14 February 2019

Blog Tour ARC Review: How I Became A Spy by Deborah Hopskinson

How I Became A Spy by Deborah Hopkinson
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books For Young Readers
Release Date: February 12, 2019
Book Format: ARC
# of Pages: 248
Synopsis: Bertie Bradshaw never set out to become a spy. He never imagined traipsing around war-torn London, solving ciphers, practicing surveillance, and searching for a traitor to the Allied forces. He certainly never expected that a strong-willed American girl named Eleanor would play Watson to his Holmes (or Holmes to his Watson, depending on who you ask).

But when a young woman goes missing, leaving behind a coded notebook, Bertie is determined to solve the mystery. With the help of Eleanor and his friend David, a Jewish refugee--and, of course, his trusty pup, Little Roo--Bertie must decipher the notebook in time to stop a double agent from spilling the biggest secret of all to the Nazis.

From the author of The Great Trouble, this suspenseful WWII adventure reminds us that times of war call for bravery, brains and teamwork from even the most unlikely heroes.

My Thoughts
How I Became A Spy by Deborah Hopkinson follows a young man by the name of Bertie who takes on the responsibility of warning the citizens of his town in Great Britain during air raids which are beginning to happen more and more frequently with the invasion upon them. On his first day on the job, he meets two mysterious ladies: one who drops a very important notebook before running off and the other who is seemingly dead on the side of the road before disappearing completely before Bertie can make his way back to her with help.

Upon looking through the dropped notebook, Bertie discovers some cryptic notes that he is not sure of. He can tell one thing for sure, and that is that the notebook is important, but what any of it means, he is not sure of just yet. After reading the entirety of the journal, he realizes that the writer must be a spy and he sets out to find who the owner might be.

Along the way, he bumps back into the girl who dropped the journal in the first place, and she is angry at first but eventually comes to trust Bertie and the two work hard together to figure out what the notebook means and how they can find the girl it belongs too. Not only do the two find themselves revealing what it is like to be a spy and everything that goes into it but they are also figuring out things about their city and the war that they never understood before.

This is a middle grade categorized story which means it is all strictly friendship based. Eleanor--who is Bertie’s American friend--becomes closer with his bet dog Little Roo than she is with him. Little Roo provides a lot of comfort for the characters in this book between rescuing people in danger during air raids, being a companion to Bertie and just being friendly to everyone else. This little dog had to be my favorite addition to the story.

Hopkinson did a great job giving us characters that not only were coming together to solve a mystery but who were also dealing with their own issues and overcoming those on the side as well. To have a good character they need to have many different characteristics as my old writing teacher would say rather than one or the other. The inclusion of more than one attribute gives us a character who is flawed and working to fix themselves in front of us which gives them the opportunity to connect with us as readers. 


29 January 2019

ARC Review: Come Find Me by Megan Miranda

Come Find Me by Megan Miranda
Publisher: Crown Books For Young Readers
Release Date: January 29, 2019
Book Format: ARC
# of Pages: 336
Synopsis: After surviving an infamous family tragedy, sixteen-year-old Kennedy Jones has made it her mission to keep her brother's search through the cosmos alive. But then something disturbs the frequency on his radio telescope--a pattern registering where no signal should transmit.

In a neighboring county, seventeen-year-old Nolan Chandler is determined to find out what really happened to his brother, who disappeared the day after Nolan had an eerie premonition. There hasn't been a single lead for two years, until Nolan picks up an odd signal--a pattern coming from his brother's bedroom.

Drawn together by these strange signals--and their family tragedies--Kennedy and Nolan search for the origin of the mysterious frequency. But the more they uncover, the more they believe that everything's connected--even their pasts--as it appears the signal is meant for them alone, sharing a message that only they can understand. Is something coming for them? Or is the frequency warning them about something that's already here?

My Thoughts 
Megan Miranda is one of my all time favorite writers. I have been reading her since her first young adult debut a few years back. Come Find Me happens to be her newest young adult release.

The book is a little confusing in the beginning being that it switches back and forth between two characters, Kennedy and Nolan. We’re unsure of what happened to Kennedy and her family and why she no longer lives in her family home but instead with who we assume is her uncle Joe in a tiny apartment. But Nolan on the other hand reveals his background early in which we find out his older brother Liam had gone missing two years back and they had yet to find him alive or any evidence of his death.

Since his brothers disappearance Nolans parents have made it their mission to bring justice to all missing children. He does his best to steer clear of this organization and stays true to finding his brother no matter what it takes. Kennedy on the other hand is determined to not let Joe sell her family home either because its her home or because it is her last tie to her brothers work and what really happened in that house 6 months ago.

As usual with books that alternate between character these two end up coming together in a stranger but interesting way and thus their stories begin to intertwine in ways they probably could have never imagined. Together they begin their quest to not only decode a message that will lead them to figure out not only what truly happened in Kennedy’s house but also what happened to Nolan’s brother.

Many young adult novels include a lot of instalove which in some situations is desirable but here given everything at stake and what these two were trying to do together, the instalove would have just gotten in the way. Come Find Me, had the perfect amount of character bonding that didn’t get in the way of the rest of the story line. As a reader I was able to really sink myself into the story and not have to worry about any relationship issues which made for a great mystery/thriller.

Something that Megan Miranda is phenomenal at is flashbacks. Almost all of her novels include some kind of character flashback to give the reader background on the current character and or situation. This kind of writing can be hard because it is super easy to get confused between the past and the present, but Miranda has managed to successfully give her readers background knowledge without leaving us confused.

Not only does Miranda provide her quality content in young adult books but she also plays her hand in adult fiction as well which more than impresses me. I can’t wait to get my hands on her other works. 

21 January 2019

Review: The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Mirana
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Book Format: Hardcover
# of Pages: 337
Synopsis: Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.

Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.

Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?

My Thoughts: 
Megan Miranda has done it again with her most recent adult fiction publication known as The Perfect Strangers. It follows to young girls who decide to up and leave everything behind and rent a cute little cabin together in a small town. As time goes on Leah starts to notice some odd things about her roommate Emmy, and it all gets worse once she goes missing.

The beginning is interesting because us as readers don’t get to know much about either character. In true Miranda fashion, we get flashbacks every now and again that gives us a little background on the characters, but we are kept in the dark enough to get to know the characters in an exciting way as we read through the novel.

The premise of this reminds me a lot of Stephen King’s newest novel, The Outsider in which a well known/liked school coach is convicted of murder. It’s a little different here because coach Cobb is only being charged with assault for a part of the book, but just the reminisce of an author I loved made me happy.

This is the type of mystery that had me yelling at the book at some points, and that is how you know you are reading something good. Miranda took her time to flesh out each character and bring them together in such ways that were surprising as well as satisfying. The relationship between main character Leah and the lead detective on the case Kyle is forbidden, but that doesn’t stop the two from getting to know each other.

Leah not only is having a hard time figuring out what is going on with her missing roommate but she is afraid to even be in her house in fear that someone is watching her closely and is trying to hurt her somehow. As readers we get to see her grapple with everything that is going on in her life--juggling her students at her new job, assault issues, her missing roommate, a new romance and her past following her around is a lot to handle for this young women.

The book is pretty small, so I was apprehensive about Miranda’s ability to wrap up the plethora of loose ends. But just like any other good mystery, she did a great job giving us so many different puzzles to pay attention to, and she was able to wrap each one of them up nicely without leaving her readers unsatisfied.

My favorite part of this novel was the inclusion of a small relationship between Kyle and Leah. Although romance is to be expected the two who were involved in this romance had a lot going on in both of their lives which is why it was peaceful to read those moments between them almost as a quick and much-needed break to all the fear and mystery going on in their town.


07 January 2019

Review: Survive The Night by Danielle Vega

Survive The Night by Danielle Vega
Publisher: Razorbill
Publish Date: July 7, 2015
Book Format: Paperback
# of Pages: 288
Synopsis: Stephen King meets Pretty Little Liars in this pulse-pounding novel from the author of The Merciless

Just back from rehab, Casey regrets letting her friends Shana, Julie, and Aya talk her into coming to Survive the Night, an all-night, underground rave in a New York City subway tunnel. Surrounded by frightening drugs and menacing strangers, Casey doesn’t think Survive the Night could get any worse...

...until she comes across Julie’s mutilated body in a dank, black subway tunnel, red-eyed rats nibbling at her fingers. Casey thought she was just off with some guy—no one could hear her getting torn apart over the sound of pulsing music. And by the time they get back to the party, everyone is gone.

Desperate for help, Casey and her friends find themselves running through the putrid subway tunnels, searching for a way out. But every manhole is sealed shut, and every noise echoes eerily in the dark, reminding them they’re not alone.

They’re being hunted.

Trapped underground with someone—or something—out to get them, Casey can’t help but listen to Aya’s terrified refrain: “We’re all gonna die down here.”

My Review:  

I have heard many good things about Danielle Vega and her recent publications. She has been well known for her horror infused stories including Survive The Night which is a standalone compared to her popular Merciless series which is up to four books currently.

Survive The Night tells the story of a high school aged girl named Casey who is fresh out of rehab from a pill addiction. Her parents are wanting to keep a close eye on her which means they only allow her to spend time with her “safe friends” even though she doesn’t feel like she fits in with them any longer. Shana rescues her from this uncomfortable situation and off she goes with the crew that got her in trouble in the first place.

Shana reveals herself as a bad ass with her old buick and maniacal driving. She is interested in hearing all about Casey’s rehab stint even if it bothers her to speak of her time there. In the back seat are Shana’s tagalongs, Aya and Julie whom are busy sharing a joint and painting each others toenails for a good portion of the beginning chapters. Casey is excited to see these three girls at first as it has always given her a rush hanging out with them, that feeling is back and full force especially when Shana begins their adventure by bringing them to a club featuring a band extremely familiar to Casey.

Before even stepping into the club Casey recognizes the music and instantly wants to leave. Before rehab the love of her life broke her heart and this just “happens” to be his band playing. Everything turns out well though once he notices her watching him play. It might be a little mix of relief that she’s home and pain because they are no longer together. Now a group of six, they head off in search of a popular underground rave that nobody can stop talking about, even if the rumors of murder down there are pretty creepy.

Sam--the ex boyfriend--and Casey find themselves awful close and forced to talk about the events leading up to their break up and rehab stint. This brings on a lot of emotion and tears but ends with kissing and groping. The couple seem to have made up for now anyways. Not long after this magical moment does the terror start. A body is found ripped open with intestines spilling out and soon after the--now five--of them realized they are trapped underground with no way out. The candles are starting to dim, their phones are dying and they have no idea who--or what--is down there with them.

As you can imagine only some of them make it out of the underground subway alive and the trek to find an exit is a dark and wet one for this group of teenagers. They encounter homeless men, starving rats, and a tentacled monster that nobody really understands. Who comes out alive is the big question: all, none or some?  


18 September 2018

Spotlight: The Law of Finders Keepers by Sheila Turnage

The Law of Finders Keepers by Sheila Turnage
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Release Date: Sept 11, 2018
Synopsis: Pirates, family, and the truth about Mo's Upstream Mother collide in the conclusion to the Newbery Honor and New York Times bestselling Three Times Lucky

When the Colonel and Miss Lana share the clues about Mo's watery origins that they've been saving, it seems the time is finally right for the Desperado Detectives (aka Mo, Dale, and Harm) to tackle the mystery of Mo's Upstream Mother. It's the scariest case Mo's had by far. But before they can get started, Mayor Little's mean mother hires them to hunt in her attic for clues to Blackbeard's treasure, which could be buried right in Tupelo Landing. Turns out, the Desperados aren't the only ones looking. A professional treasure hunter named Gabe has come to town with Harm's estranged mother--and soon the race is on, even though the treasure's rumored to be cursed. As centuries- and decades-old secrets are dragged into the light, there isn't a single person in Tupelo Landing quite prepared for all that they uncover. Especially Mo.

The fourth and last book in the Mo & Dale Mystery series and the long-awaited conclusion to Three Times Lucky, The Law of Finders Keepers is a heartbreaking, heartwarming, honest, and hilarious adventure that you can read right after you finish Three Times Lucky.

Meet Sheila,
Sheila Turnage is from eastern North Carolina, just like Miss Moses LoBeau, the protagonist from the Mo & Dale mystery series that began with Three Times LuckyThree Times Lucky is a Newbery Honor Book, a New York Times bestseller, an E. B. White Read-Aloud Honor Book, and an Edgar Award finalist. It has been nominated for nineteen state awards, including the Texas Bluebonnet Master List, and has been licensed in five countries. Her follow-up book, The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, also a New York Timesbestseller, received five starred reviews and was a SIBA Winter 2014 Okra Pick and a Junior Library Guild selection. Sheila is also the author of two more books in the Mo & Dale Mystery series, The Odds of Getting Even and The Law of Finders Keepers, and the nonfiction adult books Haunted Inns of the Southeast and Compass American Guides: North Carolina, as well as one picture book, Trout the Magnificent, illustrated by Janet Stevens.

12 August 2018

Review: See All The Stars by Kit Frick

See All The Stars by Kit Frick
Publisher: McElderry Books
Release Date: August 14, 2018
# of Pages:
Book Format: Hardcover
Synopsis: Part love story, part thriller, We Were Liars meets Goodbye Days in this suspenseful, lyrical debut.

It’s hard to find the truth beneath the lies you tell yourself.

THEN They were four—Bex, Jenni, Ellory, Ret. Electric, headstrong young women; Ellory’s whole solar system.

NOW Ellory is alone, her once inseparable group of friends torn apart by secrets, deception, and a shocking incident that changed their lives forever.

THEN Lazy summer days. A party. A beautiful boy. Ellory met Matthias and fell into the beginning of a spectacular, bright love.

NOW Ellory returns to Pine Brook to navigate senior year after a two-month suspension and summer away—no boyfriend, no friends. No going back. Tormented by some and sought out by others, troubled by a mysterious note-writer who won’t let Ellory forget, and consumed by guilt over her not entirely innocent role in everything and everyone she’s lost, Ellory finds that even in the present, the past is everywhere.

The path forward isn’t a straight line. And moving on will mean sorting the truth from the lies—the lies Ellory has been telling herself.

Meet Kit:

Kit  Frick  is  a  novelist,  poet,  and  MacDowell  Colony  fellow Originally  from  Pittsburgh,  PA,  she  studied  creative  writing  at  Sarah  Lawrence  College
e  and  received  her  MFA  from  Syra-cuse  University.  When  she  isn’t  putting  complicated  characters  in  impossible  situations,  Kit  edits  poetry  and  literary  fiction  for  a  small  press,  edits  for  private  clients,  and  mentors  emerging  writers  through  Pitch  Wars.  Her  debut  young  adult  novel  is  See  All  the  Stars
  (Simon  &  Schuster  /  Margaret  K. McElderry  Books,  August  14,  2018), and  her  debut  full-length  poetry collection  is 
A  Small  Rising  Up in the  Lungs
  (New  American  Press,  fall  2018).


See All The Stars by Kit Frick follows a group of friends who never thought they would be seperated. The four of them are held together by one person acting as glue, but do they see that? Do they see that all it would take is one falling out to send them off in separate directions forever? Not until it's too late…

The novel is categorized under young adult and displays many of the themes expected in that genre. Young group of friends who think they are inseparable until some major falling out happens that drives them all apart. The difference here is that Frick doesn’t just tell the story in chronological order, like every other novel, she goes back and forth between what she calls THEN and NOW.

The THEN details what the group of friends were like in the beginning; how they came together, how they functioned, what made them tick and really just their entire friendship as a whole while the NOW made up the aftermath of the falling out. The group was made up of four girls, main character Ellory, head of the pose Ret followed up by Bex and Jenni. Each of these girls were very different from the next. Ellory is quiet and very much keeps to herself. When she isn’t with her friends she spends most of her time working on her artwork in the schools art dungeon. Ret is the glue, she met and befriended each of the girls pulling them into the circle. She makes their friendship run smoothly. Everything they do is with her approval or with her in mind, she is the leader. Bex and Jenni are always in the background either jealous of the relationship between Ellory and Ret or just rolling with it in hopes for a good time.

Things start to go south when Ellory meets a boy. She is supposed to be sticking by Ret’s side but she wanders off bumping into the infamous Matthias, who she has admired since Freshman year. The two hit if off and the two are the next IT couple. Ret doesn’t like this, she calls the shots and she definitely isn’t okay with “her” Ellory being occupied by someone else, especially a boyfriend. Soon enough Ret turned into a passive aggressive version of herself making it painfully clear that she missed her friend and wanted her back. Frick did a great job in focusing the reader on the relationship between Ellory and Matthias than what Ret was doing in the background.

Every other chapter references a new point in time, each represented a month that had gone by in the past as well as the present. In the NOW, readers witness Ellory struggling with what was referred to as “the fall,” and how to give each one of her old friends and boyfriend forgiveness in order to move on. On the flip side, Frick is making it hard to stop turning the pages in order to discover what was terrible enough to rip a group of friends completely apart and send Ellory spiraling into a dark pit of guilt and depression.

Frick allows us to get close to each of her characters. She shares with us, what makes them tick, their secrets, and what makes them happy. Being that the novel starts out with a big happy group of friends and ends with one lone sad girl makes it hard to not feel for her and yank on our heart strings. See All The Stars is sure worth the read, with every flip of a page the story gets more and more intense leaving you with nothing but the desire to know what “the fall,” really was and why it happened. 



07 July 2018

ARC Review: The History of Jane Doe by Michael Belanger

The History of Jane Doe by Michael Belanger
Publisher: Dial Books
Release Date: June 5, 2018
# of Pages: 304

Book Format: ARC
A poignant, deeply funny coming-of-age story about first love, first loss, and the power of history to give life mean

History buff Ray knows everything about the peculiar legends and lore of his rural Connecticut hometown. Burgerville's past is riddled with green cow sightings and human groundhogs, but the most interesting thing about the present is the new girl--we'll call her Jane Doe.

Inscrutable, cool, and above all mysterious, Jane seems as determined to hide her past as Ray is to uncover it. As fascination turns to friendship and then to something more, Ray is certain he knows Jane's darkest, most painful secrets and Jane herself--from past to present. But when the unthinkable happens, Ray is forced to acknowledge that perhaps history can only tell us so much.

Mixing humor with heartache, this is an unmissable coming-of-age story from an exciting new voice in YA.

My Review:
I received, The History of Jane Doe by Michael Belanger from the publisher and this is my honest review.

The History of Jane Doe follows a young man by the name of Raymond who finds joy in knowing and teaching his friends the history of their beloved town. His world changes for the better when he meets a girl who he refers to as Jane. She doesn’t seem like the type of person who would like a small town like Williamsburg but Ray makes her move here as fun as he possibly can.

An interesting aspect of this book is that it seems to be characterized for a younger audience since the book says right on it young readers, but there are some very mature themes within this book that I feel like some might cause some controversy on whether or not this should not be marketed toward a young audience. But at the same time, these themes need to be introduced to the younger crowd eventually and in a delicate way so maybe this is the perfect platform for some younger to start hearing about some of the themes in this book.

The themes strewn throughout the book include sex, suicide, death, and divorce. All of these situations can be hard to go through and everyone handles them differently so I feel like featuring these themes in this book for a younger audience to see is almost necessary so they can begin to understand what these different things mean and how to handle them in different ways. The biggest message I get from The History of Jane Doe is to cherish all relationships, never take any for granted and it is okay to express yourself and to let out your emotions. Those are important messages for not just a younger audience but those in an older age group as well.

I loved the characters in this book so much they were all so close and as a reader, I could feel the bond that the three main characters especially had. A lot of young adult and even middle-grade books portray their main characters as a female especially in other books that deal with themes such as the ones this one does. Belanger does something so different as to chose Ray as a male main character. It’s so refreshing because there are not that many books out there that accomplish what this one does.

I’m extremely glad I accepted this for review and cannot wait to see what else Michael Belanger puts out there in the world regardless of the age group because this was a fun read. I oftentimes found myself laughing out loud especially when it came to milk jokes. But there were also times when I felt my heartstrings being pulled during the many heartfelt moments between Ray and Jane. So, overall, I loved it and this book is definitely one to check out!

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