Saturday, March 31, 2018

REVIEW: Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller - Paige

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Genre: YA Fantasy
Recommended Age: 16+ (violence, gore, some sexual content)
Pages: 352
Author Website
Amazon Link

Alosa’s mission is finally complete. Not only has she recovered all three pieces of the map to a legendary hidden treasure, but the pirates who originally took her captive are now prisoners on her ship. Still unfairly attractive and unexpectedly loyal, first mate Riden is a constant distraction, but now he’s under her orders. And she takes great comfort in knowing that the villainous Vordan will soon be facing her father’s justice.

When Vordan exposes a secret her father has kept for years, Alosa and her crew find themselves in a deadly race with the feared Pirate King. Despite the danger, Alosa knows they will recover the treasure first . . . after all, she is the daughter of the Siren Queen.

Set sails for fun! It’s time to read Daughter of the Siren Queen! And let me tell you, it is way more fun than the first book in this duology. The book continues where we left off but we get to see more of the Ava-Lee, her diverse crew, and Alosa’s father, who you will love to hate. We also learn more about Alosa’s maternal side and about what it really means to be a siren. The character development was wonderful, especially since Alosa and Riden were broken. I especially have to praise Tricia on not giving into the insta-love. I loved seeing Riden and Alosa struggle to get a relationship going as that’s a rare thing in YA literature. The plot was engaging and interesting. It never stagnated and you find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat throughout the whole book. The pacing was also wonderfully done. It was not too fast, but fast enough to not lose your interest. The book also has some diverse characters and it expands on world building this awesome world.

The only downfall I have about this book is that outside of the islands and the sea, not much of the rest of the world was defined and that the ending seemed a bit ambiguous. There was also a bit of a plot hole in how the ship got its name, but other than that it did much better with plot holes than the first book.

Verdict: While I wanted more from this book, I was left feeling satisfied and feeling like I should set sail to find my own Ava-Lee.

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

Friday, March 30, 2018

Author Spotlight: Here So Far Away by Hadley Dyer + Interview

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments

Hadley Dyer is the author of Here So Far AwayPotatoes on Rooftops: Farming in the City, Watch This Space: Designing, Defending and Sharing Public Spaces and Johnny Kellock Died Today, winner of the Canadian Library Association's Book of the Year for Children Award. She has worked in the children’s book industry for more than twenty years, most recently as executive editor of children's and young adult titles at HarperCollins Canada, and for multiple organizations promoting the cause of literacy and reading, including CODE, IBBY Canada, and the Canadian Children's Book Centre. Raised in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, she now resides in Toronto.

Johnny Kellock Died Today is a middle grade novel published in Canada, Germany and Japan but not the US, making Here So Far Away both my YA and US fiction debuts. 

Title: Here So Far Away
Genre: YA Contemporary
Author: Hadley Dyer
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication: March 20th 2018
Cover Rating: 5/5

Here So Far Away by Hadley Dyer is the story of George/Frances growing up in the 90's and facing some pretty heavy issues for a girl her age. 

George is one of those tough girls. She kind of reminds me of myself when I was in high school. I didn't take crap from anyone and neither does George. She gets called a slut and so many other things but she just raises her head high and continues on with her life. I really loved the aspect of her. She wasn't one of those weak female main characters who can't take any sort of backlash for her actions.

Aside from her tough-girl persona, she also has a lot to deal with at home. Her father, an ex-cop, is recovering from leg amputation surgery and because of this George might not be able to go to college. So this on top of George's feeling of isolation and need for excitement leads her down a path of, not quite destruction, but not so great choices.

I had a little bit of trouble getting into the book at first. George seemed to be a big party girl and that just isn't something I enjoy reading about. But after a bit, you get to see the real George and you can't help but understand her and kind of empathize with her. This book does have some strong themes so be aware of that if you are sensitive or giving this book to a younger person to read. I appreciate the honesty of this book. Most authors try to sugar coat everything but this book was REAL.

The relationship in this book is obviously meant to be something bad as the guy is older, and in a career position where he can get in a TON of trouble, while George is still a teenager. I didn't entirely HATE the relationship but I did hate what George turned into because of it. She started keeping secrets just to make sure no one found out about her relationship and this caused a lot of rifts to form between her and her friends. I also hate that George was so vulnerable and that situation was taken advantage of.

In the end, I really enjoyed the story and the authors writing was very beautiful but for some reason, I found myself unable to truly connect with any of the characters. I will definitely read more work from the author if she writes more books in the future.

Overall, I gave the book 3.5/5 stars.

1) Did you always want to be an author?
Growing up in rural Nova Scotia, I didn't understand for a long time that being an author was even an option. Then the possibility of becoming a journalist or essayist took hold, and that was the path I thought I was on when I graduated from high school. I got my start in the book industry when I moved to the city of Halifax for university and started working at an amazing independent children's bookstore called Woozles ( I was completely overwhelmed the first few times I met authors! Before long, my ambition began pivoting towards children's and young adult books, and eventually, I became a professional editor and writer. I've written a lot of nonfiction for young readers, so perhaps I never fully abandoned my journalistic leanings. 

2) How many books do you own?
I have no idea! There are three large bookcases in my bedroom, books on various shelves in my home office and tucked into odd spots throughout the house, including stacks hidden inside the coffee table. A year or two ago, I gave away at least a half-dozen boxes, and somehow ran out of space again within seconds. But I no longer consider my book collection to be representative of my tastes or reading history. I use the library a lot and have a Kindle, so there are many happy reading experiences not represented on my shelves, and like everyone else, I have books that people gave me or I bought on impulse and have yet to read.  

3) What was your inspiration behind Here So Far Away?
True stories, and that includes the twist leading into the final quarter of the novel. The older you get, the more stories you hear about relationships that were kept quiet or entirely secret for a variety of reasons, and they are almost always hard on the people involved. I wanted to explore what keeping such a big secret might cost a young person, especially someone who thinks the world has nothing left to teach her, who feels invulnerable to tender emotions and to being taken advantage of. To make it more challenging and interesting to write, I decided that the two leads wouldn't have a straightforward predator-prey relationship, even though there is a considerable age difference between them. I was also interested in the question of whether it might be possible to balance out the more angst-filled business with scenes that are lighter, funnier, and homier. 

4) If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Rural Nova Scotia, where I grew up, is a very beautiful but homogenous place. Twenty years ago, I moved to Toronto, where half the residents were born outside of Canada. I'm still in love with the diversity of this city and can't seem to quit it. But if I could also spend part of the year in Nova Scotia and part of the year in France, where my brother and his family live, I'd be quite content.  

5) Are you currently working on anything new you would like to share with us?
I've got two novels on the go, among other things. One is a personal story that I've been thinking about for a long time, and the other -- well, as my mother says, I pulled it out of my pancreas. One day it just announced itself and my publisher loved the idea, so that's now the official work in progress of the moment. It's a silly, rom-comy adventure that's really out there for me but also exactly what I need to be working on right now.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Author Spotlight: Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody + Interview

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Amanda Foody has always considered imagination to be our best attempt at magic. After spending her childhood longing to attend Hogwarts, she now loves to write about immersive settings and characters grappling with insurmountable destinies. She holds a Masters in Accountancy from Villanova University, and a Bachelors of Arts in English Literature from the College of William and Mary. Currently, she works as a tax accountant in Philadelphia, PA, surrounded by her many siblings and many books.

DAUGHTER OF THE BURNING CITY is her first novel. Her second, ACE OF SHADES, will follow in April 2018.

Title: Ace of Shades
Genre: YA Fantasy
Author: Amanda Foody
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication: April 10th 2018
Cover Rating: 5/5
Reading format: Provided ARC

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody is one heck of an adventure story about a girl, Enne, and her journey to find her mother that vanished after going to a place called New Reynes, AKA City of Sin. This place happens to be a much darker version of Las Vegas with much higher stakes.

Enne is not the type of girl who should be visiting a place called the City of Sin. She is a proper girl, enrolled in school for etiquette training in order to become a Lady. But when her mother isn't back after she told her "If I'm not back in two months, I'm Dead.", Enne feels the need to go searching for her. She doesn't believe her mother is dead. Enne thinks she would be able to FEEL it if her mother was gone.

Aside from Enne's mother telling her if she wasn't back, she was dead, she also leaves a note saying a man could help her. A man named Levi Glaisyer. But Levi turns out to be a teenage boy. But this teenage boy happens to run part of New Reynes and is a pretty big influence. So Enne goes to him for help. He decides to help her but he is really just in it for the money to get himself out of a con he agreed to do a while ago. Enne is his ticket to freedom. But things start to change and maybe Levi really does want to help Enne find her mother. After all, her mother helped him out, once upon a time.

This book has such an interesting plot. The world basically feels like a giant casino run by mafia bosses and gangs. There is also this fantastical element in the book where money is called Volts and these Volts are stored either in your skin or in these little orbs that only people with a special "talent" can make. There is a huge storyline for political happenings and I think that part was the most interesting to me. Plus, people have things called talents. They get one from their mother and one from their father and something about their last names tell their talent and which talent happens to be the strongest. Enne's talent happens to be dancing. 

In the end, this book was really good. I am not the biggest fan of casinos/card games/crime apparently but I still enjoyed the book. I will definitely suggest reading this if you are a fan of Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. With how much I enjoyed this book it makes me really excited to go back and read her first book, Daughter of the Burning City and it makes me even more excited to see where the next book in the series goes!

Overall, I gave the book 4/5 stars.

1) Where did you find your inspiration for Enne, the main character in Ace of Spades? 
As a teen during the height of the paranormal romance and dystopian phase in YA, I felt like all the heroines who were praised for being "not like other girls." I struggled to identify with these protagonists--not because of their interests intersecting with mine, but because of this mindset. It was refreshing to write Enne, who is very vulnerable, who has an aspiration that many other heroines in other books have scoffed at. She always felt real to me. And that made the highs and lows of her journey that much more emotional for me. 

2) Have you always written? Did you always think you wanted to be an author? 
There has never truly been a time I haven't been writing. I don't remember starting! I just always have, at every stage of my childhood. I was always unapologetically ambitious about it as well. I remember checking out the Guides to Literary Agents from my local library when I was eleven years old. Not much about me has changed.

3) If you could have any 3 literary wishes, what would they be? 
Endless space for bookshelves, the ability to read twice as fast as I do now, and more hours in the day to write! 

4) What do you think the Young Adult book genre has to say to young readers today? 
I think the YA genre specifically focuses on empowerment. It's more than about the story--it's about seeing a character like you represented in a book, about following the journey of a girl against impossible obstacles and realizing you have that power within you, too. 

5) Are you working on any new books? 
Yes! I'm giving a go at an adult fantasy novel, and I also am polishing up another YA fantasy project I'm very excited about.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Author Spotlight: Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 10:40 PM 1 comments

Mary H.K. Choi is a writer for The New York TimesGQWired, and The Atlantic. She has written comics for Marvel and DC, as well as a collection of essays called Oh, Never Mind. She is the host of Hey, Cool Job!, a podcast about jobs, and is a culture correspondent for VICE News Tonight on HBO. Emergency Contact is her first novel. Mary grew up in Hong Kong and Texas and now lives in New York. Follow her on Twitter at @ChoitotheWorld.

Title: Emergency Contact
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary - College Age
Author: Mary H. K. Choi
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication: March 27th 2018
Cover Rating: 5/5
Reading format: Provided ARC

Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi is an awkward coming of age/romance story about two people who meet, exchange numbers and express themselves via text message. This book is a wonderful Young Adult contemporary novel that follows the two college-age characters. We do not have enough college-age Young Adult books and this is an excellent addition to the very small collection that does exist.

Penny is a very eccentric character. She has a lot of quirks and I think the best way I can describe her is like a storm cloud. She also has a very unique way of communicating with others. Instead of starting a story or conversation from the start she begins from another point and expects people to follow her train of thought. Not many people speak, what her mother calls, "Penny" but when she meets Sam, he ends up speaking fluent "Penny" and that starts the beginning of a very dependent friendship. 

Sam is kind of like Penny but a little bit darker and a little bit older. He works at a coffee shop/bakery and he makes some excellent food. He has some not so great things going on in his life and everything just builds up to the point where he has a very public anxiety episode. Lucky for him, Penny was there at the same time and she pretty much saved him and thusly, became his Emergency Contact. 

Now, emergency contact in this sense isn't what most people think. Their relationship was basically texting back and forth when things got too stressful or to just talk about something on their minds. They helped each other out and it was a pretty cool situation. I thought it would end up getting a bit too dependent and then it would end badly but that author wrote everything in a way to where it turned out wonderfully for both character.

Both characters had some issues with their mothers. Both issues were on entirely different spectrums but they were still problems for each character. With Penny, she blamed her mother for a very traumatic event that happened to her. With Sam, his mother was just a very bad person and he will spend a good bit of his life recovering, mentally and financially, from what she did to him.

In the end, Emergency Contact will teach you something. And that something is, everyone has problems/baggage. It's how many of those things you share about yourself with a person that allows you to get close to someone. It might feel embarrassing letting someone see you so exposed but it could lead to something extremely beautiful; like it did with this book. I am also glad Penny sort of worked things out with her whole mom situation. 

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

REVIEW: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins - Valeria

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments


Goodreads Description:
Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart. 

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, √Čtienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series

When I started I was like okay, Anna and the French Kiss will always be my favorite, forever and always. But then towards the middle of this book im like holy crap, Isla (eye-la) is my spirit animal. Then towards the end I realized that this would be my favorite. Hands down. 
This book was sexy without being vulgar. 
And OMG!!!!! That scene towards the end in the Point Star!!!
I cried a lot in this book towards the end! When shes reading the manual at the end.. I cried super hard.

I honestly did !!!
 The last book and only other book I cried on was The fault in out starts.
That one was out of sadness though.
Well this one had sad crying too.

This book had it all. I love how we get to see all of these places as they travel, we go in their adventures. 
We fall in love. 
It had heartbreak.
It had life.
I want more. 
I need more. 
I finished this like 12 hours ago and I still cant get over the feeling that it left me. 

Recommend it?
I dont know whay youre still reading this.
You should be out there.
Getting the book.
Close the page. 

Monday, March 26, 2018

REVIEW: Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller - Paige

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Genre: YA Fantasy
Recommended Age: 13+ (some mature love scenes and a bit of gore and violence)

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map―the key to a legendary treasure trove―seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

In Daughter of the Pirate King, debut author Tricia Levenseller blends action, adventure, romance, and a little bit of magic into a thrilling YA pirate tale. –

Arghhhh ye mateys! Ye be comin’ to my blog to read ‘bout this book? Well, I’ll tell ya ye land-lubber all that I can ‘bout this here book. Okay, now that I have that out of my system, I can talk about Daughter of the Pirate King. First of all this book did so well with the characters. I got to read about a brave girl named Alossa who is fiercely independent, strong, courageous, and quick witted. This character is so well written that the other supporting characters do little to help Alossa out. This is not to say that the other characters are poorly written however, as each had somewhat of a backstory and had a shining moment here and there. Each character, besides a few little background ones, were very well developed and written. The plot was very well paced and developed. The twists and turns weren’t too obvious and the build-up was fantastic. The book as a whole was very well-written and very easy to understand.

The only issues I had with the book was that there were a ton of characters, which could make it harder for some readers to keep everyone straight, and the book ended at a rather crucial point. While this can be an excellent trick to make your readers want more it’s also somewhat infuriating for them to have to wait for the next book to be released.

Verdict: Overall, I felt the book was amazing and an excellent first book for those who are just getting into the YA genre upon graduating from the middle grade genre. It’s a really good transitional book. The book is also very inspirational to young women as Alosa is the type of female character we all need to read about. Her personal strength and bravery are very admirable as are all of her other qualities, except maybe her inclination to be quick to anger. I recommend this book to any beginning YA reader, any YA reader, any adult, and any pirate lover!

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

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Author Spotlight: The Beloved Wild by Melissa Ostrom

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments

Melissa Ostrom teaches English literature at Genesee Community College in Batavia, New York. Her short fiction has been published in literary magazines, and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. The Beloved Wild is her YA debut. She lives in Batavia, New York, with her family.

Title: The Beloved Wild
Genre: YA Historical/Fiction
Author: Melissa Ostrom
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Publication: March 27th 2018
Cover Rating: 4/5
Reading format: Provided ARC

The Beloved Wild by Melissa Ostrom is the story of Harriet Winter and how she doesn't want to become a wife that is used and abused and not cherished. She doesn't want to be sold off as livestock to the highest bidding husband. So she decides to strike out with her older brother while he starts his own farm. Harriet thinks this will be a wonderful adventure. Sadly, she finds out that life outside of her tiny little town might not be what she was hoping for.

Harriet is one of those girls who doesn't believe that the firstborn son should be entitled to inheriting everything. It sucks even more for her when her older brother is a gambling idiot and not mature enough to run a farm. Harriet doesn't want to be married off to live a life of servitude. She doesn't want to pop kids out and possibly die in childbirth. She wants to be more. This leads her to strike out with her older brother as he tries to start his own farm in Genesee Valley, NY.

This book was a tad bit slow and boring for me. It was really just about a girl who wanted more in life than her gender allotted her for the time period. Her humor and the overall feel of the book made me think of Little Women if it had taken place on a farm. I really don't have much else to say about the book. It was pretty straightforward without many added twists and turns. The plot was pretty basic and I just think the book wasn't exactly my cup of tea but I know plenty of people who would enjoy the book.

In the end, Harriet learned that sometimes, what you already have is the best thing for you. It's not wrong to want to explore your options but not everything is greener on the other side. Also, the way the synopsis read, it seemed like Harriet would realize she loves someone ELSE. I didn't think it would be the same person. 

Overall, I gave the book 3.5/5 stars.

*Disclaimer* I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Author Spotlight: And She Was by Jessica Verdi + Interview

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments

Jessica Verdi lives in Brooklyn, NY, and received her MFA in Writing for Children from The New School. She loves seltzer, Tabasco sauce, TV, vegetarian soup, flip-flops, and her dogs. Visit her at and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @jessverdi.

Title: And She Was
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary LGBTQ+
Author: Jessica Verdi
Publisher: Point
Publication: March 27th 2018
Cover Rating: 3/5
Reading format: Provided ARC
Goodreads | Amazon

And She Was by Jessica Verdi is the heart-shattering story of Dara and her mother, Millie. Dara is home for the summer and she somehow stumbles across her birth certificate that states her mother is actually her biological father. This sends Dara down a path of destruction as she tried to piece together what is going on. Why did her mother keep a family from her? Why did she change her name and essentially disappear? Who is her mother, truly?

Dara is your basic main character except for the fact that she excels at Tennis. Her talent and love for Tennis lead her to discover her birth certificate. Which in turn lead her to find out that her mother isn't exactly who she has been saying she is. Well, she technically is, but she has an entire past that Dara doesn't know about. Including the fact that her mother is her biological father. But finding out about her mother is only part of her problem. She also has to figure out who she is in all of this and what she wants from this world. She also has a bit of a problem with guys.

This book was insane for me. Normally when you read a Young Adult book about a transgendered individual, that person is the teenage main character. With this book, the transgender person is the parent. Seeing things from a child's point of view was very eye-opening and heartbreaking all at once. Millie, the mother, kept her transition and family a secret from her daughter. Normally, I would be really angry with a situation like this but this isn't exactly a situation I am familiar with. I would say it was wrong of Millie to keep family away from Dara but in the case of this very specific situation, I think what she did was right. It was a very toxic situation and Dara did not need to grow up around that. 

I feel like Dara was fairly selfish and immature throughout this book. Yes, she did just find out some pretty life-changing stuff, but she didn't really stop to think about why her mother might have done the things she did. She just went off on her own because she felt entitled to this family she never knew about; even though she was NOT emotionally or mentally mature enough to handle the situation. She was also pretty immature when it came to handling her own personal relationships. She was just one of those characters that made me angry but I also felt bad for her at the same time.

In the end, I was so happy that Dara came to her senses and realized that money cannot buy love or happiness. She grew a lot during this book, it just sucks that she had to learn things the hard way. 

Overall, I gave the book 4/5 stars.

1) Where did the inspiration for AND SHE WAS come from?
Several places, really. My agent reached out to me several years ago with the tiniest nugget of an idea for this story. But I've always cared deeply about transgender acceptance (and LGBTQ+ issues in general), and as more and more people in my life have come out as trans or gender non-conforming, I knew I wanted to write a book that would contribute to the conversation. I also write a lot about identity within family, so this mother/daughter story felt right to me.

2) If you could only eat 1 food for the rest of your life what would you pick and why?
Such a hard question! Haha. I'm a vegetarian, and I love soup—so if it's not too much of a cheat, I'd probably go with various types of vegetarian soup. 

3) Please tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
I love tattoos, and get a new one each time I get a new book contract.
My dogs Billie and Gloria are both named after feminist icons. 
I volunteered at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand.
I am Armenian and Italian.
I'm obsessed with Australian TV shows.

4) Out of all of your books, who is your favorite character and why?
Ahh, it's so impossible to choose! I feel like I always love the newest/most recent characters the most, because they're freshest in my mind and heart, so right now I'd probably choose Mellie, the mom from AND SHE WAS.
5) Are you currently working on any new books?
Yes, I'm working on a new contemporary YA novel right now, and I also have a picture book coming out next year. It's called THE HAIRCUT, and it's about a young transgender boy coming out to his parents. I co-wrote it with my friend Rachel Lyons, based on her son's experiences.

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