Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Exclusive Excerpt: Lobizona by Romina Garber


We are so excited to be sharing an exclusive excerpt of Lobizona as part of the blog tour! Find it below the page break.


Book Summary
Some people ARE illegal.

Lobizonas do NOT exist.

Both of these statements are false.

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who's on the run from her father's Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu's protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past—a mysterious "Z" emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobiz√≥n, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it's not just her U.S. residency that's illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.

Read an exclusive excerpt from Lobizona after the page break.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Book Review: Starlight Nights by Stacey Kade


Goodreads Overview:

At twenty-three, Calista Beckett is trying to overcome her early fame and fortune. The former savior of the world on Starlight is now a freshman at college--miles away from L.A. and her former existence. She sees it as her start to a new life, a normal life, one where she won't make the same mistakes she made before--a brush with heroin addiction and losing her freedom to her controlling mother, thanks to a court order.

Eric Stone played her older brother, Byron, on Starlight. But she's been in love with him pretty much since they kissed--her first kiss--while auditioning. When Eric shows up on campus out of the blue asking her to return to California for a role, Calista's struck immediately by two things: first, in spite of everything that's happened, she still feels something dangerous for him, and second, she's absolutely determined not to let him ruin her life again.

Only Eric's not giving up so easily.

Jacque's Review:

Starlight Nights is a companion novel to Stacey's 738 Days.  You don't need to read 738 Days to appreciate this story, but there is some overlap of the characters and the timeline is several years in the future. I loved seeing how Chase and Amanda are doing now, but they are definitely secondary characters this time around.

Calista's mother is her manager and has been using her as the family's primary revenue source for as long as Calista can remember. Now that her career has been derailed, she is taking a much needed break from the spotlight and trying to be a normal college student. Unfortunately, she is the biggest thing to hit her small school in the middle of nowhere and doesn't exactly fit in. 

Eric's father is a famous producer, so Eric is viewed as the privileged son who can get away with anything. He has made some mistakes, but he is trying to turn his life around and is putting all of his own money into starting a production company of his own. He wants to prove himself, but his father is determined to sabotage everything he does.

Eric buys the rights to a book that Calista loved when they were working on Starlight Nights together. He will stop at nothing to get her to star in it with him to capitalize on their existing fan base, but that isn't his only motivation. He feels guilty about how things ended between them and is determined to help her get her life back on track. 

Eric and Calista have a long and complicated history together, but they both still have feelings for each other. It takes them a while to regain the trust and friendship they once had and to see what the real problems have always been in their relationship. They need to take control of their own lives if they are ever going to be happy.

This was a highly entertaining romance. The content is adult compared to Stacey's Ghost and the Goth or Project Paper Doll series, which is great for us older readers, but I wouldn't recommend it for younger teens. I have a 15 year old that I still try to keep him in the PG13 range, which this book definitely exceeds. I can only imagine the expression on my son's face if he read a few of the scenes, LOL.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Book Review: The Suicide House by Charlie Donlea



GOOD READS SUMMARY:
A chilling murder in a prestigious prep school is at the heart of this riveting new novel from acclaimed author Charlie Donlea, featuring forensic reconstructionist Rory Moore and her psychologist partner, Lane Phillips.

Inside the walls of Indiana's elite Westmont Preparatory High School, expectations run high, and rules are strictly enforced. But in the woods beyond the manicured campus and playing fields sits an abandoned boarding house that is infamous among Westmont's students as a late-night hangout. Here, only one rule applies: don't let your candle go out--unless you want the Man in the Mirror to find you. . . .

One year ago, two students were killed there in a grisly slaughter. The case has since become the focus of a hit podcast, The Suicide House. Though a teacher was convicted of the murders, mysteries and questions remain. The most urgent among them is why so many students who survived that horrific night have returned to the boarding house--to kill themselves.

Rory, an expert in reconstructing cold cases, is working on The Suicide House podcast with Lane, recreating the night of the killings in order to find answers that have eluded the school, the town, and the police. But the more they learn about the troubled students, the chillingly stoic culprit, and a dangerous game gone tragically wrong, the more convinced they become that something sinister is still happening. Inside Westmont Prep, the game hasn't ended. It thrives on secrecy and silence. And for its players, there may be no way to win--or to survive. 

TEES REVIEW:

I have always been drawn to a book that is set in an elite prep school, and even more so if there happens to be a mystery surrounding the school. Suicide House gave me everything I expected from it along with secret societies, murder, gossip, and more.

The story takes place on the campus of the elite private school in Indiana called Westmore Prep, where a podcast decides to focus on a past murder of two students who were killed in an abandoned boarding house that students used as a hangout. The podcast, titled Suicide House tackles why students that were there that night go back to the scene and commit suicide.

I enjoyed the story but found out later the main characters is in a book before this one, and Suicide House is the second in the series, While I think that the book stood on its own very well, I would have liked to have read the other one first, maybe to just get insight on the characters that were investigating the crime. The story itself had plenty of suspenseful moments and was a well-written mystery. I really enjoyed the author giving us glimpses of the killer bu their journal entries that were included in the story, that along with the blogging and podcasts gave the story a real feeling of being on a campus in which these things would really be happening in today's world.

I did struggle with a few things in the book, mostly that there were a lot of mysteries or stories, and POVs going on at once, and at times I had to re=read to comprehend parts of it, especially when I first started reading the book. The book does move at a bit slower pace than most books I read so that helped me out a bit also. I had time to think about things without getting totally lost.

All in all Suicide House is a great book and most mystery readers will enjoy it. 

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Book Review: The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu


Goodreads Overview:

Two siblings. Two brilliant talents. But only one Mozart.

Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish—to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she'll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in 18th century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age—her tyrannical father has made that much clear.

And as Nannerl's hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true—but his help may cost her everything.

Jacque's Review:

I have had a number of Marie Lu's books on my TBR list for a long time, but this is the first of her books that I have actually read. As it mentions in the overview, this is her first historical fiction novel. I really enjoyed learning about Mozart and his older sister, who was very talented in her own right. I also wasn't aware of the fragile state of Mozart's health from a young age, which was probably fairly common back in those days. The amount of traveling the children had to do, and the fact that their family's livelihood eventually rested upon their shoulders, is more than any child at that age should have to bear. 

To escape the pressure of their daily lives and to pass the time while they traveled, the Mozart children enjoyed sharing stories about a magical kingdom they thought only existed in their imagination. Nannerl used the world to help perpetuate her hopes of being remembered forever. She begins to notice that events from their stories are beginning to overlap in the real world. Hyacinth, the magical being from their imaginary world, appears to both children and makes a deal with Nannerl she can't refuse. 

Hyacinth reminded me of Morpheus from A.G. Howard's Splintered series. He could be extremely charming, but there was always something sneaky about his motives. Nannerl eventually discovers her bargain with Hyacinth may cost her more than she is willing to give up. She needs to find a way to save the Kingdom and those she loves before it is too late.

The Kingdom of Back was the March Owlcrate selection. Below is a photo of everything that came in the box. Photo credit to Hello Subscription.  I loved this special edition of the book with the silver edges. I also really enjoyed the Owlcrate themed socks and speaker. I did see some reviews from subscribers who said their speaker didn't work, but I haven't had any difficulties. For a small portable speaker I think the sound quality is really good, but I have only used it to listen to audio books. I'm sure it doesn't have the same sound quality as my Bose speakers, but it does a great job for audio books. It was very easy to link up to my phone and is a really cute design with the owl face.

Overall, I really enjoyed the box and the book was another excellent choice that I might not have picked up if it weren't for Owlcrate. I have enjoyed all of the books I have received from them so far and look forward to reading their April book, Bone Criers Moon, which is still in my TBR pile. Flo was shocked that this is the first Marie Lu book that I have read, so I guess I need to bump some of her other books up the TBR list as well to see what I have been missing. So many books....so little time :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Book Review: The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society


Goodreads Overview:

"I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers." January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she's never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb...

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society's members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

Jacque's Review:

I listened to this book on audio and followed along with the ebook. The story is told through a series of letters between the characters and each character had his or her own narrator for the audio book, which I loved. 

I visited Guernsey last summer and watched the Netflix movie before I went to learn a little bit of the history of the island before I went. The book is historical fiction, but you definitely get more of the history from the book than you do the movie. The descriptions of what life was like during the German occupation were very detailed and gave readers a good idea of the struggles the islanders went through while cut off from the rest of the world. Germany used the island as a base to launch attacks on Britain and the other surrounding regions, so Britain could not deliver supplies. Food was scarce and even things like soap were hard to come by. Communication was cut off, so they had no idea how the war was progressing or if an end was in sight.

The island was very beautiful, but you can still see the bunkers and other military impacts of the occupation. We visited a WW2 museum and were able to see a number of the artifacts that have been collected from this period of time. Below are a few of the pictures from our trip to give you an idea.




This was a very well written book with fascinating characters. I learned a lot about Guernsey and received a different perspective of the war than I have ever read in an American history book. I gave this book 5 stars and would definitely recommend it. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Book Review: Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter


Goodreads Overview:

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling away again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair…

Jacque's Review:

I picked up a copy of this book at BEA several years ago. I finally decided to read it after going to an author event at my local library with Katherine Arden who wrote The Bear and the Nightingale. I didn't know anything about the Russian folktale Vasilisa the Beautiful prior to the event, which both books are based upon. 

Vassa makes a huge mistake when she agrees to fetch light bulbs from the local convenience store. She knows that entering the dancing building that seems to have brought perpetual darkness to Brooklyn is a risky move, but she feels like she has nothing to lose. She ends up trapped by the owner and has to work in the store to earn her freedom, which is a far better punishment than most people receive. 

While working at the store, Vassa learns about her mother's magical history and how her magical wooden doll, Erg, actually came to be. She realizes she may be the only person who can put an end to Babs's reign of terror and restore Brooklyn to what it was before darkness took over the city.

This was an interesting tale filled with unusual characters and magical elements. I found it to be a slow read due to the fact that it was really far fetched and I couldn't relate to the story. I debated between 2 and 3 stars on Goodreads and probably wouldn't recommend it unless you are really into Russian folklore and can relate the elements in this story back to the original. I am curious to know more about Vasilisa the Beautiful to see where the stories overlap, but for now, I'm just ready to move on to something a bit more main stream.
 

Monday, July 13, 2020

Book Review: Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson


Goodreads Overview:

On the night Malcolm and Maud Angel are murdered, Tandy Angel knows just three things: 1) She was the last person to see her parents alive. 2) The police have no suspects besides Tandy and her three siblings. 3) She can't trust anyone-maybe not even herself.

As Tandy sets out to clear the family name, she begins to recall flashes of experiences long buried in her vulnerable psyche. These memories shed light on her family's dark secrets, and digging deeper into her powerful parents' affairs proves to be a disturbing and dangerous game. Who knows what any of the Angels are truly capable of?

Jacque's Review:

I found this book in my local little free library. I have read and enjoyed Patterson and Paetro's Women's Murder Club books, so I decided to give it a try. I love a good murder mystery, but you don't see them too often for teens / young adults, so I was really excited when I first started reading and discovered this series is YA.

The book is narrated by Tandy Angel who is telling the story directly to the reader. It was very unique and I thoroughly enjoyed this style of writing. There were times when it seemed like she was sharing a secret with the reader or she prompted the reader with questions to think about.

The story begins with the murders of Malcolm and Maud Angel. They are extremely wealthy and reside in an exclusive NYC condo building. With no undetectable way in or out of the home, the police are convinced it had to be someone inside the house, which leaves only the nanny or one of the Angel children as suspects. All of the children are extremely gifted, thanks to the vitamins produced by Malcolm's pharmaceutical company, that the children have been taking for as long as they can remember. Matthew Angel won the Heisman and now plays in the NFL. Harry, Tandy's twin, is a musical prodigy while Tandy is a genius. Hugo, the youngest of the children, has supernatural strength and is also gifted academically. 

Tandy takes it upon herself to conduct an investigation to clear there names since the police aren't willing to look beyond the obvious. It doesn't take long for her to discover that they all have some sort of motivation for murder and she isn't even sure she can rule herself out. She starts interviewing other residents in the building to see if any of them may have seen or heard anything that evening.

The Angel children uncover a number of skeletons in the family closet while unraveling this mystery. Not all ends were tied up nicely at the end of this book, which is what the next book in this series will likely be about. I can't say any more than that without giving away spoilers, but I can't wait to see what will happen next. 

This series was a pleasant surprise that I would definitely recommend to any murder mystery fan. If it weren't for the little free library, I likely never would have discovered this series. It isn't one that I ever saw hyped when it was released or recall seeing reviewed on other blogs.