November 15, 2018

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I was in desperate need of a short, fluffy read, and I thought The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle would be the perfect answer. This was a Book of the Month pick for me a few months back, and the gorgeous yellow cover drew me right to it. Well, fluffy, this coming of age contemporary was not. But I did really enjoy it!

You know the premise. If you could have dinner with any 5 people, living or dead, who would they be? But Sabrina never expects to actually get to have that dinner. Yet on her thirtieth birthday, she walks into the restaurant and there they all are: Audrey Hepburn, her estranged father, her best friend, her favorite college professor, and her ex. Throughout the course of the evening, Sabrina learns and laughs with this unexpected group, as well as reminisces on times both good and bad, and tries to pinpoint what went wrong with the main relationships in her life.

I was not expecting this book to get to my emotions as much as it did. Whether it was the relationship with her estranged father, drifting apart from her best friend, or trying so hard to make a doomed romantic relationship work, I really felt for Sabrina. I saw her grow and mature a lot throughout the dinner, and enjoying seeing how she interacted with and learned from each guest.

This read super quickly, so it was definitely the short read I was looking for. It was just a little more emotional than I was expecting! I liked how it alternated between the dinner scenes themselves (prefaced by times so you knew how much time was left in the night before the group had to disband) and flashbacks to different parts of Sabrina's life.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

As a side note, I think my 5 people would be Walt Disney, Stevie Nicks, Princess Diana, my late grandfather, and Steve Irwin.

November 13, 2018

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Don't forget to follow me on Bloglovin' on my new URL!

Lost Soul, Be At Peace by Maggie Thrash

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
This is the first graphic novel ARC I've ever received, and the black and white threw me a little bit. I had to keep reminding myself that the final version would be in color, and keep trying to imagine what the color palette would be. Lost Soul, Be At Peace by Maggie Thrash is a graphic novel that acts as a pseudo-memoir and follows Maggie as the main character. When Maggie's cat Tommi goes missing in their own home, Maggie goes in search of her, only to find a ghost boy instead. Who is he, and what does he want? 

This book touched on a lot, and I mean a lot, of hard hitting subjects, including eating disorders, physical abuse, and sexual assault. It also focuses very heavily on Maggie's relationship with her parents. There was some LGBTQ+ representation, which I did enjoy, but overall this story seemed like a hodge-podge of topics thrown together. 

Unfortunately I did not like this story. It made no sense, and aside from maybe 10 panels, I didn't really see the point. I also did not like the art style, because like the story, it seemed rushed and thrown together. There was also a scene that seemed to make fun of a Chinese accent and that really rubbed me the wrong way.

I have not read Maggie's other book, Honor Girl, so I don't know if it's like this one or not. Personally, I don't understand the point of calling a book a memoir then saying at the end that only parts of it were accurate representation. Luckily this was a quick read, so I didn't waste too much time on it.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

Thanks to Candlewick Press for sending me an ARC of this read! Lost Soul, Be At Peace by Maggie Thrash is out now!

November 5, 2018

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
This is definitely a read where the beauty of the writing inside is worthy of the beauty of the cover outside. Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan is a gorgeously written fantasy steeped in Malaysian influence. 

This story follows Lei, a member of the Paper caste, the lowest caste in the kingdom. When royal guards come to take her away from her small village to become a Paper Girl, she is completely distraught. Paper Girls are the carefully selected courtesans of the Demon King himself, a man Lei deems responsible for her mother being taken away 10 years ago. The plot is all about Lei refusing to simply accept what has happened to her and her family and rebelling against what is expected of her, and maybe even finding love along the way in the most unexpected of places. 

I absolutely adored this read! I didn't really get into it for a few chapters, but once I did I was completely hooked! Ngan's writing is beautiful and completely envelops you in the culture of Ikhara. I loved all the characters, especially Lei, as they all responded to their fate differently. I loved the LGBTQ+ and Asian representation in this story. I loved the female empowerment and overall theme of girls taking their fate in their own hands. I do want to put a trigger warning on it for sexual abuse and violence, as this can get pretty heavy at times. There is also a pretty disturbing pet death. 

I am so excited that this is going to be a trilogy and am already desperate for more after that ending. This read has action, romance, intrigue, and so much more. I can't go into too much more detail without spoiling things, but I will just say that you definitely need to give this one a read! 

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Little Brown/Jimmy Patterson Books for an advanced copy of this beautiful read. Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan is out TOMORROW, November 6th, so be sure to pick up a copy!

November 2, 2018

Hocus Pocus and Edison Beaker, Creature Seeker Mashup

So this is definitely not my normal type of post, but I hope you'll find it to be a lot of fun! I was fortunate enough to partner with Penguin Young Readers for their Wicked Reads Middle Grade campaign, where I got to pick a Halloween candy and be sent a corresponding mystery read! I was so happy when I opened my package and found not only some candy and other goodies, but a copy of Edison Beaker, Creature Seeker: The Night Door! I've been living for graphic novels lately, so this was the perfect cutesy/creepy middle grade read to wrap up the Halloween reading season.

Synopsis from Penguin Young Readers: Edison Beaker and his young sister Tesla are staying with their uncle Earl, manager of the family pest control company, when an alarm sounds and he has no choice but to drag them along on a service call.
Cover Art Courtesy of Penguin Young Readers

They should have listened when he warned them, "stay in the van."

Monster-sized mayhem ensues when the kids chase their escaped hamster into a mysterious warehouse--and suddenly they are the ones being chased as all sorts of creepy creatures scurry, slink, and stomp through a secret Night Door.

The Fun Part: I wanted to take some of my favorite Halloween characters, the Sanderson Sisters from Hocus Pocus, and put them in the world of Edison Beaker, just to see how they would handle the story (without giving away too much of the plot, of course)! Here are my predictions:

Winifred: True to form, Winnie would be the leader, so she would replace Edison. When the gang gets lost in the Underwhere, I think Winnie would use her powers to force the monsters to bend to her whim, ultimately turning on their leader, similar to the way she tried to control Billy in Hocus Pocus. This would come back to bite her as soon as the monsters realized that she didn't care about them and their loyalty switched back.

Image Courtesy of IMDB
Sarah: Hyperactive Sara is always getting herself into trouble, so to me she would replace the hamster, Scuttlebutt. Scuttlebutt keeps rolling away, causing the gang to search for him, ultimately leading to chaos. I can definitely see Sarah wandering off and getting herself lost in the Underwhere, and also creating some pretty good diversions by using her...*ahem* assets, to distract everyone.

Mary: Mary is very whiny, so I definitely identified her as Tesla, Edison's little sister. She comes up with ideas that aren't the best and is pretty annoying, and is definitely a big tag along. As incompetent as she may seem, she is always willing to step up for her sisters when needed and she would definitely be a resource for the team during the final battle.

Overall, the sisters would succeed but chaos and hilarity would ensue throughout. Ultimately these three are a team, just as Edison, Tesla, and Scuttlebutt are a team. With a shared goal and trust in each other, there's nothing that can stand in their way!

A huge thanks to Penguin Young Readers for inviting me to be a part of this campaign, and for sending over a copy of Edison Beaker, Creature Seeker: The Night Door by Frank Cammuso! Be sure to pick up this adorable read for that young ghost or ghoul in your life, or even for yourself!

November 1, 2018

You Are The Everything by Karen Rivers

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
When this book was sent to me, I was excited because I thought it was something I would really enjoy. Unfortunately it just missed the mark for me. You Are The Everything by Karen Rivers is a YA contemporary that follows Elyse Schmidt, a teenage girl with a hopeless crush on a classmate named Josh Harris. But when Elyse and Josh are the only survivors of a terrible plane crash, suddenly everything falls into place. It's almost as if they were destined to end up together, and that alone is what allowed them to live while everyone else perished. 

Then Elyse starts experiencing confusion, memory loss, and other symptoms of PTSD and her life is suddenly not looking as perfect as it initially seemed. Will destiny prevail, or will everything turn out to be different than originally thought?

I just personally couldn't connect with this book. I didn't care about the characters, and nothing that happened really mattered to me. Elyse was just not likable, and even though I wanted to feel for her, I just couldn't make myself care. Everything that happened just seemed too perfect, too serendipitous, even when you factor in the twist (which I also saw coming from a mile away). It was also written in second person point of view, which while it was interesting and a nice change, got really old very quickly. The stream of consciousness was just too much.

I did really appreciate the representation of an interracial relationship here, and thought that was a great thing to address. 

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

Thanks to Algonquin Young Readers for sending me a finished copy of this book! You Are The Everything by Karen Rivers is out now!

October 30, 2018

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
If you haven't heard about the new Netflix show, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, where actually have you been?? This is a completely different take on the Sabrina the Teenage Witch story line, and if you go into it thinking it will be like the original show, I can tell you right now that you won't like it. But if you take it for what it is, a TV adaptation of a dark witch comic, you'll really enjoy what Netflix has put forth.

The new show is actually based off of the comic of the same name, and it has a much darker, more twisted feel than the bubbly Sabrina of the 90s. We're talking necromancy, satanic rites, cannibalism...the list goes on. Of course I binged this show over the weekend and personally really adored the new dark twist on the old classic.

If you have read The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic, you'll definitely see the similarities, but there are a lot of differences as well. I loved that the show intro took art directly from the comic! In both versions, Sabrina is about to celebrate her 16th birthday, and with it, her Dark Baptism-the act of signing her name in the Devil's book. In the comic, she is all for it, but in the show, she starts to question her freedom and dissent against Church of Night tradition.
Image Courtesy of IMDB

I love the portrayal of Hilda and Zelda in both versions. The TV Sabrina definitely got on my nerves, however, as her attitude of going against literally everything and not caring who it might impact really rubbed me the wrong way. I am OBSESSED with Ambrose as a character, and would love for him to get his own spin off, in either comic or show form! While Salem does talk in the comic, unfortunately he does not in the show. I loved the overall vibes of witch feminism and female power.

Overall, I think Netflix did a great job adapting the comic. There were some differences, most likely to build the plot into the length of a full tv season, but there were a lot of things they remained true to as well. Some of the acting bothered me with the Netflix version, and like I said, I wasn't a fan of their portrayal of Sabrina. While you don't need to read the comic to enjoy the show, you definitely should! The comic art is unique and beautiful, and it's the perfect, fast read if you want to squeeze in one more spooky book before Halloween!

Show Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Comic Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

October 29, 2018

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I got this book in an OwlCrate months ago and was just never drawn to it. I decided to try it out this month since I heard it had some spooky vibes, and I'm sure glad I did! The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert follows teenager Alice, who moves all over with her mom Ella trying to stay away from bad luck. Alice's grandmother is the author of the famous Tales from the Hinterland, a fantasy novel with a cult following, and when Alice and her mother receive the news of the grandmother's death, they believe that the bad luck is finally over. 

That is, until Alice's mother is taken by someone who claims to come from The Hinterland. Now Alice must come face to face with her grandmother's stories, stories which she has been shielded from her whole life, and head to her reclusive grandmother's estate, The Hazel Wood, in the hopes of saving her mother.

This story really was unlike anything I've ever read! It had magical realism, fantasy, thriller, mystery, and contemporary elements all wrapped up into one story. It had some of the Hinterland fairy tales themselves interspersed throughout, which I especially enjoyed. While I wasn't a huge fan of the main character, the plot and side characters were more than enough for me to fall in love with this book. It was fast-paced and exciting. It was twisted and creepy with all kinds of dark Alice in Wonderland vibes. And it definitely left me wanting more.

After doing some research, this appears to be the first in a duology, and we might even get a Tales from the Hinterland storybook as well! I need those fairy tales! I will definitely be keeping my eye out for those, as I'm not at all ready to give up this world yet.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars