Check Out

1:24 PM

Like all online writing communities, there are many hits and misses amongst the self-published fiction. People of all ages come together to read, write and review in the little corner of the internet titled Wattpad. From fanfiction to plain old fashioned fiction to the guiltiest of pleasures, Wattpad has something for everyone. If you're looking for something to fill in the gaps between whatever novels given you a book hangover, if you're looking for a new and ongoing story to read on your breaks, this site is one of the best to look to.

Readers can enjoy storytelling for free through their app or directly on their site. Convenient, fast and an easy way to past the time, when this site is good--boy, is it good.

This week, I have twelve stories for any Wattpad lover to check out. I plan on hosting a master post once every month or two with brand new selections to check out. Each of which are currently on my shelf to read or continue reading or that of which I have read in the past. These days, a ton of budding writers have gotten their start on the website, much like many from my generation began on or AO3. Regardless, there is so much to be found on this website. Romance? Check. Fan Fiction? Check and check.

The only question is: what are you going to give a go? Follow me down the rabbit hole and give one of these a shot--or discover more on your own, plug your writing or give me some recommendations.

!jessica talks

Shopping Haul #1: Hobby Lobby

1:07 PM

 You know that feeling you get when you discover some place new? 

Or, in my case, when you rediscover something? All kinds of fuzzy buzzy and fluffy-ness? Okay, so I'm totally making up that phrase but it's all I can do to explain how lovely I feel right now. At this very moment. Warm and fuzzy seems adequate. It's just a wonder what beauty can do to a person, isn't it? Let's get down to business. Hobby Lobby is an arts and crafts store that has been around for ages and ages. I'm not going to lie to you: I've never been much of a fan of the place (for obvious reasons) and the last time I stepped foot in the shop was when I was a child and my mother and I were making a mad dash of the place to try and find a few items for a school project.

Every week (when schedules don't conflict) my mother and I spend the day out together, typically wandering everywhere and nowhere all at once. Sometimes we get drinks. Sometimes we wander newer antique/secondhand shops. Some days we just go to Macy's, Sephora or Ulta. Other days it's Target or something new altogether. You get the idea.

The summer has been filled with mostly her choice of outings: craft supply shops and/or other places involving the arts.

Because one of my childhood friends has been working at Michael's since we were both seniors in high school, I can't believe it's been so long since then, we usually only go there, but my mom surprised me by saying she'd rather head over to Hobby Lobby to see what has changed since she last visited. I should at least clarify, too, that while I'm not exactly familiar with the chain store my mom is a long time customer. So, at least one of us knew what we were getting ourselves into.

My wallet had no idea what hit it by the time we left. There's so much to look at there that I feel like I absolutely didn't even scrape the surface. Ah! Basically, I would look at something and have an internal debate that typically goes like so: "Jessica, NO!" to "Jessica, YES!" and well, you get the picture.

!jessica talks

Monday Mailbox: What the Dead Want by Norah Olson

10:43 AM

You know that part where I said I was only going to post my book mail and the things I purchase on Sunday? I lied. I lied big time. As a brief "I'm too excited to wait until Sunday for my Stacking the Shelves entry!" post, to hold you guys over until then, and by "you guys" I clearly mean myself, I present to you: What the Dead Want. Courtesy of Katherine Tegen Books, the novel was released on July 26th, 2016 and rounds out to 320 pages. I know, I know, I'm late to the party... I wonder if it got lost in the mail for a while there or if it was delivered, first, to a neighbor?

Who knows.

This little guy looks like just the right level of creepy and I'm more than ready to dig in. I'm so excited to see where the plot takes me--and look at how simple and nice the inside looks! It's not even a finished copy! Swoon.

!jessica talks

Twelve Books to Read This Autumn

1:17 PM

I can barely believe August is already here and that my favorite season is just around the corner. Autumn, as a lot of you know, is my favorite time of the year. As summer begins to fade into fall, and we ditch the unbearable heat, I often find myself with the desire to lounge around coffee shops with a hot drink, a warm treat, some good music and literature, and one too many Harry Potter references to count. Because I'm twenty-five going on nine, you know? It's okay. It happens. Roll with it. I have a genuine excuse in acting as such due to the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

As for the rest? I've complied a list of twelve novels that are perfect for the fall and will leave you feeling breathless and cozy. Each of the selected are from a few varying genres but feel like they are amongst the best to check out as the leaves fall and we pull our sweaters close. The list is in no particular order.

archie comics

Comic Corner Roundup: Right on, Riverdale!

3:56 PM

Everyone knows Archie.

Or, at least, everyone has heard of Archie Comics and the nostalgia inducing world of Riverdale. Lifelong fans, such as myself, are positively in heaven right now as publication of several new issues (and series) have been on their way as well as the upcoming CW adaptation Riverdale, which includes some of our favorite kids from the cheery town of Riverdale in a newer, mysterious light. Think Twin Peaks in the Archie verse. How can you not be intrigued by this?

We've got a promise of a new and darker soapy take on the beloved characters in the show as well as the horror friendly issues of Afterlife With Archie and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. It's safe to say we are positively spoiled right now with all these excellent releases. If those aren't your cup of tea, then there's a modern spin on the classic aspects of the series in the new Riverdale: Archie, Jughead and Betty and Veronica. That's only me listing a few of their titles, not to mention the goodies from the archive. So, I mean this quite literally, there's something in the Archie catalog for everyone.

A little background information. When I was a little girl, my mother would often make references to characters from print. Mostly, this would be Jughead. I grew up in a home with two parents who grew up with Archie and soon, I felt myself lead down the same path--my character of choice? Sabrina. Sabrina Spellman is, perhaps, one of the most iconic characters in their lineup and having grown up in the 1990s, I think it's safe to say that we all wanted to be Sabrina and have a talking cat. Which is why my first mention will be of the horror infused spin The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

archive: 2016

2:21 PM

The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach | Rating: ★★★★★

Holy shit. Holy. Shit. You. Guys. Where do I begin to describe this gem? Breathtaking? Smart? Moving? Dark? As compelling as it is exquisite? A modern literature masterpiece? A total god damned triumph? Shall I continue, or do you lot get the idea? I may be a bit over the top right now but I can't put into words how much I adored this novel and how unexpectedly delightful it was to read it. Do you know that feeling you get, within the first few chapters of a book, where you're like "This is it, man. This book is it!"

Something about it just draws you in from the start. Be it the prose, the atmosphere, and anything really, that is what it's like to read The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko. Scott Stambach paints a beautiful and rich story for readers to surround themselves in and by the end of it, leaves us all feeling incredibly moved. Beautiful crafted and eye opening, there's just something about the novel that will leave you breathless and unable to shake the story in which you've just read.

I loved every moment of it and every page. There's no question that it's one of the best release of 2016 and cannot be missed. I kind of want to hunt down Scott Stambach and high five him? Or maybe throw a pie in his face or something for messing with my emotions. It's hard to tell. Whoa. Okay, sorry. Little off track there. Also, no idea where the throw a pie in his face comment came from. It just felt groovy, I guess?

If you're reading this, Scott, I'd like to formerly apologize.

archive: 2016

1:59 PM

Sugar and Spice by Lauren Conrad | Rating: ★★★☆☆

If you're looking for a dishy, quick and non serious read for your bedside table, then you should look no further. Lauren Conrad's L.A. Candy trilogy is fun, dramatic and indulgent. Over the course of two previous books, we've witnessed a great deal of drama catered to young adults with a love for reality television. Lauren Conrad's writing is surprisingly fun and although it isn't the greatest release in young adult literature, it's still a blast from start to finish--so long as you don't take it or yourself too seriously. Sugar and Spice wraps things up nicely for fans and also sets the stage for a spin-off trilogy and proves once again to be the perfect beachy read. It's fictional paperbacks at its dishiest and full of scandals which will appeal to fans of Gossip Girl and The A-List.

Onto the goods. Not a lot of time has passed since five young women's lives were changed upon signing on to film their day-to-day lives for a reality series titled L.A. Candy. Jane, Scarlett, Madison, Gabby and Hannah have reached new levels of fame in different ways and after the explosive ender to the previous installment, Conrad is sure to have more tricks up her sleeves.

And she did! I will say that I feel as though this third and final installment to Jane's story was a bit lackluster compared to the other two. But at the same time, it was fitting. I think Lauren did a nice job of wrapping things up and having a proper send-off for some characters while also having set a foundation for The Fame Game.

archive: 2016

1:33 PM

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne | Rating: ★★★★★

Like most fans, I had marked down my calendar for July 31st, 2016. Although I had known ahead of time that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child wasn’t a book, instead it was a script, and that a great deal of the story itself wasn’t penned by J.K. Rowling, I was so thrilled to be having a new Harry Potter story nine years after the final book was released. How could we not be? This was our childhood. Hogwarts is our home. Because of all the spoilers that had leaked to Twitter upon the plays previews, I had low expectations from the start and I think that is why I loved (yes, loved) The Cursed Child as much as I do.

Far from my favorite release in the series, The Cursed Child is every bit as darkly magical as the previous seven full-length-novels. It took me back to my childhood. It reminded me what it was like to be so bloody excited for a book release, I barely nodded off whilst reading it and stayed up far later than I’d normally. There was something in it being the first Harry Potter story to have purchased with my own money, as many people from my generation have expressed. Midnight release parties, Freeform’s beloved Harry Potter Weekend and more played out to the tune of my weekend during its release date.

I felt younger again. I felt happy. You know that feeling, right? Tingling in your veins as you finally get your hands on a physical copy of something you love. Most of us hadn’t felt it since 2007–and I can’t explain how wonderful the sensation was after being from it for so long. My review would have come sooner but as I don’t have a laptop (still) and I couldn’t articulate what it was I wanted to say, here we are almost a week after its release.

book review

4:27 PM

Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell | Rating: ★★☆☆☆

*To clarify, this is a rewrite of an old review, as my thoughts of the novel have changed through the years.  

Ages and ages and ages ago, I loved this book. It is still something I appreciate, on some level, even if my feelings have changed in the years. I certainly loved it all those years ago. Perhaps not as much as the hit HBO television series of the same name, but, it was still up there. Sex and the City was something of a stepping stone for a lot of women through the years and still, I think, holds true even in the years its been off the air. Certainly it's a pop culture phenomenon that still stays highly relevant in popular culture.

I'm always going to appreciate it, and the show, for what they are and how they shaped some aspects of who I became as an adult. I applaud it on many levels but somehow, somewhere along the way, the novel and show have lost their sparkle to me. I don't think I'll feel inclined to reread the book again, in the future, which is strange given I still love the characters from both the novel and show, and have some sense of attachment towards them, but there you have it. It's not that it's a bad novel, it just feels like the older I get the more boring and unappealing it is to me.

a.j. low

4:00 PM

Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning by A.J. Low |
Rating: ★★★★☆

As a note, a printed galley of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.   

There's something delightful about Sherlock Sam and his detective work. Bringing a new generation into the problem-solving world that is a retelling of Sherlock Holmes, the highly anticipated second installment is just as fun and mysterious as the first. The Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning, is full of fun and will engage children and adults of all ages.

Back in action, my friend and her daughter positively adored Sherlock Sam and his adventures. I think they enjoyed The Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning more than the last in the series! And I have to admit, so did I. A.J. Low bring so much to the table in this novel targeted at younger kids that it's impossible to put down and you will be sporting a grin from start to finish.

The best part? Kids of all ages will learn a great deal from it--including, ahem, let's say: detective skills and better understanding the world he lives in (that handy section of information at the back of the books? Perfect!) and it's all in good fun. Sherlock Sam proves once again to be a hit waiting to happen and I expect to hear a lot more from this little guy with a healthy appetite and a knack for problem solving.

If you are a teacher or a parent, this series is just what you're looking for. Fast paced, simple, intelligent, thrilling and just flat out fun, Sherlock Sam has something for everyone.

archive: 2016

2:31 PM

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi | Rating: ★★★★★

"Sticks and stones keep breaking my bones but these words, these words will kill me."

Tahereh Mafi’s prose is magic. Oh, I could say so much more to start off my damn review but that is the first thing that comes to mind whilst looking back on how it felt to read Unravel Me. Shatter Me is a series that has progressed quickly, with a loyal and deserving fan base and the thing about the sequel is that it’s even better than the first. This time around we get to learn more about the world we caught only glimpses of in the first installment and it’s delightful. Action packed, intelligent and sexy–Unravel Me pushes the envelope in young adult literature and proves that sometimes it’s unwise to under estimate the genre.

After breaking free of her chains–twice–Juliette Ferrars is now able to say she has escaped the Reestablishment, free from her prison as a so-called-crazy person, free from Warner’s plans to use her as a weapon. At the end of Shatter Me we saw Juliette escape to Omega Point with Adam Kent, her flame, and Kenji Kishimoto. If you thought Shatter Me was full of action and suspense, then you are in for a treat with Unravel Me.

addicted series

2:09 PM

Kiss the Sky by Krista & Becca Ritchie | Rating: ★★★★★

People hope to touch the sky. I dream of kissing it. 

The Calloway sisters are back! Rose, Daisy and Lily have had their fair share of ups and downs since we were introduced to them a few books back. Up until this point we have been primarily witnessing these moments through the eyes of Lily Calloway. Now, Rose takes center stage as we embrace her as the first narrator in this installment and I couldn’t be more happy. Not only do we get to see the family through new eyes, we get to see how much more there is to Rose.

We already know quite a lot about her. Rose Calloway is independent, loving and tough. She loves her sisters more than anyone. She runs her own fashion line and is business savvy. Intelligent, driven and passionate–there are so many ways to describe her. At the start of Kiss the Sky, we see how her relationship with Connor has developed in time and more of that closeness with her sisters. Our primary plotlines are as follows: Rose’s *fear* of sex (and what may change in her relationship once she is no longer a virgin) and her desire to get her clothing line back up and running after her younger sister’s scandal broke.

In an effort to bring business back in and keep her fashion line in order, Rose is taking on a whole new role that could prove to be dangerous in its own light. Reality television. The show could end badly but it’s a risk she is willing to take, to get her line back out there and to also serve as a way for Lily to explain her story (and her boyfriend Lo) beyond the tabloids.

book to screen

Weekly Television Roundup | July 18th-22nd

2:40 PM

Oh, yes. It's time to discuss some of my favorite shows currently on air--and let out all the love... or hate towards each program. Summer time means most shows are on a hiatus, with the exception of Pretty Little Liars and Aquarius. I'm perfectly fine with this, given my state of mind in good weather--I seem to be lazy and scatter brained when it comes down to keeping up with television this time of year, but this week I was kind of on fire. I traded in my lack of energy for a bit of entertainment on the good 'ole tube (is that even a saying?) and kicked back to enjoy the show. Aquarius was sadly off this Thursday in order for NBC to air coverage of the various political conventions (don't even get me started...) and while I didn't get my weekly David Duchovny fix, it did give me time to check out two new shows: Guilt, Freeform's latest dishy mystery, and the newest addition to every Netflix junkies binge list Stranger Things. Lastly, in a #THROWBACK to end all throwbacks, I found myself watching an episode of Degrassi for the first time since high school--how could I say no to a longly anticipated reunion with some of my generations characters? Thanks a lot, Netflix. I'm weak, I tell you! Weak!

a.j. low

3:23 PM

Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong by A.J. Low | Rating: ★★★★☆

As a note, a printed galley of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.  

Now that one of my best friends' daughter is at an age where she is beginning to develop her own interests in entertainment, I was more than ready to pick out some children's books for her to enjoy with the help of her mother. She is not quite at the age where she can read on her own, but she is certainly a curious mind--and when I was sent a galley of Sherlock Sam's first two novels, I was thrilled to give it a go and pass it on to my friend. The first thing you should know is that it is an incredibly warm and mysterious take on Sherlock--it's not quite a retelling, instead it embraces qualities of the iconic character's crime solving skills and adapts them sweetly for a younger audience. The Missing Heirloom in Katong is fresh and sweet and will leave children feeling satisfied that they walked right into solving the mystery with our lead character.

The most important part about Sherlock Sam is that it doesn't treat its audience like it is oblivious nor does it indicate the mystery is for children. Parents will fall in love with the overall sweetness and diversity of it and, in fact, learn a thing or two themselves. Sherlock Sam is diverse and beautifully told, simple and to the point in a way that will leave kids giggling. It's smart enough for adults to not go mad while reading it and it's silly enough to keep anyone on their toes. Who can resist a food-obsessed boy and his pet robot (yes, Watson is a robot!) solving the greatest mystery of his day--a missing cook book!

!jessica talks

Announcement | Booked J, a Lifestyle Blog?

3:04 PM

 T H E  E N D  OAE R A?

I'm trying something incredibly new for this blog. In an effort to save time for my life outside of the internet, I've decided to mash-up my other blogs with this one. Why? Because I have so much more to say about more than just literature but not enough time to operate more than one blog. Have no fear! Just because I am making my blog more of a lifestyle oriented page, doesn't mean that my book reviews are going anywhere. They will still be the main focus of this blog and I promise you, I won't be phasing them out any time soon. Or, you know, ever. In the meantime, I will be reworking the way I run things and will more than likely post roundups of music, musicals, television, film, beauty products, fashion, politics, people I've been admiring as of late (celebrities, other bloggers or companies) and more of my thoughts on such. I may even dive into posting about fan fiction and Wattpad stories I've read recently.

(Including my own blurbs of my writing.
Assuming I write anything I fancy posting, that is.)

I will say that once my computer is fixed, I had a minor situation with coffee and my keyboard a month back (no biggie!), there will be a revamp over here--I will not be changing the blog name or my URL, so I will squash any confusion for you guys now, unless I decide to take the plunge and repurchase a domain name, but I will be posting more than just book talk. Essentially, I hope to make my page more versatile and flexible to what I want to get off my chest. If you are not interested in reading articles on certain things, my thoughts and other interests, I will leave up a link, in the upcoming new navigation, to the tag that will direct you to only book reviews and/or posts.

In fact, I will be redoing my tagging system entirely in the coming months so you can click a simple link and be directed to the posts/topic of your choice. Think of it as a little change in format--not quite fully fledged lifestyle blogging, not an online magazine, but something in between. I expect to start working on this in the coming days, when I can between work and other things, and will more than likely start with television or beauty products before slowly working in other things as well.

I look forward to hearing more from you guys and am truly excited to start this new chapter of BOOKED J. After nearly a decade of working under this name, I am thrilled to expand my page and see where it takes me now. Comments are back up and running, so feel free to curse me out or just say hi.