On the eleventh day of #blogmas … Kiss Me in New York by Catherine Rider

34220850 I would call this book a cute, sweet, but relatively forgettable YA holiday romance. Charlotte is on her way back to London with a broken heart when her flight is cancelled due to a blizzard. Anthony is planning on surprising his girlfriend at the airport, but he is the one who is surprised when she breaks up with him after she gets off the plane and runs into the arms of another guy. Together, Charlotte and Anthony make their way through a book called (something like) Ten Ways To Get Over Your Ex, all the while–you guessed it–falling for each other.

Of course, this is all set in New York and occurs on Christmas Eve. The book seems to not mean much because these are high schoolers so how long can a relationship like this really last? The two promise to reunite, as Charlotte is trying to decide what college to attend.

So like I said, the book was super-cute. It was easy to read–I sat down and read the entire thing in a day. It was quotable and cliche, but that’s what Christmas is all about isn’t it? ;P

Book soundtrack: “A New York Christmas” Rob Christmas

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On the fourth day of blogmas …The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle

34058936Goblins, fae, and gold – oh my! Plus, new adult contemporary. So if you like these genres like I do, you’re in for an awesome read. I really, really enjoyed The Goblins of Bellwater. Like, 4.5/5 stars enjoyed it. From the very beginning I was swept up in the story and because the writing is so easy to read, and all of the characters are interesting, and its told from alternating POV’s, I was engaged throughout the entire book. Also, please take just one second to look at that cover!!!! *drool*

The story goes like this: Kit’s family is cursed. For generations now, one member of their family must bring the goblins of the forest a tribute of gold each month or else the goblins will attack a member or members of the local town. Kit is the current liason. Now, he’s a good guy and he hates stealing from people to give to the goblins but he hates having people attacked more. Lately Kit has been coming up a little short. The goblins aren’t always honest and well-behaved either. Enter: the Darwen sisters.

clarisse-meyer-184329Livy Darwen is a local environmental scientist and Skye is a barista. They both love the forests and have grown up believing in “teeny tinies” living in the woods. Well, to shorten the synopsis, there is a goblin curse on one of the sisters. The curse must be broken. Kit’s cousin, Grady, who is a chef, steps in to help. Relationships blossom. The curse gets worse before it gets better. There is adventure, there is an alliance with local fae (the good guys), there’s a battle, there’s minor drama, there’s an ending. Ta-daaa!!

So put this one on your Christmas lists, folks! I really liked this one! It started off maybe a little slow but everything else was just perfect for me. The perfect mix of a bit of paranormal, twenty-something adults, romance, adventure/action, and not mind-numbingly difficult to read.

Book soundtrack: “Vanilla Pines” by Tow’rs

Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones

23113602So this is a NetGalley ARC I have had on my shelf for a while now. A few things about this book right off the bat: first of all, it took me a long time to read. My attention just wasn’t held the way I hoped it would have been. Especially because it felt rather like it was going to be a YA historical/almost-cozy mystery, which would have been right up my alley. Still overall regardless of exact genre, the plot moved very slowly.

Secondly, the magic in this book was not very exciting, widespread, nor well explained. Was it unique? Yes. You will never find Harry, Ron, and Hermione sewing glamours. However, that is the only magic in the book and its not shiny magic, its really not magic that Annis is really confident in or that she learns from some great wizard or a secret family recipe or anything like that…she hardly practices in any big, adventurous, fun way except for exhausting herself to save herself from bankruptcy. It was a bummer.

daniel-garcia-418370Third, the characters were unextraordinary to me mainly because I never trusted any of them. I never felt like we got a good enough glimpse into any of them because there was just too much going on with Annis and her cherades.

So those are my criticisms. All of that being said, I did enjoy other aspects of the books. I did like the setting of the book and the genre in general. There are not many YA historical mysteries out there. I would LOVE to read more books like this! Especially with young women at the center. The Jackaby books are good as well! I also thought the ending and the resolution in general saved the book in general. I wish the pacing would have been better throughout the book, but I have to say that I thought the ending was well done and I hope there is another book because I would pick it up.

Book soundtrack: “Skyfall” by Adele

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Grave Errors by Carol J. Perry

33871472I love my cozy reads. From the cover I was hoping this would be a Halloween book but in stead, I got a post-Halloween dia de los Muertes book, which was okay too. The book is set in Salem, Mass. and centers around Lee Barrett and her TV production class, which is working on a project to extend the Halloween season. One of Lee’s pupils, Dorothy, wants to learn about investigative reporting by looking into her sister’s suspicious death and asks Lee to help. Lee pulls out all the stops and together with her boyfriend, aunt, cat, and best friend, they discover a link to another case and of course, ultimately crack the case.

I think I have been reading a few too many short cozies on Amazon prime lately because all of a sudden, this 364 page cozy seemed dragged out and long. The plot barely unfolded until about a quarter of the way in and by a third of the way I had things figured out. That said though, I did enjoy the book. There are plenty of twists and turns, kooky characters encountered along the way, Salem cemetery tours, suspicious suspects, death threats, and so much more.

Allow me to throw out that Grave Errors is the fifth book in the Witch City Mystery series and I have read none of the books before this. With that being said, I didn’t feel like I was missing any pieces or like I needed to go back or anything like that. There was a romance that had been established and family background dynamics which obviously had been talked about but I felt that there was just enough information to fill me in and keep the story moving. Oh, and there is a touch of paranormal-ness in the book but really not much. This is NOT really a witch-y book so don’t expect a ton of witchcraft or anything. Just a heads up. 🙂

Book soundtrack: “Mercy” by Shawn Mendes

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Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

27426044Nyxia is the first in a trilogy about a boy named Emmett who is leaving Earth as one of ten recruits under the Babel Corporation. Each of the recruits is competing for a lifelong prize of money and care for themselves and their families. En route to the planet Eden, Emmett fights for his life and learn to manipulate a curious substance called Nyxia. As the days go on, however, more and more secrets about Babel Corp., about Nyxia, and about the other people on the ship are discovered and deciding how to deal with these secrets is becoming more difficult every day.

I was both excited and wary to read this one. I saw that Nyxia was a mix between Ender’s Game (Sci-Fi) and the Hunger Games (Dystopian/Fantasy). I loved both of those books, and I really enjoy dystopian/fantasy genres but sci-fi can go either way in my opinion. Well, in Nyxia’s case, the sci-fi aspect was actually one of the more interesting parts of the book. I thought the concept of Nyxia was interesting, the training programs and technologies were cool, and I liked the ship and the scoreboard.

What I didn’t like as much about the book was the absolute obsession with the scorekeeping and friends vs enemies. This was all reminiscent of The Hunger Games, as it was a tournament of ten young people against each other for a “prize,” but it was much more annoying (in my opinion) in terms of certain repetitions. It made the pacing feel so slow and cyclical.

I have high hopes, however, that the next two books in the series will get better. I think that the ideas and concepts will flesh out more because they have a lot of merit. I really like the idea of a corporation with a lot of secrets; a planet with natives whom we haven’t really met yet; future relationships (good or bad) between the recruits. So I definitey think there is potential in the series and I can’t wait for the next installment!

Book soundtrack: Bangarang by Skrillex

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Assaulted Caramel by Amanda Flower

Hey everyone! So fall is upon us here in the Midwest and with the changing seasons, I tend to change genres a bit because I’m a mood reader. Hot, sunny weather means I want to read positive, love-vibes. Its contemporary romance weather to me typically. Cooler, autumn weather typically means cozy mysteries, thrillers, sci-fi, etc. Winter for me is fantasy, fantasy, fantasy. And spring? Paranormal. I don’t know why I feel this way about these genres and the seasons….that’s just how it is! All that being said, here’s my first cozy of the season! Its an ARC from Netgalley that just released on 8/29/17!

33290628Assaulted Caramel was a pretty good cozy mystery about Bailey King, who has taken a break from her job as assistant chocolatier at a world famous New York chocolate shop to take care of her ailing Amish grandfather. Her quick trip turns into a long haul when a dead body turns up in her grandparents’ own small chocolate shop and Bailey becomes the prime suspect.

So this book was actually very well written for a cozy, in my opinion. It was the first in series and it had just the right amount of balance between main character mystery, grandparent ailment problems, New York promotion drama, best friend fun, potential man romance for later down the road, small town sheriff conflict, etc. All of the cliches you expect in your mystery lite and just the right amount. I didn’t find the characters annoying….and the one character had a pet potbelly pig! Cute!! 🙂 I loved it! Overall, it wasn’t a groundbreaking read, but I wasn’t bored, I wasn’t really in LOVE with it, but I did like it!

How do you choose what genre and/or book to read next?

Book soundtrack: Mercury & Lightning by John Mark McMillan

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Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

Hi everyone! So I know I have been MIA for a little while. My apologies. I started a new full-time job! My very first full-time job, actually!! It has been a very exciting ride! So far I am absolutely loving it and I count myself so lucky to be working in my field and in a job where I like the people as well as what I am doing. So far I am still in training but hey, things are going so well. 🙂 Anyway, as you can see from my post title, I have a review today. Here goes:

32905343If you have heard of Meddling Kids, you know that we are expecting the Mystery Machine and its cohorts. Scooby Doo and Shaggy too, right? Well, more or less. We know the characters are knock-offs and its set in the 90’s and things have to be a little different but still…nostalgia, man!! It has to be good!! Plus, that COVER!!! RIGHT?!?!

Hmmm. Not for me. I did not connect with ANY of the characters. And I was bored. I was bored 97% of the time. I should have put it down and not finished but I kept going because it was an ARC and I felt obligated and come on, that COVER! And yeah, so sue me, I did want to see how it ended. (There was a little bit of a loose end, now that I really think about it….but I’ll let that be…maybe there’ll be a sequel).

Here is one perk to the book: If you are needing to build your vocabulary, for example, taking your SAT’s soon?, read this book. There are so many ridiculously advanced words in this book (myriaphonic!)….why? No idea. So the writing is….good? But big, flashy words don’t make writing good. Cantero goes from big words and descriptive narrative to scriptive writing.

Andy: Yes, I think so.
Peter: I’m a ghost and you can’t see me. I’m only in crazy-Nate’s head.
Nate: I’m not crazy.
Kerri: But I’m not a lesbian!
Andy: Not yet. And yes Nate, that’s why you broke out of an insane asylum ten minutes ago.

Meanwhile, Tim cuddled with his penguin and the gang continued towards the Zoinks River….yeah, that’s right. So, that’s the jist. Maybe (hopefully) you will enjoy it far more than I did. I will not deny that it had its fun, female ass-kicking moments. It also had its moments as an okay mystery novel. However, don’t get your hopes up as a Scooby Doo knock off, in MY opinion. Just go watch the reruns.

Book Soundtrack: “Love Train” by The O’Jays

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“The Best Kind of Magic” by Crystal Cestari

There is so much that I loved about this book!! ‘Windy City Magic #1’ felt like a cozy mystery for teens and it was my JAM!!! Or you could look at it as Urban Fantasy/Romance for teens just the same. A couple of my little pet peeves showed up and made my eyeballs twitch a bit, but overall, I can’t wait for the second book! Or third or fourth! Let me first give a brief synopsis, and then I’ll cover my opinions:

25436641The Best Kind of Magic gives us a tour of all kinds of magic in the Windy City of Chicago. We see goblins, fairies, leprechauns, werewolves, vampires, sirens, and of course, witches. Amber Sand is a not a witch. Her mother is, but Amber is a matchmaker, meaning that she can look into people’s eyes and see their true love. One day, the mayor’s son (who is also the most talked-about boy in school) comes in to visit Amber at her mother’s shop, Windy City Magic, and requesting her help in finding his father’s missing girlfriend. Thus begins an adventure with romance, humor, bad guys, a twist and a turn and a to be continued in book 2!! (not a cliffhanger! This book wraps up nicely…..mostly.)

The first thing I liked about this book was the genre feel. I am a sucker for a cozy mystery, I enjoy paranormal romances, and then put those things in a YA format….have I died and gone to heaven?! Almost too good to be true. I loved it. I wish there was more of this writing out there. So with this genre comes the characters. There was a good mix of humans and paranormals. I liked how Amber and her mother, and even their coven, had a certain struggle with Amber’s matchmaking talents. It was a very different and clever spin on the traditional “coming of age story” that you usually get in YA books and I really liked that. Amani (Amber’s best friend) has her own struggles with her magical gifts of being a precog. Their friendship in the book is wonderful, by the way. I just saw a meme the other day that went something like this:

Friend: Oh, I’m so sorry, what can I do?
Best friend: 1/2 price shakes at Sonic. Get your butt in the car, I’m driving!
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That’s the kind of friends Amber and Amani are. Partially because of their mystic powers and partially because they are comfortable and secure in their own selves (which other high school students find “weird” and “different” of course), the two friends are outcasts and have a very close friendship. Back on track. Charlie is a human and he does a great job taking in everything in the PRN world. You almost wonder every once in a while if he and his father have trace amounts of supernatural in their blood somewhere. Of course, the biggest wrench in the story comes when Amber sees that Charlie’s match is not her, but could she be wrong? That’s why we’re eagerly awaiting book 2!

Ok, I will speak of my one biggest pet peeves that occurred in this book: immature language. I hate when authors frequently use immature language. If you want to call it that. To me, its almost Valley Girl…rich snob…Pretty Little Liars…I barely hear kids talking like that and I work in a private high school myself. Granted, not in Chicago, but in Northern Illinois within 60 miles of Chicago. I do not hear students commonly using the words “natch” instead of natural (I’ve never heard that), or “cas” for casual (I have heard this, but not frequently). In the first 100 pages of the book when we are first meeting the characters, this kind of abbreviated language is EVERYWHERE. It DEFINES Amber’s personality and sense of humor. Toward the middle, it fades out and she is more just sarcastic and witty with Charlie but in the beginning, we are NOT talking to a lowly girl. I just didn’t see her as having that much of a consistent attitude. Ivy, the blonde cheerleader mean girl? For sure. But Amber? No. I hated that. I like to read full English words and sentences. Maybe that’s the adult in me reading a YA novel so excuse this paragraph if so. But I’m just saying. I HATE abbreviated teen-speak. Ugh! Not appropriate for books, IMO.

I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Soundtrack: “Dancing in the Street” by Martha and the Vandellas

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“All Things New” by Lauren Miller

Title: All Things New

Author: Lauren Miller

Publication Date: August 1, 2017

Publisher: Three Saints Press

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Lesson learned: Never judge a freebie book based on its “freebie” status! So not only did I receive a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, it was also a ‘download now’ free copy, meaning that I didn’t have to be approved or anything in order to read it. I usually equate these books–in my mind–to the freebies of the ARC world. That aside, I thought that this book was a really good read and I very much enjoyed it.

Jessa has suffered from an anxiety disorder since her father left her mother when she was just twelve years old. Now, at 17, she is barely getting through school living with her mom in L.A. and clinging to her prepster boyfriend. Until one night at a party changes everything. A near-fatal car accident leaves Jessa’s face scar-ridden, and her brain nearly as damaged, she decides to leave everything behind to live with her dad in Colorado. Here she meets new people, reconciles with her father, and learns about the true measure of healing both inside and out.

On to the nitty-gritty opinionated part of my review. First off, I was surprised at the intelligence level of this book. Now, I am no doctor, psychologist, or philosopher and I have no idea what an actual practicing physician or thinker would say about the topics in this book, but for someone at my level of knowledge, it was awesome! I mean, we got deep about Dorian Gray and van Gough! We were talking about heart surgery and brain surgery and the reflections of the soul! Plus, that ending though!! Secondly, I did feel that the book had a bit of a rough start and sometimes it is difficult and not for everyone to read books from the POV of a main character who has a panic disorder. But guess what? Having a panic disorder is rough. This book deals with a tough issue. In all honesty, this book deals with a LOT of tough issues. Jessa isn’t the only person who goes through trials. She has her panic disorder and gets in a car accident, but then she meets Marshall who has a heart defect, and Hannah who isn’t perfect, and she is basically in a community of not perfect people and this is basically her new life. So the final point I will make: a lot of the reviews I have read talk about how much people like Marshall. Yes, I really like Marshall as well. But who really comes through as an amazing character is Super Dad. My favorite moment is when Dad is encouraging Jessa to drive to school again because she can’t live in fear forever; can’t let the fear control her life and he says:

“Because there’s something I want for you even more than safety. I want you to be free. Free from the panic and worry, free from all that terrible self-doubt I see in your eyes and blame myself for. But you have to want it too, Jessa. You have to decide not to let fear win.”

So yeah. I loved this book. I tend to like books where characters have to find their light. I love strong, powerful moments of tenderness and strength. They all still have their scars but they have found some consolation or some way through them and I think that this book did a good job of doing that. I recommend.

Listening to: “Numb” by Max Jury

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Hook’s Tale by John Leonard Pielmeier

Full Title: Hook’s Tale: Being the Account of an Unjustly Villainized Pirate Written by Himself

Release Date: 7/18/17

Publisher: Scribner

“Hook’s Tale…” is probably my new favorite Pan retelling. In fact, it might just be my new favorite retelling. And its a debut novel!! Seriously, the writing is captivating, the perspective is unique, and overall the reading is pretty easy. In the Introduction, the book proclaims itself to be the Peter Pan/Hook version of The Wizard of Oz/Wicked Witch tale and I’d say that’s pretty accurate. I actually am not a big fan of the Gregory Maguire books, but this was much easier to read.

James Cook (aka the character “the Scotsman” JM Barrie writes as Captain Hook) basically writes his own autobiography from his life as a young boy in school, to his voyage to Neverland, to his quest for a full life. It was really fun to hear the “real truth” behind James’ family, how aging/not aging in Neverland works, what all of the pirates are like (hint: they’re hilarious), how Hook really got his hook, the story of the crocodile, and several other Hook-isms.

This was a great fantasy read. Just a heads up, though: every time I started to think that this book could be for younger (middle grade?) readers, something violent or mildly gory would happen. So just be warned that there are a few descriptive scenes in the book and some very mild swearing. Overall if you like Peter Pan, if you are a fan of retellings, if you enjoy fantasy books, or just need a quick and fun read, give this book a go. I definitely recommend it!

Listening to: “Perfect Places” by Lorde

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