Thursday, October 27, 2016

Four to Score by Janet Evanovich

Four to Score (Stephanie Plum, #4)

Jacque's Review:

Stephanie Plum is back in action as Trenton, New Jersey's most lovable bounty hunter.  She may not be the most talented, but she certainly is the most entertaining.  

This time around she is looking for Maxine Nowicki, who was arrested for stealing her estranged boyfriend's car and failed to appear for her court date.  It seems strange to everyone that Maxine would run from the police for such a minor offence.  This could have all blown over by simply paying a fine and returning the car.

Stephanie soon discovers that Maxine's good friend Margie "accidentally" cut off her finger and Maxine's mother has a nasty head injury, which was also an "accident."  In addition Maxine’s former boyfriend, Eddie Kuntz, is willing to pay Stephanie $1,000 to find Maxine, so there is clearly more to this story than meets the eye.  

Eddie starts receiving mysterious clues from Maxine, which are in a secret code that nobody can solve.  Stephanie recruits the services of her elderly neighbor's nephew who is a pro at solving these types of puzzles.  He also happens to be one of Trenton's most famous drag queens, which really spices things up.  Add in Lula, Grandma Mazur and the other usual suspects and you have one hilarious page turner.

In addition to the hunt for Maxine, things are beginning to heat up with Joe Morelli.  Stephanie is forced to move in with him when someone sets her apartment on fire.  She doesn't want to bring any trouble to her parents' house, so she turns to Joe for help.  They have had a love/hate relationship since Stephanie was 6 years old, but they may be moving in a more positive direction.  

I'm still very early in this series, which currently has 23 novels plus some holiday stories.  I'm not sure how long Evanovich can keep up this all luck / no skill bounty hunter routine while still keeping the series funny and fresh, but so far so good.  I gave Four to Score 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads and will definitely continue onto book five.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Book Summary
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king's marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.

Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

Countdown to Heartless
I am super excited to be part of the Countdown to Heartless blog tour! Check out our Twitter and Instagram page for today's fun challenge!

Flo's Review
Wow. I was late to get on board the Cinder series train, but I was definitely glad when I finally hopped on. Like many others, I was so incredibly impressed by Marissa's way to take elements of stories familiar to us and add them to a larger narrative all her own. So when I first heard about Heartless, I knew that I would love seeing Marissa's conception of Wonderland.

I was not wrong. This book pulled me in right away and did not let me go. It hurt so good, you know? It hurt to read because I ultimately knew how things were going to end up for Catherine, and that the ending was not going to be wanted. I grew to really enjoy the bubbly, creative, fun Catherine of this story and it was so hard knowing what she would turn into.  And Marissa did the turn really well. I was afraid at one point in the story that it would be a light switch -- she's nice and lovable and suddenly she's awful. But it's not at all. I was able to see how and why her heart was hardening, and with a very clever final twist, how she became truly heartless.

The characters that we know and love from Lewis Carroll's story are given such depth. I was especially impressed with the Mad Hatter. Wow. His character is so, so well done. His story is clever and emotional, and the last scene where we see him was so emotional. I enjoyed seeing Cheshire popping up to gossip and the awkward, bubbling King. I laughed to myself every time I read about the Hare, because his name is Haigha, pronounced "hare" and I think that's awesome.

Jest is going to get his own paragraph, because Jest. He's the king's joker, but he is actually very clever, whilst the King is a fool. He's dark and mysterious and totally hot. His relationship with Catherine was realistic, and did I mention he's hot?! I'll take this joker any day!!

Heartless comes out November 8th, and I really think you will enjoy it! Imaginative, clever, emotional, fun -- it is all of this and more.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Book Summary
This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Flo's Review
First of all -- HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TO GEMINA! The second book of The Illuminae Files releases today, so I thought this would be a good time to post my review of book #1, which I just finished yesterday. What a unique and creative book! I never see twists, so the twists (two big ones that I'm thinking of) stopped me cold. I don't read a lot of sci fi because I tend to lose focus when it gets to technical. But Illuminae never did that for me. The story was always about the characters and their relationships. 

I actually listened to this on audio, and it was very good. I had heard from a friend that it was, but I was admittedly skeptical -- if you have seen this book, you know that its layout and formatting is non-traditional. I thought I would lose some of the experience by simply listening to the audio. But I don't think I did. The audio was great because it had noises that fit with what was going on. I didn't just read about the screams - I heard them. I loved the reader for the surveillance guy and also for Ezra. Honestly, all the voices were great. (Even the creepy "Briefing Note" voice of Illuminae.) But I think I will read the second book to get that experience as well.

Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff are coming to my favorite local bookstore, Books & Books, on November 10th and I couldn't be more excited to see them! (Click here for more information about that event.)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

GIVEAWAY: American Pastoral, Movie Tie-In Edition & The Lovely Reckless

Release Date: 10/21/2016
Rated: R

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Phillip Roth novel, AMERICAN PASTORAL follows an all American family across several decades, as their idyllic existence is shattered by social and political turmoil that will change the fabric of American culture forever. Ewan McGregor (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Beginners) makes his directorial debut and stars as Seymour “Swede” Levov, a once legendary high school athlete who is now a successful businessman married to Dawn, a former beauty queen. But turmoil brews beneath the polished veneer of Swede’s life. When his beloved daughter, Merry, disappears after being accused of committing a violent act, Swede dedicates himself to finding her and reuniting his family. What he discovers shakes him to the core, forcing him to look beneath the surface and confront the chaos that is shaping the modern world around him: no American family will ever be the same. AMERICAN PASTORAL also stars Academy Award® winner Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind) as Dawn, Dakota Fanning (The Runaways, The Twilight Saga) as Merry, Emmy® winner Uzo Aduba (Orange Is the New Black), and Academy Award® nominee David Strathairn (Lincoln, Good Night, and Good Luck). (Synopsis from Lionsgate.)

Thanks to our friends at Allied Media, we have a copy of the book to giveaway! You can enter on our Twitter page by retweeting this tweet: or on our Instagram page by commenting: If you don't have either, feel free to comment below. US only, contest ends 10/20. Good luck!

UPDATE! We decided to sweeten the deal by throwing in an ARC of The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia! So this lucky winner will get BOTH books! Good luck!!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Review: The Partner by John Grisham

The Partner

Jacque's Review:

I was a huge fan of John Grisham's legal thrillers back in high school, but I haven't read many since.  I decided to pick up where I left off and read his 8th book, The Partner, which was released in 1997.  I've heard that some of his never books aren't as good as the originals, but he certainly had his A game when he wrote this novel.

The Partner is about a young attorney in Biloxi, Mississippi named Patrick Lanigan who faked his death to start his life over.  He was in a bad marriage and discovered the partners in his firm were planning on firing him before he could cash in on their corrupt scheme.  He carefully gathered the evidence he needed before staging a car accident and sailing off into the sunset.  The partners of the firm put on a good show at the time of his funeral, but were secretly grateful for their good fortune.  

When the 90 million dollar settlement was wired into the firm's account it immediately went missing.  The firm was supposed to receive 1/3 of the amount (30 million dollars) with the remainder being transferred to their client.  Everyone began to question the circumstances surrounding Patrick's death and the search soon began.

When Patrick is found in Brazil four years later everyone thought he would finally be brought to justice and their stolen money wold be returned.  Little did they know the depths of the research and planning he had done the year before he left as well as while he was on the run.  

I was absolutely amazed by the level of detail.  Everything is woven together seamlessly and I couldn't help but root for Patrick to come out unscathed.  While his actions appeared to be inexcusable on the surface, he managed to have an explanation for everything.  There was always a bigger fish in the sea with regards to every accusation and Patrick had every detail covered.

I was highly entertained and would definitely recommend this book.  There was a shocking twist at the very end that I never would have anticipated.  I guess Grisham didn't want to leave readers with a too good to be true feeling and decided to drop a bomb in the last chapter.  Now I'm curious if there is more to Patrick's story in one of his future novels of if he truly was left hanging in the balance.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Book Summary
Magic can save you.
Magic can kill you.

Students at the Magisterium are supposed to be safe. Under the watchful eyes of the mages, they are taught to use magic to bring order to a chaotic world.

But now the chaos is fighting back. Call, Tamara, and Aaron should be worrying about things like pop quizzes and magic contests. Instead, after the shocking death of one of their classmates, they must track down a sinister killer… and risk their own lives in the process.

As Call, Tamara, and Aaron discover, magic can only be as good as the person who wields it. In evil hands, it has the capacity to do immeasurable harm, unless it is stopped in time.

In this striking third book of Magisterium, bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare present us with a school where anything, good or evil, can happen, and the only way to unlock the truth is to risk everything to find it.

Flo's Review
I admit, I have been forgetful. I'd forgotten how much Cassandra Clare likes her cliffhangers. And I'd forgotten how surprised I was at the end of The Iron Trial.


Admittedly, I knew something big was happened at the end of the book, due to minor spoilers on Goodreads. (I knew what, specifically, just not the details.) But that didn't stop me from being completely floored. I was so not expecting THAT. I have already read some theories on where they are going from here which make sense. I am eager to see the next steps, as they are not as evident as they have been at the end of previous books. 

That being said, it took me awhile to get into this book. For some reason, there was nothing really keeping me turning the pages until I found out about the end. But as I read, my motivation to keep going was that I needed to get the book back to the library (it's totally overdue) and not an overwhelming desire to see what happens next. Definitely the events in the book were all important, as they laid the foundation for the end. But I don't know. It read a little slow. Maybe more theorizing that action? Maybe a little too much of the Celia thing? Luckily, these books are short and easy reads, so it wasn't long before I was tied up in the end. 

Can't believe I have to wait another year until The Silver Mask!

Jacque's Review:

Call, Aaron and Tamara are on a quest to uncover who the "spy" is within the Magisterium and why he or she is targeting Call.  The most obvious reason is the fact that he is a Maker, which is someone who specializes in chaos magic.  There are very few Makers in each generation and very little is knows about their form of magic.  As a result, many people are afraid of them or perhaps want to be them.  The students don't believe that is the reason for the threats on Call's life because Aaron is also a Maker and he hasn't been threatened.

Call does have a secret that only his father and closest friends are aware of, which is most likely the reason for the attacks.  They can't share this information with anyone.  Call, Aaron, Tamara and Jasper must work together to solve this mystery on their own.

The conclusion of this book was not at all what I was expecting.  This is a middle grade series, but Holly and Cassandra certainly aren't coddling these characters or their readers.  There is an epic battle as one would expect and the fallout was more than a little shocking.  I have no idea what direction they will take the series next, but it probably leans more to the "Evil Overlord" side of the spectrum.

Overall, this book wasn't as fast paced and gripping as the first two books in the series, but that is often the case with middle books in a series.  Hopefully things will pick up again with book four or I'm afraid they will lose their appeal to younger readers.  I have a sixth grade son that probably would enjoy the first two books in the series, but he would likely struggle to get through this one.  

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

I didn't even notice that the actual cover under the dust jacket was super awesome, too, until today! I got this book back in May!

Book Summary
As Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts — and the love of her life.

When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she’s ever wanted threatens to crumble. As her coronation date approaches, a series of suspicious and bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs in the whimsical halls of Wonderland. It’s up to Dinah to unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the Palace before she loses her own head to a clever and faceless foe.

Part epic fantasy, part twisted fairy tale, this dazzling saga will have readers shivering as Dinahs furious nature sweeps Wonderland up in the maelstrom of her wrath. 

Familiar characters such as Cheshire, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter make their appearance, enchanting readers with this new, dark take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Flo's Review
Having just finished Heartless by Marissa Meyer and wanting to stay in Wonderland, I finally reached for Queen of Hearts. This book has been on my TBR since I met the author Colleen Oakes at BookCon in May. It is the story of the Queen of Hearts before she became the brutal "Off with his head!!" lady that we know from Alice in Wonderland
Me with author Colleen Oakes at BookCon in May 2016
This was an interesting story. My favorite part was definitely the world building. It was really cool to see how Colleen translated some of the characters we are familiar with, like Cheshire, Harris (the White Rabbit), and the Mad Hatter. The different Cards held different positions in the government, so the Diamond Cards has specific roles, the Spades had a role, and so forth. And it was fascinating to read about Wonderland: the physical geography of it and the different areas. 

I didn't really like Dinah, and my reading style is usually that I have to like the main character (or somebody significant) to be invested in the story. But Dinah made sense. Knowing what she is going to become, it makes sense that she is already unlikable, and I do see how she grew up made her the way she is. I was also a little thrown with the passage of time in this story. I'd finish a chapter and then start a new one and it would like, (I'm paraphrasing) "So everything that just happened took place 6 months ago and now Dinah is..." Every time, I was like, "Wait. What?" Maybe because there were several time leaps like that and they were so understated? I'm not sure. It's not a negative or a positive, just an observation. 

Look at the chapter headers! The Q with the blood drip is on point. This is one the prettiest books I've seen in awhile.
I am curious to see how things go down in Book 2. Without giving anything away from this one, I'm curious about Cheshire -- there is some shade going on with him. Same with the Duchess. What's her story?

Books to Movies Giveaway Hop

When we first started Book Nerds Across America, we had a monthly feature where we all read and reviewed a book that was going to become a movie. Because we love books, and we love movies. We aren't able to do this all the time anymore, but we still do reviews of movies based off books every once in awhile. I think it's great! I really enjoy reading a book and then seeing how the director and actors bring it to life. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I don't -- sometimes I don't like them, a lot of times, I do. Anyway! All this is to say we are happy to participate in this Hop. Here's the prize...

It's a mini poster based on Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, courtesy of Quirk Books. (I accidentally ended up with two, so I'm paying it forward with one for one of you :). Have you seen this movie yet? I haven't, but I want to. We did read and review the book. This contest is US only (sorry - we will do another international giveaway soon!) and you can enter via the Rafflecopter. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And now you can hop on!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

300 Things I Hope by Iain S. Thomas

Book Summary
From the creator of I Wrote This For You, comes a collection of 300 things that the author, Iain S. Thomas, and artist, Carla Kreuser, truly and sincerely hope for you – from hoping that you always have a pen, to hoping that you’re never lonely, and everything in-between. This collection of hope will move you and remind you of what’s important in life as you live it. Or at least, that’s what they hope. 

Flo's Review
When I read the synopsis for this book I said, "Oh, a fun little read!" This is exactly what this was. It was a perfect leisurely Sunday morning read over brunch. Iain S. Thomas has compiled a range of little snippets of things, all starting with "I hope..." and all only a sentence a two. Sometimes they are light and funny, sometimes they are short and serious, but they all got me thinking. I marked a few of my favorites:

"I hope you love someone like the solar system loves the sun."

"I hope you meet someone who's as close to your soulmate as possible while actually being real."

"I hope someone famous retweets you."

"I hope you reach beyond yourself, constantly."

"I hope your heart is made of something hard and soft at the same time."

This book is in the same vein of one of my favorite songs -- "My Wish" by Rascal Flatts:

Thank you to Central Avenue publishing for sending me an Advance Reader Copy in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Banned Book Week Giveaway Hop

It's Banned Book Week! If you haven't heard about it before here's the brief gist:

"The Banned Books Week Coalition is a national alliance of diverse organizations joined by a commitment to increase awareness of the annual celebration of the freedom to read. The Coalition seeks to engage various communities and inspire participation in Banned Books Week through education, advocacy, and the creation of programming about the problem of book censorship. The 2016 celebration will be held September 25-October 1.
Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 according to the American Library Association."

I grabbed that from the Banned Books Week website: The site also includes a list of the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2015:
  1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
  3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
    Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
    Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
  6. The Holy Bible
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
  7. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
    Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
  8. Habibi, by Craig Thompson
    Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
  10. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
    Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”)
For the giveaway, I am going to be giving away a book that was one of the top ten challenged titles in 2014 for reasons of  "drugs/alochol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: date rape and masturbation." (*source). Marshall University has a good timeline of events surrounding this book. Geekade also has a detailed blog post about this.

I thought it was interesting that this title was also chosen as a World Book Night U.S. title for 2014. So that is the edition I am giving away. Without further ado...

The Perks of Being a Wallflower 
by Stephen Chbosky

I simply adored this book! The movie, too. (I also have not had such a linktastic blog post in a long time! Sorry, random aside.) Anyway, you can enter via the Rafflecopter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thank you for stopping by! And now you can hop on:

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

Book Summary
The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

Flo's Review
By now, I am sure you have heard a lot of opinions about this one. I finished reading it about a week after its release, but I stopped myself from reading other reviews until I wrote this. My initial thought after reading this was...I liked it....but....

I think I really liked it for nostalgic purposes. I liked seeing Harry and the gang, and what their life looks like now. And I did enjoy reading about Albus, Scorpius and Rose -- though I wish we saw more Rose! But what I couldn't really get behind was the storyline. It just wasn't really sitting with felt very fan fictionish. 

There could be several reasons for the disconnect. It is a play and not a novel, so it lacked J.K. Rowling's rich details from the first seven books. Also, it is a play, and maybe I need to actually see it. Maybe when it comes to NYC? (A girl can dream!!)

Overall, I would put myself at a solid 'I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it.' I liked it okay. It made me feel sad at parts and smile at parts. I don't regret reading it, and I definitely would love, love, love to see the play. I'm curious to know what you thought! Please let us know in the comments.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Book Summary
Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Flo's Review
It can be hard going into a book when you have super high expectations. Rainbow Rowell is a fantastic author. I really enjoyed Fangirl. I LOVED Attachments. But I didn't like Landline. I have a copy of Carry On, but I haven't read it yet. So that leaves me with Eleanor & Park. I had heard so many great things about this book, so I was definitely excited when I was able to get a hold of the audiobook, thus bumping it up on my TBR.

And I liked it. I did. It was cute, and I will go into what I loved about it momentarily. But did it blow me away? Nah. It was hard reading Eleanor. I absolutely understand why she was so insecure, but it was just exhausting to read her. Over and over and over Park affirmed her, but she kept continuing to fish for compliments.

This book was in slow motion, in a good way. In a VERY good way. The pace while reading it didn't feel like a pace at all. I felt like I was there with them, living the moments. I felt like I was Eleanor. I felt like I was Park. Rainbow doesn't just show us a scene. She doesn't just tell us a scene. She immersed us into every single detail. I can remember scenes in that book as if they were moments that I lived in my own life. I don't think I have ever read a book that did this so, so well.

If you like Rainbow's books, then you should read this one. If you like YA contemporaries, you should read this. If you like reminiscing about the 80s, you should read this. If you like reading about and reliving the awkwardness and wonder of first love, you should read this. Most importantly, if you want to read some of the best writing I have ever read in my life, I think you should read this. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Review: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments, #3)

Jacque's Review:

City of Glass is the third book in the Mortal Instruments series.  It is my understanding it was originally a trilogy, which Cassandra decided to expand into a 6 book series.  The ending definitely felt like the conclusion of the series.  Everything comes together nicely and I was very content with how she left each of the characters. 

From what I have heard, that isn't the feeling readers have had that continued reading books 4 through 6.  For that reason, I am going to consider this series complete for the time being and move onto Cassandra’s Infernal Devices series, which Flo and Teri told me I HAVE to read.

I love the Shadowhunter world Cassandra has created.  The battles against Valentine and his demons added the necessary danger and excitement to keep the pages turning.  I also enjoyed watching the characters grow though out the series.  Simon gains a tremendous amount of confidence in this installment as he comes to terms with being a vampire and embraces his new talents.  I also enjoyed seeing Alec open up about his relationship with Magnus.  Perhaps the greatest revelation was discovering who Sebastian really is and how that news impacts the rest of the Shadowhunters. 

What I enjoyed the most about City of Glass is that it brought the Shadowhunters and Downworlders together to fight for a common cause.  They all have unique abilities, so it always surprised me that the Shadowhunters looked down upon the vampires, warlocks, fae, and werewolves.  If only they would have aligned themselves sooner, a great deal of death and evil likely could have been prevented.  The alliance also makes it possible for all of our favorite characters to live together peacefully, which definitely contributes to the warm and fuzzy ending to this trilogy.

I would definitely recommend this series to any YA fan.  If you have read the last three books in the series, I would love to hear your thoughts.  Should I read them or not?

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

Book Summary
Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?
Flo's Review
Let's start with the cover love! It's so colorful and pretty!
I simply adored Nicola Yoon’s first book Everything, Everything. I loved the way she was able to capture so much emotion in beautiful, yet uncomplicated writing. So I was really looking forward to seeing if she would be able to do the same thing in her new book The Sun Is Also a Star. The answer is YES! She was, and maybe even more so. The Sun Is Also a Star was the book that I couldn’t put down – I just kept flipping the pages because I wanted to see how Natasha or how Daniel would react to what was going on. And when I finished it, my heart was full of fuzzy and happy.
There were so many things I loved about this book. I loved that Nicola flipped the stereotypes all over the place – the Korean boy was the dreamy poet and the Black girl was the super smart scientific one. I loved how Natasha and Daniel had these completely different worldviews, but they tested each other and truly considered what the other was saying. I loved the idea of fate, as this is a question I’ve thought about all the time, and I bet a lot of other people have, too.
There is a scientific study talked about in the book that I remember reading before, so it was really cool to see that come back up in the story.
And there is, in particular, one great scene where Natasha walks by a couple and sees them one way, and then Daniel walks by the couple and sees them completely differently. The same thing happens with a street musician. This one scene is a perfect illustration of us, of life -- how different people see things differently and it shapes the way we act, react, and interact.
I loved how this story was heartbreaking and hopeful all at the same time. I loved that we got to see a little bit of how all our actions count – even the little ones – and how certain plot points intertwined, giving us (humanity) a feeling of connectedness. The theme of loneliness came up, and this book seemed to say, “You are not alone. People notice you. What you do affects others.” I actually didn’t expect the ending, even though it was a possibility based on what we were read earlier. It was a pleasant surprise, and definitely went along with the theme of how life can pleasantly surprise you.  
The Sun is Also a Star comes out in November and I can't recommend it enough! 5 of out of 5 big sunny stars!!

Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Jacque's Review:

I loved Divergent and gave it 5 stars.  There were some things I didn't really care for in Insurgent, so I gave it 3 stars and was REALLY hoping the series would end on a solid note the way it started.  I pre-ordered Allegiant, but was reluctant to read it after so many readers gave it mixed reviews.  People seemed to either love it or hate it, with the majority of my friends being on the latter end of the spectrum.  

As part of the COYER (clean out your e-reader) challenge, I decided it was time to finally complete this series.  I managed to avoid spoilers with one not so minor exception.  I did hear that someone significant dies, I just didn't know who it would be until I actually read the book.  All in all, that is pretty remarkable since the book was released almost 3 years ago and sparked a ton of conversation and debate in the blogging world.

I'm not going to give a synopsis like I usually do because I honestly don't feel like I have anything to say.  At just over half way through this book, I sent a message to Flo and said "Literally nothing has happened so far."  She said she felt the same way when she read the book.  Until the last 75 pages or so I felt like I gained next to nothing from the time I had invested.  Then there is a major twist that nobody would have seen coming, which is what lead to all of the debate.  I personally did not care for how the series ended and would not recommend reading beyond the first book in the series.  

I think Veronica could have wrapped things up in two books instead of three.  Readers could have saved their time and money and the majority of people would be able to look back on the series in a far more positive light. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Spotlight: Dessert First by Dean Gloster

Flo's Note
My fiance makes fun of me all the time because I tend to look at the dessert menu before the food menu at the restaurant. Some of my favorite restaurants made the list simply because of their desserts. So the first thing I said when I saw this book was, "Perfect!" The summary sounds poignant and feel-good, and I just had to share with y'all.

Book Summary
This is a story about family, friendship and love that illustrates just how much you can accomplish on this earth with people you are connected to you, regardless of the time you share with them.

Kat is the big sister and, as a bone-marrow match, the only hope for saving her little brother, Beep, whose leukemia has relapsed for the second time. In the face of her family’s tragedy, Kat has been the problem-solver cheerleader, so now she can’t tell anyone, even the boy she loves, that it’s all been an act. When even her heroic effort to save Beep fails, so does Kat’s irreverent sense of humor, and she spirals downward, until help comes from an unlikely place.

Dean Gloster New Photo 1 smaller.jpgDean Gloster (Berkeley, CA) is a former law clerk to two U.S. Supreme Court Justices and a former stand-up comedian. When not writing YA novels, he ski races during the winter (Super-G is his best event) and is enrolled in the low-residency MFA program in writing for children and young adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. His wife, Nancy Ricci, works at a children’s hospice and respite care center, and inspired him to write the book. When Dean is not at home in Berkeley, California, Saucy the dog guards the commas in his manuscripts. Dean thinks that writing, flying, and ski racing have lots in common: According to Douglas Adams, all you have to do is throw yourself at the ground—and miss.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Spotlight Tour: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Book Summary:

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives. 

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Goodreads Link:
Buy Links:

Book Trailer Link:

Labyrinth Lost Coloring Page:

About the Author:
Zoraida Córdova was born in Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York. She is the author of theVicious Deep trilogy, the On the Verge series, and the Brooklyn Brujas series. She loves black coffee, snark, and still believes in magic. Send her a tweet @Zlikeinzorro or visit her at

Social Media Links:

Twitter:  @zlikeinzorro
Labyrinth Lost Tumblr:

Read an excerpt from Labyrinth Lost (and enter to win a copy!) after the page break: