Friday, January 20, 2017

{Review} THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE by Patrick Ness

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

  CHAPTER THE FIRST, in which the Messenger of the Immortals arrives in a surprising shape, looking for a permanent Vessel; and after being chased by her through the woods, indie kid Finn meets his final fate.

  ON THE DAY we're the last people to see indie kid Finn alive, we're all sprawled together in the Field, talking about love and stomachs.

(pg. 1, US ARC edition)

Patrick Ness may have just hit movie theaters with his best selling novel A MONSTER CALLS, but he's far from a one-trick pony. He's written multiple novels that span different subject matters and genres. When I first heard about THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE, I'll tell you: I didn't really think twice about it. Contemporary isn't really my thing, so it takes a lot for me to sit up and pay attention.  When someone (probably the publisher? I forget!!) posted this image on Twitter, I was suddenly intrigued:

YOU GUYS. I grew up watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I suffered with Buffy. I knew what she went through as the Chosen One. I knew what the Scooby Squad went through because they WEREN'T the Chosen One, just....lucky enough to be involved because they were her friends. Or unlucky. Both, really.

So a book where there's Paranormal Activity going on in town and it's NOT about the Chosen One?

Okay, yes, I want to read that!!!

We can't all be Special, Unique Snowflakes Destined to Make a Difference in the World. We just CAN'T.

So what happens when you're ordinary in an extraordinary town?

Well...........not a whole lot, really!!!!

I mean, you're ORDINARY. You don't get to have the fun of your life hanging in the balance. You don't get to mourn a deceased friend you watched die first-hand. You instead get the pleasure of homework, of worrying about prom, about whether or not your parents are getting divorced, about ALL THE THINGS students are SUPPOSED to worry about day-to-day.

Which makes for an interesting concept. While I wish the novel was a little better executed--or, well, maybe my expectations were too high, because it just wasn't exactly what I wanted it to be--it was still a really intriguing idea. I liked that the Chosen One's story took place in little blurbs at the start of each chapter. You sort of-kind of knew what was going on. But not really, just like the main characters. I liked that the main characters were super removed from the action. At the same time? I wanted them to be a liiiiiiittle involved in the action. I mean, even Cordelia got to kick some paranormal butt, and she totally started off as a secondary character in Buffy, amiright? But this book is about LIFE. It's about the every day. It's about the ordinary.

Not a lot happens outside of the ordinary for a lot of us, and that includes most of the students in town despite all the paranormal going-ons. Granted, there's still stuff going ON. The book deals with various disorders that afflict many teens. There are a few romances to root for, including a LGBT one. There are family issues. There are a lot of great topics that are relatable and that really make these characters feel "real," like they could be just like any other human in the reader's life--maybe even like the reader.

THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE absolutely takes the Chosen One trope and turns it upside down. If you're sick of reading about the All Powerful Main Character, this book is for you! If you want to peek in at the people living on the sidelines amongst the madness, this book is for you! It's different, and while I ultimately have mixed feelings largely due to my own unrealistic expectations of this book, it was still an enjoyable read! 

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG15+ ( Kissing, sexual situations, though it isn't graphic )
Language: PG15+ ( Lots of language, including f-bombs. )
Violence: PG ( There is violence that occurs thanks to the paranormal activity in town, but it occurs offscreen and is only sometimes talked about, but never witnessed. )
Other:  PG13 ( Talk about masturbation and about losing one's virginity )
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

This cover is SO MUCH FUN.

I love that it's a mix of "real" kids in the town, as well as "special" kids. I like that the main characters are in color, and everyone else is in shades of blue. 

I also am intrigued by the dialogue tag, Sometimes you have to find the EXTRAORDINARY in the ordinary.

I just really like it!!!
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Patrick Ness
Release Date: Oct. 6, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Received: Gifted

What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?  

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again. 

 Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. 

 Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions. 

 Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable..

Thursday, January 19, 2017

{Review/Giveaway} MIDNIGHT SISTERS by Sarah E. Boucher

Love fairy tales and mythology?
Fans of mermaids, dragons, unicorns, and other mythical creatures?
Enjoy when a beloved classic tale is retold?
A Twist in the Tail Thursdays features all this and more!



Jan 9: Rebekah R.K. Grow (Jonas Selkirk feature)
Jan 10: Meagan Blooming with Books (Ariela Spencer feature)
Jan 11: Allison Eclectic Alli (Passionate Geek feature)
Jan 11: Melanie Mel's Shelves (Brisella Spencer feature)
Jan 12: Adrienne Adrienne Quintana (Canela “Cinnamon” Spencer feature)
Jan 12: Bonnie A Backwards Story (Daniela Spencer feature)
Jan 13: Lisa Bookworm Lisa (Estella/Frizella Spencer feature)
Jan 13: Bethany Perfect Beginnings (Estella/Frizella Spencer feature)
Jan 14: Cindy Cindy C. Bennett (Gisella, Hayla, Isella Spencer feature)
Jan 15: Amanda Inkings and Notions (Gisella, Hayla, Isella Spencer feature)
Jan 16: Tressa Wishful Endings (Janela Spencer feature)
Jan 16: Corinne Corinne's Garden (Krisela Spencer feature)
Jan 17: Katie Katie's Clean Book Collection (Larela Spencer feature)
Jan 18: Tarah Literary Timeout (Braden feature)
Jan 19: Paula The Phantom Paragrapher (Lord Bromhurt feature)
Jan 20: Raylynn Let It Be & Celebrate (Special author feature)

Last week, I introduced you guys to Daniela, the brilliant scientist of the bunch! 

Today, I'll share my review of THE MIDNIGHT SISTERS!

Sarah previously wrote BECOMING BEAUTY, aka Beauty and the Beast with a twist. 

 AND if you missed out on the book the first time around? 

Check out my review
and then grab the e-book on sale RIGHT NOW for only 99¢

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

    "JONAS." THE MANICURED grounds and the fifty servants faded into the background as Higgins fixed his eagle eye on me.
    Automatically, I inspected my groundskeeper's apron. Spotless and hanging in place, for once. My shirtsleeves were rolled to the elbows, and the brown trousers had been laundered yesterday. How could he criticize anything?

(pg. 6, US e-book edition)

Having previously read and enjoyed Sarah E. Boucher's debut novel BECOMING BEAUTY, a retelling of one of my favorite fairy tales, Beauty and the Beast, I was excited to find out that she was publishing another book--another  fairy tale--and that she was once again using one of my favorite tales. This time around, the novel is centered around The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Unlike many other versions of the tale that I've read, this one is based in reality. There is no magic at play. It makes for a unique twist on this story!

The novel is told from the POV of Jonas, a groundskeeper who has been working on the estate for over a decade, since he was a teen himself. Over the years, he has fallen in love with Ariela, even though one of the cardinal rules is to never talk to one of Lord Bromhurst's twelve daughters. In the last six months, however, something has changed. The girls start disappearing at night, and nobody knows why. Ranging from mid-teens to late-twenties, none of the girls ever married, and suitors dried up, but they've started circling the estate once again--and this time, Ariela will definitely find a husband. Jonas can't bear the heartbreak of losing her, but he also can't bear to bring her down to his level when she's used to a better life. But what he CAN do is solve the mystery of where the girls go every night...

I'll admit it: The age thing was a little weird to me. Mid-twenties and your dad is only now insisting you get married? I felt that for the time period, this didn't feel quite right, but I just ignored that part after awhile and let the story take me where it wanted. I thought it was really interesting to see such a "realistic" rendition of this story, one that didn't rely on magic. I don't think I've seen one set in our world before, so that was really intriguing. It was also interesting to have two enamored groundskeepers work together in order to spend time with their lady loves and figure out what they were up to, which kept things interesting!

At the moment, MIDNIGHT SISTERS is a stand-alone, however, there's something that happens at the end that isn't completely tied up. It makes me wonder if there will be a sequel focused on one of the younger sisters--perhaps twisted into a brand new fairy tale (reminiscent of the way Jessica Day George has three novels centered around the twelve sisters). I definitely wouldn't be adverse to this, especially because, with so many sisters, it's hard to get to know any of them very well! Plus, I've got to tell you, I'm especially curious to know more about the scientist daughter, Daniela, since I posted a character sketch of her on the tour last week. Boucher gave us a scene from the sisters' childhood to introduce us to the girls, and I wished Daniela and Janela had been in the book more, though it made me smile when someone commented on the close relationship between the two at one point!

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG ( Kissing )
Language: --
Violence: PG ( Kidnapping, and the fight in order to be free )
Other:  --
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

It's dark and a little hard to see, but the book takes place at night, so that darkness works at intriguing readers. It gives it a bit of mystery!

It does make me want to take a closer look at a print copy, however, to see what details I'm missing as my computer merges the dark colors together!
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Sarah E. Boucher
Release Date: Dec. 30, 2016
Publisher: Sarah E. Boucher


Do not meddle with the master’s daughters. 

 The words rattle around Jonas’s head. What is the punishment again? Death? Dismemberment? Jonas, the newest addition to the gardening staff, can’t recall the exact penalty for breaking the rule. What does it matter anyway? He would never dream of meddling with the Earl of Bromhurst’s haughty daughters. 

 Until he comes face to face with Lady Ariela, the eldest of the Master’s daughters. 

Her elusive smile and open manner cause him to question his convictions. In no time, he’s drawn into Lady Ariela’s world of mystery and intrigue, a world where she and her sisters will do anything—including leaving twelve empty beds at midnight—to escape their father’s strict rules. 

 Only Jonas can uncover the truth and save them from their father’s wrath and their own folly, if he is willing to risk everything he’s ever worked for.  

Also by Sarah E Boucher:

BECOMING BEAUTY, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, available on AmazonBarnes & Noblebooks & thingsiTunes, and Goodreads

For the duration of the blog tour (January 9-20) Becoming Beauty eBook will be 99 cents!

If you don't already have a copy, download Becoming Beauty for 99 cents on Kindle, Nook, iTunes, etc. 

Clink on the links listed above!

You could win an Amazon gift card and a SIGNED copy of MIDNIGHT SISTERS!

To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Ten Underrated/Hidden Gem Books We've Read Recently

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.
Every once in a while I participate in this one when I either
1) Like the theme, and/or 2) Have the time!

This week's topic:
Ten Underrated/Hidden Gem Books We've Read Recently!

BONNIE: There are SO MANY good books that I've read and adored that I would consider "underrated." While I would love to do a post focusing on them in general, since this topic is for RECENT titles, I'm only going to choose books that I read in 2016 and feel didn't get a lot of love/attention on Social Media, mm'kay?

MANDY: This one is a little easier for me since I was very behind on my reading until I started participating in this blog. But I'm going to follow Bonnie's lead here and focus on books I don't think I saw get the attention that they deserve, the ones I can't stop talking about.

In order from most recent...

1) OUTRUN THE MOON by Stacey Lee

I haven't had a chance to review this one yet, since I only read it a few weeks ago, but it was so good! It tugged on my heartstrings in so many ways. I don't often read historical fiction, but this one had gotten some good initial buzz--and then seemed to fall off everyone's radar!

It's a great look at diversity in 1906, and the way people rebounded from the devastating San Francisco Earthquake. And now I need to read more books from Stacey Lee!

2) UPDRAFT by Fran Wilde

I had heard about UPDRAFT a couple years ago at BEA, then gave my ARC to another blogger and forgot the title until I was sent a review copy when it came out again in paperback. I really enjoyed this unique world, set high above the clouds, where people take wing flying lessons instead of car driving lessons. I'm so excited to read my copy of the sequel CLOUDBOUND!


3) THE QUEEN OF BLOOD by Sarah Beth Durst

This was the OTHER book with the most unique world I'd read in 2016. Humans live in trees--but they're our size, not fae size. They also have elemental spirits that would harm everyone if not controlled by the Queen. But the Queen is losing control, and an Heir must be chosen...

This book is so, so good. I thought I'd done a review, but I only did a spotlight...where I did talk about the world-building, so...oops? I'll have to correct that soon! I already have an ARC of the sequel, so it will probably be fairly soon!



In some ways, this reminded me of Tamora Pierce, and I love her. I really loved the world and style of this debut, and hope the series takes off this year when the sequel releases!


5) THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON by Kelly Barnhill

I haven't reviewed this yet because words haven't existed, but I LOVED this book. It was my favorite middle-grade of 2016! I was really excited when I heard that the creators of Kubo and the Two Strings were turning it into a movie, because a) it will be gorgeous, and b) more people will h ear about this stunning book!

6) NEMESIS by Anna Banks

This was a book that had some good initial buzz from fans of the author's previous novels. However, it was very blink-and-you-miss-it. It didn't get a lot of talk online, or from real teens. I'm not sure why, because I really enjoyed the world-building and am so excited to read a sequel! Maybe it's the cover? The cover is a little odd, I'll grant you that, but it makes so much sense once you read it! The sequel's cover is pretty stunning, so hopefully it will turn more heads!


7) RUINED by Amy Tintera

OH!! One of my favorite books of 2016. Everyone who's read it says great things about it, but not a lot of people are picking it up! And that's a tragedy. I can't wait for this sequel, and was so enamored with Tintera that I read her original Reboot duology because I wasn't ready to say goodbye yet after finishing this!


8) IVORY AND BONE by Julie Eshbaugh

I never reviewed this because, again, no words, but Mandy and I plan to review it together this year! We're both super excited for the sequel. Besides, who can say no to a Pride and Prejudice retelling set in the time of wooly mammoths and sabertooth tigers!?

9) MAGNETIC SHIFT by Lucy D. Briand

I wanted this the moment I heard it was X-Men meets Nascar. Because what-the-what? It's contemporary, too, not fantasy, and would appeal to fans of Katie McGarry or Jenny Martin's TRACKED!


10) REIGN OF SHADOWS by Sophie Jordan

I didn't think I'd love this as much as it did. But I ADORED IT. And I'm SO happy I have the ARC of the second book and don't have to wait any longer to read how this all ends! So, so good. PLUS, the MC is blind, and how different is that!?


1) PILFER ACADEMY by Lauren Magaziner

Pilfer Academy: A School So Bad It's Criminal

This book is full of unapologetic and whimsical humor. It reminds me of everything I loved as a child about Roald Dahl, everything in books like Harry Potter and Series of Unfortunate Events that have captured the mind of other young readers. It's such a fun read but underneath it ultimately tells a great story about a boy who realizes that even though he's mischievous and naughty sometimes, his heart is good.

2) TITANS by Victoria Scott


I love a good tale with a damsel in distress or a forbidden romance. But sometimes I want something amazing that really focuses on family, friendship, and on a main character who is rising up to help herself. That's what Titans offers, with stunning imagery and incredible action scenes.

3) THE LAND OF FORGOTTEN GIRLS by Erin Entrada Kelly

The Land of Forgotten Girls

This is an amazing middle grade book about the love between sisters, and what it's like to be a child immigrant. It warmed my heart and made me cry and there was something so fresh and honest about it. I need more people to fall in love with the story as much as I did.

4) RUINED by Amy Tintera

Ruined (Ruined, #1)

I love a storyline where someone is pretending to be something they aren't in order to gain revenge. Inexplicably the world they plan to hate is not that black and white. I can't get enough of stories like that and Amy Tintera delivers with great characters and plot twists that had my head spinning.


Some Kind of Happiness

This book is powerful. It's important. I don't care how old you are, it needs to be on your bookshelf. If you have ever struggled with depression, or someone in your life does, you will feel a vast personal connection to the eleven year old main character's narration.

6) SUMMER OF LOST AND FOUND by Rebecca Behrens

Summer of Lost and Found

I'll admit something to you guys. I'm usually not a huge fan of historic fiction. If you've got any middle graders in your life who are also picky about this genre, get them this book!! Behrens adds just enough layers of intriguing adventure and mystery under the facts about the missing colony of Roanoke.

7) IVORY AND BONE by Julie Eshbaugh

Ivory and Bone (Ivory and Bone, #1)

It's set in prehistoric times, and inspired by pride and prejudice . . . but god it's such a unique creation in and of itself. The imagery is so vivid, and the characters have so much depth; the kind where you aren't sure how much you like them and like real people they have their ups and downs. It's the scenery that drew me in the most though. You guys need to get on this in time for the sequel that comes out this year.

8) SIGNS OF YOU by Emily France

Signs of You

I can't express to you how much I need ya'all to read this beauty. I have reread it three times now. The narration is so beautiful and raw. It covers grief without making the book too continuously heavy, and it tackles the concept of life after death in a way I've never seen in a book before.

9) THE CALL by Peadar O'Guilin

The Call

I happened upon this one when I was looking for good horror stories, and oh my goood is this one amazing. I like a story that feels sort of unfinished at the end; you're not sure if the characters are going to be okay, you're missing some of the puzzle pieces on the background of the storyline. To me it makes the world feel more real, because in reality how often is something perfectly wrapped up with a detailed bow on top? AMAZING gruesome scenes (still age appropriate for teens 15+) Dark Fae, a dystopian Ireland where children grow up warriors. I think this book deserves a lot more chatter than it's gotten.

10) THE FORGETTING by Sharon Cameron

The Forgetting

If you love a good dystopian fiction then I don't know how you've missed this beauty. The storyline asks a really great social question . . . what would you do if you knew you wouldn't remember it, if you could basically act upon any inclination knowing that you would be free from any moral sense of regret or consequence? Our main character lives in a world where every 12 years their town forgets. They come to unaware of who they are, complete blank slates. But what happens if you find yourself the only one that DOES remember?

What books are you most excited to read???