Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Author Spotlight: All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry - 4 stars

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Samantha was born four days before the death of John Lennon. she grew up in Dallas, playing bass guitar along to vinyl records in her bedroom after school, writing fan letters to rock stars, doodling song lyrics into notebooks, and reading big, big books.

She spends as much time as possible in the west Texas desert.

Title: All the Wind in the World
Genre: YA
Author: Samantha Mabry
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication: October 10th 2017
Cover Rating: 4/5

All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry is a beautifully written western novel. That is the best way I can describe it. There are deserts, horses, maguey plants(used to make tequila), poor living conditions, fear, pain, love, hate, life and death. This novel contained things that I never thought I would enjoy in a book. I am not huge on horses or farms or anything that has to do with the things in this book. But, somehow, I ended up enjoying the story more than I thought I would.

Our main character is Sarah Jac. Her are her 'cousin' James are living the life of migrant workers. They hop from farm to farm cutting plants to make a little bit of money to save for their big plan. They aren't really cousins but they pretend to be in order to keep each other safe from jealous, angry workers. Jealous and anger make people do some pretty crappy things. After an incident at their last ranch, Sarah Jac and James end up at a new ranch, The Real Marvelous. But there are problems with this ranch. Problems that involve curses and death. Lots of death. 

The world this book takes place in is our world but not at the same time. I had a problem telling whether this was a future or past world. There was no technology but the way Sarah Jac would describe things, especially Chicago, made it seem like the world was ending. Droughts and small wages and poor living conditions. But at the same time when she was describing life with her grandmother it seemed like the book was from the past. 

In the end, I did struggled to read this book, but only because some of the scenes were hard to get through. There was so many sad and painful things that the people in this book went through just to make a few pennies. Knowing that people actually live like this every day was pretty hard to swallow. Aside from that, the ending was very difficult. Sarah Jac was hurt and ready to accept death. James did some pretty horrible things. But somehow, both of them ended up in a pretty decent situation after some pretty terrible events.

Overall, I gave the book 4/5 stars.

1) If you could bring any of your characters to life, who would you pick and why?
There’s a character in A Fierce and Subtle Poison named Rico. He’s one of Lucas’ best friends, and he curses a lot and drives a scooter. I’d like to meet him, I think. We’d get in trouble together.

2) Tell us 5 random facts about yourself:
I’m an amateur welder (I make/hope to make furniture). I used to be a yoga teacher, but I’m still not very limber. I’d rather be in a hammock strung up between two trees more than anyplace else in the world. My favorite food is birthday cake, like a big white sheet cake with super-sugary white icing and super-sugary purple and red icing flowers on it. If I have a pattern, I can knit and/or crochet almost anything.

3) Where did the inspiration for All the Wind in the World come from?
The inspiration for All the Wind in the World came from several sources, but two main ones: far West Texas, where it’s dry and rugged and beautiful, and an old(ish) film called Days of Heaven, which is romantic and sad and rugged and beautiful.

4) If a future version of yourself went back in time to when you were a teenager and told you that you were going to be a great author, would you have believed her?
Oh…maybe? I had high hopes for myself! I knew I wanted to do something great and creative and that was meaningful to people. But I was teenager, I wanted more than anything to play bass in a famous rock band and tour the world. So, I thought I might become a great bassist, not so much a great author.

5) Are you currently working on any new books?
Sort of? I have a couple of things cooking: a ghost story set in San Antonio and a tale about bandits. Both are in very, very rough, though and exist mostly just in my head still.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Author Spotlight: There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins - 1 star

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments

Hi, there! I'm Steph, and I wrote Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and Isla and the Happily Ever After. I also edited (and contributed a short story to) a romantic holiday anthology called My True Love Gave to Me and its companion anthology, Summer Days and Summer Nights. My next YA release is a horror novel called There's Someone Inside Your House, which will be released Fall 2017.

Title: There's Someone Inside Your House 
Genre: YA Contemporary Thriller-ish with High School setting
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton
Publication: September 26th 2017
Cover Rating: 5/5

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins was one of my top 10 most anticipated book releases for 2017. It was supposed to be this really awesome thriller/horror story and I was SO ready for it. Sadly, I was greatly let down by every. single. part. of this book. What happens when a super fluffy, Young Adult Romance author tries to write a thriller/horror book? Well, that part is scarier than the actual book.

Our main character is Makani, the new girl in town. She was sent to live with her grandmother to 'help her out' but in reality she was sent to live there because she did some stupid, super teen-angst filled, thing that got her in a lot of trouble. She has settled well into her new life. Then the murders start. And this little girl thinks everything is about her and her past. She also has the audacity to start a VERY sexual relationship in the middle of all of this chaos. Big let down is the understatement of the year.

The overall plot and romance aspects of this book were beyond pointless and frustrating. The murderer's reason behind killing people? SO STUPID. The loner/rebel dude ending up with the 'new' girl with a shady past? UGH!!! Is there a stronger word than cliche? The shady past of the new girl? WTF even was that? The only part I even remotely liked was the grandmother and MAYBE the best friends. They were kind of fun.

All in all, the author needs to stick to writing her romance stories. This book could have been good but the fact that I feel it was a rip off of the movie Scream AND the annoying romance really KILLED it for me. I will still read the author if she goes back to fluffy books but never again will I make this mistake.

Overall, I gave the book 1/5 stars.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Author Spotlight: Warcross by Marie Lu - 5 stars!

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments

I write young adult novels, and have a special love for dystopian books. Ironically, I was born in 1984. Before becoming a full-time writer, I was an Art Director at a video game company. Now I shuffle around at home and talk to myself a lot. :)

I graduated from the University of Southern California in '06 and currently live in LA, where I spend my time stuck on the freeways.

Title: Warcross
Genre: YA Sci Fi
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: Putnam
Publication: September 12th 2017
Cover Rating: 5/5

Warcross by Marie Lu is a fantastic Sci-Fi story about Emika Chen and her struggles with life in a futuristic world not too far off of where we currently are. She is a self taught hacker and she makes money to pay the bills by being a bounty hunter, catching criminals that usually commit crimes in Warcross. What is Warcross? It is a virtual world where you can fight other people while attempting to steal the other teams Artifact. The game is played through a pair of glasses and almost the entire world is in on the craze.

Warcross is having their yearly tournament and somehow, while Emika is watching it, she glitches the game and everyone can see her. She is afraid that she will be going to jail now but the exact opposite is what really happens. Her idol, Hideo Tanaka, the very young inventor of the Warcross teachnology, has a job offer for her. A very interesting job offer, with high stakes and high pay. Which is perfect considering she was struggling to pay her bills. From there we are taken on a really fun journey through the Warcross tournament and possibly straight into Hideo Takana's arms.

If you are a gamer or just like reading books about gamer stuff then this is totally for you. No, it is NOT Ready Player One and I AM GLAD! I am so tired of people comparing every game-related book to that one. This book stands on its own as so much more than just a gamer book. It has some really deep meaning to it and I just completely loved it.

The ending of the book was surprising but also not. I kind of guessed who Zero was but I didn't guess the Hideo part. So many people wish for world peace but to what extent are you willing to go to achieve that world peace? That is the question I felt was floating around at  the end. I cannot wait the read the next book to find out what happens with EVERYTHING. This book was insanely good!

Always remember, it's not just a game. It's a way of life.

Overall, I gave the book 5/5 stars.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Review: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee - Valeria

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 10:00 AM 0 comments


Goodreads Description:
Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

If you are in the book universe you know that this was a highly anticipated read for which I had so many high hopes. Now the book didn't disappoint buuuuut it also wasn't the world's best book like everyone was dishing. The ending really made the book the best part for me. It was incredibly fucking cute and gave me all sorts of feels, making me forget any sort of complaint that I had over this book. Now there are things that some might cringe at, myself included but to be honest I think that the author handled the way that people were back in the day without being OVERLY offensive and created a love story that didn't seemed forced but rather flowed naturally. And I say forced because I will come out and say it. To me I have read some LGBTQ+ stories out there that are written by authors almost in a way that seemed like they forced themselves to write a love aspect to their characters. Like
if you aint feeling it, neither will you characters or readers.
Lee on the other hand is as in love with the characters as they are with each other and therefore. I ship them.

Recommend it?

Saturday, October 7, 2017

REVIEW: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin - Valeria

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 10:00 AM 0 comments

Goodreads Description:
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s witty comedy of manners—one of the most popular novels of all time—that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. Renowned literary critic and historian George Saintsbury in 1894 declared it the “most perfect, the most characteristic, the most eminently quintessential of its author’s works,” and Eudora Welty in the twentieth century described it as “irresistible and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be.”

My first Jane Austen book! I do wish I had actually gone the physical book route because I went with the audiobook and it all seemed to go so fast. To me this was the type of book that you had to turn the pages at your own pace. That being said, I really enjoyed this book anyways but for I fact I will still have to go back and physically go through the book because it felt a little fast and like things didn't stick. It made me so happy to finally meet Mr. Darcy and all these characters that are frankly iconic. Now, the characters just seemed to opposite of me in every way, very self absorbed in a way that just made me roll my eyes. In any other book this would've been a massive turn off but blissfully, I really though of how things where back in the day and how women didn't really have a choice in many matters during that time. Before I continue to read another Jane Austen novel, I will attempt to revisit this one in the near future.

Recommend it?
If you like classic romance.v

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Author Spotlight: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust - 4.5/5 stars

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments

Melissa Bashardoust (pronounced BASH-ar-doost) received her degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, where she rediscovered her love for creative writing, children’s literature, and fairy tales and their retellings. She currently lives in Southern California with a cat named Alice and more copies of Jane Eyre than she probably needs. Girls Made of Snow and Glass is her first novel.

Title: Girls Made of Snow and Glass
Genre: YA Fantasy
Author: Melissa Bashardoust
Publisher: Flatiron
Publication: September 5th 2017
Cover Rating: 4/5

It is finally time for me to sit down and write me review for Girls Made of Snow and Glass. I have been sitting on this review for a few weeks now and I think I am finally ready to brave it. 

Lynet is our first main character. She is the sixteen year old daughter of the king of Whitespring Castle. A place where is it always cold and snowy. Lynet's mother died during child birth so the only mother she has ever known is her step-mother, Mina. Lynet loves Mina with a fierceness but what happens when her step-mother can't love her back? And what happens when your father couldn't bear to live without his wife so you were made to be her likeness. 

Mina is our second main character. We get to see flashes of her life from before she became queen and that helps us learn about her story and why she is the way she is and why she does the things she does. Her father was a great Magician when she was a little girl and this got her shunned by the towns people. People would call on the magician to help solve their problems but after he was done they would go back to shunning him and his daughter. Fear is a mighty strong force, my dear readers. But Mina's story goes a lot deeper than just fear. It contains agony, betrayal and, worst of all, emptiness. 

There is a little bit of romance in this book. The relationship is F/F between Lynet and a court appointed doctor. The relationship is pretty cute and there are a ton of obstacles for the girls to get through but in the end, things end up where they should be. I really loved how they empowered each other. I also love that Lynet offered to send the doctor back to her home area because she didn't like Whitespring. It showed a huge level of maturity on her part.

So, instead of the normal Snow White retellings, we get this magical story of bravery, feminism and the ability to forgive someone even when they hurt you the most. It shows us that even if your heard is made of glass, you can still love. And even if you are just a clone, made of snow, you are still a person, you are still you. 

I think the only part of the book that I didn't enjoy was what happened to the king. I know what happened to him was probably just going along with the original fairytale but there really was no need to bump him off. Him and Mina didn't have the best relationship as he could not let go of his dead wife, but he didn't need to be taken out of the picture entirely. 

In the end, I truly, truly, truly adored this book. It had a happy ending for both the villian and the heroin and you never see that. Ever. I loved the strong, empowering female vibes and the diversity of not having a prince to come save the day. I hope the author writes more feminist fairytale retellings. I would definitely read anything she would write.

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

REVIEW: Protected by Claire Zorn - 4/5 stars

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Title: Protected
Genre: YA Contemporary, Loss
Author: Claire Zorn
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication: October 3rd 2017
Cover Rating: 3/5

Protected by Claire Zorn is about a girl named Hannah. Hannah lost her sister in a tragic accident almost a year ago. She also lost her parents, they are still alive but they have pretty much checked out from grief. We start the book with Hannah needing the be interviewed about the accident so the legal system can decide who was at fault, her father or the other driver. Her father lost his memories and Hannah says she has too, but that might not be so true. We get to watch Hannah struggle with a lot of emotions and situations in this book. Both past and present. 

The accident is only half of the story. The other half is that Hannah was horribly bullied before her sister, Katie, died. Katie did nothing to stop this bullying and was pretty much a bully herself to Hannah. So Hannah is dealing with the fact that her sister was horrible to her while grieving her loss. She is also trying to handle the fact that she is not bullied anymore because having a dead sister means she is off limits. But she lost her only friend a while ago and is completely alone in the world. That is until someone shows up and tries to prove her wrong about no one wanting to ber her friend. 

In the end, Hannah had a lot of issues to face but she did it with bravery. One thing that will always stick with me is Katie had to die in order for Hannah to live. It is sad and tragic and this should never be the outcome of someone's death. The bullying in this book was horrific. Alas, it was a good story and had some pretty good themes.

Overall, I gave the book 4/5 stars.

*This book was sent to me, Jenny @ HelloJennyReviews, in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Author Spotlight: How to Hang a Witch + Haunting the Deep by Adriana Mather

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 10:00 AM 0 comments

Adriana Mather is the New York Times bestselling author of How to Hang a Witch, and has family roots that go back to the first Thanksgiving, the Salem Witch Trials, the Revolutionary War, and yes, the Titanic.  She is also an actor, as well as the co-owner of Zombot Pictures, a production company that makes feature films. Adriana lives in Los Angeles, and you can follow her on:
 Facebook @AdrianaMatherAuthor; Twitter @AdrianaMather; Instagram @Adriana_Mather

Title: How to Hang a Witch
Genre: YA Paranormal
Author: Adriana Mather
Publisher: Knopf
Cover Rating: 

I don't reread many books. For one, I don't really have the time. Two, if I really loved a book I'm afraid rereading it will make me not like it as much. I reread How to Hang a Witch because I wanted the characters and the world fresh in my mind as I went into the second installment. I think this is the first time I can honestly say that I enjoyed the book more the second time I read it. 

Our main chatacter is Sam. She just moved to her parents home town, Salem, Mass., with her step-mother because her father is in a coma and his medical bills made it impossible for them to keep their apartment in New York. Sam and her step-mother move in to a house that was left to her dad by his mother, the grandmother Sam never got to meet. Aside from finding out that her grandmother left the house for her dad, sam also finds out that her last name is something that could get her killed.

Sam starts school and that is when everything starts to unravel. There is a group of mean girls, The Decendents, that start torturing Sam instantly. And, of course her being the new girl, the teachers blame her for everything. This part of the book disgusted me. Telling Sam to watch her temper when she is literally being BEYOND bullied just set me off. I hate when there are unfair circumstances the main character has to get through with a smile. 

There is one reprieve for Sam and that comes in the form of Jaxon. Sam is very suspicious of Jaxon because everyone else treats her like a disease and he is all up in her business. This causes her to push him away every chance she gets. But he isn't so easily swayed. It helps that he is her neighbor and his mother is always inviting Sam over for random things. And his mother happens to be her dads childhood best friend.

Oh, and Elijah. But you will meet him yourself. I don't want to spoil him for you!

It turns out that there might be a curse on the families of the first Salem Witch Trials decendents and as soon as Sam arrives people start dropping like flies. Trying to solve this curse is where the reader gets a lot more of the historical stand-point of the book. I loved the historical parts and I would really love to read more about it. I don't considering myself someone who really likes history but certain things I can really get sucked in to.

This book had a much deeper meaning subject than just the Salem Witch Trials. It also took on the task of showing the reader how bullying is a vicious cycle and it isn't just something that happens among school-age kids. The book shows us that we have to end the cycle of bullying in order for us to have peace. If we just keep our heads down or ignore it, it will no go away and you are just as guilty as the bully if you don't say something. Silence is killer. I adore how the author fit that into the book and I hope people actually notice it.

In the end, I was both sad and happy for Sam. She might have lost someone she was close to but she got someone else back. I know she will have a lot of stuff to work through given the amount of information that was thrown at her about her mother and father and step-mother and just everything that happened at the end. I really enjoyed Sam as a character. She was put under so much stress and had to handle so many insane situations but she was still very mature about it all. I cannot wait to see where the next book takes me.

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.

Title: Haunting the Deep
Genre: YA Paranormal
Author: Adriana Mather
Publisher: Knopf
Publication: October 3rd 2017
Cover Rating: 5/5

When I first read How to Hang a Witch I had no idea it was going to be part of a series. It was such an amazing book with some really awesome historical elements that just drew me in. Then I found out about book two, Haunting the Deep and I was sold. 

Haunting the Deep takes places a little while after the ending of How to Hang a Witch. Sam is trying to adjust back to having a normal life, well as normal as her life can be. The Meriweathers have become like part of the family, she isn't being horribly bullied anymore, life is just settling down and it's good. But the calm can only last for so long.

Without giving away too much, Sam's life, of course, spins out of control again and she is sent on a mission to save people from a crazy spell that includes the Titanic, ghosts, magic and evil. If that doesn't sound good enough to draw you in, there is also a lot of baked goods and drama. Who doesn't love a good muffin?

The author of these books is amazing. She took this little kernel of her family history, did some research and out came these amazing stories. I don't normally care for witch stories outside of watching Hocus Pocus every Halloween like it's a religious event, but the author made me care about witch stories a little bit more.

In the end, I really enjoyed this book. I loved coming across a historical fact about the Titanic, sitting the book down and googling this fact to learn more. The book was very interactive for me since I looked up all the facts and learned so much about the Titanic. I think this alone makes the book even more fun to read. I don't knowfor sure if the author is going to be adding any more books to this series but I would love it if she did.

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.

1. What was the inspiration for writing a teen fantasy involving the Salem Witch Trials? 
My ancestors came over on the Mayflower, lived in Sleepy Hollow, and survived the Titanic. Their activities cover the gamut from failed inventions to the first American-born presidency at Harvard. But nothing tops the infamy of my ancestor Cotton Mather who instigated the Salem Witch Trials. In HOW TO HANG A WITCH, I explore that piece of my family’s history and bring it into present day with a pinch of magic and a good old-fashioned mystery.

2. Are their any ways in which you relate to you main character, Samantha Mather?
I relate to her tenacity and to her humor. She was an amazingly fun character to write because of her big mouth and wild decisions. Although, admittedly there were times where I couldn’t control her. I have a weakness for big-hearted, flawed characters who create tornado-sized messes.

3. Was there a lot of research involved in writing How to Hang a Witch & Haunting the Deep?
Tons and it was a blast! I think I could research the Salem Witch Trials for the next twenty years and still learn new and creepy things. There is just so much richness and complexity there. My favorite part, though, was going to Salem. That town is like living breathing history and I (not surprisingly) got myself into all sorts of haunted situations that had me sleeping with the lights on. With regards to writing HTD, the research was more book based, but still fascinating. 

4. What does a day off look like for you? 
It could be anything from lounging with a sea turtle in Hawaii to shaving my head for a movie role to simply walking my dog in my pajamas and eating pizza in bed. My schedule is ever changing and I do a ton of traveling. But there are two things that are constant…morning coffee and My Pirate (my fiancĂ©). And as it were, every single day he brings me coffee in bed and we sing a coffee song we made up…badly and out of tune. 

5. Do you have any advice for teen writers? 
Whatever you do, be unstoppable. There is no right or easy way through a creative profession. Don’t get caught up in rejection or in praise; just keep moving forward. Also, I advise donuts and a sense of humor.

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