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!
sonic-milkshakes
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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The Ship by Antonia Honeywell

32197111This book took me a while to finish because it dragged on. And on. And on.

And on.

And on.

We are hearing the story from Lalla’s point of view. Lalla (short for Lallage) is the daughter of the ‘revolutionary’ who basically bought, founded, organized, and coordinated The Ship. In these dystopian times, the safest place to be is in the middle of the ocean (so these people believe). There are 500 people on the ship–each one of them selected by Michael himself for being good, worthy people–and the ship is equipped to sustain them for twenty years. They have a plan to ‘go peacefully’ at the end of these twenty years, but they are also optimistic that within those twenty years, they will have engineered new ways to grow things or sustain their lives, etc. The degree to which the people on the ship are happy is almost scary. Michael is portrayed as nearly god-like and the ship is almost heavenly. To everyone except Lalla.

So here comes the fun part of the review. Lalla’s inner dialogue. Lalla’s mother is killed early on in the story and she spends the entire book mourning over it. Yes, I know its heartbreaking to lose your mother, but everyone on that ship lost someone. Many people, in fact. They all give their testimonies, as you’ll see. Next point: being the daughter of the founders of the ship, Lalla was very sheltered. She didn’t see hardly any of the conflicts happening on land and she was very young. Since she wasn’t exposed to much of the horrors of the conflict (I mean, we’re talking famine, murder, prison camps, cannibalism, starvation, the list goes on….) all she talks and thinks about is *LAND*LAND*LAND* “ARE WE THERE YET?” “ARE WE THERE YET?” “ARE WE THERE YET?” So its a pretty hard situation, and I understand to an extent because a) she associates the ship with her mother’s death. b) she is literally the only person on the ship who didn’t willingly choose to be there. Her parents chose it for her. BUT, its not like she doesn’t have any friends or companions because she is given a job and finds a friend/mentor there AND she finds a boy who, of course, she begins to fall in love with.

At this point, if I talk about the book anymore, I will give away huge spoilers, but my general overall thoughts are that the book is okay. It really has some points that make you think, but they are buried within a lot of parts that I wish I could just fast forward through.

Listening to: “Shallow Brown” by Sean Dagher

“Carnivalesque” by Neil Jordan

34432289“Carnivalesque” is a fantasy book about a boy named Andy who enters Burleigh’s Amazing Hall of Mirrors at a travelling circus. He becomes trapped in the mirrors and an identical-looking stranger exits the hall and goes home with his parents. Thus begins the tale of Andy/Dany.

This book is a little difficult to rate. It started off reading like an old classic or fairy tale. Think Peter Pan or Alice in Wonderland. “The boy did this and then he went to wherever and the boy was sad. But the boy’s mother held his hand and entered the carnival where the air smelled of caramel and candy.” bla bla bla. We literally do not find out “the boy’s name” until about page 75. Then the writing style completely changes to a more contemporary feel for most of the book and then the last 75 pages or so is back to the classic/fairy tale feel again.

The middle part of the book has some interesting action. In the middle of the action, there is a ton of written word. Most of it is history, and some of it seems slow, and some of it seems a little irrelevant or maybe just out of order. I enjoyed hearing a new perspective on carney mythology and most of all, this legend of ‘Burleigh’s Amazing Hall of Mirrors,’ which is really how the whole Andy/Dany duology originates to begin with. Some parts of the book are fun and fantastical, while others are freakish and almost scary. I like the polar opposites and think that every fantasy needs some of that. It gave the book depth, whereas the wordiness robbed it right back.

So for these reasons, I had to go with a middle of the road rating for this book. Loved the cover and the concept, but several things fell short. I like a good carnival book but this does not come close to the top for me.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Listening to: “Half Jack” by The Dresden Dolls

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“You Were Here” by Gian Sardar

32940733I have unfortunate news. I wasn’t a huge fan of this book. It was good, but not mindblowing. Here are my thoughts:

Let me start by stating that the Goodreads description of this book claims that “Readers of Kate Atkinson will delight in this suspenseful debut novel about a woman haunted by nightmares and her grandmother’s role in a doomed love triangle almost seventy years before.” I’m a fan of Kate Atkinson and in my opinion, this is why she doesn’t write suspenseful novels. Pick one genre or another and commit. There was just SO MUCH DESCRIPTIVE WRITING going on that I often found myself confused or bored or indifferent. Especially in the first half of the book. BUT THEN…..

Everything picked up in the second half and everything was magnificent. I was ready to call it quits and apologize to NetGalley and the publisher and then all of a sudden WHOA! Now we’re getting started here! The characters were fascinating. There were twists and turns I did NOT see coming. And the writing remains strong all the way until the end. So ultimately, if you have the patience to wade through at least 120-150 pages of reading before a plot really thickens, then this book will really satisfy you and you will not regret picking this up. However, if you are someone who needs a beginning to end page-turner (i.e. Dan Brown or the likes?)…..move on.

Listening to: “Witness” by Katy Perry

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“Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault” by Candace Robinson

c_-w5rluiaaya_eVery late last night, I finished a creepy upper YA book entitled Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault. The book begins in a small town in Texas with two best friends and cousins, Perrie and Maisie. All is not serene in the town, however, because for the past several weeks, people have been going missing. One day on their way home from school, Perrie, Maisie, and their mutual friend (and Perrie’s crush) August, notice a strange sight: a huge, creepy, dark mansion/museum that was never there before but that claims to be hiring. Maisie takes interest and the day after going in for her first day of work work, goes missing. Perrie and August go looking for her and the rest is a horrific history.

I think I would rate this at a really, really high 3.75 stars that I’ll round up to 4 because I LOVE the cover and there are just so many retellings–both classic and fairy tale–that its just so cool. Plus the characters were pretty decent so overall, I dug the book. Plus, its set up for a sequel so…I need to read on!

The biggest thing that ruined the book for me was the ending. ((Spoilers ahead so readers BE WARNED!!!)) Specifically how Perrie ‘gave herself’ to August and then he wasn’t who he thought she was. In my opinion, that is especially awful considering that this is a YA book. Maybe in an adult book it would be a little more acceptable but I would hike up the rating a bit.

Overall, this book is definitely in the horror genre. The cover looks beautiful but it is bloody and there is some gore and graphic descriptions. I like that type of thing though, but just a heads up.

Also, as I alluded to before, the book does end on a big of a cliffhanger. In my opinion, the book is really half of a book. The Kindle edition is only 168 pages and the paperback is 242. For a YA book, that’s pretty short. The author could have just kept writing and finished it out I think. Maybe there is much more to the story and it would have tipped the scales as a door stopper to put 2+2 together? But right now its pretty darn short. Even as it is, I felt there could have been a few more details in the book. It felt pretty thin.

Things I really did like though: I keep raving about the cover art so that’s huge. I love the retellings. We’ve got everything from Sleepy Hollow to Rapunzel so there is literally something for everyone. I think there are five or six total in the book? Plus references to a few more but they travel through five or six worlds so that’s pretty cool. The characters are interesting and no one drove me crazy so that was good.

Listening to: “Sweet Satan” by Beck

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