The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

“No wonder men did not want women to wear bloomers. What could women accomplish if they did not have to continually mind their skirts, keep them from dragging in the mud or getting trampled on the steps of an omnibus? If they had pockets! With pockets, women could conquer the world!” –Theodora Goss

33645527Two things drew me in to this book: the cover and the title. From just these two things, I couldn’t fully tell exactly the time period or genre, but I did know that I wanted to find out more and I’m glad I picked it up.

The book mainly centers around Mary Jekyll–yes, as in the daughter of the infamous Dr. Jekyll. She is alone and penniless after the disappearance and (alleged) death of her father and recent madness and death of her mother. Mary decides to seek a reward for the capture of her father’s capturer, the mysterious Mr. Hyde, in order to solve her financial troubles. Her search leads her, in stead, to new companions in the form of Hyde’s daughter Diana, Sherlock Holmes (whom she turns to for aid), Catherine Maureau, Justine Frankenstein, and Beatrice Rappaccini. The soon-to-be-called Athena Club’s adventures lead them around London seeking answers about dark experiments which are both fascinating and dangerous, but which link them all together in some way.

I very much appreciated the concept of this book, which was getting together the ‘daughters’ of gothic horror. For once, we’re not seeing all male monsters but females, and they’re heroines! What?! They are making the role of monstress look good! Its so interesting–the author gives each character their own personality based on their environment and how they were made, taught, raised, or “born” if you will. We get to hear their stories and it really is so fascinating. We do also see a bit of the personality of Sherlock & Watson as well. Goss really does touch on all of the characters.

bigstock-139342157-620x330The only reason that I didn’t absolutely love the book is the structure. The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter is written with frequent and random present-day dialogue interruptions from the characters in the Athena Club. A running commentary, if you will. To me, they are sometimes too distracting and excessive. I just didn’t feel they were necessary. I just couldn’t figure out if they were meant to lighten the mood? I have no idea what the purpose is. They are literally anywhere from 2-10 lines of dialogue every few pages. Why? Oh well.

Other than that though, I really enjoyed the book. I love classic, gothic literature and this was a great spin on the stories. I can’t wait to read more in this series!

Book Soundtrack: “Psychological Recovery” from Sherlock Holmes (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by Hans Zimmer

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Stranger Than Fanfiction by Chris Colfer

31694016Stranger Than Fanfiction is a book for which the synopsis really doesn’t do the story much justice. True, the book is about teen celebrity and four graduating high school friends going on a road trip. We find out almost immediately that 3 out of the 4 friends have huge secrets. One is gay and going to an extremely conservative college. One is trans and can’t admit it to his family or friends or the guy who she(he) knows has a crush on her(him). And the third wants to attend a different college than her father is making her go to. This is all so that she can pursue what he views as a “good” career when what she really wants to do is become a writer.

I very much liked the idea of the road trip theme, as well as a celebrity peer randomly joining a group of his fans who were best friends all for the fun. Sounds like a good book, right? Well, turns out the celebrity has his own secret, is rather an asshole, and the friends are all pretty flat characters and nothing exciting happens. EVER. Until the very, very end.

Honestly, the final 40 pages all of a sudden are the only redeemable part of the book. My ears perked up, and I even shed a couple of tears! After considering not finishing the book a couple of times along the way, I finally found a reason to finish the book, however unreasonable the out-of-nowhere ending seemed!! I liked the twist and it finally brought the entire book together in a way I thought it needed.

So overall, yes, this book has characters who are LGTBQA+, but does it really discuss these issues in ways that are really important or shed light on the topic in interesting ways? Unfortunately not. I didn’t feel that I really connected with the characters at all, and I hated that I never felt that I had any idea what the show that the characters were always talking about being fans of, Whiz Kids, was about. It ended up just being an annoying, constant reference. Sorry Chris Colfer, this book wasn’t for me.

4919495Side note: speaking of Chris Colfer…just FYI, yes, Chris Colfer the author is the same as Chris Colfer the Emmy-nominated and Golden Globe-winning actor best-known for his portrayal of Kurt Hummel on the FOX television series “Glee”!! I absolutely did not realize that until after I read the book and was writing my review! It, unfortunately, doesn’t change my opinion, but I do find it fascinating and now I have to connect the “Glee” soundtrack to this book!

Book Soundtrack: “Seasons of Love” by Glee Cast

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Geekerella by Ashley Poston

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Geekarella
 has been on my TBR for a long time now and I just haven’t gotten to it. Its the story of Elle, daughter of the man behind the ExcelsiCon CosPlay Convention and Costume Ball. Now living with her awful stepmother and two stepsisters, Elle lives and breathes Starfield. So when a soap opera star is cast as the male lead, she is completely skeptical. She blogs her opinion and it goes viral. When a costume contest is announced at ExcelsiCon, Elle is inspired to enter, wearing an old costume from her attic. With the help of a new friend, the old costume is made beautiful and Elle makes quite the impression at the contest.

geekerella2bquote2b2For soap star Darien Freeman, playing Carmindor in his favorite show-made-movie is a dream come true. The super-fans, however, have lowered their expectations and voiced their opposition to the teen heartthrob playing the classic role. Only Darien knows how dedicated he is to doing justice to the role, yet still, he wants to avoid the awkward meet-and-greets with fans. ExcelsiCon is the last place he wants to show his face but his father/manager gives him no choice.

Without giving away too much of the story, I will say that I do like the through-the-airwaves trope in YA fiction when its done well, and in my opinion, Geekarella was done very well. Elle, at times, did grind my nerves just a little bit. She was so insecure and stubborn that it was just too much. And then she would say “My father raised me to be brave” and bla bla bla….well, you have been failing at that, my friend. Darien, I thought was actually a great character. I thought he was a great representation of a teenage guy and he was fun to read. The secondary characters were great as well, especially Sage. And I just loved picturing the Magic Pumpkin. How creative is that idea? Hats off, Ashley Poston!!

Soundtrack: “Star Trek: Deep Space 9 – Main Title” composed by Dennis McCarthy

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Review + Happy Book Birthday: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young!

Sky in the Deep has been so highly anticipated for months upon months. I remember first hearing about it back in oh, December maybe? Someone said Norse or Vikings and I was ALL. OVER. IT!!! I requested it from NetGalley and I was SO excited that they granted me a copy!!! I finished it a couple weeks ago and I’ve been holding back the review from my blog so that I could drop it here on this very special release day. Congrats, Adrienne! I wish you all the best!! Now on to the review….

36597702I very much enjoyed this book for many reasons. First of all, its action-packed. If you are squeamish, be warned. There is blood and gut-spilling and wound infection treatment and burns and…yeah, this book has it all. Its not horror-movie gory or anything, but there is plenty of mention so just a heads up. But back to the action, this book has it. Eelyn (what a pretty name!) is a warrior. Its how she was raised; its in her soul.

So this leads into my second point: Sky in the Deep is a love story. Love for family, clansmen, and soulmates. When I read all the talk of family in the synopsis, I was a little concerned that this was going to be a mushy family saga. I am so glad I was proved wrong! The familial relationships were so realistic. There is love, yes, but there is also betrayal, hope, hatred, and kinship. As for the love interest, I don’t think I’ve ever read one so refreshing. I expected a major hate-to-love trope story. While in general that’s what this is, again, the story is so solid. Its not mushy, gushing, and crushing; it wasn’t insta-love. In fact, we hardly hear any talk about Fiske being handsome or sweet…its all there in his actions and just such an organic way. Once love is declared and things heat up, the two are just so sweet and perfect and their shared moments are so beautiful and genuine. Fabulously handled.

And my third point: You can’t talk or think about this book without mentioning the world-building. Perfect. I could play out every single moment of this Viking-esque world in my mind: what each of the villages looked like, their different settings, their armor, their leaders,everything. Another thing I was nervous about was hearing long descriptions of weapons because it just seems that most books that have extensive weaponry tend to go on about how special this sword is, or how this axe was someone’s fathers, etc. Nope, not here. The author has excellent on what is important (not ornate weaponry).

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Last but certainly not least, the characters are truly what makes this book excellent. Every single character is well-played and unique, contributing their own piece to Eelyn’s heart. From Eelyn’s father (who is a fierce man, but who is the perfect mix of gentle yet strong for his daughter) to the Tala (the ‘enemy’ clan’s spiritual leader), the characters are colored the story so vibrantly. Havard was, by far, my favorite. Aren’t we all suckers for cute, curious little kiddo’s?

I could probably sit here and continue to think up wonderful things about this book, but this review has gone on long enough. Do you see, now, why I waited until the book was actually released to publish this review? You wouldn’t be able to go to the bookstore and pick the book off the shelf and dive right in. So without further ado, just go read this. You’re welcome.

Book soundtrack: Sky in the Deep Playlist (Spotify)

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Phoenix Fire by S.D. Grimm

To open, I hereby present you with a synopsis of the book named above as written by NetGalley:

2c8b641f9eebb5ac312c04485b2c4396After spending her life in foster care, Ava has finally found home. But all it takes is a chance encounter with hot nerd Wyatt Wilcox for it to unravel. Now, things are starting to change. First, the flashes of memories slowly creeping in. Memories of other lives, lives that Wyatt is somehow in. Then, the healing. Any cut? Gone.

But when Cade and Nick show up, claiming to be her brothers, things get even weirder. They tell her she’s a Phoenix, sent to protect the world from monsters—monsters she never knew existed. It’s a little hard to accept. Especially when they tell her she has to end the life of a Phoenix turned rogue, or Cade will die.

With Wyatt’s increasingly suspicious behavior, Ava’s determined to figure out what he’s hiding. Unless she can discover Wyatt’s secret in time and complete her Phoenix training, she’ll lose the life, love, and family she never thought she could have.

38492055Definitely not the best summary, but the NG ones never are. Here is what I can tell you about the book: After reading it, I was pleasantly surprised. I went into Phoenix Fire not really knowing what to expect because all I got was….well, what NetGalley told me. Being completely honest, I saw a cool phoenix on the cover, I saw the YA fantasy genre, and I said “let’s give it a shot!”. I’m glad that I did!

So in the beginning of the book, things were a little cliche. Our main character, Ava, is in a foster house and never feels like she belongs, and doesn’t really want to belong. Then she starts to experience memories and maybe come into certain “powers.” *Eyeroll* and I’m thinking “crap, is this a middle grade book?” because it really seemed way to juvenile early on. Enter: new guys. New guys with secrets about her past, her powers, and what she has to do with said powers.

635811964343779843-thinkstockphotos-490635524When it came down to it, I really enjoyed the uniqueness of the phoenix life cycles, as well as the familial ties and how all of that came into play. Also, the romance in the book came was really sweet but also had its bitterness as well. Wyatt, at times, got a little whiny but I really liked seeing his character and his relationship with Ava and the two brothers unfold. Plus I think it will be really interesting to see what further role Yuki will play in things. I am very intrigued to read the next book in the series!!

Book Soundtrack: A Crime to Remember by Pop Evil

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A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland

a_semi-definitive_list_of_worst_nightmares_krystal_sutherland_fall_2017_ya_booksWow, you guys. I am amazingly shocked by how much I enjoyed this book. This is an example of don’t-judge-the-book-by-its-cover. Its not really an ugly cover, per se, but it isn’t glittery and mind-blowing for sure. I would never be drawn to it in a million years. However, after reading it, I absolutely recommend it. This book had so much humor and so much heart, I want anyone reading my reviews to go and read this book next.

janko-ferlic-391257-unsplashSo what is it about, you may now be asking? Esther Solar and her “semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.” Esther and her family have been under a curse to suffer from one great fear in their lifetime ever since her grandfather met Death in the war. Now this family is quirky. The father, for instance is agoraphobic and will not leave their basement. Esther’s brother, Eugene, is afraid of the dark and turns on candles and lamps and strings of lights when the sun goes down.

The curse hasn’t hit Esther yet, and when she has a hapless reunion with a former crush, he discovers her list and challenges her to face her fears. Together they tick off the nightmares, and of course, the surprises along the way.

This book definitely has trigger warnings of suicide, depression and anxiety, which I didn’t really know going in. In the afterward of the book, the author does a really nice follow-up about mental health and mentions a piece of Adam Silvera’s that is a “must read” for every person no matter where you are in life. Forgive me, for I don’t have the book in front of me so I can’t pull up the exact title at the moment.

claudia-nuta-362408-unsplashAside from this, as I mentioned before, the book is overall a very sweet, funny, and touching story. I didn’t realize there would be so much depth in a book with such a simple cover. I think it should also be mentioned that this book…while I wouldn’t label it as fantasy, one could view it as magical realism in some ways. That’s what I would call it anyway.

Book Soundtrack: “Wolves Without Teeth” by Of Monsters and Men

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A List of Cages by Robin Roe

Hi friends! Hope you all had a good weekend full of many pages of reading! Throughout this week I finished reading the graphic novel of A Wrinkle in Time, made progress on Siege and Storm, as well as finished A List of Cages in its entirety. There have been several bookish chats going on, as well as readathons and I hope some of you have been able to get out there and take part.

ALOCSo here is something I have learned about myself within the past couple weeks: stay away from reviews and past biases when going into a new book. These things  may have hurt my opinion on both of my last two reads. For example, in A List of Cages, I read on review where a blogger said it was the kind of book that stays with you and I just love books like that. It had a higher rating than another book that I was considering reading. So for those reasons, I chose this book over the other one. Based on the synopses, I wasn’t necessarily more interested in this book than the other, but like I said, a “book that stays with you”? SOLD!! Now I read it, it was good but I don’t think that I was fully swept away or anything.

It is pretty much A List of Cage‘s one year anniversary, I just noticed! It was released last January. The book is written in alternating POV’s between Adam, a popular senior with ADHD, and Julian, a quiet, insecure orphaned freshman. When Adam is assigned to escort Julian to the school psychologist, the two guys are reunited as former foster brothers. Of course, the two growing closer together means learning secrets about one another, and Julian has plenty of those. He just needs a friend with the courage to give him the help he needs to get through it.

simson-petrol-110900I did enjoy this book. There were a few moments where I literally said “AWW!” out loud and my heart melted a bit. There were a few moments where my heart hurt and I felt overwhelmed for the characters. Really, though, it was the characters that made this book. I’m just going to stick to the main characters, but know that the secondary characters are even extremely supportive of Julian and have growth throughout the book. Julian is a character who is a bit immature in how he acts–i.e. what he reads, how he writes, how he reads, etc. but is this because of trauma and his living situation? This is discussed a bit in the book and its a hard topic. Overall, he says genuine things to people around him without even realizing it and it really reaches them. Then there is Adam. Adam is described as “untouchable.” If something sad were to happen, his friends think he would still be happy. Adam is an absolute sweetheart and he is very loyal to his friends and to his own mom as well.

Overall, I felt that this was a really good YA contemporary involving mental health issues, close friends, family, and courage. And on that note, I need to leave you with this quote from the book:

“Hate ricochets, but kindness does too.” – Robin Roe

Book soundtrack: “Be My Escape” by Relient K

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Fantasy Friday: Everless by Sara Holland

3232066135883046Heck YES, I just made that up off the top of my head! Fantasy Friday(TM)!! This week I’m talking about Everless by Sara Holland. This book dropped on January 2nd but I got my copy in my Fairyloot subscription box in December. Being a YA fantasy book by a debut author with not just one but TWO super-beautiful covers and a sweet synopsis, there was a LOT of hype around this one. So what was the actual turn-out after reading? Let’s discuss.

The unique piece of the book is the ancient story of this world about the Sorceress and the Alchemist, who turned blood more or less into time. Time, of course, is precious currency. Most people in this world it seems are poor and working as servants, tradesmen, or soldiers. They settle their debts by sacrificing their blood to be made into coins to be given to the Gerling family, who offer protection to the land. Personally, I didn’t find the land/setting to be very unique, developed, or exciting, but I liked the looming Sorceress/Alchemist legend and the time currency.

ben-white-199953Main character Jules did not impress me much. Everything that I would have done she didn’t do. Everything a main character should NOT do…you guessed it! She did. It was one of those “My father told me to stay away from the Queen and never let her see me but I have no idea why. Well that means I should work for her and be her slave! Great idea!!” **Lindsay begins banging book against her head** Whywhywhy?!?!

Let’s talk about pacing, because this was big for me this book. I felt that the book was slow from the beginning. Everless begins in Jules’ small town and then she decides to leave to home when it is announced that the Queen and her daughter, Ina are coming. Things are moving slow. Maybe they’ll pick up at the Gerling estate! Jules is reunited with her childhood BFF, Roan, and she begins work as a servant girl. As time goes on, secrets about Ina and the Queen come to light…and the pace really doesn’t pick up until the VERY. END!!!!! So that was a bit (a lot) frustrating.

HOWEVER. THAT ENDING THO!!!!! For that reason, I WILL be reading the next book!!

Book soundtrack: “Turn to Dust” by Wolf Alice

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Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

22663629All righty, I’m a little bit torn about this book. First off, I listened to the audiobook and I feel like that always throws my rating off a little bit. Was it the book I did/didn’t like or was did the reader throw my bias a bit? I actually thought the reader was pretty good on this book. She has a dramatic voice without being over the top or whiney or overdone or anything like that. I thought she was right where she needed to be. So great job to the narrator, in my opinion.

It is important to go into this book with an open mind. Just read the synopsis and go with it–don’t assume this or that, just let the story unfold. I’ve read several of the other reviews on this book and trust me, readers who expect one thing or the other only set themselves up for disappointment and this book truly is unique.

What Kali Wallace has done with Shallow Graves–in my opinion, at least–is create a unique kind of story. I don’t think I have read a book quite like this, where the main character wakes up dead and not remembering why. The mystery is who killed her, what type of creature she is, what other creatures actually live in the world, who is friend and who is foe, and how is she supposed to move on from here. There are several creep factor moments and then the book has its lulls…but overall, I was pretty entranced with the book so I recommend as a good fall/Autumn book!

Book soundtrack: “Graveyard” by The Devil Makes Three

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One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

For several months now, I’ve been seeking a good YA mystery/thriller. As I read more of them, it just seems that contemporary YA authors just fall into cliches and I dislike them and drive me farther and farther away. Not this one, though. My hope has been renewed! Thank you, Karen McManus! And this is a debut novel! Bravo!!

23472238_10100116527721319_209185853208846123_nAll righty, so as indicated by the above, that alone is a recommendation from me. One of Us Is Lying basically begins with murder in detention (dun dun DUN!!). The four survivors alternate narration as they navigate the media storm of their classmate’s death. The ‘victim’ was the school gossip mill via his own app, but also–as we find out–very interested in online chats about other school shootings and acts of violence. We learn about the four survivors’ secrets as they become closer to each other and how they ultimately unravel the truth and the lies behind what the bigger plan really was for detention that day.

Here is my brief opinion of the cliches I mentioned earlier that I usually see in YA horror and/or thriller and/or mystery: way too much high school drama i.e. the he said/she said heartbreak gossip OMG LOL ETC. BS. I can’t handle all of that. Or at least too much of that. I understand that I am reading the YA genre so I expect some of it. Fine. <u>One of Us Is Lying</u> has some, but does it with grace and gets the heck past it. There are way bigger issues to worry about. Like a MURDER. Lawyers to be hired. Press and media. Parents. Still trying to keep life in line and get into college. This was realistic to me. Yes, there were still petty high schoolers being jerks, but these kids (“the murder club,” they were taunted by the other kids in school) just banded together and got through it together and the story moved on. I loved that about this book. THANK YOU!!! Miracle!

Other big perks: I guessed at the killer, but I didn’t KNOW. Plus, I was too engrossed with the characters to really care about the story line. Sorry but, I hardly even cared about the story line. I cared about the characters’ lives and what would happen to them, LOL. There were maybe a couple draggy parts (not much though) and I marked it down to 4 rather than 5. The book wasn’t perfect. However, the end redeemed it. I loved the ending. We get our happy ending. Loved that. I can’t deny it….I absolutely LOVED it because (without spoiling anything)….yeah….dude is my GUY!!!! That’s my trope right there! ❤

So if you have not yet, check this book out. +19 weeks at the top of the NYT bestseller list and a 4.06 rating on Goodreads…this book is killin’ it (no pun intended).

Book soundtrack: “Bad to the Bone” by ZZ top

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