Category Archives: english

Book Review: Fireworks by Katie Cotugno

Title: FireworksFireworks_JKT

Author: Katie Cotugno

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 4/5 Stars




 

It was always meant to be Olivia. She was the talented one, the one who had been training to be a star her whole life. Her best friend, Dana, was the level-headed one, always on the sidelines, cheering her best friend along.

But everything changes when Dana tags along with Olivia to Orlando for the weekend, where superproducer Guy Monroe is holding auditions for a new singing group, and Dana is discovered too. Dana, who’s never sung more than Olivia’s backup. Dana, who wasn’t even looking for fame. Next thing she knows, she and Olivia are training to be pop stars, and Dana is falling for Alex, the earnest, endlessly talented boy who’s destined to be the next big thing.

It should be a dream come true, but as the days of grueling practice and constant competition take their toll, things between Olivia and Dana start to shift . . . and there’s only room at the top for one girl. For Olivia, it’s her chance at her dream. For Dana, it’s a chance to escape a future that seems to be closing in on her. And for these lifelong best friends, it’s the adventure of a lifetime—if they can make it through.

Set in evocative 1990s Orlando, New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno’s Fireworks brings to life the complexity of friendship, the excitement of first love, and the feeling of being on the verge of greatness.




 

Katie Cotugno just released a new book and of course I had it pre-ordered months ago! Fireworks fell a little short for me though, compared to her previous novels How to Love and 99 Days, yet I still devoured this book in a matter of days because Cotugno’s writing is so easy and fun to read.

The characters in Fireworks weren’t as easy for me to love as characters in her previous books. I felt like everyone was unreachable, like they were on a pedestal and I couldn’t relate to them easily. Dana came from a not so well off family, so she should have been easy to relate to, but I wanted to see more of her home life. What did her mother think of her leaving town to become a girl in a pop group? Did her mom even notice she left? And why didn’t she bring a swim suit with her to Orlando?! Don’t Floridians always have swimsuits with them no matter what?!

The romance was just enough in this, I was kind of worried it would be lacking based on the plot, but I was very pleased in the end. I found myself putting a ton of trust in Alex, more trust than I’ve ever put in a male character. He was so kind and patient with Dana while she was going through her problems in Orlando and back home in Jessel.

What I find funny is I never seem to like Cotugno’s main characters best friend. I hated Olivia so much. She came off as a backstabber from the beginning. We don’t see a great conclusion between ‘Dolivia’, but I think it’s the only conclusion that would have worked.

And that cover, Katie, keep doing the polaroid look on your books! Like 99 Days and this, they are so aesthetically pleasing! I’m loving all of her covers so much!

Though Dana doesn’t get a 100% happy ending, I like to believe that she was at least happy with her decisions. And I love that about all three of Cotugno’s books. She leaves them open-ended but without a cliffhanger. You know that the character is going to be all right, but they still have some conflict by the last sentence, just nothing major.

Overall, if you’re going to read anything by Cotugno, I’d read 99 Days or How to Love first. Fireworks doesn’t do Cotugno’s writing justice. However, I am so pumped for her next novel, Top Ten, that’s supposed to come out later this year.

 

Book Review: Shadowlith by Stuart Thaman

Title: Shadowlith (Book 1 in The Umbral Blade Series)1490375765404

Author: Stuart Thaman

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 Stars




 

Alistair the Fourth was a mighty general from a long-forgotten war. Four hundred years later, Alster Lightbridge is barely a shadow of his legendary namesake. Crippled and confined to his family’s estate, he spends his days dreaming of something larger than himself—something worthy of his name.

Encouraged by his tutor to explore the Lightbridge archive, Alster discovers a magical dagger with the power to cleave shadows from their bodies. Blade in hand, Alster finally understands his purpose, though he needs to find a four-centuries-old grave in order to fulfill it.




 

I don’t read fantasy… at all… but when my husband tells me that he’s putting out a YA fantasy novel, I have to read it! That being said, I’m going to try my best to make this review as unbiased as possible, though I do believe it is well deserving of a perfect 5/5 star review.

What I love to see is writer’s get better as they progress in their novels. This being Thaman’s second fantasy series, I believe it’s a huge step forward in his writing. If you were to compare this novel to his first book, you could tell more time and effort has been put forth.

It’s also an easier read, and there’s less characters to remember than the first fantasy series, The Goblin Wars. I’m used to reading contemporary YA where there are only a handful of characters to follow. Shadowlith has about six main characters to focus on. This allows you to feel more emotions for each character. Elsey was probably my favorite character (that survived) because of the changes she went through during the beginning of a book. She was so excited to get out of the town that she grew up in and go on an adventure with her friend, but then accidents happen and she realizes this adventure to find the Shadow King’s tomb is not for the faint of heart. I really hope in the second book that we see her grow up more and become a super badass female worrier.

Now the ending….

No spoilers ahead! I promise.

I felt like this book closed off on a good note. Let’s say if you didn’t want to read the rest of the books in the series, you could stop (but you don’t want to!) However, Thaman does set our characters up for a huge plot for the next book which I really loved.

Definitely, check this one out. Loved Alster and Elsey.

 

Trusting You and Other Lies Book Review

32441709Title: Trusting You and Other Lies

Author: Nicole Williams

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Publication Date: June 20, 2017




 

Phoenix can’t imagine anything worse than being shipped off to family summer camp. Her parents have been fighting for the past two years–do they seriously think being crammed in a cabin with Phoenix and her little brother, Harry, will make things better?
On top of that, Phoenix is stuck training with Callum–the head counselor who is seriously cute but a complete know-it-all. His hot-cold attitude means he’s impossible to figure out–and even harder to rely on. But despite her better judgment, Phoenix is attracted to Callum. And he’s promising Phoenix a summer she’ll never forget. Can she trust him? Or is this just another lie?




 

I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

This was the cutest book! I loved the characters so much, and didn’t encounter anything that I hated about the book. So why didn’t I give it a perfect rating? I felt like it left me wanting more and a lot more. This book could have been way longer, I really wanted to see Phoenix and Callum’s relationship bloom a bit more and see how Phoenix interacted with other counselors.

This book was too short, I just wanted it to continue! Which, I guess is a good thing but I needed more Callum!

I thought the ‘family camp’ situation would be weird but it actually worked for this book.

By the end, the moral of the story is tied up with a nice bow, pulling the title and the plot together which I thought was fantastic. Also thought it was genius to name the character Phoenix and talk about her rising from the ashes.

Trusting You and Other Lies, is a fantastic read for your summer vacation! And because I’m a sucker for a beautiful cover, look at that one! It’s gorgeous!

 

 

So You Finished Your Novel. Now what? (The Last July Update)

This week I finally finished my novel that I’ve been working on and off since the summer of 2013. I finished all the edits from my editor (my husband) and I’m not feeling too bad. Well, I wasn’t until I went to consider submitting it. This week, to my surprise, has been a rollercoaster of emotions over this manuscript.

You see, I felt pretty good about this novel until about 90% of the way through the edits and then I began second guessing myself. Is this book good enough? Have I literally just been rewriting my favorite books? What if I get rejected my first time? I don’t know how to take that.

My novel is my baby. A novel I struggled with reaching 50k during NaNoWriMo, and 70k for edits, has grown over 81k words! That amazes me! I pretty much scrapped the original document, I think there’s only 15% that resembles what it originally was.

Now what? I’ve made contact with a publisher and now we wait. The hard part is trying not to edit anymore. Literally, woke up this morning thinking, maybe I should change some things.

Luckily, the first session of Camp NaNoWriMo begins next Saturday, so that will take my mind off writing on my finished novel and concentrating on a new one. I’m pretty excited about this new one too! I pretty much have over half of it mapped out!

Have you ever submitted a manuscript? What part of the novel writing process is the scariest to you?

 

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover Book Review

Title: Hopeless (#1)

Author: Colleen Hooverhopeless-colleen-hoover

Genre: New Adult Contemporary

Rating: 4/5 STARS

Overall Emotions: Bored, and then straight to ‘Holy crap, what the hell is happening?!’ ‘What?!’ ‘No!!!!!’

 




 

Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever

 




 

I’ve said before that I haven’t enjoyed the books I’ve read by Colleen Hoover, and that I’d give her one more shot because so many people live (love, if you’ve read this book, you’d know that was not a misspelling) her writing. I’m glad I decided to give her one more chance and read this novel. I loved it, it’s way better than the other novel and novella that I read of hers. Though, there were some points where it just wasn’t believable or I felt like Hoover took it a little too far. Some say that this book may have needed a ‘trigger warning’, due to the content and I agree to a certain point. Nothing ‘triggered’ me, but there were many topics that occurred in this book that might set someone off.

The only reason I didn’t give this book the full five stars was because it only surprised me once and that was the final ‘answer’ hope received from her mother, Karen. Other than that, I kind of predicted the way things would end up going. This book is full of twists and turns. At first you think it’s just a cute romance about the high school ‘slut’ (who is actually not a slut at all) and the trouble maker boy (who is just misunderstood).

For a story about such dark subjects, I didn’t imagine it to have any happy ending whatsoever, I really applaud Hoover on figuring out just the perfect way to heal Sky and give her a happily ever after.

If you’re going to read any of Hoover’s books, this needs to be the one. It’s dark and beautiful and tells the story of a survivor coming to terms with all the pain she blocked out years ago.

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2017 Writing & Reading Goals +Books I Read in 2016

 

 

I can’t believe 2016 is almost over. It went by so quickly! Now it’s time to mark myself down for the 2017 GoodReads challenge and take a look back on the books I did read in 2016. How many books did you read in 2016? What was the best book that you read this year?

 

Books Read in 2016

Sadly, I didn’t meet my GoodReads book challenge. I only finished 15 out of the 30 books I said I would read in 2016. I’m not going to beat myself up over that though. It was a busy year of traveling and writing. I participated in two Camp Nano’s and the official NaNoWriMo. Here are the books I finished this year along with the rating I gave them.

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3*                                        2*                                    2*                                   5*

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4*                                    2*                                     5*                                         3*

 

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5*                                        2*                                      4*                                        2*

book five blue-lily-lily-blue 27276645

5*                                  5*                                                 3*

 

 

2017 TBR

The entire Harry Potter series. Yes, I’ve never read them. This will be a first.

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Between the Harry Potter books, I plan on reading some of the following:

 

 

Obviously, I’m going to run into some books I want to read on the spot, but these are just the ones that I must finish next year because they’ve been sitting on my shelf for awhile now!

 

Writing Goals

As for my writing. I plan on participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, both months and normal NaNo possibly. I’m going to outline my next novel earlier in the year and figure out what I want to do. I plan on writing 25000 words for each Nano, instead of forcing it all out at once. This will give me time so I don’t get burnt out and quit.

As I currently write this post, I’m working on editing one of my novels in the hopes to have it finished before New Years. Fingers crossed that The Last July will be published before July 2016.

Roommates by Erin Leigh & Tara Brown Book Review

Title: Roommates (#1)27276645

Author: Erin Leigh & Tara Brown

Genre: New Adult Romance

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Overall Emotions: Felt very juvenile, but quick and easy to read. Kind of weirded out by the male perspective.




 

Life is full of expectations.
For Brady Coldwell it’s always been about the game.
Hockey is and always will be, his life.
His family sacrificed everything to get him here and he won’t let them down.
He knows what’s expected of him.
Natalie Banks is no different.
She too knows what it means to have everyone sacrifice for you.
She knows about the debt that’s left owing in the end and the price you pay for making up your own mind.
But when an innocent mistake lands them as roommates, neither of them is prepared for the feelings they have or the consequences of their actions.

How do you negotiate matters of the heart?
How do you say no when it simply feels so right?




 

Review

This book had so much potential but it fell short… very short. The synopsis and the cover make it seem like a very innocent book, so the second there was talk from Brady about screwing the nurse after hockey practice (in great detail by the way), I realized this book is aimed toward an older audience, as in, out of high school. I wouldn’t call it an erotica, there were only about four scenes that were cringe worthy. And Brady’s constant inner dialogue of wanting to have sex with Natalie was a bit weird.

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These characters seemed younger than they were supposed to be also, but then way older at times, but never their actual age. At times I felt like Nat was 17, probably because that’s how her mom treats her. I kind of would have rather heard this story straight from Brady’s POV, I found myself annoyed with Nat most of the time.

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***Spoilers follow….***

And then they finally admit their feelings for each other… weeks after they have sex… they decide to move out only to move back in with each other weeks later! What?!

The only part that I really enjoyed was the ending where instead of an engagement ring, he gives her a key to their new apartment. I felt like the over all plot was too quick and a lot of the hockey play talk was a bit boring. I actually started skimming over those parts because I didn’t know what half of it meant.

I would compare this to Fifty Shades of Grey minus the BDSM because at some points Brady reminded me of Christian, not wanting Nat to drink too much, getting jealous, dating a ton of women…

Was a very easy read though, just what I’m looking for at the end of the year. I’d recommend this to someone who is between New Adult and Adult Romance. There’s only a few in depth sex scenes, but they’re not cringe worthy.

NaNoWriMo (Now’s the Hard Part)

 

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Guys, I did it, with only a few hours to spare. Yet, my novel isn’t finished. I still have 24,961 words to go to hit my real word count, and for the first time, I think I’m going to finish a full novel. My problem before was I tried to fit so much into the 50K word count, I thought that quantity was better than quality. That’s changing with this novel.

sfd

 

This is the second (actually third) time I’ve tried writing this novel. The first time was for NaNoWriMo, that year I did not finish it, and then I tried finishing/editing it for a few Camp Nano’s. My goal is to reach 75k before the year is up, that’s half of NaNo in a month. I might be in over my head since I’m feeling a bit burnt out on typing.

I’d like to edit it once by myself, a full read through, in January and then give it to my husband for grammar editing (I suck with dialogue structure). Then I’d like to get some beta readers that love YA novels. I’ll let you know when that time comes.

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So what IS The Last July? My novel is a ‘coming of age’ YA contemporary romance novel (possibly New Adult since my character is heading to college). It’s about Penelope who is working at her childhood summer camp, in the hopes of getting hired for next summer. She’s going through some problems with her parents, her co-counselor Viv and a possible love triangle (my favorite troupe), but instead of so much romance and drama, I wanted this novel to be about a girl trying to find her way.

It’s set at Camp Arthur (a fictional camp) in Tennessee (a real place believe it or not haha) along the hills of The Smoky Mountains. We see Penelope’s life along one summer and eventually flash forward to October (my favorite month). I’m going to work on a better synopsis when it comes time to get some beta readers. I’m still working through some of the plot, so nothing is set in stone.

I’d love to have this finished as soon as possible so I can get a summer release.

In the mean time, I’ll be posting on here every Friday but I’m going to start expanding what I post about in order to keep my moral up. Less cheesy book tags, more ‘quality’ content maybe. All I know is, right now I need a few days off writing! I just busted a novel out in a month guys (well, part of a novel)!

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The End is Nigh (for NaNoWriMo)

Guys, there’s only six days left of NaNoWriMo! Holy crap! I can’t believe how quick November went! I’ve obviously been gone from my blog for the month, but I’m looking forward to getting back into writing book reviews. I haven’t done too much reading this month, but I did finish two of the hardback Walking Dead comics (books 5 and 6) and I loved them. I’m not planning on doing a review of them because honestly, you either love or hate the Walking Dead already. Me reviewing the comics isn’t going to change your opinion. I will say that I’ve gotten to the point where Rick and the group have made it to Alexandria. Almost caught up.

You know what’s going to distract me from my writing this weekend? Gilmore Girls.

Did you see they finally released four more episodes? I’m so excited to binge those this weekend! We also picked up a Xbox One S and some games last night for Black Friday! All the distractions for the last week of Nano!! I’m thinking about doing a Black Friday Haul on here, would that interest anyone? I didn’t get any new books, I’m kind of behind on my TBR pile if I’m being honest.

Back to NaNo!

I’m 42k into my novel right now, so I don’t have much more to write for the final six days. However, my goal is to get my novel up to 75k, so technically I have a long way to go. I’m wanting to finish the first draft (technically second) by the end of December.

What happens after that? Well, I’m going to have my husband go over it for grammatical errors and sentence structure, then I’m going to need some beta readers. I’ll keep you updated on my progress and when I need some beta readers if anyone is interested. I’ll make a post about the plot and genre, etc. I’m feeling good about this one.

I’m going to go to trying to post a blog every Friday night until I get this novel finished.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and if you’re doing NaNo, I’ll see you at the finish line! How are you doing on your word count?

Halloween Book Tag

Guys! Halloween is almost here! It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Have you figured out what/who you’re going to be this Halloween? Let me know! I’m going to be a nurse from Silent Hill (I cosplayed it at a recent convention and everyone loved it. I took pictures with about 30 people!)

This week I’m doing the Halloween Book tag! As always, I wasn’t tagged by anyone and I’m tagging everyone who is reading this! I found the tag through this blogger!

1.) Favorite Scary (Must Read) For Halloween?

Anna Dressed in Blood is probably the scariest book I’ve read. I honestly can’t read too many scary books because they stick with me.

anna-dressed-in-blood

2.) Scariest Book Cover, Like Ever?

I don’t even know, I don’t read horror too often, but the Miss. Peregrine books always kind of creeped me out. I have yet to read them though.

pergrine.jpg

 

3.) If You Could Go Trick-or-Treating With Any Author, Who Would You Pick?

Probably Lance Rubin, author of Denton Little’s Deathdate because he seems super cool and wrote a book about knowing when you’re going to die and I just want to chat about how awesome the cover is.

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4.) If You Could Dress Up As Any Bookish Character For Halloween, Who Would You Be?

Claire Fraser from Outlander, all of her dresses are so cool and I love her present day attire too!

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5.) If You Could Find Anything (From Any Book) In Your Trick-or-Treat Stash, What Would You Hope To Find?

Possibly money, what book possesses unlimited money so I can get out of debt?

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6.) In What Fictional World Would You Like To Go Trick-or-Treating?

The world of Harry Potter would probably have a really awesome Halloween! All of the strange wizard goodies you would receive!

7.) What Book Villain Would You Not Like To Meet Alone In A Dark Alley On Halloween?

President Snow from The Hunger Games possibly. I’m not fond of his personality.

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8.) Would You Rather Dress Up As A Vampire, Zombie, Werewolf, or Shadowhunter?

Vampire, hands down.

9.) Pick A Candy (Just One) From Harry Potter That You Would Love To Find In Your Stash?

Anything but the jelly beans! Gross! The chocolate frogs always looked yummy…as long as they don’t hop off…

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10.) What Is Your Favorite Halloween Candy?

KitKats or Milky Ways. I’m a chocolate addict.

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