Recent Reviews...

Monday, February 8, 2021

Book Review: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke




Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Between #1) by April Genevieve Tucholke
Genre: Young Adult (Paranormal)
Date Published: August 15, 2013
Publisher: Dial

You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town… until River West comes along. River rents the guest house behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard.

Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more?

Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery... who makes you want to kiss back.

Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is the first book in the Between series by April Genevieve Tucholke. This one is hard to review, because I really liked the premise and the over all storyline, but I didn't like a single character. Not one. Violet grew on me a little towards the end. And, I don't have enough information on another character that popped up towards the end to base a judgement on... but overall. No. They're pretty awful people. Yes, I get it. People have layers. Especially someone like River. But, good people know right from wrong. River's idea of right and wrong is a little skewed, which sometimes he takes further advantage of. The story and premise was great though! And those last 100 pages or so were very hard to put down. Was it enough to want to read the next book? Umm.. not at this time.

Check out my review of another book by this author.

author
April Genevieve Tucholke is the author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Between the Spark and the Burn, Wink Poppy Midnight, and The Boneless Mercies. Her books have been published in sixteen countries, and have received eight

starred reviews. They have been selected for the Junior Library Guild, Kids' Indie Next picks, and YALSA Teens Top Ten. When she's not writing, April likes walking in the woods, exploring abandoned houses, and drinking expensive coffee. She currently resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband.

To learn more about April Genevieve Tucholke and her books, visit her website. You can also find her on GoodreadsInstagram and Twitter.

Buy this book at:

Book Review: Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren




Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren
Genre: Adult Fiction (Contemporary Romance)
Date Published: October 22, 2019
Publisher: Gallery Books

Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.

During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.

Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.

With Christina Lauren’s signature “beautifully written and remarkably compelling” (Sarah J. Maas, New York Times bestselling author) prose and perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jennifer Weiner, Twice in a Blue Moon is an unforgettable and moving novel of young love and second chances.

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners and the “delectable, moving” (Entertainment Weekly) My Favorite Half-Night Stand comes a modern love story about what happens when your first love reenters your life when you least expect it…

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren was a super cute second chances romance. I love how we got both halves of the story. We saw how they met originally and how things ended. This first part was basically a coming of age story for Tate. Then, we saw how they met the second time, with Sam and Tate grown up and established in their careers. I liked getting the full story all around. It really immersed me into their world. I listened to this book on audio while I cleaned the house for Christmas. It was perfect, because it kept my attention. and made time fly by.

I don’t like it.

Nana sat by the window while I shoved all my clothes back in my suitcase. Her purse on her lap and the packed suitcase at her feet told me she’d already decided to trade rooms, she just needed to make a show of protest. Who offers to give up a view of the river and Big Ben for a view of the street?

They seem nice.

"First, we don’t even know them. Second, even with nice men you don’t want to be obligated."

Obligated? Nana, they’re trading hotel rooms with us, not paying us for sex.

Nana turned her face toward the window. Don’t be crude, Tate. She fingered the organza curtain for a few quiet beats. What if they find out who you are?

There it was. Reason number one I’d never traveled east of Colorado before today. I’m eighteen. Does it even matter anymore?

She started to argue but I held up a hand, giving in. It mattered so much to Nana that I stayed hidden; it wasn’t worth pushing back.

I’m just saying, I said, zipping up my bag and rolling it toward the door. They’re being nice. We’re here for two weeks, and glaring at that street will drive you crazy. Which means it will drive me crazy. Let’s take the room. She didn’t move, and I returned a few steps closer to her. Nana, you know you want the view. Come on.

Finally she stood, saying, If you’d be happier with it, before leading me out. We fell silent as our suitcases rolled dully behind us, wheels rhythmically tripping over the seams in the sections of thick carpet.

I just want your vacation to be perfect, she said over her shoulder.

I know, Nana. I want yours to be perfect too.

She hiked her JCPenney purse higher on her shoulder, and I felt a pang of protectiveness. It’s our first trip to London, she said, and—

It’s going to be amazing, don’t worry. The café did well for a café in a small town, but it was all relative; we’d never been rolling in cash. I couldn’t even fathom how long it must have taken her to save for all this. I mean, I’d seen her itinerary and it was packed: museums, Harrods, shows, dinners out. We were going to spend more in two weeks than Nana probably spent in a year.

I’m already so excited to be here, I said.

Sam and Luther emerged from their room; Luther was rolling a bag behind him, and Sam had a duffel slung over his shoulder. Once again I experienced a weird physical leap inside at the sight of him. He seemed to completely fill the hallway. He’d pulled a worn blue plaid shirt over the T-shirt he wore earlier, but at some point he’d taken off his green Converse, and now padded his way down the hall only in socks. It was oddly scandalous.

Sam lifted his chin in greeting when he saw me, and smiled. I don’t know if it was the smile or the socks—the hint of being undressed—but a shiver worked its way down my spine.

I’m here for museums and history.

I’m here for the adventure and experience.

I’m not here for boys.

Sam was right there, four, three, two feet away. He blocked out the ambient light coming in from a row of narrow windows—I barely came up to his shoulder. Was this what it felt like to be a moon orbiting a much larger planet?

Thanks again, I mumbled.

Are you kidding? His eyes followed me as we passed. Anything to make you smile.


Check out my review of other books by these authors!

author
Yes, there are two of us! Lauren (on the left) and Christina (on the right).

Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of long-time writing partners and best friends Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. The #1 international bestselling coauthor duo writes both Young Adult and Adult Fiction, and together has produced fourteen New York Times bestselling novels. They are published in over 30 languages, have received multiple starred reviews, won both the Seal of Excellence and Book of the Year from RT Magazine, been inducted into the Library Reads Hall of Fame, named Amazon and Audible Romance of the Year, a Lambda Literary Award finalist and been nominated for several Goodreads Choice Awards. They have been featured in publications such as Forbes, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Time, Entertainment Weekly, People, O Magazine and more. Their third YA novel, Autoboyography was released in 2017 to critical acclaim, followed by  Roomies, Love and Other Words, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, and the Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus and Library Journal starred The Unhoneymooners, out May 2019.

To learn more about Christina Lauren and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on GoodreadsFacebookInstagramTumblrPinterest, and Twitter.

Buy this book at:

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Faraway Collection Review





I love fairy tale re-tellings. They are some of my favorite stories... even over the originals sometimes. 
Unfortunately, I didn't really love these. The covers are lovely though!

The Prince and the Troll (Faraway #1) by Rainbow Rowell

Genre: Young Adult (Fairy Tale Retelling)
Date Published: December 15, 2020
Publisher: Amazon Publishing



A charming everyman and a mysterious something-under-the-bridge cross paths in a short fairy tale by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park and the Simon Snow series.

It’s fate when a man accidentally drops his phone off the bridge. It’s fortune when it’s retrieved by a friendly shape sloshing in the muck underneath. From that day forward, as they share a coffee every morning, an unlikely friendship blooms. Considering the reality for the man above, where life seems perfect, and that of the sharp-witted creature below, how forever after can a happy ending be? 

The Prince and the Troll is the first book in the Faraway series by several different authors. This particular book was written by Rainbow Rowell. It’s a short story about a man who lives life on a road and the troll under the bridge. I thought it was a rat race type symbolism on our society and government, what with the road and people on it pushing other people to their deaths if they fall...and the always being watched. And the troll, maybe symbolic of homelessness. I think that all makes sense to the story. But then after I finished reading, I read several reviews where people thought it had to do with climate change. I don’t see that at all. Aside from the flood that seemed out of nowhere. I can’t really tell what kind of ending that was. Happy? Sad? It mostly read like on big Starbucks commercial

Hazel and Gray (Faraway #2) by Nic Stone
Genre: Young Adult (Fairy Tale Retelling)
Date Published: December 15, 2020
Publisher: Amazon Publishing



Hazel and Gray is the second book in the Faraway series. This story was written by Nic Stone. This was a modern Hansel and Gretel retelling that revolved around a human trafficking and pedophilia "business". Hansel and Gretel sets up the perfect backdrop for this kind of story. However, this was too short, too rushed, and didn't always make sense. I know this series is supposed to be short stories, but I've read many short stories that have packed a whole lot of punch in just a few pages. This fell way short of any kind of impact for me. So far, I'm not impressed with Amazon's Faraway series. 

Hazel and Gray is the second book in the Faraway series. This story was written by Nic Stone. This was a modern Hansel and Gretel retelling that revolved around a human trafficking and pedophilia "business". Hansel and Gretel sets up the perfect backdrop for this kind of story. However, this was too short, too rushed, and didn't always make sense. I know this series is supposed to be short stories, but I've read many short stories that have packed a whole lot of punch in just a few pages. This fell way short of any kind of impact for me. So far, I'm not impressed with Amazon's Faraway series. 

The Princess Game (Faraway #3) by Soman Chainani
Genre: Young Adult (Fairy Tale Retelling)
Date Published: December 15, 2020
Publisher: Amazon Publishing



A charming everyman and a mysterious something-under-the-bridge cross paths in a short fairy tale by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park and the Simon Snow series.

It’s fate when a man accidentally drops his phone off the bridge. It’s fortune when it’s retrieved by a friendly shape sloshing in the muck underneath. From that day forward, as they share a coffee every morning, an unlikely friendship blooms. Considering the reality for the man above, where life seems perfect, and that of the sharp-witted creature below, how forever after can a happy ending be? 

The Princess Game is the third book in the Faraway series. This story was written by Soman Chainani. There were a lot of characters to get to know in a short amount of time, but I saw the direction it was going pretty early on. I listened to the audio version, and each character has their own actor voicing them. That was a great way to tell this story and helped me keep each character in their own category in my head. This was by far the best one in the series so far.



The Cleaners (Faraway #4) by Ken Liu
Genre: Young Adult (Fairy Tale Retelling)
Date Published: December 15, 2020
Publisher: Amazon Publishing



Touch the past or wash it away? Two sisters have a choice in this unforgettable short story of everyday magic and the power of memory by the Hugo and Nebula Award–winning author Ken Liu.

Gui is a professional cleaner at A Fresh Start, scrubbing away the unpleasant layers of memory that build up on the personal objects of his customers. Memory-blind himself, he can’t feel those wounds. Clara can, and she prefers them irretrievable. Until her sister, Beatrice, ultrasensitive to memory, raises one that could change Clara’s mind. For Gui, the past is gone. For Clara and Beatrice, deciding what to remember reaches to the heart of their shared history. 

The Cleaners by Ken Liu is the fourth book in the Faraway series. I think I get the point this book was trying to make, but there wasn't enough of it to make sense or have any impact. Also, I found myself trying not to zone out in bits, which is really unfortunate when the story is so short already.



The Wickeds (Faraway #5) by Gayle Forman
Genre: Young Adult (Fairy Tale Retelling)
Date Published: December 15, 2020
Publisher: Amazon Publishing



The reviled villainesses of Snow White, Cinderella, and Rapunzel team up to set the record straight in a subversively funny short story by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of If I Stay.

Envious queen? Evil stepmother? Kidnapping hag? Elsinora, Gwendolyn, and Marguerite are through with warts-and-all tabloids, ugly lies, and the three ungrateful brats who pitted them against each other and the world. But maybe there’s more to the stories than even the Wickeds know. Is it time to finally get revenge? After all, they’re due for a happily-enough-ever-after. Even if they have to write it themselves.

The Wickeds is the final short story in Amazon's Faraway series. This one was written by Gayle Foreman. The Wickeds give the chance for the evil stepmothers to tell their side of things. There's goodness and badness in everyone, and everyone feels misunderstood. It's how we move through life despite these things that matters. Plus, the mother/daughter interactions and how history has a way of repeating itself until we break the cycle. This would have made a pretty darn good full length novel. This was my favorite in the series. It was close to four stars for me, but the ending was way too fast. I needed a little bit more from it.



Buy these books at: