Review: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves – A Compelling Combination of Fantasy and History

Hi guys! Yesterday was my last day of school, so I’m officially free! Sweet, sweet freedom! To celebrate the start of my summer vacation, I have here my newest review for Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves. Let me tell you why I wanted to read it: Magic + 1847 Hungary. I mean, this is basically trying to get me to like the fantasy genre even more since it takes place in Austria-Hungary! Now here’s my review!


About Blood Rose Rebellion31020402

The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.


A 4 Star

Disclaimer: I received a free hardcover copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. I have also received swag from the author in a separate giveaway. These will not affect my review.

Overall Thoughts: Blood Rose Rebellion has been one of my most anticipated reads of 2017! When I saw that they were giving away free copies of this book in exchange for a review on Blogging for Books, I immediately jumped onto the offer. Let me say, this book did not disappoint! I loved how it infused both 1847 Hungary (which now has a special place in my heart because I loved the culture in the book) and fantastic magic! I definitely enjoyed reading it, and I couldn’t put it down at times! The strongest aspect of this book is the world-building, which is fascinating to think about! It definitely is a compelling combination of fantasy and history.

Magic and Fantasy: I am really fascinated with the magical society in the book! Fantasy is honestly not my type of genre, but this book definitely made me love the genre more. In the book, the Luminates control most of the magic in Europe, and there are four “classes” of them: Animanti, Lucifera, Coremancers, and Elementalists. I just love how the characters harness this magic and how it incorporates itself into this alternate world of Europe. I became really fascinated with the world of the Binding, the Luminate society, and the race to weaken the Circle. The author definitely crafted the fantastical side well!

(By the way, I took Rosalyn Eves’s quiz and I am an Elementalist, so I would control inanimate objects like light and other stuff!)

History and Hungary: Setting Blood Rose Rebellion in 1847 Hungary was a great move by the author. I love learning more about Hungary’s culture! What was really funny is that the day I finished this book, I played Czardas by Vittorio Monti at a concert. A csardas is a Hungarian country dance with a slow start and a fast ending. I really enjoyed reading the Hungarian phrases and supporting the Magyars for independence. The book was so well-researched and very enlightening about society in the early 1800s. Now I want to go to Hungary! I have a greater love for the country and the culture because of this book. In addition, incorporating the magical realm with the actual historical events makes the book even better! The Circle is actually the ruling class of Europe, from Queen Victoria of England to the Hapsburgs in the Austria Empire, which makes the whole “alternate world” very believable.

Some Minor Details: As much as I love this book, it’s not one of my favorites because it did not wow me like Caraval or These Vicious Masks. For example, Anna kisses her cousin Matyas (and I mean a romantic kiss) twice… and I’m a bit confused. Was this out of relationship romance or cousin-to-cousin love? There were no plot holes, but at times I focused on trying to finish the book rather than enjoy it. And there were times I tried to skim a bit- not a good idea. But it was still a very great book nonetheless!

Concluding Thoughts: Will I be on the lookout for Book 2? Yes! I can’t believe I found a historical fantasy that combines both a mesmerizing world of magic and actual historical events. This book sparked my new love for Hungary that I will hold dear in my heart right after Poland. I definitely recommend this for fantasy and historical fiction fans! It is a strong start for Eves’s upcoming trilogy that has a lot of potential for greatness.

Some of My Favorite Quotes: 

“People can be many things, not all of them expected.”

“Everyone feels that way who does not fit neatly into the role society gives them. But it doesn’t mean something is wrong with you, only that you are bigger than they can imagine.”

“You don’t wait for a moment; you create it.”

“We trap ourselves with bonds of our own making: duty, love, desire.”

“[Y]ou have always been meant for greater things. Let yourself be free. Be who God intended you to be.”


Hope you enjoyed it! Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Review: A Time to Speak by Nadine Brandes – Never Wanted the Book to End!

Hi guys! The end of school is nigh, and these last few weeks have been very hectic. I’m also very behind on reviews, so I’m trying my best to catch up! I need to adopt a better policy… How do you guys juggle reading and reviewing? I probably should review right after I read since I have a few books that it’s been over a month or two since I’ve finished it. Anyways, here’s another review of a new favorite book that I hope you will consider reading!


About A Time to Speak (Out of Time #2)24466484

What happens when you live longer than you wanted to?

Parvin Blackwater wanted to die, but now she’s being called to be a leader. The only problem is, no one wants to follow.

The Council is using Jude’s Clock-matching invention to force “new-and-improved” Clocks on the public. Those who can’t afford one are packed into boxcars like cattle and used for the Council’s purposes. Parvin and Solomon team up to rescue the people. Instead, they find themselves on a cargo ship of Radicals headed out to sea. What will the Council do to them? And why are people suddenly dying before their Clocks have zeroed-out?


A 5 Star

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review. I have also received swag, and I am a part of the author’s street team. These will not affect my review.

Overall Thoughts: Just to start things off, I did not like the first book in the Out of Time series, A Time to Die. I was trying to rush the book since it was so long and it made me dislike the author’s writing style. I became very confused on what was going on, so this made me a bit hesitant about reading this. But let me say this, I am amazed by this book. Now I know why the Street Team geeks out about the series: this book right here. Let me tell you, it exceeded its predecessor in so many ways that I didn’t mind it was over 8000 on MOBI! You know that C. S. Lewis quote “There’s never a cup of tea or a book too big for me” or something like that? This is the first time I have read a book that I didn’t want to end. 

Story Development: This may seem like a long book, but it’s the right length for it because there’s so much that goes on. The author develops that plot so well that you can see ever clearly the progression of many of the characters, from Parvin becoming more brave an dependent on God to some unlikely people supporting her. I could not get enough of this book. Seriously, I loved how it panned out! I did not mind Parvin traveled all around the Western Hemisphere on her mission; in fact, I loved it. Nothing felt out of place. A Time to Speak was like a huge, soft blanket that has no holes and you just want to snuggle in it for a long time. There’s literally nothing wrong with this book plotwise!

Characters: Oh my goodness, I love this cast of characters so much! Now I want some of those character magnetic bookmarks because they are amazing! I love Parvin’s POV, and her relationship with Solomon. I really want Angelique (or Frenchie) to go home to France, and I still like Madame, too! Even characters that you would want to hate- like the Milkman (whose real name is Caprine), Dusten, and Kaphtor- you might end up rooting for at the end. The characters are so different yet they soon unite over a common cause and it’s so great!

Just Perfect! and Concluding Thoughts: I have nothing against this book at all. It’s really now one of my favorite books now because it was that amazing! I can finally fanboy over the series because I loved this novel a lot. I am so looking forward to finishing the series with A Time to Rise! Oh, I need to know what happens next! As a proud Ninja, I definitely recommend this book to you! You will not regret it! It definitely helped me shape my thinking, that I should live each day to the fullest, for I do not know when my last one will come.

On of My Favorite Quotes: “The promise of uncertainty changes how I live. It urges me to live . . . more, as if the very seconds prior to every sunset will be my last. That‘s the way it’s supposed to be.”


So I hoped you enjoyed that review! Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Catch the Spark Within! Chapters 29 and 30 by Alex Abaz (Review!)

So happy to finally be able to post again. Over the past two weeks, I have been devoting my time on reading mostly. I am actually hooked on Pigeon Blood Red by Ed Duncan. And of course! The Trials of Apollo book two: The Dark Prophecy came out recently and I have been reading that also. I can’t wait to have Duncan’s review ready for you all to see 🙂


Click HERE to read Kester’s recent review on Caraval by Stephanie Garber.(I cannot wait to be able to read this book >.<)


Chapter 29: Selfishness and self-care are altogether different.

This one popped up as I was watching this anime Silver Spoon. I saw it on Netflix, and I decided I would give it a try. This chapter came into play as I was watching it, because the main character Hachi (I haven’t finished it yet, so I’m scared to look up his name to see how it is spelled… lol) is very much what Abaz describes in her chapter.

Constantly, Hachi is battling with himself. He thinks that he has to make everyone happy; he will do whatever he can to make others cheer up, even sacrifice his health. There was a time when he was so busy trying to get a million things done for a school festival, he fainted with fatigue as he went to go give his dog a walk. He woke up in the hospital, so scared that his friends were mad at him for leaving them to take care of the stuff he should have been there to do. He got back to school after the festival was over, and told his friends he didn’t mean to leave them, and that he didn’t deserve to go to the afterparty with them. His friends told him that he was an idiot for thinking he was going to skip the after party. They had used his very detailed notes to finish the festival which went without a hitch.

And this is what this chapter is talking about. It’s good to be selfless. It’s highly encouraged. But when is it too much? What if one day you work yourself so much you hurt yourself? Everyone needs time to care for themselves. No matter who you are.

“I have to continuously reminds myself that making me a priority is not the same thing as being selfish.”

I struggle with thinking that caring for myself is equal to being selfish. Mostly because I love helping people. I want everyone to understand that I love them, and that I’m here to help with anything they need. But I have had times when I had to say no because I just couldn’t do it. Next thing you know they quit asking me for help altogether. I don’t want people to doubt my will to help. I have been getting better at saying no lately, because I constantly tell myself I have to take care of myself.

And even on this blog, I do this. I talked with a couple friends about how I have a load of books to review. I was stressing over them. I couldn’t focus on a lot else other than getting these books read. I almost overpowered myself. I could have said no, but I didn’t. I still would have read them all, because I love to help authors with reviews and all of that, but I should have made it a note that I could not read five books at the same time. Instead, I should have said I would not get them done by this specific time more than likely. I learned my lesson.

“Nurturing ourselves makes life better… [I]t’s not either them or us; it’s them and us.”

Don’t be in a relationship where you’re constantly caring for one someone and you’re not getting anything in return. I talked with one of my friends. He told me he was always giving his friend money for gas and for other things he want, but he has not paid him back yet. That stuff makes me furious, because I have been working on myself to get out of the habit of giving to people who use me. I have to take care of myself, too, and I can’t let people run over me in that way. Make your friendship, boyfriend/girlfriend relationship and “them and us,” not a “them or us.”

Take care of yourself, take care of others. Love on them, but also love on yourself.


Chapter 30: “Beluga is my Beethoven,” said the 90-year old Betty White to Anderson Cooper.

In this chapter, Abaz told the story about how she was stuck in a bad storm with her family. Popped in a Beethoven CD and everyone fell asleep through the storm.

And I related this to my faith, honestly. When things get horrible, and I have no idea what to do, I immediately turn to God. I ask him for help. I ask him to make the pain go away. I want to fall asleep and wake up to see everything fine again.

The problems don’t go away. They don’t just disappear into thin air, and I’m left all happy again, but I do feel a better joy in what I’m going through. Through putting my faith in the Lord, and just letting him guide me through, it makes me stronger. I feel myself growing a better confidence that I can get through it. I am not alone; God won’t just walk away.

So yeah, I guess God is my Beethoven. I encourage others to take him as your Beethoven as well. He’s gotten me through times in my life just by being there. He made the problems seem not so bad. Praise be to Him and His glory.

Who is your Beethoven as of right now? Who gets you through the storms, and distracts you from the scary noises? Bestfriend? Parents? Siblings? Actors? Singers?

“When we woke up, the storm had cleared and daylight had returned as if uninterrupted.”

 

 

Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber – A Magical Place I Didn’t Want to Leave

Hi guys! I do not have a Quote-flection of the Week because this week has been so busy for me. I had a few auditions and I have a concert and ceremony coming up soon, so it’s been crazy! The Quote-flection will be every week or so, so some weeks I will have one and others I won’t. But I decided to have a review today! In order to introduce you to my newest top favorite book, I have to give you this quote! Here it is:

“Welcome, welcome to Caraval! The grandest show on land or by sea. Inside you’ll experience more wonders than most people see in a lifetime. … But before you fully enter into our world, you must remember it’s all a game. So while we want you to get swept away, be careful of being swept too far away. Dreams that come true can be beautiful, but they can also turn into nightmares when people won’t wake up.”


About the Book:27883214

Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away.


A 5 Star

Disclaimer: I won a free copy of this book in a giveaway. This will not affect my thoughts.

Overall Thoughts: I’ve wanted to read Caraval for quite a while, and I was so excited while I was able to win this book in a giveaway! I was convinced to finally start it last week (as I write this) and it was the best decision ever. I mean, Caraval was a magical place I never wanted to leave! I can see why so many people are hyped about this book and want to buy every single version of it. I mean I amazed by it! This is probably one of the few books that I didn’t want to end! 

World-Building: The author creates such a magical and fantastic world! So much magic in the air makes my eyes glimmer with fascination! I want Legend to send me a ticket to Caraval! I don’t care if I win; I just want to roam around it! (I know I’m dropping so many exclamation points, but the world building is just amazing!) Garber certainly made Caraval one of the best fictional worlds and settings I have ever read. Could I please get a ticket? There’s also a gorgeous map of the setting in the book that definitey helps you, and it’s so pretty to just look at!

*I know this review is sounding so much like me fanboying, but these are literally my feelings right now. All I can type is excitement and joy. Gotta be more professional now.*

Plot: So I couldn’t put down this 400-page beauty. I finished it in two (or three) days! I mean this is almost record time! The plot sucks you in, like you’re actually in Caraval and you don’t want to get out. You encounter a lot and a lot of plot twists that make you want to keep going. I definitely found myself saying “Just one more chapter” so many times! Garber hooks you from the beginning all the way to the end. She throws at you so many unexpected twists and turns that you have to know what happens next!

Romance: I just have to cover the romance in the book. Scarlett and Julian is my favorite OTP ever! It’s such a great slow burn relationship that evolves from hate. But it’s so fun to watch Scarlett warming up to him. I won’t spoil what happens to their relationship at the story progresses, but it does go through a ton of different hurdles… I’ll just tell you that. But I love their relationship! I need some fan art and swag right now!

Concluding Thoughts: This book was perfect, and I mean perfect! I loved every single part of it 100%! And this book is the first in series? I have to read the next book. It was so good that I just don’t want to ever leave it! I think that Caraval has to be on my favorite books of all time! It’s the perfect escape and vacation from reality! I recommend it to everyone! Please read this book! You won’t regret it! I might re-read it, which is extremely rare for me!
Have you read Caraval? Did you like it? Comment below your thoughts, and let’s chat!

One of My Favorite Quotes (There’s Too Many!): “Hope is a powerful thing. Some say it’s a different breed of magic altogether. Elusive, difficult to hold on to. But not much is needed.”


Don’t forget to enter our giveaway for Kym Brunner’s book Flip the Bird! It’s a great MG Contemporary Romance you don’t want to miss! Check it out here!

Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

ARC Review: Configured by Jenetta Penner – Danger and Death in Every Corner

Hi guys! It’s the first day of May! I am really behind on reviews, so that’s why I’m popping quite a few out in such a short time! I know… I’m going to have some nice discussions, tags, and memes in the future! But for now, I hope you enjoy this latest review on Configured by Jenetta Penner!


Goodreads Synopsis: In the future love will make you a traitor.32065903

120 years after a virus decimated earth’s population the survivors thrive in safety, away from the death and destruction of the Outerbounds. Divided into three levels of intellect, Citizens focus solely on duty.

Due to her advanced intelligence, seventeen-year-old Avlyn Lark is separated from her twin brother at birth and raised by adoptive parents. She gains privilege, the ideal future. He dies. Avlyn barely knows him yet remains linked to his memory.

But following a string of rebel intrusions on the city, Avlyn receives a cryptic message and begins seeing visions of her dead twin. The mysterious radical who urges Avlyn to join their fight becomes her link to answers. Freedom.

Opportunity awaits, but if she says yes will she lose it all?

Configured is the first novel in a trilogy YA dystopian/light romance that poses the question: does humanity need love for survival? Fans of Divergent, Matched, and the Maze Runner will love this world of dark secrets, intrigue and desire for a better tomorrow.


A 4 StarDisclaimer: I received a free e-ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in anyway. All thoughts are mine and mine alone, and they are my honest thoughts.

Overall Thoughts: I’ve definitely heard a lot of great things about Configured, so I decided to take a shot at this YA Dystopian novel. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. The more I got into it, the more I wanted to continue it! When I first saw this book, I was intrigued by the premise- a world where the government controls everything about you, where love is forbidden. I think I’d prefer this indie book to Divergent anyday!

Action-Packed Plot: There were many times when I just wanted to continue reading it. The action-packed, suspenseful plot will keep you on the edge of your seat! With the possibility of danger and death lurking around the corner, you’ll never know what will happen next! I know I didn’t! It surprised me in so many ways yet it fueled my fire to continue!

World-Building: I definitely was intrigued by the society of Elore, where Avlyn lives. Definitely, the author crafted the dystopian city very well. A government that doesn’t care for its lower citizens? Ooh… Citizens are classed by their intelligence levels, but there’s many secrets to the system? My interest is even more piqued. There’s rebels, and more than you think. Yes!

Details: Just like most books, I did get a tiny bit confused regarding technology, setting, etc. With the new VR technology that Avlyn and the rebels use, it wasn’t clear to me at times whether the characters were in a simulation or in reality. Sometimes I get mistaken and think they’re in a virtual meeting place when they’re actually in a real life room. But it’s nothing really major- so it won’t greatly affect your perception of the story. I think that regardless it is a great book to read!

Concluding Thoughts: Will I be on the lookout for book 2? Definitely! Usually with dystopian trilogies, I don’t plan on completing them (I am not going to continue to Catching Fire or finish the first book in Divergent… I got bored after Gathering Blue in The Giver Quartet), but I’m considering doing it with this one! I don’t normally continue series (I’m a big standalone fan… we can talk about this later) but this might be an exception!

Favorite Quote: “Avlyn, this world is both beautiful and broken. Make more beautiful moments than broken ones.”


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Review: Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot – Changed My Perception on EDs and People with Eating Disorders

Hi guys! Welcome back! Today is the first day of May! Oh my goodness! May is my favorite month because a) school’s almost out and b) it’s my birth month! Yay! That means a birthday book haul! Yes! Right now, I have my newest review on Stephanie Elliot’s Sad Perfect, which is an amazing book! Amid all the controversy surrounding it, I personally think it is a great novel that sheds light on eating disorders and ARFID, which is Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. Now onwards!


About Sad PerfectSadPerfect_09e

The story of a teen girl’s struggle with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder and how love helps her on the road to recovery.

Sixteen-year-old Pea looks normal, but she has a secret: she has Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). It is like having a monster inside of her, one that not only dictates what she can eat, but also causes anxiety, depression, and thoughts that she doesn’t want to have. When she falls crazy-mad in love with Ben, she hides her disorder from him, pretending that she’s fine. At first, everything really does feel like it’s getting better with him around, so she stops taking her anxiety and depression medication. And that’s when the monster really takes over her life. Just as everything seems lost and hopeless, Pea finds in her family, and in Ben, the support and strength she needs to learn that her eating disorder doesn’t have to control her.


A 5 StarDisclaimer: I received a free physical copy of this book from the author and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I also received some book swag. This will not affect my review in anyway. All thoughts are mine and mine alone, and they are my honest thoughts.

Overall Thoughts: I honestly went into this book a little scared. The reason is is that there have been many bad reviews surfacing the Internet and Goodreads that have not only degraded the book and bashed the author. Let me tell you one thing about those reviews, please do not just base your opinion on only them. And please do not bring in the author along. A fictional book does not reflect the author’s personality. Some of my blogger friends raved about this book, so I’ve wanted to read it a lot. I admit I was a bit hesitant but I gave it a shot.

This book exceeded my expectations by a mile. Let me tell you, I am super impressed with the author’s writing style and the storyline. I devoured 2/3 of this book in a day because I could not put it down. During school, all I just wanted to do is just sit down and finish this book. I didn’t care about watching the movie Chicken Run; my only desire was to finish Sad Perfect. This book is probably one of my favorite reads of 2017! I mean I am mind blown at everything! Woo! Time to get onto why I love it so much! It definitely changed my perception on people with eating disorders and EDs!

Thrust into the Story: The fascinating thing about this book is that it was told in second-person, which definitely made the message and story much more effective and amplified. I was Pea, and I could feel all her physical and emotional pain. If she hated a character, I had similar feelings, too. If she loved something, I would love it, too. I knew exactly how she felt and why she felt that way, and I went through times where I felt all the characters didn’t know what I (remember, this is in second person) was going through. Second-person is something that is very hard to master in a fictional book, but the author conquered that challenge. She made me think more about everything that is going on, and that’s one reason why I couldn’t stop reading and reading!

Awareness about ARFID and EDs: What I love about books is that they have the potential to change your perception about the world. 2017 has been full of those kinds of novels: Salt to the Sea, Strong Inside, Be Light Like a Bird, A Time to SpeakI am so glad to add Sad Perfect to that list. I believe that it vividly and accurately portrays what a person with an eating disorder (or ED)- especially those with ARFID, or Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder- has to go through. So many times victims think that there is an actual monster who “controls” all their thoughts and emotions. With second-person POV, it helps you understand these struggles all the more. I am so glad that I got to read this book because I am even more enlightened about this problem.

A Tiny Warning: As much as I loved this book, I have to give a little warning to more sensitive readers. There are some scenes in this book (a few not all) that are very vivid and could trigger some people. I do in fact recommend this book to all people, even to those with eating disorders, but I just want you to be a bit cautious. The author is an amazing writer, and I do not want this warning to make you not want to read this book. I definitely want you to pick this book up and read it! This is nothing against the author or the book- this is just a heads-up for those who are more sensitive with these topics.

Concluding Thoughts: I think that this book has changed my perception of the world even more. I’m so glad that I was able to read and review this book! This is probably one of my favorite books I’ve ever read… and I mean it! I know I’ve encountered so many new faves, but this has got to be on that list. Why can’t top 10 include more? Please, I urge you to pick this book up. The author definitely accomplished her mission with this book: to spread awareness about ARFID, which is a recently discovered eating disorder. She has done a great job portraying it accurately to where I am now more aware about about not only AFRID but all eating disorders in general. Knowing how people with EDs feel makes me a better person regarding how I view others, and that is why I love books like this one!

One of My Favorite Quotes: You think about this. Everyone in your life wants you in his or her life. Your mom, your dad, even your brother. … They all want you around. You’ve got so much to be happy about.


About the AuthorDSC00461

Stephanie Elliot is the author of the young adult novel Sad Perfect (Margaret Ferguson Books/FSG, Winter, 2017), which was inspired by her own daughter’s journey with ARFID, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. She has written for a variety of websites and magazines and has been a passionate advocate of other authors by promoting their books on the Internet for years. She has been, or still is, all of the following: a book reviewer, an anonymous parenting columnist, a mommy blogger, an editor, a professional napper, a reformed Diet Coke drinker, a gecko breeder and the author of three self-published novels.

A Florida native, Stephanie has lived near Chicago and Philadelphia and currently calls Scottsdale, Arizona home. She graduated from Northern Illinois University, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. Stephanie and her husband Scott have three children: AJ, McKaelen and Luke. They are all her favorites.


Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below, and let’s chat!

Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Chilling Revelation (Bentwhistle the Dragon #2) by Paul Cude

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book for an honest review.

Amazon Description: Following his harrowing and near death experience at the talons of the evil dragon Manson in ‘A Threat From The Past’, Peter Bentwhistle, the human shaped dragon and reluctant hero, finds himself on the slow path to recovery. Helped by his dragon friends, Tank and Richie (both in their human forms), he finds solace in his new found friendship with the dragon king. But the three friends are soon unwittingly drawn into a deadly plot, when a straight forward meeting with the monarch sees them helping an injured dragon agent, straight back from his mission in Antarctica with news of a devastating encounter with another ancient race. Blackmail, intrigue, forbidden love interests, a near fatal mantra gone wrong, a highly charged rugby match in which Tank takes a beating, combined with enough laminium ball action to please dragons the world over, stretch the bonds of the dragons’ friendship like never before. New friends and ancient enemies clash as the planet braces itself for one of the most outrageous attacks it has ever seen. Lost secrets and untold lore come to light, while sinister forces attempt to steal much coveted magic. Explosive exploits, interspersed with a chilly backdrop and unexpected danger at every turn, make for an action-packed, electrifying adventure.

Rating: 3/5

This is a long book which at times feels like there are two totally separate stories, though they do come together near the end. For me it could be condensed with more emphasis on the action than the description of times and places. I am sure the reader can work it out without the need for the extra narrative. The writing style works with the story, the pace at times is a little slow but the concept of the dragons living and helping the humans is a good one.

Recommend: Dragons and Fantasy

Review: Strong Inside (Young Readers Edition) by Andrew Maraniss – The Best Biography I Have Ever Read

Hi guys! In March, I met the wonderful Andrew Maraniss- a Nashville native (Nashville has such an AMAZING author community by the way)- and I had the opportunity to be able to interview him here and be able to review his newest book Strong Inside: Young Readers Edition. It is the Young Adult version of his New York Times bestselling book Strong Inside, which is a biography on the great Perry Wallace. Now let’s get onto the review!


About the BookStrong Inside

The inspirational true story of the first African American to play college basketball in the deeply segregated Southeastern Conference–a powerful moment in Black history.

Perry Wallace was born at an historic crossroads in U.S. history. He entered kindergarten the year that the Brown v. Board of Education decision led to integrated schools, allowing blacks and whites to learn side by side. A week after Martin Luther King Jr.’s -I Have a Dream- speech, Wallace enrolled in high school and his sensational jumping, dunking, and rebounding abilities quickly earned him the attention of college basketball recruiters from top schools across the nation. In his senior year his Pearl High School basketball team won Tennessee’s first racially-integrated state tournament.
The world seemed to be opening up at just the right time, and when Vanderbilt University recruited Wallace to play basketball, he courageously accepted the assignment to desegregate the Southeastern Conference. The hateful experiences he would endure on campus and in the hostile gymnasiums of the Deep South turned out to be the stuff of nightmares. Yet Wallace persisted, endured, and met this unthinkable challenge head on. This insightful biography digs deep beneath the surface to reveal a complicated, profound, and inspiring story of an athlete turned civil rights trailblazer.


A 5 Star

Disclaimer: I received a free signed physical copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in anyway. All thoughts are mine and mine alone, and they are my honest thoughts.

Overall Thoughts: My whole review can be summarized in this one sentence: Strong Inside is by far the best biography I have ever read. At the beginning of 2016, I was in a what I call a “memoir fad” when all I read were memoirs and nonfiction… thankfully it lasted for only two months. Yes, I found Martin Short’s, Tina Fey’s, and Amy Poehler’s memoirs hilariously funny (redundant, I know!) but Strong Inside tops them. I’m being serious. This book was so amazing that I’ve page flagged like 15-20 different quotes and excerpts. I mean, I devoured this book. I read half of it in a day (I know it’s for younger readers but still…) and finished it in three days!

The Life of Perry Wallace: Perry Wallace isn’t a big household name, but after reading his story, he’s like a celebrity to me. His story is very interesting and heart-wrenching. As a Tennessean, a Southerner, and an Asian in the 21st century, it’s hard to imagine what is was like living in the South in the mid-1900s. To see all this hatred and racism that happened to Wallace whenever he visited places in Mississippi, Alabama, or even in his hometown Nashville definitely makes you stop and think. I’m so surprised events like the Fisk University riots occurred in my state’s capital. It’s shocking! Wallace is also super relatable, yet his life is very interesting. No wonder why the adult version of Strong Inside is one of the required reading for all freshmen at Vanderbilt University! It definitely will change your viewpoint on the world and how racism exists in so many ways, whether it is violent or more subtle. Knowing what people like Perry Wallace had to go through definitely inspires me to treat everyone more equally.

Prose: Maraniss definitely transported me from a bus, library, and bed into Perry Wallace’s life. I mean, it’s like I could hear the taunts and racial slurs or see the games that Wallace played in. I could feel his struggles so much, and I wanted to reach out to him. It’s so haunting and chilling how Maraniss portrayed Perry Wallace’s struggles to be a pioneer in SEC sports. This is definitely a book that will last with you for a while. The author definitely sucked me into the book that I couldn’t stop! There were times I was debating on reading this book or finishing a 20-slide power on copyright. Of course I did my powerpoint, but it was hard to resist that temptation. I kept on saying “Just a one chapter or five minute break” a lot.

Just Perfect! and Concluding Thoughts: I have nothing against this book. And I mean nothing. This book is one of the best books I have read this year, no doubt. I’m not the biggest nonfiction fan, but this certainly has defied that. I would give this to younger readers if I had the opportunity to get a crate because it’s something I believe should be read everywhere. Teachers, go get this book for your classroom! You will not be disappointed. You don’t have to be a sports fan to enjoy Perry Wallace’s conquest for “equalizing” and integrating the college sports industry. Reading Strong Inside will change your perception about the world and the racism that is unfolding everywhere, and it will inspire you to never give up in the face of oppression.

One of My Favorite Quotes: “I’ve got to adapt and look at things not as pressures but as challenges. Life has been a series of challenges for me. I’ve just tried to meet them as they come along. If I come through now, I’ll be a better man for it. It’s a hit or miss thing. Either I’ll make it or I won’t.” – Perry Wallace


About the AuthorAndrew Maraniss 1

Strong Inside is the first book by Andrew Maraniss. A partner at McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations in Nashville, Andrew studied history at Vanderbilt University as a recipient of the Fred Russell – Grantland Rice sportswriting scholarship, graduating in 1992. He then worked for five years in Vanderbilt’s athletic department as the associate director of media relations, dealing primarily with the men’s basketball team. In 1998, he served as the media relations manager for the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays during the team’s inaugural season, and then returned to Nashville to join MP&F. Andrew was born in Madison, Wis., grew up in Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas, and now lives in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife, Alison, and their two young children. Follow him on Twitter @trublu24. 


Hope you enjoyed this review! Look out for upcoming reviews on Emerge by Tobie Easton, Embers in the Sea by Jennifer M. Eaton, Configured by Jenetta Penner, and many more. Plus, we’re going to interview some great authors soon and you don’t want to miss them!

Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Book Review: Sanctum by Madeleine Roux!

Wow. Just yesterday, I was saying how I was in the middle of this book (only on page 100 out of 340) and that it may take me a little bit longer to get it finished… boy, was I wrong.

I read until twelve at night, headphones in playing some creepy music to help the mood, so determined to find out that happens next.

Unlike my past review, this review contains NO SPOILERS. That’s right. No rant going on here, because I’m kind of satisfied.

Now, this book is actually the sequel to Roux’s Asylum, but honestly, these two books could be book by themselves. Sure, you would probably need to add in some information into Sanctum, change from history blah, blah, blah, but for the most part the plot is very unique from the first book.

Summary for Asylum

For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it’s a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it’s no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux’s teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.

Summary for Sanctum

Dan, Abby, and Jordan remain traumatized by the summer they shared in the Brookline asylum. Much as they’d love to move on, someone is determined to keep the terror alive, sending the teens photos of an old-timey carnival, with no note and no name. Finally, Dan receives a list of coordinates pointing to abandoned houses in the town near Brookline, and he is convinced that the only way to end this nightmare once and for all is to return to New Hampshire College and follow the trail.

But when Dan and his friends arrive under the guise of a prospective students’ weekend, they discover that the carnival from their photos isn’t just real, it’s here on campus–it has returned for the first time in many years. And as they sneak away from their undergrad hosts to visit the houses on their list, they find secrets far darker than anything they’d imagined.

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Would this be the book for you?

Romance? Some but not very much.

Humor? I dare say at the worst times possible… aka Jordan.

Scary? I’ll talk about this further, but it was not very creepy to me at first… until I got to the end.

Vocabulary? It talks a bit about medical terms that I did not understand at first, especially in the first book. But they are easily looked up and sometimes the characters will explain what something is. Other than that, very easy read.

How much will it pull you in? I personally did not get right into it until about the middle of the book, when it gets more in depth with the mysteries of Brookline.

My overall rating…

A 4 Star

If you’re a mystery fan and just looking for something small and easy, this book would be for you. As for me, I enjoyed it because of the creepy setting it gave off and the diverse characters; and I also wanted to learn more about Brookline Asylum.

I want to make a connection to this book and Miss Peregrine’s. If you really think about it, they both don’t have that much in common, but they do both create this ominous tone through their covers and pictures. Both use actual photos to create a story by putting the photos together. By doing so, it makes the whole thing seem so much more real. I love that about a story. I love a good picture book.

So in this story, we meet Dan, Abby, and Jordan. And when I said there is not much romance, it’s more like it’s not the main point the author is trying to get at. It’s obvious that there is something going on between two of the three main characters and it makes you kind of happy when they peck each other on the cheeks and whatnot, but in the end, it’s the friendship the trio have together that really matters in this book. They all stick together, because they know if they walk away on their own… bad things will happen.

What I think is most important about this book is its mood and tone. At first, I honestly did not feel frightened or practically anything… at first. Mostly it was just some small stuff. Oh, okay. You’re in a creepy, haunted house… that’s cool. Don’t die, Dan. That’d suck. But then I was reading yesterday and got this idea to put in my headphones at ten at night and play some creepy random music from Spotify.

Booooooooooyyyyyy, I chose the best time to play the music because that is when things started to go down. One moment we’re all having a good time and the next thing you know there someone is getting their eye stabbed out, someone else is dead, and we’re all sitting together trying to figure out how not to lose our minds. Pretty awesome stuff.

And that is when I started loving on the book. Doors were opened, problems were solved.  The conclusion did not leave off on a happy note, as I will probably figure out why in the next book Catacombs. 

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My predictions? No idea. I hardly understood what “Sanctum” meant when diving into this book. The title itself if a mystery.

The only big issues I had with this book were probably the random senses of humor, (even though it does lighten the mood a little bit but kind of needs to work on when the mood should be lightened and when it shouldn’t) and the reactions of the main characters. Some times I felt like their reactions to certain situation were a little off. They seemed chill at the very beginning. Oh, you see a little ghost boy? Just eat your cereal, Dan. We don’t have time for this. It did get better towards the end, but I mean if you see someone you were just talking to dead on the ground and don’t flip out, you probably do need to see someone about that.

If you have not read either of these books and you love a good mystery, mark this on Goodreads as a To-Read and play some creepy music in the middle of the night. I sure enjoyed it.

Catch the Sparks Within! Chapters 27 and 28 by Alex Abaz

Hey, guys! We’re close to finally finishing this amazing book. It has definitely been a journey.

Click the name of the title to see Kester’s recent review on Be Light Like a Bird by Monika Schroder

Click the name of the title to see Kelsey’s recent review Bentwhistle the Dragon in a Threat from the Past by Paul Cude!

Click the name of the title to see Cayli’s recent review The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo!

Also, if you happen to be new to Abaz’s reviews by me click HERE to see the very first post and HERE to see Chapters 25 and 26 reviews! 

As I was linking the first ever review of this amazing book, I just looked at the editting and also looked back to where I was in that time. In retrospect, it was not that long ago, but I guess that’s the magic of time. I feel like I have learned a lot more about WordPress and about this blog as a whole. This is one of the best things I could ever do. I cannot wait to grow even more, and one day be able to moderate giveaways and interviews. I’m not there yet, but I’m willing to take it one step at a time. 🙂 I also noticed around the time I agreed to do these reviews, I also agreed to start a bible study group with three other great women. I feel myself growing a lot with Alex Abaz’s chapters and with the friendship I have in my bible study group.


Disclaimer: I have received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Chapter 27: Being single and independent is hard to do.

This chapter is about the importance of a romantically involved partner. Alex Abaz includes in the very beginning that people are shunned from society when someone chooses to not marry.

And this is honestly true when looking around my high school. People constantly date just because they are too embarrassed to be seen without someone. It’s getting to a point where there is no longer a commitment… They just love the fact that they are with someone. They are in love with the thought of them. I’m sure we have all read a book about this type of central idea. It stands true.

As for me? I have never dated anyone. I have never kissed anyone. And like Abaz (thought I should not at my age), I sometimes worry I will never find someone and everyone else around me will pass that threshold while I am still on the other side.

But even though it’s kind of sad, I don’t let it put me down, you know what I mean? I am not desperate. Yes, I have had boys who have come to me telling me I’m beautiful, telling me they like me. And I turn them down. And why do I do that? Because I have standards. This is not like applying for my first job. It’s deciding who will take care of me for the rest of my life. And yeah, maybe one day I will meet someone who meets my standards, and it may not work out, but at least we tried, right? Date to marry. Not to break up. That’s my number one standard. 

While we want to believe that love and passion are the emotions that bring two people together naturally, this is only true some of the time. 

Have you had a friend who thought they were completely in love with their new boyfriend they have had for a week? Who was so in love they ditch their plans with you to go hang out with them, or constantly talked about them? They post on Instagram of them kissing saying, “Love you, bae! Happy two week anniversary!” As I type this, two people are on my mind and I can’t help but smile. Kelsey knows who I am talking about.

But it is so hilarious, because they are guided strictly on love and passion. They have no standards. They believe love is all they need. Back to books and movies, we have all read or watched that movie where the main character and her/his lover are constantly arguing, constantly having different views, constantly mad at each other. Maybe I should throw Mal and Alina in as an example, but I rather not… Anyways, they go throughout the entire series, thinking love with always keep them together: Sorry to break it to you, but this is a load of toad crap. You need guidance, you need trust, you need to have a bond that doesn’t just draw you in romantically, but draws you into a healthy relationship where you two pick each other up in the down times, and you two don’t go to sleep until the argument is resolved. Going to sleep angry is the worse way to go to bed. There has to be committment. 

Now as the chapter goes on, Abaz mentions the role of marriage, and I agree when she says that marriage is not an obsession for me. Like her, I dream now of falling in love with someone and having that commitment, but the dream of growing up, going to college, and making a strong living for myself is so, so much bigger. I won’t work to please someone. When they want to step in and be like, “Oh, cool, you read books and are socially awkward? I like it!” I will happily accept it, but I will not stop and run away from my ultimate goal just to catch them.

Chapter 28: Loss in inevitable.

This chapter is about loss and the grief that comes with it.

I’m going to be completely honest: I have never had someone super important to me pass away. Sure, I’ve gone to funerals and I’ve known some of the people whom I went to see, but I never really had a high personal connection with any of them.

Which frightens me sort of. One day someone important to me will die, and it will be the first time that has ever happened me. How will I handle it? That’s a big fear of mine. I’m afraid of grieving. I see the way it hurts other people, and in truth, no one can make them stop grieving. I have heard from so many people that the pain in a loss never goes away, but it becomes manageable.

“One must feel and process the pain, the anger, and the grief until the hurt gradually subsides.”

Note that Abaz never said “until the hurt gradually goes away.” It just becomes less intense. 

But I do cry for others. Not too long ago, an unexpected death happened in my friend’s family and I went to pay my respects. She was crying when I went up to hug her and it took all of me not to cry with her. I didn’t even know the name of her grandfather, yet I understood how much he meant to her.

And I do believe in an afterlife. I believe in Heaven. I believe when I die, I will be granted the glorious gift to see Jesus, and to live my eternal life with Him. I am so scared at the thought of death. I will lay awake at night sometimes thinking about how one day I won’t be here and my name will wear through the fabrics of time until it no longer exists. That’s a scary thought. (CUE EXISTENTIAL CRISIS…) But I always calm down knowing when I die, I won’t be scared of anything anymore. And I know those around me: my brother, my mom, my dad, my grandmother, they won’t be afraid anymore either. That’s the most comforting thought.

 


So happy to have another review in!

I am currently reading five other books to review! Wish my luck, and look out for my coming up reviews. My next review on one of these books will be Sanctum by Madeleine Roux!