Posted in Book Reviews, Memoir, Poetry

Into The Light By Emily Stroia [Book Review]

Into The Light by Emily Stroia

Title: Into The Light
Author: Emily Stroia
Published: 
October 2017
Genre: Memoir, Poetry
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy in exchange for an honest review

Summary:

Into the Light is a memoir-inspired poetry collection in seven parts.

The book shares the author’s life from a transformative perspective of being in a deep state of darkness to finding hope, miracles and light. In the final part, there are notes to the reader and finding one’s inner peace after adversity.

This book explores trauma, abuse, sexual abuse, mental illness, loss, healing, spirituality, meditation, inspiration and empowerment.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

This isn’t the kind of book I would typically read. I’ve read poetry before and I do enjoy memoirs. However, if I saw this at the bookstore I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. It’s a dark, sensitive topic, but it’s a quick read and it never hurts to branch out a little. Since this is a memoir, this review will be written a little differently.

rp-plot

This memoir is told through the author’s point of view from birth and beyond. It goes through all the motions as everything she witnessed as a child between her father’s relationship with her mother as well as her father’s relationship with herself. She describes both of her parents and watches them both continue on with their lives, though not necessarily in an upbeat way.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, however. It’s hard to describe as the story is so short. This one is better if you just read it yourself.

rp-writing-style

This book is a quick read being only 158 pages. It’s told entirely through poetry, so it goes fast. Some pages only have a few words written on them.

The poetry was well written and easy to follow. Some pages rhymed while others didn’t. Some of the poetry was written in longer sentences and some weren’t. It flowed well and no matter how it was written, it just read poetically. The author does have a way with words.

The book is broken up into several parts as well. We start at the very beginning, go through the journey and pain, and end up with her breakthrough and finally forgiveness. It goes through the motions very well almost as if it were the stages of grieving.

It’s fast-paced, but I think it worked well for this particular topic. As I read the story, I felt as though the ending, the redemption, was slower than the beginning. That was my interpretation of it, but I liked it. You want that happy ending.

rp-overall

This was a great read. While I can’t personally relate to the author, I’m sure there are others out there who can. It’s easier said than done, but there are positive moments in life and everything does and will get better. I think that’s what this story is about. You go through tough times, but there always is a light at the end of the tunnel. It was well written and I commend the author for sharing her story.

Into The Light by Emily Stroia gets…
5-Star Rating | Book Review5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“If you ever wonder what you could
have done differently
remember you were doing your best
with what you knew how.”
-Emily Stroia, Into The Light

Buy the book:

Amazon

About Emily Stroia

Emily is an intuitive teacher, spiritual leader, author, and artist. Emily first discovered her gifts of intuition and creativity as a child and was placed in a highly gifted program for children. She often explored her gifts through writing, art, and experienced frequent visions and dreams that would turn out to be accurate. Not understanding fully why or how she was able to do this, she decided to study.

She has always felt a strong attraction to the metaphysical and spiritual aspects of life and continues to delve deeper into each. Believing strongly in her intuitive gifts, as well as wanting to express her deep desire to help people, Emily decided to utilize her abilities to turn her passion into a profession.Her mission is to inspire people to find the gifts in

Her mission is to inspire people to find the gifts in their stories and live powerful transformed lives with ease and peace. Her life is a breathing expression of intuition, passion, spirituality and creativity. Most days you can find her coaching clients, writing, practicing yoga and playing with her dog in Los Angeles.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Inspirational Fiction, Mainstream Fiction

The Fragile Thread Of Hope By Pankaj Giri

The Fragile Thread of Hope by Pankaj Giri

Title: The Fragile Thread of Hope
Author: Pankaj Giri
Published: 
November 3, 2017
Genre: Mainstream inspirational fiction
How I got the book: I was given a free eARC by the author in exchange for an honest review

Summary:

In the autumn of 2012, destiny wreaks havoc on two unsuspecting people—Soham and Fiona.

Although his devastating past involving his brother still haunted him, Soham had established a promising career for himself in Bangalore.

After a difficult childhood, Fiona’s fortunes had finally taken a turn for the better. She had married her beloved, and her life was as perfect as she had ever imagined it to be.

But when tragedy strikes them yet again, their fundamentally fragile lives threaten to fall apart.

Can Fiona and Soham overcome their grief?

Will the overwhelming pain destroy their lives?

Seasoned with the flavours of exotic Nepalese traditions and set in the picturesque Indian hill station, Gangtok, The Fragile Thread of Hope explores the themes of spirituality, faith, alcoholism, love, and guilt while navigating the complex maze of familial relationships.

Inspirational and heart-wrenchingly intimate, it urges you to wonder—does hope stand a chance in this travesty called life?

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

I was certainly interested when the author reached out to me about what the book was about. Death is a hard topic to talk about, it’s hard to put into words. Yet, it’s a topic that everyone can relate to and feel for. So I was certainly intrigued.

rp-plot

This book follows the point of view of a couple characters, but the main characters are Soham and Fiona. They both lost someone dear to them early one. However, Fiona’s loss wasn’t a death. I still took it as a metaphorical death though. If that was done on purpose, I found it clever.

For the sake of spoilers, I won’t go into too much detail. Soham found it hard to admit the death in his family. It took him years to find peace as he felt guilty and lonely. Still, life pressed on.

Fiona was the same way. She couldn’t accept the death. While she didn’t feel guilty, she felt betrayed by Jesus and lonely.

They find their way through life, having good days and bad days. It was realistic to real life as they both struggled and sought peace.

rp-characters

I found all the characters to be relatable and well liked. Soham and Fiona both had in-depth backgrounds. I felt as though there was just enough information without it being “dumped” on me.

Sharon, Fiona’s mother, was an excellent character. She was the perfect mother trying to do anything and everything for the best interest for her daughter. She was amazing and probably my favorite character.

Joseph, Fiona’s husband, was great as well. However, I felt as though I didn’t get a good enough chance to get to know him. The novel starts off with Joseph and Fiona and then goes to tell us their story together, but I still felt as though pieces of him were missing.

rp-writing-style

This story is told through the point of views of Fiona and Soham and then Sharon on occasion. Each time it switched point of view, I took that as a new chapter beginning. I found this a clever way to tell their sides of the story and then weave them in together.

There were also dates as well. However, the dates jumped around. Well, they went in order for the most part, but sometimes Fiona’s story would be shared, then we’d have to jump back a couple of months to share Soham’s part of the story. While this makes sense, I did get confused a few times. I found it hard to keep track of the dates and years.

Still, the story was easy to read and flowed well. There wasn’t too much information and there wasn’t too little. It was a great pace and kept me turning the pages.

rp-overall

This certainly was an inspirational read. Death is something that we all have to overcome multiple times in our lives and we all face it at some point. I think the author handled it well and portrayed it well through his characters. It’s certainly a good read if you’re feeling down or lonely.

The Fragile Thread of Hope by Pankaj Giri gets…
4 stars book review 4 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“But disgust sliced through her heart as her eyes caught his teeth–they looked as if they were borrowed from a dead rabbit.” -Pankaj Giri, The Fragile Thread of Hope

Buy the book:

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About Pankaj Giri

Pankaj Giri was born and brought up in Gangtok, Sikkim—a picturesque hill station in India. He began his writing career with a book review blog, and now, after several years of honing his writing skills, he has written a novel—The Fragile Thread of Hope, a literary inspirational fiction dealing with love, loss, and family relationships. He is currently working in the government sector in Sikkim. He likes to kill time by listening to progressive metal music and watching cricket.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novel, Memoir, Middle Grade

Real Friends By Shannon Hale [Book Review]

Real Friends by Shannon Hale

Title: Real Friends
Author: Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham (illustrator)
Published: 
May 2017 by First Second
Genre: Graphic novel, memoir, middle grade
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary:

When best friends are not forever . . . 

Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.

Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?

Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Timesbestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham join forces in this graphic memoir about how hard it is to find your real friends—and why it’s worth the journey.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

I have seen this book floating around the book blogs of the WordPress world. I love a good graphic novel so when I found it at the bookstore, I decided to pick it up.

rp-plot

This is a fictionalized memoir based on the author’s childhood. A lot of it is true, but she fictionalized some things to make the story flow better. We follow Shannon as a young girl and watch her grow up as she tries to hold onto friendships and figure out who she is.

Her best friend is Adrienne, but then they meet a group of girls who follow Jen around. And they’re not nice all the time. Shannon doesn’t know whether they like her or not, but she still hangs out with them because she doesn’t have anyone else.

This is a good story all middle schoolers should read. It teaches an important lesson about being nice to others and also that it’s okay to not have a large group of friends. It’s okay to not be “popular.”

rp-characters

All the characters were portrayed well. I could relate with Shannon so much. She was being bullied, she didn’t have a lot of friends, and she developed anxiety along the way.

Adrienne was a good character as well. She was nice to Shannon but was also friends with Jen. When Jen was mean, Adrienne didn’t do anything because she didn’t want Jen to be mean to her in return. It was a vicious cycle. The other members of “The Group” were pretty much the same way.

It was typical behavior of middle-schoolers. But Shannon managed to push through.

rp-writing-style

The writing was well done, using a good amount of narrative and dialogue. The art style was great too. It really made the story, especially when Shannon was using her imagination.

It was a quick read being a graphic novel, but it was enjoyable (and relatable) enough that I was able to read it in one sitting.

rp-overall

This is a great story with an important lesson on bullying and just being true to who you are. Everyone should read this, no matter what age.

Real Friends by Shannon Hale gets…
5-Star Rating | Book Review 5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“All a person needs is one good friend.” -Shannon Hale, Real Friends

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Posted in Book Reviews, Reading

Beauty’s Kiss & Beauty’s Gift (Once Upon A Princess Books 3 &4) by C.S. Johnson

Beauty's Kiss by C.S. Johnson

Title: Beauty’s Kiss (Once Upon A Princess book 3)
Author: C.S. Johnson
Published: 
July 2017 by Dire Wolf Books
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, retelling
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy from the author for the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

Rose, the Princess of Rhone, doomed to fall into a sleeping death on her eighteenth birthday, has only ever wanted two things in all her life: to be free of her curse, and to never fall in love. After securing the dragon’s blood from the Serpent’s Garden, Rose is confident she has all she needs to free herself from Magdalina’s curse. But when Magdalina comes to offer Rose a new deal—one that would free her from her curse, while also eliminating future threats—Rose is forced to confront the truth of her feelings for Theo.

As Theo’s past and new troubles interrupt their journey back to Rhone, Rose knows she must make a devastating choice. Will she let herself fall in love? Or will she break her own heart instead?

My Review:

 

rp-plot

Rose fights another conflict as she’s faced with Magdalina herself and given an ultimatum. If she does one thing for Magdalina, then the curse will break. However, this may be worse than a sleeping death.

I won’t spoil what the ultimatum was, but that’s Rose’s inner struggles throughout book 3. I found it to be an interesting twist, but Rose being Rose, I don’t think she handled it well.

Sparks fly as Rose and company make their way back to her kingdom of Rhone where she will not only have to figure out her next course of action, but also face her father, the king.

rp-characters

The characters haven’t changed much since the last two books. Rose is still stubborn and snippy with everyone. I understand why, but if I were there I would have left a long time ago. She didn’t treat her companions very well, especially Theo, who is the kindest to her. That’s usually how it goes, though.

Theo is still my favorite character. Even though I kept rooting for him to walk away, he was still kind to Rose and took care of her. However, he increasingly grew tired of fighting her and did eventually leave. I’m sure I was supposed to be rooting for him to stay, but… I really can’t see myself relating to Rose at all.

rp-writing-style

Just like the first two books, this was short and sweet. It was easy to read and understand. Aside from the occasional typo here and there, it flowed well.

rp-overall

I didn’t feel as though much happened in this book. Rose was conflicted with her ultimatum and she and Theo were too busy loving each other without really admitting it (until the very end, but even that caused problems). It got old pretty fast which made some parts kind of boring to get through.

Beauty’s Kiss (Once Upon A Princess book 3) by C.S. Johnson gets…
3 Stars 3 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“Beautiful things can hide ugly secrets.” -C.S. Johnson, Beauty’s Kiss

Buy the book

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Beauty's Gift

Title: Beauty’s Gift (Once Upon A Princess book 4)
Author: C.S. Johnson
Published: 
August 2017 by Dire Wolf Books
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, retelling
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy from the author for the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

With only weeks away from her eighteenth birthday and the fulfillment of her curse, Rose, the Princess of Rhone, faces more obstacles than ever. The kingdom, anxious over her fate, is destabilizing under her father’s rule; her mother is imprisoned, and her uncle is holding a silent coup against the crown. With Theo’s absence, she is unable to do more than brood over her fate as she attempts to solve the problems around her.

When Theo returns with surprising information, Rose knows the time has come to risk everything. Along with her friends, she prepares to face Magdalina, the wicked ruler of the fairies, and fight the battle of her life – the battle for her freedom, her kingdom, and her heart.

My Review:

rp-plot

And now we have come to the epic conclusion of the Once Upon A Princess saga. Rose’s birthday is arriving faster than ever, but they have a plan to defeat the evil Magdalina. They just need to hope that it works.

We open with Theo on his own journey, seeking revenge and trying to find his aunt. It’s when he fulfills that task that discovers interesting news for Rose.

Even though this is the end, I still felt as though not too much happened. Throughout the book, Rose and Theo fought with their own (and each other’s) hearts. It felt like a game of, “she loves me, she loves me not.” It wasn’t until the very end of the book that their plan to fight Magdalina comes into play and even that was short.

Everything was tied together nicely, there were no loose ends, which was great. However, I felt the ending was rushed and definitely wanted more of a fight.

rp-characters

While Rose is much nicer now, I still can’t seem to connect with her. She’s not a favorite character of mine, so I didn’t really care if she broke her curse or not.

I did enjoy all the other characters though. I was really fond of Philip and Isra, though they weren’t in this book as much.

I especially loved Theo. If Theo had his own book, I would totally read it. He had a wonderful backstory, a cool job, and a great personality all around. He was by far my favorite and I honestly think he’s the reason I enjoyed this book the most. At the end of book three, he leaves Rose’s side. So, for a decent amount of time during this book, Theo is by himself fulfilling his own destiny, as we focused on him. And it was great.

rp-writing-style

Not much has changed in the writing style from the previous books. Everything flows well and easy to read. I just felt as though some parts, like battle scenes, seemed a bit rushed.

There were also a lot of typos in this book that kept bringing me out of the story. There were two chapters labeled “18,” which certainly threw me off.

rp-overall

This wasn’t a bad book. As I said before, this is my favorite one out of all four. As a series, this isn’t my favorite. The plot was clever and was well executed, but it sometimes felt rushed or there wasn’t enough action. I couldn’t get myself to like Rose as a character and, as the protagonist, that’s a dealbreaker for me.

Beauty’s Gift (Once Upon A Princess book 4) by C.S. Johnson gets…
3 Stars 3 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“He could hear Bachas cackling happily, which likely meant he had found someone to fight.” -C.S. Johnson, Beauty’s Gift

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play

About the Author

C.S. Johnson authorC.S. Johnson is the author of several young adult novels, including sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles series, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me.

 

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Giveaway

Want to participate in a treasure hunt?

At the end of each book in this series is a special collectible clue. Collect all four books, and get all four special prizes, FREE!

Love reading fairytales? Enter to the world of C.S. Johnson’s Once Upon A Princess Saga by entering to win a paperback of Beauty’s Curse, the entire saga in ebook format, four specially designed t-shirts of a quote from the series, and two handy mugs for your favorite drink.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

Posted in Book Reviews, Reading

Beauty’s Curse & Beauty’s Quest (Once Upon A Princess Books 1 & 2) by C.S. Johnson

Beauty's Curse(Once Upon A Princess book 1) by C.S. Johnson | Book Review

Title: Beauty’s Curse (Once Upon A Princess book 1)
Author: C.S. Johnson
Published: 
January 2016 by Dire Wolf Books
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, retelling
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy from the author for the blog tour in exchange for an honest review. However, the book was free on Amazon, so I downloaded it onto my Kindle.

Summary:

For four years, Princess Aurora of Rhone—Rose to her friends—has searched the world for a way to break the curse placed on her by Magdalina, the wicked ruler of the fairies at war with her kingdom. Under the curse, Rose is doomed to die on her eighteenth birthday after pricking her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel. And time is running out.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Rose makes the journey home with her friends—Theo, a priest with a penchant for revenge; Mary, a young and talented fairy; and Ethan and Sophia, siblings with a troubled past–as pressure from her father, King Stefanos, leaves her with two equally unsatisfying options: Abdicate the throne, or get married.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

When I was approached to read this book (and the three books that follow it), I was intrigued by the summary. If you know me, you know I love retellings and oddly enough, I have yet to read any Sleeping Beauty retellings.

rp-plot

Time is running out for Rose. Her 17th birthday is approaching which means she only has one year left before her curse of pricking her finger on the spinning wheel on her 18th birthday is fulfilled. On a journey with a few friends, Rose returns back to her kingdom as she spends every waking moment trying to find a way to break the curse.

And that’s about it.

Being the first book in a series of four this felt more like an introduction. Not too much happened as Rose and her companions made their way back to the kingdom before they set out on their next adventure. There seemed to be a lot of build-up, especially where the king wants Rose to get married, but not much came from it. While they came to an agreement, it was swift and a bit anti-climactic.

The book ended on a cliff-hanger setting up the second book, but nothing from the first book, other than introducing the characters, seemed to be a big deal.

rp-characters

I’m not sure how I feel about Rose as a protagonist. Yes, this is a Sleeping Beauty retelling so it’s only natural she would be the center of attention, but she just seemed a little flat to me.

Theo, Rose’s priest companion and friend, was a wonderful character. He seemed fleshed out and was kind putting Rose’s needs before his own and he really seemed to know what he was doing.

Mary, Sophia, Ethan, and later Prince Philip, were good characters as well. They all have good personalities which made them fun to read.

rp-writing-style

This seems to be told in third-person omniscient, which isn’t my favorite POV at all. There were times when a character would state the obvious or mention something that I wanted to figure out on my own or wait and see what happened.

Despite this, Rose is the main focus. Yet, sometimes we would switch to someone else for a moment just for the sake of them talking about Rose behind her back or thinking about her. I didn’t care too much for that.

rp-overall

I liked this book, though it’s not my favorite. I wish there were more high stakes against Rose and her friends. Still, it was enjoyable enough that I kept reading on.

Beauty’s Curse (Once Upon A Princess book 1) by C.S. Johnson gets…
3 Stars 3 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“He was not fooled by the calm look on her face; there would be a battle in getting her to agree.” -C.S. Johnson, Beauty’s Curse

Buy the book – Beauty’s Curse is FREE on all platforms!

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Title: Beauty’s Quest (Once Upon A Princess book 2)
Author: C.S. Johnson
Published: 
June 2016 by Dire Wolf Books
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, retelling
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy from the author for the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

In order to defeat the sorceress Magdalina, and free herself from her curse, Rose, the Princess of Rhone, has set out to find dragon’s blood. As she travels toward the Romani territory, where the Serpent’s Garden resides, she is accompanied by her faithful group of friends, including their newest member, Prince Philip of Einish.

But when the group ends up shipwrecked on the small island of Maltia, they find themselves trapped without supplies and a way off the island. With time, money, and new enemies working against them, Rose remains determined despite her despair to rise to each challenge. But can she face the growing fear—and longing—inside herself?

Sweet, suspenseful, and full of surprises, Beauty’s Quest is the second book in the Once Upon a Princess series from C. S. Johnson.

My Review:

rp-plot

Rose, Philip, Theo, Mary, Sophia, and Ethan set out on another journey to slay a dragon for its blood. However, their adventure takes some twists and turns once they’re shipwrecked and they become stranded on an island. Now they have to get back their money and supplies in order to continue their quest.

There was more action in this book than the last as Rose enters a tournament. She ends up making rivals with the champion and that tends to be the forcing drive behind most things she does in this book. Rose has a temper and she’s not afraid to use it.

Still, they’re trying to make it to the dragon. Once they do make it, it’s the very end of the book (one or two chapters) and it’s anti-clamactic again.

rp-characters

I’m still enjoying all the characters. My respect for Theo and Philip have especially gone up. I don’t care much for love triangles, but this one between them and Rose is working quite nicely.

However, I don’t like Rose. She was mean in this book. She’s stressed and worried about her curse, but she doesn’t treat others well and nearly kills two men. This is okay some of the time, of course, but it was constant in this book. I no longer have any sympathy for her and it’s hard to root for her to overcome the curse.

rp-writing-style

The writing style is the same as the first book. It’s still not my favorite, but that’s just my preference and I’ve gotten used to it since that happens to just be the style of this series.

However, there were a few typos here and there and the “thoughts” weren’t consistent. Sometimes they were in italics and something they weren’t.

Other than that, it was pretty easy to read and flowed well.

rp-overall

I liked this book better than the first one. There was more of a plot to it, but I still felt the need to give it only three stars because I couldn’t care for Rose. And, for me, characters are everything in a book.

Beauty’s Quest (Once Upon A Princess book 2) by C.S. Johnson gets…
3 Stars 3 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“Your arguing skills are as sharp as ever.” -C.S. Johnson, Beauty’s Quest

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play

About the Author

C.S. Johnson authorC.S. Johnson is the author of several young adult novels, including sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles series, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me.

 

Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram  | Pinterest  | Google Plus 

Giveaway

Want to participate in a treasure hunt?

At the end of each book in this series is a special collectible clue. Collect all four books, and get all four special prizes, FREE!

Love reading fairytales? Enter to the world of C.S. Johnson’s Once Upon A Princess Saga by entering to win a paperback of Beauty’s Curse, the entire saga in ebook format, four specially designed t-shirts of a quote from the series, and two handy mugs for your favorite drink.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

Calling all book readers! Join us as we celebrate C.S.Johnson’s ONCE UPON A PRINCESS SAGA on October 6th from 8:30PM to 10:30PM EST (7:30PM CDT and 5:30PM PST).

Grab your favorite drink and snack and be prepared for a fun night of chatting with the author and special guests, games, and giveaways.

Special guests Chandler Brett, Jeff Sartini, and Disney Princess Addict will also be sharing their books and joining in the fun.

As a note: The giveaways held on this event page are in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. Any questions or comments regarding the party will be directed to the host (Laura A. Grace), not Facebook.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Middle Grade, Reading

Be Light Like A Bird By Monika Schroder

Title: Be Light Like A Bird
Author: Monika Schroder
Published: 
September 2016 by Capstone Young Readers
Genre: Middle-grade realistic fiction
How I got the book: I downloaded it onto my Kindle through BookBub

Summary:

After the death of her father, twelve-year-old Wren finds her life thrown into upheaval. And when her mother decides to pack up the car and forces Wren to leave the only home she’s ever known, the family grows even more fractured. As she and her mother struggle to build a new life, Wren must tackle issues with the environment, peer pressure, and bullying. More than that, she must cope with the difficulty of forgiving those who don’t deserve it as she discovers what it means to be a family — and the secrets and lies that can tear one apart.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

BookBub emailed me a couple of months ago that this book was for free. After seeing it was middle-grade (I love a good middle-grade every once in a while) and reading the summary, I thought it’d definitely be worth a try.

rp-plot

Told through Wren’s point of view, we learn that her father has passed away. She is sad and doesn’t know how to grieve. All she knows is to go to her mother. Her mother, on the other hand, is angry. Wren, being 12-years-old, doesn’t understand grieving or death and she can’t imagine why her mother is so mad. It begins to tear their family apart.

After a couple of moves, Wren finally feels as though she may have a place where she belongs. She makes some new friends, some nice and some not so nice, she does pretty well in school, and she discovers a place she knows her father would love.

Due to a report at school and Wren and her father’s love of bird watching, Wren fights for beautiful a pond to not be torn down and turned into a dump.

I don’t know how I can explain this plot and do it justice. The overall message is grieving and talking about it. However, there’s a subplot of Wren dealing with who her real friends are as well as working on her school project and setting up a petition. And the art of bird watching is woven into all of that.

This plot is gold.

rp-characters

Each character was crafted wonderfully. Wren made an excellent protagonist and I think her 12-year-old was spot on. I was angry at her mother in the beginning for what she did to Wren, but I learned to sympathize for her.

Theo, Wren’s best friend, made an excellent best friend. I wish I had a Theo.

Victoria and Carrie were the definition of a “mean girl” and “minion” and it was perfect.

Wren’s father was important even though he’s never seen in the book, a lot is learned about him. And you really don’t know what to think of him.

All the supporting characters – Randle, Mrs. Russo, Theo’s dad – were all great supporting characters as well. Everyone had their own voice and their own purpose.

rp-writing-style

I read this book in one day. It’s about 240 pages long, so you can see that as quickly or not. It went by pretty quick for me because I was so intrigued.

While I thought the beginning was a bit slow, it all made sense in the end. The book is broken up into chapters but after a few of them a new “theme” sort of comes into play. Yet, it was all tied together at the end.

I had tears in my eyes for a good chunk of the novel and if you know me well, you know that’s what sells it for me.

rp-overall

I really don’t think I did this book justice. I think I could go on and on, but it wouldn’t be organized and I’d be rambling.

This book was so well crafted, well paced, and just overall a great piece of art. It conveys an important message that I think everyone should read it. It’s pretty inspiring.

Be Light Like A Bird by Monika Schroder gets…
5-Star Rating | Book Review 5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“You don’t want to just float around in life like a feather. You want to determine your own direction – fly and soar like a bird.” -Monika Schroder, Be Light Like A Bird

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Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke | Book Review

Title: Wink Poppy Midnight
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Published: 
March 2016 by Dial Books
Genre: Young Adult Mystery/Fantasy
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary:

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

The cover was what first caught my attention. When I read the inside of the jacket I was intrigued. I love a good mystery where you have to figure out the liar of the group.

rp-plot

What is the plot, exactly? Now that I’ve read the book and I look back at the summary, I realize there isn’t much of a plot to the story. We follow three characters, Poppy, Wink, and Midnight, as they tell their side of the story in their own first-person point of view.

Not much happens the first half of the book. Then Wink and Midnight decide to prank Poppy (because she was going to prank Wink) and it doesn’t go as well as planned.

Then what happens?

Honestly, I feel like I can’t say too much on it. I don’t understand what happened and the things I do understand, I’d spoil the book.

rp-characters

Poppy is the mean girl. Wink is the shy girl. Midnight is a sweet boy who crushes on Poppy. However, when he gets tired of her pushing him around, he begins to crush on Wink, forming a love triangle between the three.

I didn’t care too much about any of the characters. Poppy was a jerk, Wink was very bizarre, thus confusing me, and Midnight was kind of a pushover who didn’t know what he wanted.

I can’t say I have a favorite character and I didn’t care what happened to any of them. And, if you know me, then you know that the characters are everything in a book for me.

rp-writing-style

The writing was lovely, I’ll give the book that. There were some parts where the book felt poetic of some sorts, which I enjoy.

But… each character spoke that way. The chapters flipped-flopped between the three main characters in their own first person point of views. They didn’t have distinct voices from one another. The chapters were short (some being only half a page long), yet I sometimes I had to flip over to the previous page because I couldn’t remember which character I was currently reading from.

rp-overall

I was pretty disappointed with this book. I was excited to read it, excited to get to the heart of the “mystery,” but… it wasn’t that at all. I guessed who the “liar” was pretty easy. The thing is, I was only half-right. Confused? So am I.

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke gets…
2 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“Revenge. Justice. Love. They are the three stories that all other stories are made up of.” –April Genevieve Tucholke, Wink, Poppy, Midnight

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Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard | Book Review

Title: Pretty Little Liars
Author: Sara Shepard
Published: October 2006 by HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary:

Three years ago, Alison disappeared after a slumber party, not to be seen since. Her friends at the elite Pennsylvania school mourned her, but they also breathed secret sighs of relief. Each of them guarded a secret that only Alison had known. Now they have other dirty little secrets, secrets that could sink them in their gossip-hungry world. When each of them begins receiving anonymous emails and text messages, panic sets in. Are they being betrayed by some one in their circle? Worse yet: Is Alison back?

My Review:

I have read this book before. According to my Goodreads account, it was way back in 2012. I’ve been getting into the show again now that it’s ended. I’ve decided to finally get around to reading the books since I have most of the series sitting on my bookshelves.

We get to know five high school girls: Alison, Aria, Spencer, Emily, and Hanna. They’re the best of friends, each with their own dirty secret(s). They are the most popular girls in school, Alison being the ring leader of the group.

On the summer before high school begins, they have a slumber party. When the girls wake up, Alison is gone. She was never found. This book takes place three years later. Aria, Spencer, Emily, and Hanna have moved on and aren’t really friends anymore. But once they start receiving odd messages that not only sound like Alison, but are also threatening, that they come together to figure out who is doing this to them.

That’s about it. Even though this is just book one nothing really happened. I felt as though this was more of an introduction to the series. We learned a lot about the main characters, but that was about it. Nothing really happened until there were about 20-30 pages left in the novel. Because of that, it was a bit boring.

I enjoy all the characters in the book. Aria comes home from living abroad with her family in Iceland for two years and winds up crushing on her new English teacher. Hanna had transformed her chubby self over the summer before high school along with Mona, who was a “loser” when Ali ran the school. Hanna and Mona are the new “It” girls. Spencer is just as overachieving as ever while she tries to hook up with her sister’s boyfriend. Emily is the star swimmer for their school’s team. And when new girl Maya moves into Ali’s old house, Emily begins to question her sexuality.

Ali was most certainly the alpha dog and practically ran the whole school. A lot of people are glad she’s gone and they feel safe again. Still, even though she’s a total mean girl, I think Ali is one of my favorite characters. She seems to have it all together, even though I don’t agree with her tactics on how to get people to do the right thing.

This book is written like any other general novel. It’s a typical young adult “high school drama” type story. Still, nothing was really special about the writing style. I didn’t fall in love with the author’s words and some of the characters just felt like supporting cast (that includes the main girls in some parts). It’s not bad and certainly easy to read, but I’m not excited about it.

When I first read this in 2012, I had given it a five-star rating. I changed it to three. One, I think I’ve martured a lot in five years and this whole high school drama is a bit overrated to me. Two, because nothing really happened in this book. This is book one in a long suspense series, but we got more background than anything else, which is a pretty slow start in my opinion.

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard gets…
3 Stars3 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“They felt kind of like dolls, with Ali arraigning their every move.” -Sara Shepard, Pretty Little Liars

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Tone Of Voice When Writing Book Reviews

Writing a book review isn’t as easy as it sounds. When writing a review you’re stating your opinion on how you liked or disliked something.

When it comes to books, you have to remember that you’re commenting on someone’s hard work, someone’s precious baby.

Honesty is the most important thing when it comes to writing a book review. But with that honesty has to come a fair tone of voice.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but everyone interprets things differently. Something that you like may be something that someone else doesn’t like and vice versa.

When it comes to writing a review, mention things you enjoyed about the book.

If there’s anything you didn’t particularly care for in the book, say so. But…

  • Explain why you didn’t like it nicely (like I said, everyone has different opinions)
  • Suggest something that may have worked better

Not only are reviews a great way to thank an author, but it’s also a great way for authors to get some feedback. A lot of reviewers can agree upon a particular thing and the author may learn from it for their next book.

Still, there are some reviewers that don’t bother leaving a review if it’s a book that they really didn’t like for the sake of the author not getting any “bad reviews.”

All in all, book reviews are important but it’s all in the way they’re conveyed.

How do you typically convey your books reviews? Have you ever left a “bad review” before? Let me know in the comments below!

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How To Write A Book Review That Matters

Book reviews are fodder for authors. It’s important for their books. And, as a reader, we can thank the author by leaving a review for their book on your blog, Goodreads, Amazon, or anywhere the book can be bought.

How To Write a Book Review that Matters

Everyone has their own writing style and there are many ways to write a book review. For me, I write about the three parts of a book that is the most important to me. I also add an intro and conclusion, if you will.

First Thoughts

To begin the review I talk about my initial thoughts on the book. Why I decided to read it, where I got it, and what I think about the overall summary and maybe the cover as well.

Plot

I typically summarize the overall plot of the novel and then talk about what I felt worked with it and what I felt didn’t work with it.

Characters

I talk about the main and secondary characters and explain my thoughts on the character development of them all. I also mention which was my favorite and which ones I related to the most and also ones that I didn’t like.

Writing Style

Every author writes differently. Some use more dialogue than description, some write poetically. Some have short chapters, some write in parts. I comment on the author’s style and whether I think it worked or not for the story. This also includes POV.

Overall

To end the review I more or less summarize everything I wrote in the previous parts and mention whether I would recommend the book or not.

In addition to all that, I add a picture of the book’s cover, the title, the author, when and where it was published, the genre, and how I got the book. At the end, I give it a star rating between one and five. I also add links to where you can buy the book.

To add a little personal touch, I also include my favorite quote from the book. The quote is generally a line that stuck out at me for whatever reason, whether it was a nice piece of description, something funny, something heartfelt, something true to life, etc.

I’ve seen other book reviews by people and some of them go much more in depth than mine. Others are short and sweet simply stating why they liked the book or why they didn’t like it. And others still ramble on about general overall thoughts on the book.

Writing a book review isn’t hard and depending on your style, it definitely takes a few minutes out of your day. Still, it’s a great way to thank an author for all their hard work and effort, whether you enjoyed the book or not.

Do you typically write book reviews? What’s your style like? Let me know in the comments below!

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