Imagine: Review

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Title: Imagine

Author: Jenna Greene

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

I was sent a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

This is a spoiler free review 🙂

 

Summary

One day, Kat Bowers and Becky Thatcher are taken from the home they have known their whole life and thrown into a new place full of strange creatures and large castles. There they meet Enalie, who claims the existence of magic and sends Kat and Becky on a quest to defeat the evil that is overtaking the realm, called Nandor. She tells them that to do this, they must find two other people with magical powers, like Kat, called the Elementals. They must also find the Unifier. Throughout their journey, they travel to places they only read about in books to fulfill their destiny and save the lives of many.

 

Review

“With imagination, anything is possible.” 

Ok, the first thing I want to say about this novel is the incredible story telling. There is so much thought put into the description of the world, characters, and events and this allows the reader to become immersed into the story. I was always able to develop a full image of what is occurring and what the setting looked like because of the author’s descriptions. The world is also very complicated in the best way possible because there was a lot of attention to the detail of all aspects of the story. The events that occur never come out of nowhere and they always make sense for the plot and characters. An example of the ability of the story to pull me in: I was reading one evening and looked outside my window and was shocked to find that it was not raining, like it was in the book.

One of my favorite things about this story is the relationship between Kat and Becky. They are both taken from the world they know and thrown into a confusing place. This leads them to develop an organic relationship that helps both of them throughout their journey. None of the relationships in the novel felt forced, which I appreciated. The characters are also incredibly relatable, especially Becky with her love of books!

“She twisted and turned, wishing for a book in her hand. Stories were her passion as well as her security blanket. There was nothing she wanted more than to hold one right now.”

This novel also deals with death and the first time experiencing it. The characters are facing many dangerous creatures and when people lose their lives, it is shocking and new for them. They notice the emotions they feel towards a person they see die, even though they did not know that person. Later in the story, Kat and Becky experience death on a more personal level and must learn to deal with this. I think this is really important, especially for the younger readers who may be experiencing these things for the first time as well.

An incredibly important aspect of this novel is imagination. This was also my favorite aspect of the novel. Becky comes from a life spent in fantasy. She spent most of her time at home reading books and imagining different worlds. This seemingly mundane aspect of Becky’s personality becomes incredibly important for the success of their journey. I don’t want to explain any more on this topic, for fear of spoilers, but this is such an important part of the story.

“She did feel slightly comforted. Imagination had that power sometimes.”

I highly recommend this book if you are looking for an escape from the real world. It definitely gave me a classic fairytale vibe. It made me laugh, it made me nervous, and it made me sad. I thoroughly enjoyed this fantasy story and I am looking forward reading to the sequel, Reality.

The Cost of Love: Review

Title: The Cost of Love

Author: Nicole Zoltack

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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Thank you so much Nicole Zoltack for sending me a copy of your novel for review!

This is a spoiler free review J

 

Summary:

Gabrielle meets Jacques, by chance, when sneaking into a celebration for the King and Queen. They immediately form a bond however something scares Gabrielle away. This small encounter leads to a beautiful relationship to form and sets off a chain of reactions that has major effects on the kingdom.

 

Review:

This is a short prequel to Of Cinder and Madness, a twisted retelling of Cinderella, and gives readers a glimpse into the history behind the beloved and mysterious characters. It tells the story of Eleanor’s parents falling in love and gives background of the story of how Eleanor ended up the way she is and has the powers she has. I loved the parallel between the well-known version of Cinderella and the love story of Gabrielle and Jacques. I appreciated the insight that this story gave into Gabrielle’s life and how she fell in love. It was an adorable story that was easy to read and answered questions I had in my mind while reading the original story. I can’t wait to read more of the Darkened Nights: History Books and learn more about this group of characters.

This series is great to pick up if you want an easy and fun read this summer to escape the heat!

Can’t Buy Forever- Review

 

Title: Can’t Buy Forever

Author: Susan Laffoon

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

 

Thank you so much Susan Laffoon for sending me a copy of your novel for review!

This is a spoiler free review : )

 

Summary:

Odessa Drake, a.k.a. Dessa, is a young woman living in the 1950’s at a boarding home full of an eclectic group of people. Dessa takes interest in one resident in particular, Nicholas, who has been a mystery to her for the past four years. Suddenly, there lives are entangled together and they form a bond stronger than Dessa understands. This bond takes her on a journey where she learns a lot about herself, Nicholas, and forgiveness.

Review:

This novel took some time to get into the rhythm of. The reader is not given explanation to the weird happenings around Nicholas and Dessa. It creates a vague tone around them that is interesting and enjoyable for lovers of mystery. It was purposeful and effective in creating the desired tone, however created confusion for me as a reader. I did enjoy how the author inserted clues about the truth behind Nicholas. It isn’t until the end when the reader discovers what these clues add up to and it is fun to go back through the story and understand what they all meant. I do recommend reading to the end if you are confused because it all eventually ties together.

Throughout the story, a lot of characters are introduced with little explanation. I would have loved to dive deeper into these characters and understand them and their connections. I was sometimes confused as to why characters were in the story and how they were connected to Nicholas and Dessa. Aside from the main characters, I appreciated the arc that Roark took because it was thoughtfully developed.

I did begin to appreciate the relationship that was formed between Dessa and Nicholas. It is so strong and pure. Throughout the four years it took for them to realize their feelings, their connection was continuing to grow into something uncommon and special. I do wish Dessa had more of a say in the happenings of the relationship because I couldn’t get into how some of the things went down (That is super vague because I don’t want to spoil lol). The plot twist at the end was also a bit difficult to get behind because it was so different from the norm. I commend the author for being original in the plot throughout the entire novel as it was very different from what I have previously read.

The Fountain: Review

 

Title: The Fountain

Author: Suzy Vadori

Rating: 4/5 (I loved it)

 

I was sent a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

This is a spoiler free review : )

This novel was shortlisted for an Aurora Award for Best Young Adult Novel in 2016

 

Summary:

When Ava Marshall went to a new school, St. Augustus, her junior year, she was nervous. She was in a new town with new people. One day, while traveling through the woods to visit her Gran, she stumbled across a white-stoned fountain sitting in the middle of an opening in the forest. Following her late mother’s advice, she made a wish. The next day, she found that her wish had come true and everything she had known was different. She and a classmate then set out to repair the damage that might have been caused by her wish, while forging a deep and unbreakable bond.

 

Review:

I have always loved a good boarding school story. When I was younger I had a huge desire to attend a boarding school. Maybe it was the prospect of little supervision or maybe I wanted to be Harry Potter, but it always appealed to me. This novel definitely fulfilled this desire. It incudes all the necessary components, a crazy/mysterious teacher, a little rule-breaking, and a protagonist who will do anything to achieve her goals, which I think is an incredible message for young readers. Although I would have loved a deeper look into Ava’s schooling life and aspects about the school, the readers are given a look into the history of the school, which I found interesting and original.

Let’s talk about Ethan. I will say this right now. Yes, there is a love triangle. I am usually against love triangles because I feel like they are overplayed in young adult literature however I wasn’t mad at this one. The author described it in such an elegant way that the reader doesn’t get that bitter taste in their mouth. It happened organically and naturally like it would in the real world. I adore the result of this love triangle and I think there was no question as to which choice Ava would go with.

Overall, the book was a fast and easy read. It helped pull me out of a very long reading slump, which I will be eternally thankful! I had no problems with any of the characters. I especially loved Ethan (forever in my heart). It was a subtle fantasy that is fast paced and enjoyable. A great read for middle-grade and young adult readers!

 

Author Info:

This is Suzy Vadori’s debut novel for young adults. She works as an Operations Executive and as an author.

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Of Cinder and Madness Review

 

Title: Of Cinder and Madness

Author: Nicole Zoltack

Rating: 3.75/5 (I liked it!!)

 

Thank you so much Nicole Zoltack for sending me a copy of your novel for review!

Summary:

Of Cinder and Madness by Nicole Zoltack is an inverted retelling of the fairy tale Cinderella. In this twisted telling, the evil stepmother is actually good and Cinderella, also known as Eleanor, is evil. Following the death of her father, Eleanor unleashes magical powers that lead to problems with her family and eventually, the royal family. Eleanor must try to learn to deal with the grief of losing both of her parents while managing a new life with her stepmother and stepsisters.

Review:

This retelling of a commonly know fairy tale was completely different from any retelling I have ever read. It completely turned my ideas of Cinderella upside down. The novel jumps between two time periods, that of when Eleanor meets the prince and right after her father dies. This jumping between time periods pushed the story forward and made me want to continue reading to find out what will happen next.

In this retelling, the stepmother is good and this took me some getting use to. It seems as though the stepmother is almost too nice. I would have definitely locked Eleanor away long before she does with all Eleanor has done to the family. I loved how the story was told in a different perspective. It held my attention the entire time I was reading it because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. I cannot wait to read the rest of the series and see the other twists on classic stories.

Pearl: Review

Pearl by Deirdre Riordan Hall (audio book)

Published by Brilliance Audio

Performed by Brittany Pressley

My rating: 4.5/5

Spoiler free review : )

Thank you so much Deirdre Riordan Hall for sending me a copy of this incredibly touching and important novel.

Summary:

Pearl Jaeger is the daughter of a “has been” rock star, Janet Jaeger, who spends all of her time thinking about where she will get her next drug fix. Throughout Pearl’s life she has been carted along to various locations and she has ridden the rollercoaster that is her mother’s life until one day her mother takes it too far causing an accident at a shelter. Pearl’s uncle gets involved and Pearl is taken away to a boarding school where she starts her new life. At this school she meets new friends, foes, a tough art teacher, and a guy that sparks her interest. Pearl must learn to navigate her new life and figure out how she wants her future to look. Should she follow the path that her mother carved out for her or should she break free from the cycle and learn to forgive those around her and herself.

Review:

“The only way out is through”

Let me start this off with commending the author for the incredible writing. I have never been more immersed in a story like this. The metaphors and description used created such an atmosphere that I knew this book was going to be one for the records! It definitely makes me add another novel of Deirdre Riordan Hall, Sugar, to my “to buy” list!

Another note, I so adored the cover art of this book. I mean look at it. It is gorgeous and every time I look at the cover I can not help but exclaim about the colors and textures and ahhhhhhhhhhh

Now, on to the story. I am not going to lie, through most of this book, the main character, Pearl, aggravated me to no end. I am not well versed in the scene of drugs and parties so I could not relate with what she was feeling and the choices she was making. With that being said, I understand that Pearl’s situation would lead to her to the dark places she entered and that she needed to go through this in order to reach a place where she understands herself and her future. Pearl is a very broken character and she needed to see the darkest parts of herself and understand what her mom was feeling and doing in order to find who she wanted to be and to develop into a smart and artistic person. The character development of Pearl was one of the best I have read in YA. It was believable and raw.

There is a strong theme of forgiveness in this novel. Pearl has spent the majority of her 18 years being blamed for everything that went wrong in her mother’s life. When she escaped from her mother she still held on to that burden causing her to feel alienated from her fellow classmates. She does not allow herself to get close to anyone because she does not know how to love or be loved and she does not want to be hurt like she often was throughout her life. When she finally allows herself to accept being accepted by her friends and Grant she can look forward to her future and take steps toward her better self.

Grant came along at a time when Pearl had nothing and he gave her a little bit of something, a little bit of hope. Grant taught Pearl how to love and how to accept love. I personally don’t think Pearl could have made such a huge difference in her own life without the constant presence of Grant. Even when they were not together he was always on her mind. Grant also gives Pearl the stability she has been craving. He is one of the first people that makes Pearl feel safe.

It seemed as though there was a constant struggle for Pearl between following the path of her mother and following her own heart and making a better future for herself. I think this manifested itself in her thoughts through Grant and her mother. When Pearl was making good decisions and bad decisions she often felt a struggle between thoughts of Grant and thoughts of her mother.

Pearl is a work in progress and through her friends and loved ones she is able to make steps toward becoming the person she wants to be.

Quotes:

Because I loved this book so much I decided to do something new and give some of my favorite short quotes from the novel.

“Losing myself in the motion of creating stillness.”- Chapter 7

“The little planets that make up my personal inner universe stop spinning.”- Chapter 10

“I’m tainted, stained.”- Chapter 17

“The only way out is through.”- Chapter 47

“No one has ever wanted me for me.”- Chapter 48

“I forgive you”- Chapter 49

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I am still relatively new to reviewing books so if there is anything I could do differently or anything you liked about his please let me know in the comments.

Have a fantastic rest of your week! 🙂

Book Review: The Testing

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

Published by Houghton  Mifflin

My rating: 4/5

Spoiler free review : )

Summary:

This series opens up in the United Commonwealth, which is what remains of the USA after a seven stage war. Much of the land is full of toxic radiation and mutated animals. The United Commonwealth has been divided into different colonies, where the main character, Cia, has just finished her general schooling. After graduation she is accepted into an intense testing program with the purpose of testing applicants physically, mentally, and emotionally to determine who will be allowed to continue their education in the capital, Tosu City. Those who make it through testing are guaranteed important jobs in the United Commonwealth. However, a warning from her father makes her suspect that there is more to the testing process than meets the eye. Cia must decide who she wants to trust and what she can do to ensure her safety through The Testing. 

 

Review:

This is my very first review of a book so I am very excited. Let me know what you think and if you thought that I left anything out 🙂 So, here we go!

This novel was introduced as something fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent will love. Therefore, walking into this series, I was expecting it to be like every other dystopian novel that has been released in the past couple of years. In some ways, in this first novel, there were some aspects that were similar to both The Hunger Games and Divergent and I can understand why people may feel as though this series is attempting to copy or hop on the bandwagon. This was often a reason for people’s lack of interest in the series. However as I dove deeper into this book and explored the world and the characters, especially as you move into the second and third novels, there are clear separations that make this book unique and brings up many interesting topics about society and many different types of relationships.

I also thought the author was really successful in displaying how these young adults would be feeling under the stress that they were experiencing. When the main character, Cia, experiences pain she has never had to deal with, she is unable to understand her emotions. She goes from having “a scream [build] inside [her]” to feeling completely numb and unsure of what was happening around her (Charbonneau 112).

I was really intrigued by the way in which the students were tested throughout the novel. I think the author explained the tests in an easy to understand manner that left me excited to find out the results. I was also interested in the focus that main character had on the restoration of the toxic wasteland surrounding her colony and many of the other colonies at the start of the book. I feel as though it says a lot about what she was taught as she was growing up. However, near the end of the novel she comes to realize what is really going on in the United Commonwealth and is more focused on what is going on in the capital city rather than the surrounding colonies.

The different relationships in the novel were a bit strange for me. I really enjoyed the reliance that Cia put on members of her colony because i think that is what any young adult would do in this situation. I found it believable that she would become closer to these other testing students. However, I feel at some points she puts a little too much trust in the other students after she had a warning from her father not to do just that. I feel as though it made his warning seem unnecessary. I felt this way especially with Tomas. I think some of the things he did throughout the testing was a little sketchy, but Cia never seemed to lose any trust in him.

Overall, I found this book very enjoyable. I read this book very quickly and I never had a problem with the writing or the plot. I was often on the edge of my seat waiting to see what was going to happen. I would recommend this book to anyone who wanted a quick and easy YA dystopian read.

Thank you so much for reading!! Let me know what you think 🙂

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