Thursday, August 23, 2018

REVIEW: Ozland by Wendy Spinale - Paige

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through KidLitExchange from the publishing company Scholastic Press in exchange for review and promotion. Thanks! All opinions are my own.
Genre: YA Dystopian/Fantasy/Retelling
Recommended Age: 14+ (violence, slight gore, murder, and poison)
Pages: 288

With Everland and Umberland both destroyed, the survivors have taken refuge in a small village tucked within the shadows of the Bloodred Queen’s castle. Doc has found an actual cure for the Horologia virus, while Gwen, Pete, and Alyssa begin plotting the assassination of the queen with the help of Gail, an excellent huntress. But killing the queen won’t be enough. The world has been destroyed and its needs a ruler to set things right again. A ruler who is good, kind, and fair. Someone like the former king of Germany. But he’s dead … or is he?

There’s a rumor that the king has been hidden away in a secret land, where only the worthiest can find him. Desperate to end the war, a plan is hatched that could put everything right again, only before it’s set in motion, the village is burned to the ground, all survivors taken prisoner to the castle. Except Gail.

But is one girl enough to find a long-dead king, kill the wicked queen, and save the world?

While I was heavily disappointed with how Umberland turned out I wanted to complete the series, thus I started this book. This book takes place a few months (weeks? Unsure) after the events in Umberland. The book does really well at drawing in your interest immediately with all the death and destruction of this world and it’s amazing to see how twisted a retelling can be. The plot overall was also good and well thought-out as was the steampunk elements of the book.

However, I did feel that there wasn’t any character development and that the book was incredibly fast paced. Dystopians are usually slower paced then what we see in this read and the pacing of this book really makes the reader rush through all the elements of this world. The world building in this book was almost non-existent and the writing was a bit confusing to read. I’m not sure if the fault in that was from the multiple POV or because the writing flew by a lot of important items and retelling portions in the book. The book is good overall, but I feel that if this entire series was expanded in terms of world building and character development then I think the series would be better overall.

Verdict: Good, but not as good as the original.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Author Spotlight: The Truth Lies Here by Lindsey Klingele + Interview

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Lindsey Klingele grew up in Western Michigan, where she read every book she could get her hands on. She eventually moved to Los Angeles (the real land of make believe) and worked as a writers' assistant for TV shows such as THE LYING GAME and TWISTED. She still loves living in LA, especially since it's home to great television shows, truly excellent cheeseburgers, and her pitbull, Bighead.

Title: The Truth Lies Here 
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary+Sci-Fi
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication: August 21st 2018
Cover Rating: 5/5

Have you ever been in a reading slump? You're dying to read but no matter what you pick up you just can't get sucked into anything. I absolutely hate that feeling. Reading is a massive part of who I am so when a slump happens I don't feel like myself. So, normally, when I find a book that pulls me out of that slump I always have to praise is. The Truth Lies Here by Lindsey Klingele is the current book I am praising. 

Penny has been sent to stay with her dad for the summer. Normally, she stays with him for a few weeks but this year she has to stay the entire summer. But she won't let that ruin anything. She uses the opportunity to try to dig up facts about an event that happened that pretty much left most of the people in the town jobless a few years back. But when Penny first arrives, her father is nowhere to be found. She is used to this. Her dad is always off chasing some made up supernatural story. Penny learned at a young age that all the stories her father has told her were just lies and that really ruined anything fantastical for her. She actually has a stick up her butt when it comes to anything mythical or imaginary but events in her hometown this summer might actually loosen that stick up.

Another fairly main character is Dex. He is her dads neighbor. Penny grew up with Dex. They were pretty much best friends. Even before the divorce, Dex and Penny were falling apart and her moving just solidified that. Then we have Reese. Penny's old best friend that hates her because of something Penny saw and Reese's parents refused to admit to, or maybe they don't even remember? There are a lot of strange things that happen in the town of Bone Lake and memory loss seems to be at the top of that list. Oh, and we can't forget Micah! His father's death is what started everything in this strange little town.  

This book was such an amazing story. I loved the whole Men in Black/X-Files vibes and I really liked all the characters. I did have a little bit of a problem with Penny at first. She was just not fun and refused to believe anything unless it was black and white and right in front of her face. If you are looking for a sci-fi book that isn't very heavy then I highly suggest giving this book a read.

Lindsey has this amazing talent for writing contemporary books that have a fantasy/sci-fi/supernatural twist. Her previous works, a duology with the first book being The Marked Girl, mixed present day with a fantasy world and I found that to be entirely brilliant. It felt even more real because it did have the real world in it but it also took me to other places that I know don't exist but she made it seem like they did. She did the exact same thing with The Truth Lies Here. She gave us this present day world and added an element to it that I devoured. 

In the end, I am so grateful to the author for agreeing to be on my author spotlight because otherwise, I might still be in a reading slump. This book was a lot of fun and had so many elements to it that I never got bored and I never felt like the plot lulled.

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.

1) What inspired you to write a sci-fi contemporary as opposed to your previous fantasy-contemporary novels?
I grew up on genre fiction, and I loved sci-fi and mysteries about as much as I loved fantasy worlds and stories. Anything that includes a fantastical or supernatural element, or some kind of heightened reality, really hooks me. Usually, when I sit down to try and write a realistic contemporary it will still wind up having ghosts or a dragon or aliens in it. It can't be helped!

2) If you had to choose between never writing again or never eating chocolate again which would you pick?
Never eating chocolate again, definitely. I would absolutely miss Snickers and hot fudge sundaes, but I think I could live without them. At the risk of sounding corny, writing is a down-deep part of who I am, and I don't think I could put that aside without losing something really crucial. Not that hot fudge sundaes aren't crucial, of course ;)

3) If you could bring any 1 character from your books to life, who would it be and why?
Dex from The Truth Lies Here! He's loyal and a true believer, which are great qualities in a person. Although if Los Angeles ever descended into an apocalypse-type situation, I think it wouldn't be a bad idea to have Kat from The Marked Girl hanging around...

4) Please tell us 5 random facts about you: 
* I have EXTREMELY bad eyesight and have worn glasses or contacts since I was two years old.

* I once sold vacuum cleaners door-to-door as a summer job to save up money for college (I was really bad at it).

* I have a pit bull named Bighead

* At 25 I quit my job and moved out to LA with all my possessions in a small U-Haul trailer.

* My favorite food is cheese.

5) Are you currently working on any new books?
Yes! I can't give away too many details at the moment, but I'm trying my hand on a contemporary retelling (and surprisingly, this one WON'T have portals or monsters...probably).

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Jenny's Wrap-Up - July 2018

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 3:14 AM 0 comments
Books Read: 
Graphic Novels Read: 
Pages Read: 

Date Read: 07/02/18
Pages: 352

Date Read: 07/02/18
Pages: 25

Date Read: 07/05/18

Date Read: 07/09/18

Date Read: 07/10/18

Date Read: 07/11/18

Date Read: 07/12/18

Date Read: 07/12/18

Date Read: 07/14/18
Goodreads | Amazon

Date Read: 07/24/18

Date Read: 07/25/18
Goodreads | Amazon

Date Read: 07/27/18

Rating: ★.5
Date Read: 07/28/18

Monday, August 6, 2018

Author Spotlight: How We Learned to Lie by Meredith Miller + Interview

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments

I grew up in the suburbs of Long Island, in New York. I've lived all over America but these days I live and teach in England. I'm a published academic now writing fiction (and still a lot of critical stuff). I like to write novels featuring hard-boiled women. I also love language, sometimes to distraction.

For a full bio and other information on Meredith Miller please check out her website here.

Title: How We Learned to Lie
Genre: YA Fiction
Author: Meredith Miller
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication: July 31st 2018
Cover Rating: 4/5

You know how someone will say something is strange but in a good way? That is exactly what I think when I am reading books by Meredith Miller. Strange but definitely in a good way that makes you want to know more. How We Learned to Lie is one of those books with whimsy, tons of allure and a heavy focus on character development.

The story begins with blood and ends with blood. Joan and Daisy are best friends. They have been ever since that fateful day when Daisy found Joan in the river. He thought she was dead but she was just testing the limits of holding one's breath. Joan has a mother who would rather run a theatre than be at home with her kids and Daisy has a mother who is pretty much DOA. His father is in jail while Joan's father is actually in her life. Many things about their lives bond them together... but one thing tears them apart and sends their worlds spinning out of control. Daisy's brother, Robbie, showing up at Joan's doorstep with blood all over his hands. Daisy and Joan need each other now, more than ever, but too many things are wrenching them apart.

The author gave us the point of view of the same events from both Daisy and Joan. I enjoyed seeing the same thing from both perspectives. When we were with Joan, we really didn't get to know Daisy very well because he was quiet, kept to himself and was always tinkering with something. I thought Joan would understand Daisy's tinkerings because of how she felt about science and cutting things open but she always seemed to try and push him further than she should have. I actually liked Daisy's perspective a bit better. It seemed a bit more real and a whole lot sadder. I could definitely see how they drifted apart. Doesn't make it any less heartbreaking, though.

Aside from the character development, the book also had a mystery-ish plot. There were violent acts, murders, and drugs being sold/taken. All of this happening doesn't sound so strange but considering the size of the town and the fact that the book took place in the early 1980's, it was definitely concerning. And the person who MIGHT be doing these things? Even more concerning, especially for Daisy and Joan.

In the end, I loved how this book, though not connected, took place in the same town as the author's previous book, Little Wrecks. It felt nice to read the name Highbone and actually recognize it. I always enjoy when authors give us readers those little tidbits to hold on to.

Overall, I gave the book 4/5 stars.

1) Did you always want to be an author? 
Yes!  I wrote my first poem at four years old.  Actually, I couldn't write then so I dictated it to my sister Peggy and she wrote it down for me.  I folded it up and put it safely in a little toy mailbox I had.  My parents were away at a conference and when they got home they acted very impressed.  I think that positive reinforcement early on set me on the road!  When I was twelve I mapped out my first novel, but I didn't finish one until I was nearly 40.  In between I was a performance poet and an academic, so I've always been writing. 

2) Are you currently working on any new books?
I have finished a dark, historical revenge tragedy set in the early twentieth century in the far north of New England. It's about a girl named Jeanne Delaney who commits a terrible crime in order to save someone she loves from something even worse. 

Currently, I'm working on a small town gothic called Fall River.  It's about a town under two big bridges and the river that runs through it. People disappear into the river.  Finding out why also means uncovering the troubling underside of the life of the town

3) What was your inspiration for How We Learned to Lie?
When I began How We Learned to Lie, I knew the story I wanted to tell, but I didn’t yet know Joan and Daisy.  Any fiction writer will tell you that building characters is a strange process.  You write and write through a lot of frustration until one day a character comes alive and says, “No, I wouldn’t do that.” or “Actually, I would say this.”  Once Joan and Daisy popped off the page, they did things that made me laugh and cry.  I fell in love with everything strong and curious and intelligent about them, but also with Joan’s prickliness and Daisy’s annoying passivity.  Mostly, I fell in love with their difficult love for each other. 

4) If you had to pitch How We Learned to Lie to a potential reader what would you tell them?
This is a story about love and letting go.  This novel is dedicated to those friends who shaped all of us, to those people we have all loved and let go of, when the world got in the way. 

5) Do you read YA books? If so, what is your favorite one?
I recently read Laura Ruby's Bone Gap and it made me very jealous!  I wish I'd written it!  If you haven't read it, I'd highly recommend. I love southern gothic novels by Truman Capote (Other Voices, Other Rooms), Richard Wright (I'm thinking of Black Boy which is actually a memoir) and Carson McCullers (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and others).  These books all have child protagonists.  I think if they were published now they'd be sold as YA, but that might change them, too.  Mostly, I read a lot of stuff that was published before 1900!  If you are a person who loves reading and wants to stretch yourself, try anything by Frances Burney.  All of her books feature teenage heroines and they're all so good! 

Sunday, August 5, 2018

REVIEW: Poison's Cage by Breeana Shields - Paige

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Disclaimer: I received this book through KidLitExchange in exchange for a review. Thanks! All opinions are my own.
Genre: YA Fantasy
Recommended Age: 15+ (slight sexual references, violence, slight gore)
Pages: 332
Iyla and Marinda have killed many men together: Iyla as the seductress, Marinda as the final, poisonous kiss. Now they understand who the real enemy is—the Snake King—and together they can take him down. Both girls have felt as though they were living a lie in the past, so moving into the King’s palace and pretending to serve him isn’t as difficult as it sounds. But when you’re a spy, even secrets between friends are dangerous. And each girl has something—or someone—to lose. Does every secret, every lie, bring them closer to the truth or . . . to a trap?

Again, this book had a really interesting premise and the book had fairly good writing. This book also had great plot development, however there was a lot wrong with this book.

The plot was very fast paced and the world was undeveloped as well. There was too much crammed into this book that it really made the book very weighted and heavy. It really should have been two separate books. The book also was split into multiple POVs but kind of neglected some of the more interesting characters.

Verdict: Action packed but over filling.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

REVIEW: Poison's Kiss by Breeana Shields - Paige

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Disclaimer: I bought this book on my own accord.
Genre: YA Fantasy
Recommended Age: 16+ (sexual references, violence, slight gore)
Pages: 304

Marinda has kissed dozens of boys. They all die afterward. It’s a miserable life, but being a visha kanya, a poison maiden, is what she was created to do. Marinda serves the Raja by dispatching his enemies with only her lips as a weapon.

Until now, the men she was ordered to kiss have been strangers, enemies of the kingdom. Then she receives orders to kiss Deven, a boy she knows too well to be convinced he needs to die. She begins to question who she’s really working for. And that is a thread that, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose.

Okay so what instantly drove me to this book was the concept. It’s intriguing and interesting. The writing for the most part is okay and the characters are fairly well interesting.

However, there are a lot of issues with this book. The world building is lacking, the romance is too insta for my coffee, and the book definitely need some Indian beta-readers and some research on the author’s part. India has a ton of cultures and languages. It’s more of a melting pot in terms of culture and language than the USA. I did some research and realized that some of the language used in the book is misused from its English meaning, which I’m seeing as a big problem with authors writing about a culture and language they might not have firsthand knowledge of. Xpresso Reads has a very well written review on the cultural appropriation that happens in this book and I bow to her knowledge. I also want to say that the book had a pacing problem and it just felt really shakey and incomplete for a finished book.

Verdict: Research is your friend if you’re a writer.

Friday, August 3, 2018

REVIEW: Losing Leah by Tiffany King - Erin

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Losing Leah
Losing Leah
by Tiffany King
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 20th 2018 by Feiwel & Friends
ISBN13: 9781250124661
ARC From Publisher

Ten years after the tragic disappearance of her twin sister Leah, sixteen-year-old Mia Klein still struggles to exist within a family that has never fully recovered. Deep in the dark recesses of her mind lies an overwhelming shadow, taunting Mia with mind-splitting headaches that she tries to hide in an effort to appear okay.

Leah Klein's life as she knew it ended the day she was taken, thrust into a world of abuse and fear by a disturbed captor―"Mother," as she insists on being called. Ten years later, any recollections of her former life are nothing more than fleeting memories, except for those about her twin sister, Mia.

As Leah tries to gain the courage to escape, Mia's headaches grow worse. Soon, both sisters will discover that their fates are linked in ways they never realized.  (Goodreads)


Talk about a book that starts one way, but then goes in a completely different direction half way through. Not what I expected at all…. Which is why I give it a 3.5 star review.

There are tons of twists and turns in this read, though not all of them are good. The first half of the book is sort of an exciting mystery with a tad of survival thrown in. The second half changes things completely. It sort of reminded me of an episode of Riverdale or Pretty Little Liars…. Just not as good.  The book will probably keep most readers interested throughout the whole thing, even though the characters eventually sort of fall flat.  By the end of the book I didn’t really care about the characters or what happened to them, but I did want to know how the book ended. I guess that means the plot was decent.  This book deals with mental abuse and what it can do to a person. The author does a good job showing this, but the end of the book sort of leaves the reader questioning whether or not one of our main characters is sane. I wish that there was more closure on that part. Overall, this was an ok read. Younger readers or those who have suffered from abuse might be turned off by the premise, but older teens looking for a mystery involving mental health might enjoy this one.

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*To see more of Erin's reviews please click her signature to go to her blog

Thursday, August 2, 2018

REVIEW: Umberland by Wendy Spinale - Paige

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Disclaimer: None, I got this on my own accord!
Genre: YA Fantasy/Dystopian/Steampunk
Recommended Age: 15+ (violence, murder, slight gore, sexual references, drug references)
Pages: 275

Gwen, Pete, and the others have escaped from Everland. Except the safe haven they hoped to find at Alnwick Castle doesn’t exist. With the Queen of England on her deathbed, Duchess Alyssa has stepped in, but things have gotten worse as the cure Doc created for the Horologia virus has mutated into something even more deadly. The only possible solution he can think of is to go back to the virus’s origin: an extinct poisonous apple.

Legend has it, though, that a tree bearing the apple might be found at the center of an impossible labyrinth hidden deep within Germany. A place no one in their right mind enters. With no other options, Alyssa sets out with only her sword, her wits, and the help of Maddox Hadder, a wild boy who oversees the castle gardens. To get to the center of the maze, she’ll be forced to battle monsters more terrifying than her darkest nightmares.

But can anyone truly survive the madness of the maze? And what if there’s no apple to be found there?

I adored the first book in this series and seeing as how Alice in Wonderland is one of my faves I decided to give this book a try. For the most part is was okay. The steampunk elements were still there, the plot was okay, and for the most part this was a pretty good book.

However, there were a lot of issues with this book.  For starters, let’s just say that if you’re going to read this book make sure to read the first one right before. The book begins immediately with no backstory information/helpful hints for the reader who might have not read the last book in a bit. The characters are flat and boring, the world building is super confusing and too much of a reach for what this book needed, the continuation from the first book felt super forced, and the plot was awful. I don’t understand what happened between book 1 and book 2, but there’s a stark contrast between the two. I don’t understand what makes it possible for any of the events that happen in book 2 to happen in book 2 and I like how the author tried to cram everything Alice in Wonderland into this book. Retellings are supposed to borrow things from their originals, not take everything and recreate it. No one complained when the shoes were turned from silver to ruby and no one complained when Belle became an inventor. Some of my favorite retellings are those that have just some elements from the originals, not everything in it. This book needed a complete overhaul to be as good as the first book, but I wonder if there ever should have been a continuation at all.

Verdict: Don’t fix it if it’s not broken.

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