NetGalley · Reviews

REVIEW – Bad Girl Gone by Tempest Mathews

Thank you NetGalley and St Martin’s Press for the eARC! 

REVIEW: ***1/2

Sixteen year-old Echo Stone awakens in a cold sweat in a dark room, having no idea where she is or how she got there. But she soon finds out she’s in Middle House, an orphanage filled with mysteriously troubled kids.

There’s just one problem: she’s not an orphan. Her parents are very much alive.

She explains this to everyone, but no one will listen. After befriending a sympathetic (and handsome) boy, Echo is able to escape Middle House and rush home, only to discover it sealed off by crime scene tape and covered in the evidence of a terrible and violent crime. As Echo grapples with this world-shattering information, she spots her parents driving by and rushes to flag them down. Standing in the middle of street, waving her arms to get their attention, her parents’ car drives right through her.

She was right. Her parents are alive—but she’s not.

She’s a ghost, just like all the other denizens of Middle House. Desperate to somehow get her life back and reconnect with her still-alive boyfriend, Echo embarks on a quest to solve her own murder. As the list of suspects grows, the quest evolves into a journey of self-discovery in which she learns she wasn’t quite the girl she thought she was. In a twist of fate, she’s presented with one last chance to reclaim her life and must make a decision which will either haunt her or bless her forever.­­­­

I admit. I felt very love/hate with this one. For the first three chapters or so I really didn’t understand why this girl was in the worst house imaginable (forgive me, I downloaded this about 3 months before reading and forgot the blurb) and went into this thoroughly annoyed. Keeping the character in the dark without her being able to learn anything, just to keep us in the dark irked me. I spent those 3 chapters going why the kids were made to work and punished in the horrible place, and what she’d done to earn that fate.

THEN when we get to main plot it picks up. Temple’s writing is great, I really do enjoy it. She brings out character and feeling, which was why I felt claustrophobic for Echo but it was also so vivid I had to skip a few pages because I am very claustrophobic in real life. That sort of atmosphere transferred.

I still don’t get why the kids were thrown into a house of punishment at the start. No matter their behaviour in life, what sort of punishment is that? But the rest of the story picked up enough for me to keep interested, if not skimming a few.

NetGalley · Uncategorized

The Stargazer’s Embassy by Eleanor Lerman

Violent and despairing after the murder of the one person she loved — a psychiatrist who was studying abductees — Julia continues to rebuff the aliens until her relationships with others who have met “the things,” as she calls them (including a tattoo artist, a strange man who can take photographs with the power of his mind, and an abductee locked up in a mental hospital) force her deeper into direct alien contact, and a confrontation about what death means to humans and aliens alike.

Thanks to NetGalley! ❤

There’s a lot of praise surrounding this book and it immediately makes me feel as though I HAVE to like it, because everyone else does, and the reviews are thrown in your face.

While I did like it, I’m not raving about it.

There was a slight feeling of apathy with the beginning of the book – and while this gradually dissipated it made it hard to really fall in with the MC’s thoughts, feelings etc. As though she was bored with her life, and went home with a fairly nice man, and dated him, and it was all average and fair. It didn’t really speed the narrative along and didn’t suck me into the story.

The very brief (VERY) information about something lurking in the dark made me read on. But overall I couldn’t shake the first chapter’s apathy and it sort of left me underwhelmed.

The writer is very competent though, very good writer and it flowed well but as for the story – it was hit and miss for me.

 

Mind Body Spirit · NetGalley · Reviews

Mind Body Spirit Books – Reviews!

Thank you to NetGalley, Llwellyn, John Hunt Publishing & Watkins Publishing for these ARCS!

 

TORI HARTMAN

Being in the tarot community, I know of Tori Hartman quite well but I’m not sure this volume really ‘spoke’ to me as her stuff usually does. Solid stuff, still, but sometimes I got lost with the information.

Probably would do well to actually HAVE the cards mentioned but in general it was ok. 3/5

 

DEVIN HUNTER

This was an incredibly insightful book and it fascinated me on the subject. Sometimes a little bit too personal or text-heavy, it nevertheless really did explain his POV in a fascinating way and I enjoyed reading it for future reference.

4/5

JOHN OPSOPAUS

Really great reference book on this particular method of divination, it nevertheless left me a little bit confused. Not a particularly easy read but it was fascinating.

3/5

JUDY HALL

I looooooove love love anything about crystals and this was no exception. Took it up to another level with the karmic healing and releasing with some handy tips for me, I’d never heard before! So really great.

5/5

CASSANDRA EASON

Really interesting to read, and very handy. As a practicing witch and tarot reader, it’s imperative for me to know multiple ways of defending myself psychically and this book helped me figure out new ways of being able to do that. Cassandra Eason is a fantastic writer, very easy to read!

4/5

NetGalley · Reviews

When Dimple Met Rishi Review

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3***

A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways

Goodreads: HERE

Thank you Hodder & Soughton + Netgalley for the ARC!

Sometimes, contemporary and I don’t get along. Most of the time it needs some magical realism or something else. And I always think everything happens too quickly, of which this book is no exception.

When Dimple Met Rishi is a really important book, though. I’m glad it’s out there and highlighting other cultures within a predominantly white Christian publishing array of same old books. I think it was hyped so much that I wanted more to actually happen in it than the plot allowed.

I really liked Dimple – she’s a fiesty, intelligent girl who knows what she wants, but my problem with contemporary remained in this book. It all seemed so rushed, and Rishi wasn’t a character I bonded with 100%. I enjoyed him taking down the elitist snobs in the restaurant, but after that he seemed a bit inconsistent. I prefer him a lot to the typical douchebags you get in a lot of YA – bad boys turning good, etc – because Rishi was a straight up decent, positive human being from the start. Though I feel sometimes he still came off as a little arrogant.

A lot of his arc was a struggle within himself, whether he would do comics or go to MIT as expected, which was super interesting. I still couldn’t connect with him or his sense of humour. I actually hoped Dimple and he would end up as friends, and subvert the typical tropes of romance, or even the arranged marriage aspect – that the parents aren’t always right.

Dimple was so angry with her parents for setting her up in that way and not understanding her need for education over romance – and rightly so – that when it all goes out of the window because Rishi is cute and an actually ok guy she suddenly changes her mind? She still brought it up that she might never want marriage, and that’s good, but I wanted more insight behind her decision to change her perspective of Rishi and certainly more from Rishi than Dimple just feeling guilty.

Maybe it’s just me, because I’m stubborn af and can hold a grudge for years and might be a bit of a dick that way, but I didn’t enjoy that aspect of the book.

Plus, the contest seemed just to be a plot device to get them together in the book (since that’s what their parents were all about) and faded into the background. And then there’s a talent show that everyone apparently knows about but is only mentioned 50% of the way in.

I also struggled with the POV changes. They happen mid-chapter and because of the kindle format, it wasn’t always clear that we were suddenly in the opposite person’s head.

Don’t get me wrong, it was cute. Sometimes it was amusing. Not a lot happened and the actual fall-out of feelings was slightly awkward – but it was predominantly romance and not a romance I could attach to.

So to finish…. this won’t change my mind about contemporary. Sometimes we get along, sometimes we don’t, it’s an 80-20 split to the latter. It’s definitely a case of “not you, it’s me.”

Again I’m really pleased this is out there showing another much-needed voice and I’m hoping it gets the attention it deserves for YA. Please keep supporting diverse books! Just because one reviewer (me) didn’t gel with this one, doesn’t mean others won’t. 🙂

Book Things · NetGalley · Reviews

5* ONE OF US IS LYING by Karen McManus

This was on my “2017 Highly Anticipated” so I was absolutely delighted when Penguin Random House UK graciously accepted me to read this early through NetGalley!

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

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Buy it: Amazon UK // Amazon US
Goodreads: Here

RATING: 5*!

I was gripped from the start on this. The writing is simple, but like a warm bath is simple – it’s a universal pleasure to just kind of envelop yourself within it for a few hours. Sometimes the voice changes mid-chapter didn’t really register, but by the middle I was so used to who was who it didn’t take me out of the story.

I admit, every perspective had me going “IT’S THEM!” only to go “NO WAIT – THEM!” half way through. I think at one point I even suspected a mentioned-only-once character. It sucked me in and refused to let go, whispering for me to forget my real life responsibilities until I actually found out who killed Simon.

One thing for me in books is how authentic dialogue is – if the dialogue is so far removed from anything people would actually say, it drags me out of it. Karen didn’t disappoint with hers. There weren’t any stupid “explain the last episode in a sentence” type incidents, for which I’m very thankful, because those make me roll my eyes and struggle to keep reading.

The one teeny gripe I had was I could have done with more from each perspective, for instance when we changed to someone else’s head, I would have preferred to be engrossed for more than a few pages to get more of a feel of them. But that’s just a tiny thing.

I managed to guess two of the plot twists, but that’s all you can do – Guess. There are so many different things that are thrown into the mix here you can’t guarantee your guesses are right. Not in the “PFFFT well I’ve seen this before I know what happens”. But I was really pleased when my Sherlock skills paid off.

Favourite character – Addy, surprisingly, and Maeve, and Ashton, and the badass ladies who simply gripped me. And Kris! ❤

Least favourite – I don’t really dislike any of the main characters but I connected with Bronwyn the least. At one point she calls Buffy the Vampire Slayer “Retro” and I swear I gasped and fell back. It’s not that old!…… right?

All in all this is a great, gripping, well-written book with rounded characters and I’ll probably get it in paperback because I need a physical copy. I can’t rely on Kindle batteries with something this un-put-downable!

authors · Blog Tours · Book Things · Just For Fun · NetGalley · publishing

SPOTLIGHT on THE CASTAWAYS by Jessika Fleck

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THE CASTAWAYS is released TODAY! And I’m lucky enough to be part of the Blog Tour, with a special spotlight post and giveaway where you can win some cool swag (or an Amazon gift card, if you’re international ie: not the US of A)

The Castaway Carnival: fun, mysterious, dangerous. Renowned for its infamous corn maze…and the kids who go missing in it.

When Olive runs into the maze, she wakes up on an isolated and undetectable island where a decades-long war between two factions of rival teens is in full swing. Trapped, Olive must slowly attempt to win each of her new comrades’ hearts as Will—their mysterious, stoically quiet, and handsome leader—steals hers.

Olive is only sure about one thing: her troop consists of the good guys, and she’ll do whatever it takes to help them win the war and get back home. But victory may require more betrayal, sacrifice, and heartbreak than she’s ready for.

I already received an e-ARC of this via NetGalley, which I’m super stoked to read. The review will be up very shortly.

In the mean time, we have an excerpt of the book to whet your appetite!

But everything’s clear. I do know where to go. “I’m going to find that boulder—” I suck in shallow breath. “The…hhh…maze.”
“It’s no use. We’ve tried everything. It doesn’t work! Wait!”
But I’m not listening because it has to work. It’s the only way. If it got me in, it’ll get me back out.
I run until my body, my mind, and, mostly, my lungs give up. Because, problem is, Will’s right. I don’t know how to find it.
I stop.
Will stops.
Bent at the waist, hands on my knees, I cough and spew, trying to catch my breath. The hyperventilation has passed, but my insistence on sprinting like I’m a track star when my lungs and legs have no business running, has taken its toll.
I look up.
Will isn’t fazed. At some point he took off his shirt and now stands with his hands on his hips, chest rising and falling, barely winded. His abs flex with each effortless breath. “Get it out of your system?”
It’s when my stomach springs that I realize I’m staring at his body. I quickly glance away and completely ignore his question. “Take me there.”
“I told you. It’s no use.”
“Please,” I whimper. Tears race down my face.
Tucking his T-shirt into the back of his pants, Will walks in another direction.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m taking you. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
With Will now leading the way, I watch his suntanned back, the sweat beading at his shoulders and slowly, one by one, how the beads roll down the center crease. I’m in a daze or a haze or a trance because all I see is his back, his muscles contracting and tightening with each step, and, like magic, we’re there.
The mossy boulder stands before us and, I swear, it mocks me in all its ordinary, commonplace glory.

….so I may already have a thing for Will, FYI.

To partake in the giveaway (I love the word partake, makes me feel authentically Austen) click on this link HERE – because WordPress doesn’t like hosting Rafflecopters, so I need to link externally for those.

All the links you need to find out more and buy THE CASTWAYS is right here:

Goodreads Book Link: http://bit.ly/2mq9DXV

Amazon Buy Link:  http://amzn.to/2nCN0QW

Barnes & Noble Buy Link:  http://bit.ly/2nlhFXc

iBooks Buy Link: http://apple.co/2mpZR9j

Kobo Buy Link: http://bit.ly/2mH9xNu

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2nCCedv

Amazon.ca: http://amzn.to/2lYhctP

About the Author:
JessicaJessika Fleck is an author, unapologetic coffee drinker, and knitter — she sincerely hopes to one day discover a way to do all three at once. Until then, she continues collecting vintage typewriters and hourglasses, dreaming of an Ireland getaway, and convincing her husband they NEED more kittens. Her work verges on fantastical and dark with a touch of realism. She is a regular contributor to the fantastic kidlit blog, Kidliterati, and is represented by Victoria Marini of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

You can catch up with Jessika on her Website or her Twitter (click to open new tab)

Follow the rest of the tour here!: http://blogtours.yareads.com/2017/03/17/blog-tour-sign-ups-castaways-jessika-fleck/

jadewritesbooks · NetGalley · Reviews

THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED by Becky Albertalli – REVIEW

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Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?

4* –

I was graciously given this as a e-ARC via Netgalley by Penguin Random House UK

Diversity! This book has a lot of it. I loved the fact there were lots of women, lots of religions, LGBTQA+ falling out of the pages, so cool. It’s only the second book I’ve ever read with a tubby protag, too.

So much about Molly resonated with me, it was as though the book reached down into my body, dragged back up the 17-year-old Jade, and made her read it with me. Being an overweight, inexperienced teen is absolutely terrifying and isolating because so much emphasis is placed on hormonal surges and sex it’s overwhelming. If you don’t fit the mould, you feel you’re a failure, and everything Molly believed in this book and worried about, I felt wholeheartedly.

It was like Becky Albertalli had taken a trip back in time to see what I was like as a teenager. And – admittedly – into my early 20’s too. She must have had a checklist.

Serial crusher – check.
Wants a relationship – check
Self-conscious about her weight  – check
Has awesome mom – check
Doubting every boy’s motives – check

Also Middle Earth Reid – hello, tall, curly haired, bespectacled dude with a Middle Earth t-shirt. Molly might not have appreciated it at first but 17 year old me CERTAINLY would have. (I still would, actually.)

I was transported back in time SO MUCH that I had a little cry half way through. The little fat girl inside never really leaves you, but she can heal. This book proved that she still effects me, even to this day, no matter how much I’ve grown. And I felt it absolutely wonderful that Molly wasn’t trying to change the fact she was fat – that wasn’t it – it was just trying to understand why the world around her seemed to ignore tubbier people weren’t as valued.

The main difference was Molly had people to talk to about her fears and I never did (get out those tiny violins!), so it was nice to see that she was able to share in her worries with her sisters and friends. Even though Cassie, at many stages, was a prat. She lost favour with me, and never got it back, really. I liked and understood Will more than I understood Cassie.

I loved some of the one liners and Molly’s internal monologues were laugh out loud funny, but sometimes the writing skipped things I thought might have been better to dig deeper into. My connection to this book probably relied more upon the fact I had lived Molly’s existence – minus the hot and actually interested love interest – so it engrossed me more than perhaps it may have done without that connection.

It’s a good and important book, though, once again, and I thoroughly enjoyed the foray into Molly’s world.

4*!