archive: 2018

Review: The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro

9:29 PM


New look for reviews--excuse the general messiness! I'm absolutely not satisfied with how this looks.
Booked J will be having a bit of a makeover by the time 2019 arrives, so expect a little design change! 
I finally finished The Case for Jamie this week and it proved to be just as fun as the rest of the series!

a thousand perfect notes

Review: A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews

8:00 AM

A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews | Rating: ★★★★★ 

"Mistakes do not cancel the worth of a performance. They encourage us to work harder, aim higher."
 
Was it a smart idea to finish reading this IMMEDIATELY after Queen of Air and Darkness? Probably not. Based on all the feelings that came with it and A Thousand Perfect Notes I am SO BEYOND emotionally exhausted in a very satisfying way. I think I need a cake or seven, now. You may think that I'm kidding, but I'm not.

So, I'm not really sure where to begin? I know, I know, the start of it would be the smart place, but I'm still trying to gather my wits here. There is just a lot to process with A Thousand Perfect Notes due to its subject matter and the way the prose, and the characters, make you feel.

It was everything I'd hoped for it to be: soft and intensely scrappy, humorous and heart-wrenching. Completely unforgettable and 100% compulsively readable. I couldn't put it down. Not like I wanted to. Ultimately, A Thousand Perfect Notes is one of the best YA contemporary releases of 2018 and should not be missed.

archive: 2018

Review: plastic heart. by Jessyca Thibault

4:24 PM

plastic heart. by Jessyca Thibault | Rating: ★★★★★

"The world dances in your eyes."

UGH. I am so proud of how far Jessyca has come this year with her trilogy of poems. plastic heart. is, without a doubt, her best release yet and just as moving as you'd expect it to be. Thibault's signature prose is as present as ever: honest, raw, thought-provoking and utterly stunning. She will grip you with such simple words and leave a lasting impression.

This is what poetry is meant to be. This is what poetry will always be: life. Impressionable. Thought-provoking. At times so real, it's almost painful and sometimes joyous. In 2018, we've gone on a journey with Thibault and seen her at various highs and lows. There's a bravery in expressing one's self, and Jessyca Thibault has a tone to her that sets her apart from her peers.

As always, I spent a good chunk of my reading experience highlighting various parts that stood out or spoke to me. It is my favourite part about prose--seeing something in their words that reflects parts of you right back at you. Thibault's already poignant expressions become even moreso with plastic heart., with lines that brush against your very soul. "Words mean nothing / When they are abused for everything." being one of my favourites in the collection.

alessandra torre

Review: Tripping on a Halo by Alessandra Torre

3:55 PM

Tripping on a Halo by Alessandra Torre | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

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.

This was my very first experience with an Alessandra Torre and it was every bit as humorous and enjoyable that I hoped it'd be. Tripping on a Halo had its faults but it was ultimately as heavenly and steamy as readers want it to be. This was one of those books that caught me off guard with its outlandish wit and comedic timing. It had something about it that was unexpectedly fun and will tease its audience throughout.

One thing was certain: Tripping on a Halo was addictive and captivating enough for me to have finished it in one sitting. It has the perfect hook in the form of its first sentence (which takes readers full circle by the end of the novel) and I knew I would be in for a treat when I read it, as well as its synopsis. Torre has her humor highly present in the prose of Tripping on a Halo and if there's one quality to it (aside from its steamier, more romantic moments) that readers should be aware of is its hilarity.

archive: 2018

Review: The Eternity Elixir (Potion Masters, #1) by Frank L. Cole

10:22 PM

The Eternity Elixir by Frank L. Cole | ★★★★☆ (4.5)


A copy of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review. This does not effect my thoughts in any way.

A truly fun middle grade read and the perfect start to a brand new trilogy. The Eternity Elixir is for more than just its target audience--it's fun for all ages; sprinkled with charming characters, delightful humor that's smartly woven into a high-stakes plot. Armed with a fascinating premise and a whole new world of Potion Masters (the crew at B.R.E.W. and most of main character Gordy's family are Elixirists) the story is impossible to put down.

From an essence of magic and science, to family (I love the Stitser family) and friendship (meet your new favourite trio: Gordy, Max and Adeline!) development, to the utter normalcy that other plot points bring into the story, and then straight to the tremendous significance the villains play into the story's central arch, The Eternity Elixir masters the art of storytelling. It has a little of everything, solidifying its versatility and appeal to its audience.

To put it simply? You should be reading this deeply imaginative gem of a story. 

archive: 2018

Review: The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

9:24 PM

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn | Rating: ★★★☆☆

"People want passion. People want a sense of purpose. And when they get those things, then they come back to you because you predicted their future, and it was good."

It took me a long time to read this novella. I picked it up several times in the last couple of years, only to put it aside. Something I never expected, considering Gillian Flynn is one of my favourite authors. The Grownup wasn't a bad story, per se, it just was let down by its story length. In the moments it was good, it was the exact formula you'd expect from any Flynn story: chilling, thoughtful and brilliant. While it could have benefited further from being a full length novel, there was still a deeply engrossing quality to the short story that will leave fans satisfied with their twisty Flynn afterglow.

The truth is, I'm biased and of two minds in that frame of mind. I'm biased because I practically worship Gillian Flynn's prior releases ("Sharp Objects" is my favourite standalone novel of all-time) but I'm also not a fan of most novellas. So, there was a bit of a struggle for me to complete this.

archive: 2018

(Spoiler free!!!) Review: Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

1:00 AM

Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare | Rating: ★★★★★

Did I spend the very last of my money on this book? Think about who you're dealing with here. Think a little harder. I ABSOLUTELY spent the last of my money on this. Who needs food when you have Shadowhunters. I wasn't kidding when I said Cassie's basically got me in a choke-hold. It's all fun and games until a demon comes and bites your left eyebrow off. Which is kind of how Queen of Air and Darkness left me feeling--like a demon bit my left eyebrow off. But, like, in a fun, "I can always draw them back on" satisfying way.

I tried to read it slowly. Really, I did. I was like, "Jessica. You're going to regret reading this too quickly." And then I was like, "Jessica. Don't listen to yourself. You can't be trusted. You're having a conversation with yourself when you could be reading Queen of Air and Darkness." Some points were made, right? I made a very valid point. So, I inhaled it.

SO. Queen of Air and Darkness, first of all, ripped my rune necklace off and poked me in the eye with it. Which, again, satisfying. Truly. 10/10 would be stabbed by a necklace again.

archive: 2018

Review: Haunted Crown Point, Indiana by Judith Tometczak

5:34 PM

Haunted Crown Point, Indiana by Judith Tometczak | Rating: ★★★☆☆

There is one thing you should know before I start off my review: this is about my hometown.Which was equal parts thrilling and terrifying; even moreso, knowing that I would be posting my review online and in turn inviting the possibility of someone from said hometown onto my blog. Which isn't something I really fancy happening. Haunted Crown Point, Indiana, centers on the history of the city I grew up in and, frankly, I learned a few things I'd not known prior.

Which is always exciting.

Right off the bat, Tometczak makes her research known. The heart and soul behind the book is entirely her voice and the knowledge that she's come to possess. While a good portion of this book felt less like a ghost story and more like a retrospect on what makes the city, well, its own place, there was still something about it that kept my attention. While other supernatural-center non-fiction publications can almost feel like some deliriously dull campfire tale, Haunted doesn't take on that tone. It's quietly observation. It's got its turn in the historical department. More, it mostly asks the question and plays on popular ghost-stories.

archive: 2018

Review: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

4:54 PM

The Immortalists by Chloe Benajmin | Rating: ★★★★★

The publisher was kind enough to send me a digital copy of this novel, after they hosted a giveaway. This does not effect my opinion in any way. 

You know when you pick up a book and you can just tell it's going to destroy you? That's how I felt immediately after reading The Immortalists synopsis. I could just feel that it would be something that would change me just a little bit. Which is, at the end of the day, what I want from good literature. I want it to make me feel, or change just slightly.

I was like, "okay, this book looks gorgeous but I'm pretty sure Chloe Benjamin is about to knock me out with a ton of emotions." so obviously I entered the giveaway almost instantly. When I won, I was actually the terrible person who didn't see that I wont a digital copy of the novel because, somehow, it got sent to my junk folder. So, I ended up buying the novel (something I would have likely done anyways) and held off on reading it. Because, if there's one thing I've learned of The Immortalists, it begs of you to read it in the autumn or winter. It just does.

What I loved most about the novel was its never-ending connection between siblings. It's hard to explain, unless you've already read The Immortalists, but Benjamin portrays it beautifully. These siblings have something that ties them together far more than blood. And it's tense. It's complex.

archive: 2018

Review: Perfect Together by Christine L'Amour

4:19 PM

Perfect Together by Christine L'Amour |  Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.8 stars)

If you've been looking for more WLW friendly love stories, this is for you. Perfect Together is sweet and sexy; tied up beautifully with an easy-going pace and likable characters. Fair warning: it's a relatively short read, easy to read in one or two sittings. But, it is one that will surely warm you up from head to toe.

L'Amour takes on the ever-popular trope of a next-door neighbor lending a helping hand in more ways than one, sprinkling it into her story effortlessly and making it into something of her own. While there are many familiar tropes and tones to Perfect Together (be real: all romance novels share them) it never feels like it's trying to emulate another story. It's refreshing and sweet, and oh-so steamy in the end.

This was one of my favourite romance novels of the year, because it was so soft and sweet one minute but then it hit its stride and felt very much so like something far steamier. L'Amour balanced these qualities together with grace and made sure that the story wasn't any one thing: it was just about love blossoming at an unexpected time in two lives.

archive: 2018

Review: The Queen's Wing by Jessica Thorne

3:56 PM

The Queen's Wing (The Queen's Wing, #1) by Jessica Thorne | Rating: ★★★★☆

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.

This truly was a gripping story! The Queen's Wing is just the right amount of action and romance; mixing up quite the selection of genres. So, when you see the tagline: "A completely gripping fantasy romance" BELIEVE IT! I will say, however, that the story is more science-fiction than fantasy. It combines fantasy, science-fiction, steampunk and fantasy.

The Queen's Wing is a fun mix of the above genres and will surely appeal to fans of The Selection (I was getting some major parallels between the two when it came to the romantic plotlines), The Androma Saga and maybe a little of The Winner's Trilogy. Which makes it all the more enthralling to its target audience. It's action packed, driven by romance, and just an all around fun time.

That being said, it won't be for everyone. Like all works of fiction, it has it flaws and there are several kinks that Thorne will have likely sorted out in the sequel. While it worked for me, despite said flaws, I will say you should probably steer clear of The Queen's Wing if you aren't interested in love triangle tropes (there's definitely a big one in this first installment, however it is sorted fully by the end) or in romantic stories in general.

archive: 2018

Review: Deadly Class Volume 1: Reagan Youth Media Tie-In

12:04 AM

Deadly Class Volume 1: Reagan Youth Media Tie-In | Rating: ★★★★☆

As a note, a copy 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 thing: there were A LOT of things I really enjoyed about Deadly Class! Riveting, darkly entertaining and full of some intriguing characters an unique setting. Second thing, ah, second? There as one MASSIVE thing I didn't like about it... the good news is that the massive thing had to do with the central villain, which is very fitting and is keen on making me hate the bad guy thoroughly. But, it is still something that made me dock that extra point because the shuddering that I put into this single character took me out of the story.

We'll get to that in a minute. I'd rather focus on the good in Deadly Class because frankly there was a lot more good in the graphic novel than bad. Well, that's actually a bad way to word it because the story itself is dark and morally, the characters are not the good guys and reside in the gray, "I'm an assassin but somehow still likable" end of the spectrum. What I liked most about Deadly Class was the action, the jump-and-dive of nearly every violent page.

archive: 2018

Review: Romanov by Nadine Brandes

3:19 PM

Romanov by Nadine Brandes |  Rating: ★★★★☆

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.

Am I really reviewing a book that won't be out for half a year? Yes. I couldn't help myself! Tell me the truth: can you, take a moment to look at that cover, really say no to its beauty? I couldn't. I was all, "Oh, I'll wait a couple of months to read and review, so I can post this closer to the release date." and literally five minutes later I was a few pages in and couldn't stop myself. Romanov is a high-stakes historical fiction fantasy novel that takes upon itself to weave magic into the all too real, all too tragic tale of the final imperial family of Russia.

Romanov, like most historical fiction novels, is not going to be a source of factual information on the historical events. I try not to ridicule it, although sometimes when reading about fictionalized accounts of the Romanov's I can't help but feel a little weird. While I grew up loving the animated film Anastasia (and as an adult have become reacquainted with its score in Broadway's Anastasia) and harbored that sense of hope that at least one of the children had miraculously escaped for most of my childhood, I can't help but to circle back down to two things.

archive: 2018

Review: The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork

11:02 PM

The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork | Rating: ★★★★★

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 needed a book like this, at a time like this. I'm so glad I was able to read it. There are books that are so vivid and fast-paced, and purely magical, that they are the ultimate getaway from ordinary. After the last few months from h*ll, this was one of those rare bright spots. In short? The Enchanted Sonata was positively stunning and sweet. I could not put it down.

Heather Dixon Wallwork crafts a delightfully musical, re-imagined version of two beloved classics: The Nutcracker Ballet and The Pied Piper. Two titles I would have never thought to put together, but that work so, so well. The Enchanted Sonata is for the readers who love to dream and a total must-have for fans of The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert or ABC's Once Upon A Time.

The Enchanted Sonata is so gripping, and so full of energy, I could not put it down and shuddered anytime I actually had to. It follows the familiar themes of the stories it is based upon, but the end product is a new kind of story and wholly its own. Breath-taking, unique, yet undeniably familiar.


archive: 2018

Review: The Date Dare by Tara Sue Me

1:57 PM

The Date Dare by Tara Sue Me | Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2.5)

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.

Can I get something out of the way first? I LOVE Tara Sue Me. In fact, I've been a fan of hers for the better part of a decade, tracing right back to the Twilight fan-fiction days. I just adore how she mixes steamy romance with wit and a little sweetness, which is why I was so excited to read The Date Dare. It promised to be so different from her previous works that I am familiar with--namely The Submissive series--and I think my problem was that my hopes were too high and that, ultimately, I hyped The Date Dare up so far in my head that it wasn't ever truly going to measure up.

Which, obviously, isn't on Tara Sue Me or The Date Dare by any means. Still, although there were a lot of cute little moments sprinkled into the novel, and a bit of humor and bad luck (see: Elliot's date with Kara) that make the story worth a second glance.

There's nothing inherently wrong with The Date Dare. It is sweet and sexy and witty. It is the very definition of cute, quick reads, and a total must-read for fans of friends-to-lover stories. However, I often felt like I had already read the book and that was something I couldn't get passed.

archive: 2018

Review: Love Looks Pretty on You by Lang Leav

8:09 PM

Love Looks Pretty on You by Lang Leav | Rating: ★★★★☆

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.

Lang Leav does it again! I don't know why people get so bent out of shape for the various degrees of poetic self-expression, but once more I'm baffled by the dim quality people approach prose and how quick they are to cry, "This is not poetry!" to something that is merely not their cup of tea. It's such an odd quality to possess, but we're not here to talk about that, are we? 

 Love Looks Pretty on You is another beautiful and simply told release to add to Leav's ever-growing collection. As always, her prose is light and fast to the point, without lacking any weight of emotion. I cannot help but to always marvel at the quality and impact that so few words could ever possess, and Lang Leav is certainly one of the leaders of her generation of poets. This isn't "Tumblr Poetry" (I will forever scoff at such a term--who are you guys kidding?!), it is one woman raising her voice and expressing herself through prose and I really and truly respect Leav for it.

archive: 2018

Review: Blizzad (The Black Ice Trilogy, #2) by Mikayla Elliot

6:27 PM

Blizzard by Mikayla Elliot | Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5)

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.

WOW. Mikayla Elliot does it again with the next enthralling release of her The Black Ice trilogy: Blizzard. Just when you thought things couldn't get more thrilling, action-packed, or mysterious, Elliot makes the stakes at an all-time high, leaving readers grappling with where the story went and just what the implications will be for the third installment.

Where we left in Snow, there were a lot of questions left dangling just in front of us. The betrayal of Zachariah, the fact that Eliza is technically Neva's mother, Neva is left reeling from the death of all but one member of her family, a niece who is presently missing and presumably in terrible danger, by the hands of her long-gone husband. Elliot packed a lot into the climax of Snow, leaving us all breathless and intrigued at one comes next--fortunately for readers, Blizzard is just as complex and richly written as its predecessor and will, once again, leave us longing for more. 

ana sender

Review: The Cottingley Fairies by Ana Sender

2:07 PM

The Cottingley Fairies by Ana Sender | ★★★★☆ (4.5)

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.

Oh, my. The Cottingley Fairies is magical and charming, I am overwhelmed by its sweetness. It is everything I hoped it would be and I cannot wait to share it with my goddaughter upon official release. Ana Sender takes these familiar real life events and puts a delightful spin on the effects of lies, truths, and the magic of childhood storytelling.

Kids will be smitten with The Cottingley Fairies and their parents will be just the same. Not only is the story simple and fast, the minimalist illustrations will tug a smile at your lips. I thought that the way that Sender told the story, as an almost retrospect from one of the girls in her later years, only added to the magic and atmosphere of it.

I really, really enjoyed this and that aching feeling of how we once viewed the world as children, to how we view it now. The Cottingley Fairies is a winning combination of childhood joy, imagination and magic, with a hint of how out of control falsehoods can really get. 

archive: 2018

Review: There Are Girls like Lions by Cole Swensen + Various Authors

2:00 PM

There Are Girls like Lions by Cole Swensen | Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2.5)

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.

While I didn't totally hate There Are Girls like Lions, and found a good few poems to be thought-provoking, new-to-me and powerful, the collection as a whole just didn't work for me. Not completely. I found that the foreward was wonderful, that there were some standouts in prose, but the better portion of this collection felt choppy and incoherent. And I'm so, so, so disappointed in myself for just not connecting with it full-time.

But, it happens. My experience with There Are Girls like Lions wasn't fully negative but it wasn't exactly positive, either. In the better moments, there were various poems that made me nod my head in something like encouragement or agreement. In its lesser moments, I spaced out and had that nagging thought: am I going to finish it? In its in-between moments, I had just enough curiosity to finish the collection and consider what I was feeling.

andrea gibson

Review: Lord of the Butterflies by Andrea Gibson

1:53 PM

Lord of the Butterflies by Andrea Gibson | Rating: ★★★★★

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 know I've said it a hundred times over this year, last year, and several years before but: Lord of the Butterflies is a standout. Truly one of the best poetic releases of 2018. The thing that makes Lord of the Butterflies so poignant? Simple: Andrea Gibson.

And Gibson's voice is very important to note. Because if there is one thing you should know about them before you read Lord of the Butterflies, it's that Gibson's prose has a presence that is potent and prone to getting under your skin in the way that only good poetry can. You'll feel. You'll cry. You'll smile. You'll be. Lord of the Butterflies treats you to any emotion imaginable.

Which is to say: they know how to hit you right in the soul with their words and that's the sign of pure brilliance in poetry. Gibson takes you by your collar and leaves you reeling from their honesty. I was honestly dizzy with emotion the moment I finished this collection and then I did something I so rarely do upon finishing a book--I went back to the start and read it again.

archive: 2018

Review: Snow (The Black Ice Trilogy, #1) by Mikayla Elliot

1:36 PM

Snow by Mikayla Elliot | ★★★★☆ (4.5)

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.

Snow is everything I wanted it to be and then some. Unique, enthralling and positively stunning, Snow set a new standard for not only vampire stories, but for how a trilogy should begin. In short? I adored it and devoured it once I got into my reading groove. Mikayla Elliot is a force to be reckoned with and a highly promising voice in fiction.

As far as worldbuilding goes, Elliot is only just getting started when it comes to the world(s) Snow is set in. It is as crisp as winter's air. I am intrigued to see where she goes with it in the next installment and have high hopes in the pace that she is developing both the world and the stories within it. Snow has a lot to offer, but if there's one thing you should know of it is that the writing Mikayla Elliot offers us is incredible.

One might shy away from Snow due to the genre becoming less and less appealing in the aftermath of, let's call it, vampire mania, but you should know that this isn't your typical vampire novel.

archive: 2018

Review: It's a Lonely Love by Hunter Summerall

4:13 PM

It's a Lonely Love by Hunter Summerall | Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2.5-.8)

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.

Before you go looking at my star rating and thinking, "Oh? Two stars? Must not be good!" bite your tongue. That's not true in the least. It's a Lonely Love is pure self-expression and one of the many levels to poetry. Something about it reads very quickly and cuts bluntly to the point from the very start, in a way that will certainly connect with its readers--in particular, its younger readers.

While it wasn't especially my cup of tea, while I rated it less than I'd expected, that means f*ck-all. Something not being my personal preferences essentially means nothing, because that is art and art, and taste, are subjective. Take a drink every time I say that in my reviews.

Here's the basics. Hunter Summerall bares all with it and you'd be silly to not respect it. The collection is solid, both in its self-expression and the gloominess of one relationship. Every poem reflects a different level of human emotion and its complexities, keying up the reader with tension and respect, sympathy and compassion. You can't help but to want to give Summerall your support because the way that the prose connects with readers just works.

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