Monday, February 26, 2018

Author Spotlight: Cadaver and Queen by Alisa Kwitney + Interview

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments
I'm the author of YA, graphic novels and novels for adults who still feel young, at least most of the time.
My latest books are Cadaver & Queen from Harlequin Teen, a Feminist Frankenstein meets Grey's Anatomy tale, and Mystik U from DC Comics, which features Zatanna and other magical characters in their first year at college. 

My first novel, Till the Fat Lady Sings, is also about college and romance and eating disorders. (It was my thesis at Columbia University's MFA Program, where I felt like an outlier for liking comic books and romance as much as literature.) I was an editor at Vertigo, the mature/dark fantasy branch of DC Comics, before going freelance. (I've also written two hormonal werewolf books as Alisa Sheckley.) 

I live in an old house in Rhinebeck, NY with my husband, my cat, and the occasional visiting skunk.

Title: Cadaver and Queen
Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Sci Fi
Author: Alisa Kwitney
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication: February 27th 2018
Cover Rating: 5/5
Reading format: Provided ARC

Cadaver & Queen is the story of Lizzie and Victor while they are attending medical school in Britain. Lizzie is the first females to be allowed to study medicine at Ingold while Victor was a previous student but met with some not so great circumstances but they somehow meet during this book and a huge ordeal takes place.

Lizzie is our main character. We start the book out on her first day at Ingold, a medical school in Britain. She is the first female student they have allowed to attend actual medical school there. She receives a lot of hate and anger from the male students AND teachers who don't think she should be there. She does end up making 2 really good friends and one of those friends happens to be the brother of Victor Frankenstein.

Victor was a student at Ingold. He was the brightest and most focused student in his class. Then he ends up dead. Everyone thinks it was just a medical emergency that killed Victor. Then Lizzie starts working with one of the professors and she meets Victor. Only she doesn't know who he really is. Victor was killed to keep a secret. A secret that involves the queen and some very questionable medical advances. But if Victor was killed, how is he still 'alive'?

Now... Ingold isn't your average medical school. In this world automatons are invented. They were invented as a way to build a better army but some people have been using them for other purposes. Ingold happens to be one of those places. But what kind of purposes? I guess you will just have to read this awesome book to find out!

The plot of the story is pretty straightforward but also has some twists and turns. I didn't know who I could trust at all in this book. It seemed like everyone had their own agenda and those agendas weren't exactly wholesome. I just really enjoyed the medical and romance aspects of this book. I didn't think I would enjoy a romance like the one in this book but I found myself rooting for them both so much! 

In the end, I was extremely satisfied with this book. If you loved the Stalking Jack the Ripper books and are looking for something to help tide you over then I HIGHLY suggest checking this book out. If you like YA in general then I suggest this book. I never used to like historical fiction but books like this definitely have changed my mind. I cannot wait for the next book in the series, I hear its about another character from the book but we still get to see Lizzie and Victor!

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.



1)What was the inspiration behind Cadaver & Queen?

I started with the idea of a Victor Frankenstein who is both the brilliant, ambitious medical student of Shelly’s novel and the monster. I was thinking about all the ways a person can sustain damage, both emotional and physical, and how difficult it is to piece yourself back together. 

I have been fascinated by Victorian death culture and medicine for ages. We tend to think of the Victorians as being melodramatic or sentimental, but teenagers and people in their twenties were perfectly capable of humor and snark. They talked about feeling down as “getting the morbs,” which is the perfect way to puncture a Heathcliffian hero’s boughts of brooding.

I was also intrigued by the question, “When are we our truest selves?” Are we most fully ourselves when we are at our best? What happens if we are injured or get sick or lose confidence and can no longer perform the way we once did? 

Last but not least, I was inspired both by Mary Shelly’s novel and the stories of how she came up with the idea during a ghost story competition with her husband, the poet Shelly, and their friend Lord Byron. Two of the characters in the novel, Byram and Will Frankenstein, Victor’s younger brother, are loosely based on Byron and Shelly. And gender swapping the main role (in Shelly’s novel, Elizabeth Lavenza is Victor’s fiancee) felt like an important way to reconsider the themes of the original novel. I remember a friend of my mother’s coming up to me and suggesting that, when I had children, I would no longer have the same need to create stories—as if writing, for a woman, was just sublimated baby-making. I wanted to write a story that didn’t pit a woman’s ambition against her desire for love.


2) If you could bring any of the characters in this book to life, who would you pick and why?

I think I would have to choose Aldini, Professor Makepiece’s Bio-Mechanical cat, which is on its tenth life.

3) What are some of your favorite books?

I love Connie Willis’ Victorian time travel book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, which is an ode to an earlier book, Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome. Jerome’s book was published in 1889, is so young and snarky and funny that it’s really startling to realize how long ago it was written. When it comes to gothicky books, nothing can compare to Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle. 


4) Can you describe Cadaver & Queen in one sentence?

I call the book my “Feminist Frankenstein meets Grey’s Anatomy,” because it’s part reimagined Frankenstein and part medical school drama. My heroine, Elizabeth Lavenza, is the only female medical student at a school that manufactures Bio-Mechanicals—mechanized cadavers intended to serve in Queen Victoria’s army. Bio-Mechanicals aren’t supposed to have any thoughts or feelings, but Lizzie discovers one who seems to have self-awareness—and memories of his former life as Victor Frankenstein, a former student who died under mysterious circumstances.
As a reader, I enjoy reading about the kind of romantic conflict that challenges characters’ sense of themselves and the way they see the world. I also like it when a story has a range of emotional tones—moments of lightness and humor, moments of emotional intensity, and moments of horror or suspense. So when I write, I try to deliver the kind of story I like to read. 


5) Are you currently working on any new books? 

I’m working on the sequel to Cadaver & Queen, which features some of the same characters and some new ones. The new book is set in the East End of London, and the main protagonists are Aggie, the gin-drinking nursing student from the first book, and Dodger, a philosophical pickpocket. And yes, that’s Dodger as in the Artful Dodger—we also meet other characters from Dickens, including a disguise artist named Faygie and a drug-addled body thief named Twist.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

REVIEW: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert - Paige

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Rating: 
Genre: YA Fantasy
Recommended Age: 16+ (violence, blood, some language)
Pages: 368
Author: Melissa Albert
I received a free copy of this book on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Flatiron Books!

SYNOPSIS: 
Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong. – Amazon.com

I love fairy tales and I’m sure almost everyone in the world has heard the phrase “once upon a time” uttered once in their lifetime. But what if there were tales that were dark, like darker than the Grimms Brothers fairytales? Enter Tales From The Hinterland! A book about those very dark, violent, and haunting tales. And enter Alice, a girl who is trying to figure out who she is, why her and her mother keep having to leave their homes, and who kidnapped her mother. She, along with superfan Ellery, travel to find her grandmother, the author of Tales From The Hinterland, to discover the answer to those questions. So, let’s start off by saying that this book was actually really great! I thought the characters were all very well developed, the plot was intriguing and very well developed, and the world building was fairly well done as well. I thought that I could see these fantastical places pretty clearly in my mind.


However, I did feel that the pacing was a bit off in some spots. The book definitely has its high and lows in terms of action, but for the most part it’s mostly action. I managed to read the book in a day. That’s how fast of a read it was for me. On the subject of action, I did think that the action bits (like fighting and high stakes scenes) were a bit muddied. They weren’t that clear to me as a reader and I felt that if those scenes were expanded a bit more then they could have made a bit more sense. The language is also flowery in places and while it didn’t bug me I know it does some people which is why I mention it.

Verdict: If you’re looking for a dark and action-y read this February I’d definitely choose this one! It was one of my favorite reads so far this January and I think that this will be a favorite read for a lot of other people too this year. Definitely one of the most anticipated reads that is worth the hype in my opinion.

*Click on the signature to go to Paige's blog!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Author Spotlight: Where I Live by Brenda Rufener + Interview

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments

Brenda Rufener is a technical writer turned novelist. She is the author of Where I Live, which School Library Journal called a “new and forthcoming YA to have on your radar,” Bustle and Barnes & Noble Teen Blog named a most anticipated YA contemporary book hitting shelves in 2018, and Booklist called “a well-rounded picture of a teen who’s more than her crisis.” Her next young adult novel, Since We Last Spoke, is slated for April 2019. Brenda lives in Durham, North Carolina with her family. You can find her online at www.brendarufener.com.



Link to Twitter: @BrendaKRufener or https://twitter.com/BrendaKRufener

Link to Instagram: @BrendaRufener or https://www.instagram.com/brendarufener/

Link to Facebook page: @BrendaRufenerAuthor or https://www.facebook.com/BrendaRufenerAuthor/


Preorder/Order (HarperCollins): https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062571090/where-i-live


Title: Where I Live
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Author: Brenda Rufener
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication: February 27th 2018
Cover Rating: 4/5
Reading format: Provided Hardcover

Where I Live is the story of Linden Rose and her homelessness. This story is very touching and Linden is such a wonderful character to deal with. Her entire situation was very sad but she made the best of what she had. 

Linden Rose is a very smart and interesting main character. She might be homeless and living in her high school but she is still a pretty positive and very intelligent about her entire situation. It is so sad that someone her age even has to think the way she does but if she didn't then there is no way she would have survived as long as she did. It also sucks that she has to lie to the people she loves the most because she doesn't want anyone knowing she is homeless.

Because Linden has to focus on how to get her next meal, shower or how to get her clothes washed, she doesn't have the time to do normal things for someone her age like fall in love, invite her friends over, etc. Which sucks because she has two of the best friends in the entire world. She feels extremely lucky for living in the middle of nowhere but ending up with not one, but two amazing friends. 

Linden happens to be the editor for her school blog. She gets really good grades and she has extremely high hopes of getting into her dream college with her two best friends so she can finally have a home and can stop lying to her best friends about her parental/living situation. In order to get into this school though she has to rely on scholarships. Her teacher shows her that there is an opportunity for her to get one but she has to write a really powerful piece for the school blog. With the help of Seung and Ham, the best friends, they come up with the idea to write about dating violence. One of their fellow classmates appears to be the victim of such a thing and they think its a fantastic idea to write about it. They also have hopes of helping this girl out of her horrible situation. But this topic brings back a lot of Lindens past and it forces her to have to make a lot of choices she never thought she would be faced with. And those choices could expose her deepest secrets to the people she loves the most

This book is based around the topic of domestic violence, violence in general actually. I have read a TON of Young Adult books in my lifetime but not many of them actually touch on this subject. There is so much violence in this world and so many people going through violent situations. It is a subject that really needs to be touched on more and I applaud the author for writing this book not only about violence but about a homeless teenager which is also a very real issue that many people don't even think about.

I think the only semi-bad thing I can say about this book is the beginning was pretty slow and I did have a hard time getting into it but after about 75 pages the pace really picked up and I got mad when I had to put the book down because I NEEDED to know what happened. I find a lot of contemporary books usually have a slow start for me.

In the end, I am so glad I got the chance to read this book. It was one of those stories that really stand out from the crowd. If you feel the same way I do about contemporaries, that they are all the same and rather boring, then I suggest trying this book out because it isn't like the rest. I really wish I could put some of my favorite parts in this review but I like to keep things as spoiler free as possible. Just know that there were a lot of amazing moments in this book that really touched me. And also know that every girl deserves a happy ending!

Overall, I gave the book 4/5 stars.



1) Where did the inspiration for Where I Live come from?

The character of Linden Rose is partly inspired by an amazing group of young women I spent time with in college. I volunteered with a literacy program and worked with young women facing adverse circumstances, many of them homeless. These women were unwilling to give up, even in the face of incredible adversity, and I was drawn to their persistence and positivity. How I wished teen-me had known these faces when I went through a similar situation–I would not have felt so alone. Their strength and determination was admirable. They were homeless but never hopeless.


2) How many books do you personally own?

I have three walls lined with bookshelves that are ninety-percent full. My math skills are fuzzy, but I’ll say 700+. 


3) If you could bring any of the characters in Where I Live to life who would it be and why?

I love Linden, Seung, and Ham for different reasons. Linden’s tenacity and strength, Seung’s tenderness and willingness to care, but most of all Ham’s confidence and secure sense of self. Ham’s a blend of my real-life friends so I feel I already know him. Ham compromises himself for no one and refuses to change who he is to fit in. For those reasons he will always inspire me. 


4) Who are some of your favorite YA authors?

In writing Where I Live, some of the biggest influences were my favorite YA authors like Jennifer Niven, Rainbow Rowell, Kathleen Glasgow, Kerry Kletter, and Amber Smith. Books like All The Bright Places and Girl In Pieces inspired me to tackle tough topics with sensitivity and bravery.  Some of my YA heroes read Where I Live and offered to blurb. I’m forever grateful for these women. 

Recently, I’ve discovered new voices in YA I adore like Tiffany D. Jackson, Rachel Lynn Solomon, and Angelo Surmelis. If you haven’t already, please check them out. 


5) Are you currently working on any new books?

I have a second young adult novel, entitled Since We Last Spoke, slated for April 2019 with HarperTeen that I’m very excited about. You’ll meet Aggi and Max, two teens torn apart by unimaginable pain and guilt over the loss of their siblings. The story is told in dual points of view and focuses on a love that’s desperately trying to survive, in spite of everything coming against it. This story delves into the different layers of grief and how it impacts two families that once loved each other but now point fingers of blame.  

REVIEW: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert - Erin

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Hardcover, 368 pages
Expected publication: January 30th 2018 by Flatiron Books
ISBN: 9781250147905
Received ARC From Publisher

About:
Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong. (Goodreads)

Rating: 


This book reminded me a bit of Alice in Wonderland, a bit of the TV show Once Upon a Time, and a bit of the Deathly Hollow stories told in Harry Potter. It was dark and creepy with a twist of not knowing who the main characters might actually be. Are they just normal people? Are they fairytale people? And who are these weird creepy characters who keep stalking Alice? Yes there are similarities to Alice in Wonderland, as probably many people will point out. There is the Hinterland which could be Wonderland. There are strange characters that Alice meets that could resemble Wonderland characters if you squint. Other than that I didn’t connect the two, though I haven’t read anything Wonderland centered in many years. The tales within the story were amazing. I’d love to read Alice’s Grandma’s actual book. Alice Three Times, The Door That Wasn’t There, and Twice Killed Catherine were so addicting and creepy and gave me that same Deathly Hollows feel. There was a unique feel to this book that is hard to put into words. The story is intriguing and will keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time. The end wasn’t what I was expecting. It could possibly leave it open for a sequel, but at the same time it ties up most of the loose ends. The characters weren’t perfect. Alice had some annoying flaws, but without them the book wouldn’t be the same. The mother, grandmother, and Finch all bring mystery. The Hinterland characters make great suspense. Are they good? Are they bad? I will say originally the cover kept me from picking it up right away. It’s kind of dull with black, white, and golds. After reading the book the cover makes more sense, in that it seems very old time fairytale like. On the back of the book it says that Sony has picked it up to become a movie (possibly, you know how long it takes for that kind of thing to happen… if it actually happens). If there is a movie I’d definitely go see it. There is swearing and violence in this book, but if the teens ok with that any age will enjoy this read. 
*Book photo and/or review are owned by Erin. To see her personal blog click her signature above^*

Thursday, February 22, 2018

SPOILER REVIEW: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert - Jenn

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 3 comments

SYNOPSIS:

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.


I am disappointed and a bit disturbed by what I read. I am the former because the story spiraled out of control somewhere around halfway and the writing lessened in the lyricism and visual that was found in the beginning. I am the latter because I was so greatly misled to believe that this was going to be a dark, creepy fairy-tale and what I got instead was an unfulfilling tale and concerning remarks against the sole black character, the wealthy Finch that Alice ends up using for his money and his interest in her grandmother Althea Proserpine, and a woman broken by her experience finding Hazel Wood.

Before I delve into everything disappointing, let me give you what I did like:

-The writing in the first third or so of the book entranced me. Melissa Albert proved to me quickly that she is capable of writing a fairy-tale and bringing that fairy-tale alive. Her descriptions were so vividly appealing, and I could picture exactly what the unfolding scenes looked like.

-The fairytales that Althea Prosperpine wrote are mesmerizing and I wanted more of them. There are two complete fairytales in the entire book, and even those are told secondhand from what the character Finch can remember. There is also mention of other tales, but we only get a tidbit here or there and nothing whole. If this book had been nothing but Althea's fairytales, I most likely would have loved this book. They are my favorite part of it all.

Now for the drawbacks, I rant: 

1. Alice turns out to be Alice-Three-Times, stolen from her story by Althea's daughter Ella. Okay, got it, she has anger issues because of the story character she truly is. The author has explained her origin and made an homage to Alice in Wonderland. I get it, I understand it, but Alice was shitty. Which leads to #2.

2. Alice befriends Finch, who had always had a fascination in her due to her connection to Althea. He is a fan of Tales from the Hinterland, and Alice normally shies from anyone who calls themselves an Althea fan, since they tend to err toward dangerous and mad--yet she lets him in. Why? Because he is useful to her. He is rich, he has connections, he has read Tales from the Hinterland, and he is a young man who happens to have a smidgen of romantic interest in her.

3. Finch is the only POC in the entire book. This wouldn't normally be a problem, except: Alice manipulates the ever-living crud out of him; won't let him speak and shuts him down if he starts; puts his life in threatening situations; makes it clear that he is rich and thus invulnerable to any wrong that might come during a situation where she pisses off a cop and Finch makes it clear that he fears cops due to his skin color, but Alice practically scoffs at him as if it wasn't even remotely a possibility (this actually pissed me off so much); and at one point they are speaking and the author thought it okay to have Alice tell Finch, who was pointing out how dangerous and reckless and awful she was behaving, to "get a liberal arts degree." Saaaaaayyyy whaaaaat?

4. Continuation of how shit Alice is: there is a woman who had previously found Hazel Wood and spent a day or two there, her companion dies, and the whole experience aged her by a decade and broke her mentally. How does Alice act? She mocks this woman, mocks her for what happened to her, mocks her for how she is now, looks down upon her and makes rude observations about how unkempt her apartment is. Again, I repeat, I know she is a scary character from the Hinterland, but now she is just downright awful.

5. The writing that I had loved so much in the first third of the book disappeared right as the story picked up with more action and thrill. It isn't that the writing was bad at this point, but it was very different. It seems the style at the beginning could not be upheld alongside the progressing story. Shame, too, because it was wonderful.

6. I cannot believe I still have this list going, but here we are. Finch betrays Alice, revealing that he was in cahoots with the Hinterland characters in bring her to Hazel Wood. Now you are probably thinking, Huh, how is that so different from what she was doing to him? Answer: Well, he didn't treat her like crap, BUT he did turn out to have a huge weakness for going to the Hinterland, which the characters would fulfill for him, so he was a little cruddy too for being manipulative. But just like any fairytale, the wish you have is not granted in a manner you might like. He is almost murdered and barely saved from death. So at this point not only has he been mistreated, the sole POC character, but now he is almost killed off.

7. At the end, Alice is saved from having to live through her Hinterland story again and again until the end of time, and she accomplishes that by slowly changing it. Cool, cool. Interesting concept. Finch didn't die and had been working behind scenes for years trying to save her, and once she is free she is SO HAPPY TO SEE HIM, and it gave me whiplash. She had previously felt guilt for treating him the way she did, and she expected to have a lovely reunion with him, but she is genuinely saddened when he makes it clear that they could not be romantically involved. Alice thought she could get a happily ever after with the male POC she had manipulated, berated, and endangered time and again. The girl was delusional. (hide spoiler)]


Only non-spoiler negative: The marketing and publicity of this book was incredibly disappointing. The impression I was given was this was a fantasy when it came off more like an urban paranormal story. Not to mention, it was likened to Sarah J. Maas' and Leigh Bardugo's books--which is far from the truth. I would also like to note that it was from the mouths of people working at the publishing house at Yallfest that I heard this. It got me hyped just to let me down so much.

Giving this book 2 out of 5 bitchin' stars was me being kind, but I will probably lowering it to 1 star after more consideration.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

REVIEW: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert - 4.5 stars

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 1 comments
Title: The Hazel Wood
Genre: YA Contemporary to Fantasy
Author: Melissa Albert
Publisher: Flatiron
Publication: January 30th 2018
Cover Rating: 5/5
Reading format: Provided ARC + Owned Hardcover

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert is the story of Alice, her mother and her grandmother. Alice's grandmother wrote a book of dark fairytales that people fell in love with. These fairytales are more that just stories and they end up changing Alice's life forever.

Going into The Hazel Wood I was a bit weary because people very close to me either loved the book or felt completely let down. I was worried about where I would fall on that map but luckily for me, I really enjoyed the book. It ended up being different than what I was expecting, a lot darker and weirder but that only added to the greatness of the book. I would also like to add that this IS NOT an Alice in Wonderland retelling. The only similarities this book even has with that one is the characters name is Alice and she ends up in an alternate world. That is where it ends.

Alice has spent her life on the road with her mother. They go from friends spare bedroom to rented garage to whatever apartment they can manage to rent. Alice never stays in any one place long and that is because he mother thinks something or someone is following them and they are never safe. Then her mother receives a letter stating that her mother has died and all of a sudden their luck has changed. Alice's mother decides to settle down and she finally has a somewhat normal life. Until...

Everything in this book gets VERY interesting when Alice's mother goes missing and characters from her grandmothers book start randomly appearing to her. Problem is, the characters from her grandmothers book aren't good. They are murderous beings and Alice has to figure out how to get her mother back AND stop the characters from causing harm.

Alice enlists the help of fellow classmate and mega-fan of her grandmother, Ellery Finch, to help her find her mother. He is all too willing to help Alice but it turns out his motives might now be so pure of heart. I think the Ellery Finch part is the only part of the book that I wish would have ended differently.

The only way for Alice to save her mother is to find her grandmothers home, The Hazel Wood, and actually go INTO her grandmothers book and finish her own story, Alice Three Times. This is when the book REALLY picks up and I really love how the author handled this ending. It was very unique and dark and I really enjoyed it.

In the end, I felt this story had a lot of depth and the author had a very interesting talent when it came to weaving such a dark story. I thought this book was a standalone but when I went to look it up to get the cover for my review I saw that there will be at least 1 other book and 1 possible novella so I am very excited for both of those and The Hazel Wood has found a new home on my favorites bookshelf.

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

REVIEW: 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough - Paige

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 5:00 PM 0 comments
Rating: 

Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller

Recommended Age: 15+ (death, statutory rape, twists and turns)

Pages: 406




I received a free copy of this book through KidLitExchange. Thanks KidLitExchange and Gollancz. All opinions are my own.

Again, another mystery. These seem to really be hit or miss with me and I feel that I can’t find true equilibrium with mysteries nowadays. So I was a bit hesitant going into this book. This book is about a girl named Natasha who is found dead in a river, but is revived. She has memory loss and there is a big black hole as to what happened to her. Her two friends, Haley and Jenny, are acting suspicious and her ex friend Becca is dealing with relationship drama. You follow through the story to find out how Natasha ended up in the river. I liked how well developed the characters were and I found the overall plot interesting, but those are the only things I really enjoyed about this book.

I felt that this book had a lot of faulty police work, which bugs me the more I see it in these books and I felt that the pacing was a bit too slow for this book. I also felt that this book could have been a great mystery novel, but it was told way too early in the book what really happened and the rest of the book felt like it dragged on for me. But then again I’m really picky with mysteries so it might have just been my pickiness.

Verdict: If you want a book about friendship and romance that harkens back to Pretty Little Liars, then this is the book for you. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

REVIEW: Poe: Stories and Poems: A Graphic Novel by Gareth Hinds - Erin

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Poe: Stories and Poems: A Graphic Novel 
Adaptation by Gareth Hinds
Hardcover, 120 pages
Published August 1st 2017 by Candlewick Press
ISBN: 9780763681128
Checked Out From Library

About:
In a thrilling adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe s best-known works, acclaimed artist-adapter Gareth Hinds translates Poe's dark genius into graphic-novel format. 
It is true that I am nervous. But why will you say that I am mad? 
In "The Cask of Amontillado," a man exacts revenge on a disloyal friend at carnival, luring him into catacombs below the city. In "The Masque of the Red Death," a prince shielding himself from plague hosts a doomed party inside his abbey stronghold. A prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition, faced with a swinging blade and swarming rats, can t see his tormentors in "The Pit and the Pendulum," and in "The Tell-Tale Heart," a milky eye and a deafening heartbeat reveal the effects of conscience and creeping madness. Alongside these tales are visual interpretations of three poems "The Raven," "The Bells," and Poe s poignant elegy to lost love, "Annabel Lee." The seven concise graphic narratives, keyed to thematic icons, amplify and honor the timeless legacy of a master of gothic horror.” (Goodreads)

Rating: 

To begin with, let me just say, I’m a huge fan of Edgar Allen Poe. I’ve probably read the majority of his work and even have a few of his things (including The Raven and Annabel Lee) memorized. I always love finding new versions of his work. I’ve read a few different graphic novel adaptations and I have to say this one is by far my favorite. 


It has the full text of some of Poe’s more famous work including "The Cask of Amontillado," "The Masque of the Red Death," "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Raven," "The Bells," and "Annabel Lee." The art work is consistent drawing wise throughout, though he does change tones/colors depending on the story he’s illustrating. His pictures are very atmospheric, colorful when need be and dark when suspense is high. I loved his version of the Raven. It’s done in a black and white sketch and the main character definitely resembles Poe. I also loved his version of Annabel Lee. It was like a collage of everything the poem was describing. Beautiful, heartfelt, and sad. I loved how the introduction page for each story/poem had that date of the item and a slight description (Scary, Death, Creepy Animals, etc.). It gave this version a bit of humor/cleverness in between all the darkness. I think that anyone who is a Poe fan or who needs to read him for school will enjoy this adaptation. 

*Book photo and/or review are owned by Erin. To see her personal blog click her signature above^*

Thursday, February 15, 2018

REVIEW: Nyxia by Scott Reintgen - Jenn

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments
SYNOPSIS:

Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.

Forever.

Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.
 




I want to start this review off with what other books or movies I was reminded of while reading 
Nyxia. It will help to summarize and set up the remainder of my review.

***WARNING: I tried to avoid spoilers, but it was difficult and I did not succeed in the end. The spoilers here are mild, so tread carefully. You’ve been warned.***

Avatar—There is a substance on an alien planet (Eden) that humans want, and this substance represents a huge industry opportunity that will yield a lot of money and advancement in science, warfare, medicine, and much more. The natives (Adamites) of Eden prove to be physically large, strong, and skilled, a terrifying force to reckon. The humans (or at least the “bad” and “mean” humans, i.e. Babel) will do nearly anything to get at the nyxia deposits, including sending young people in because fully matured humans (ahem, adults) are too much of a threat to the aliens. Or, specifically, the adults tried to have things done their way and ended up getting their butts handed to them. However, the whole book is about the journey to Eden, so no alien planet time. As for alien time—I refuse to spoil information beyond what I’ve given regarding that aspect. 

Divergent—There is a competition among the young people to determine who gets to go down onto Eden, since there are only a limited number of young people the Adamites have agreed to allow onto the planet. The entire book goes through the trials and tribulations, the tests, the struggles and celebration as each of the young people compete to show how adept their physical, mental, and emotional skills are—this is all happening as they travel to the planet. Along the way friendships bud, enemies lurk, bodies are broken, there is homesickness and fear as they travel further from Earth, and the youngins begin to realize that their training and education is changing them. Who they were, what they believed made them them, is on the line. Self-identity and humanity become key ideas of contention for Emmett (the protagonist) and the others, because the closer they get to Eden the harder it is for them to determine who they are and what it means to be human.

• and The Hunger GamesNyxia morphs from a competition to prove standings with scores (like in Divergent) into death matches where kill-or-be-killed determines standings (ahem, The Hunger Games). Over the course of the book, I figured it would probably lead to this outcome. It only made sense that people in space would hold themselves to different laws and standards than while on Earth. However, though similar in concept, the execution was much different and OH THOSE PLOT TWISTS—I will not spoil it, I refuse!

Now onto nyxia, the substance Babel wants from Eden. I’m struggling to think of an apt comparison, but I keep coming back to this explanation I gave my boyfriend: a material that you can telepathically control; the stronger and more practiced your mind is, the easier you can control it, especially when competing with another to manipulate it; a material that is sentient and can control you as well, but there is little knowledge as to what all it can do and the dangers. He responded with: a substance imbued with the Force. That’s close, but not exact. I’ve seen some reviews where people were metaphorically defecating on the idea of nyxia, saying it was boring, or not done well, or it had been done before, or it was stupid (what an arbitrary, lackluster, over-used and ill-used word, by the way). I can’t attest to why those reviewers felt those words best described the substance, but I disagree. It was exciting to me, because there were so many opportunities that came with nyxia’s involvement in the story. It is a substance that can be turned into weaponry, architecture and protective barriers (i.e. keep their spacecraft sealed tight and reinforced, among other things), used in reconstructing broken parts of a human body, and it can be manipulated into almost anything but water (it cannot become transparent)—and that is only what we discover in this book, the first in the series. And a sentient material that can turn against you, even in the most painful and invasive of ways? What the actual what? Sign me up. I want the next book now—I’m intrigued! To me it was wild, well done, similar in basic principles to substances in other movies/books but different in how it functions and interacts, and incredibly intelligent—I mean, c’mon, nyxia is able to connect to those who manipulate it, and its incorporation almost as a character itself was interesting as hell.

My favorite aspects of this book were the writing and the depictions of characters and their relationships. There were some moments where I had to stop and re-read a line or section because the language was amazing; I had to go back and savor the words, prepared to take it all in. 

He's gasping for air, and the sound of his wheezing breaths are dying things. (page unknown at this time)


There's a heaven in him no darkness can take. (page unknown at this time)


And Reintgen depicts a family with such fullness and ease that I, an aspiring writer, am very jealous and taking notes.

“What’s your name?”
He used to ask me all this before football games. It’s a tradition, a reminder.
“Emmett Ethan Atwater,” I say.
“What’s Ethan mean?”
“Steady.”
“What’s Emmett mean?”
“Hard worker.”
“What’s Atwater mean?”
I hitch. “You never told me that. …”
He smiles. “I don’t know either.” (page unknown at this time)


(I’m sorry that I was unprepared with quotations—I can only access the e-ARC on my home computer and I write my reviews at work. I meant to collect a few more, which I will just have to do at a later date—or maybe after the book releases!)

But guys, Reintgen’s writing is #goals for a writer. Absolute, beautiful #GOALS. He knows when and how to amp the emotion and drawback. He knows how to show what is happening with few, apt words without resorting to telling the story. (Concision is your friend when writing, y’all!) He brings in colloquialisms and makes them his own, especially since all the characters are from all around Earth and differ in their cultural backgrounds and experiences—I’m a sucker for colloquialisms, especially when incorporated well. And now to the diversity—if you’re into books showcasing diverse characters, this is a book for you. The majority of the characters are people of color and their inclusion and coming together didn’t feel wrong or forced or perverted in any way; they each had a clear goal, and that goal fueled the story. It felt so good and right to see this kind of representation. Like I said above, I’m taking notes on how I can improve my writing based upon how he has written Nyxia.

And lastly, because I could rant my praises for the remainder of the day but have other pressing matters to attend, I want you to know this: I have been experiencing the worst book hangover since finishing it. It has everything I wanted—and more—and everything I have picked up since just isn’t touching me in the same, right way. This book is perfection and had everything I needed to feel complete. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this is a good book hangover; it helped me understand just how much this book moved me and affected me. I hope it does the same for you as well.

Happy reading!


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

REVIEW: The Hobbit by J R. R. Tolkien - Valeria

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments

Rate:
5/5

Goodreads Description:
Bilbo Baggins is a reasonably typical hobbit: fond of sleeping, eating, drinking, parties and presents. However, it is his destiny to travel to the dwarflands in the east, to help slay the dragon Smaug. His quest takes him through enchanted forests, spiders' lairs, and under the Misty Mountains, where he comes across the vile Gollum, and tricks him out of his 'Precious' - a ring that makes its bearer invisible, and wields a terrible power of its own.

J.R.R. Tolkien's own description for the original edition:

"If you care for journeys there and back, out of the comfortable Western world, over the edge of the Wild, and home again, and can take an interest in a humble hero (blessed with a little wisdom and a little courage and considerable good luck), here is a record of such a journey and such a traveler. The period is the ancient time between the age of Faerie and the dominion of men, when the famous forest of Mirkwood was still standing, and the mountains were full of danger. In following the path of this humble adventurer, you will learn by the way (as he did) - if you do not already know all about these things - much about trolls, goblins, dwarves, and elves, and get some glimpses into the history and politics of a neglected but important period."

"For Mr. Bilbo Baggins visited various notable persons; conversed with the dragon, Smaug the Magnificent; and was present, rather unwillingly, at the Battle of the Five Armies. This is all the more remarkable, since he was a hobbit. Hobbits have hitherto been passed over in history and legend, perhaps because they as a rule preferred comfort to excitement. But this account, based on his personal memoirs, of the one exciting year in the otherwise quiet life of Mr. Baggins will give you a fair idea of the estimable people now (it is said) becoming rather rare. They do not like noise."
 

Review:
I just LOVE LOTR, and in May when I decided to start reading classics after finishing my yearly goal, I was like I need to read LOTR and The Hobbit. I started with the Hobbit since it IS the prequel ish. 
I went the audiobook route and oh boy. It was so much fun, what a beautiful way to tell the story but in audiobook form, I cant say what version of the audiobook I went because I am not sure but it was adapted from book to radio and it was so entertaining, there were sound effects, music and multiple readers. That is the way to go. 
The story itself is a fun one, I am just as anxious about adventures as Bilbo. I would much rather stay home, eat, read, drink, and stay as far away as possible from any sort of dangers. So I felt just as stressed as he did when he started his journey, not at all like the movie. 

While I love the movies I gotta say that truly, the book is better, because they made 3 movies out of one book, they added a lot of things that just weren't there. But hey, don't we wish they would do that out of some of our favorite series xD Like Harry Potter.
Lord knows we would watch 30 hours or more.

Recommend it?
Yes. Its beautiful.

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