Tag Archives: book review

The Write Reads Tour | Book Review | The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips

Simon and Schuster Children’s
TBP Dec 8th 2020
240 Pages

Beauty comes at a price. And no one knows that better than Ebenezer Tweezer, who has stayed beautiful for 511 years. How, you may wonder? Ebenezer simply has to feed the beast in the attic of his mansion. In return for meals of performing monkeys, statues of Winston Churchill, and the occasional cactus, Ebenezer gets potions that keep him young and beautiful, as well as other presents.

But the beast grows ever greedier with each meal, and one day he announces that he’d like to eat a nice, juicy child next. Ebenezer has never done anything quite this terrible to hold onto his wonderful life. Still, he finds the absolutely snottiest, naughtiest, and most frankly unpleasant child he can and prepares to feed her to the beast.

The child, Bethany, may just be more than Ebenezer bargained for. She’s certainly a really rather rude houseguest, but Ebenezer still finds himself wishing she didn’t have to be gobbled up after all. Could it be Bethany is less meal-worthy and more…friend-worthy?- Goodreads

I love when books switch things up. And I also love when books remind me of thing. In particular this book gives me “Little Shop of Horror” vibes ( my favorite musical btw). You know Seymour finds this plant that names it Audrey and feeds it his blood to grow and then Audrey demands more specifically a full human, so he gives him the nastiest person he can think of. . . the dentist.

So when I saw the summary of this book, that is what I thought of and just fell in love.

The writing style of this book is detailed, fun and at the same time you don’t feel as if the author added a bunch of fluff to drag the book. Ebenezer is a great villain because he doesn’t know he is a villain. Its not one of those good intention situations but its because he just don’t know. So anything really goes such as kidnapping a child even if it is a mean one.

There are mean and nasty children in the world. Seeing Bethany, although I don’t wish any child harm was interesting to read. Because on one hand you’re like why are you like this and on the other you’re like… well.

The characters were written extremely well.  I loved the pace of the novel and its creativity.

Overall,

4 Pickles

Book Review | Blog Tour |The Swordsman’s Lament by G.M. White

Belasko thought he was beyond intrigues and machinations. But when the grief-stricken King demands vengeance, Belasko discovers he is expendable. His options are clear… find the real killer or satisfy the royal bloodlust.

With the forces of the palace mobilised against him he is thrust into the city’s bleak underbelly and must fight to discover the truth. With betrayal around every corner he must form unlikely alliances. Can the veteran warrior survive long enough to protect his friends and prove his innocence?- Goodreads

This is a good start to a series. I was surprised to have been invested into this book in such a short amount of time. Belasko is an interesting character who knows his stuff.

Belasko is unconventional in the sense that he already lived his life, did his fighting and now he just wants to take care of his students. I like this version of a hero. As a reader, I don’t see it often but in movies I see it a lot.

Although I wish he did more to give me that action pack I am the world’s deadlish former soldier, he is a old man (old for the book) just trying to live his life without mess.

I liked the characters of this book and the world building but it was slow. The book was dreadfully slow. About 20% into the book it lost steam. Which is unfortunate because there is good foundation within this book.

Overall, there is something about this book that makes you want to pick up book two.

3 Pickles

Book Review: Night Shine by Tessa Gratton

McElderry Books
TBP Sept 8th 2020

In the vast palace of the empress lives an orphan girl called Nothing. She slips within the shadows of the Court, unseen except by the Great Demon of the palace and her true friend, Prince Kirin, heir to the throne. When Kirin is kidnapped, only Nothing and the prince’s bodyguard suspect that Kirin may have been taken by the Sorceress Who Eats Girls, a powerful woman who has plagued the land for decades. The sorceress has never bothered with boys before, but Nothing has uncovered many secrets in her sixteen years in the palace, including a few about the prince.

As the empress’s army searches fruitlessly, Nothing and the bodyguard set out on a rescue mission, through demon-filled rain forests and past crossroads guarded by spirits. Their journey takes them to the gates of the Fifth Mountain, where the sorceress wields her power. There, Nothing will discover that all magic is a bargain, and she may be more powerful than she ever imagined. But the price the Sorceress demands for Kirin may very well cost Nothing her heart- Goodreads

I enjoyed this book but there was a major red flag for me. This book was presented to me as #ownvoices but from the summary and from reading the book it is very clear that this book is based on a form of Asian culture.  From what I know of the author she is White and living in Japan.  So being called #ownvoices through me off by a lot.

Unless its #ownvoices for LGBTQ aspect of this novel. I am not sure. This is my first novel by this author so if anyone can provide some insight to that it would be great. Now let’s talk about the book.

I really liked it. It is unlike any other fantasy I have read and it is as romantic as it is magical.  It focuses on world building and character development.  Does action scenes happen? Yes, but not as frequent as you would think in a world with magic.  I am chalking it up to writing skills because I was invested in this story-line.

However, there is a lot of back and forth in this novel. Nothing does all of it herself and although it is for good reason, going thirty chapters of her being not sure of anything is a bit much.  Did I put this book down? Yes, actually a few times and because things didn’t just slow down they almost stopped for me. The intensiveness that I felt in the first half of the book dwindled  and the lack of “action” did not help with that either.

But beyond this, I loved the romance displayed in the novel. Nothing grows to discover what love is and what is isn’t and that is comes in different times and forms. And also Nothing is fairly entertaining to read. She is quick on her feet, curious and oddly enough very objective. I liked her.

Overall, I was surprised by this book but in a good way.

3.5 Pickles

 

Book Review | These Vengeful Hearts by Katherine Laurin

Inkyard Press
TBP Sept 8th, 2020
384 Pages

Whenever something scandalous happens at Heller High, the Red Court is the name on everyone’s lips. Its members–the most elite female students in the school–deal out social ruin and favors in equal measure, their true identities a secret known only to their ruthless leader: the Queen of Hearts.

Sixteen-year-old Ember Williams has seen firsthand the damage the Red Court can do. Two years ago, they caused the accident that left her older sister paralyzed. Now, Ember is determined to hold them accountable…by taking the Red Court down from the inside.

But crossing enemy lines will mean crossing moral boundaries, too–ones Ember may never be able to come back from. She always knew taking on the Red Court would come at a price, but will the cost of revenge be more than she’s willing to sacrifice?- Goodreads

There is no way in the world this book should have been this long and ended the way it did. I needed to say that first before anything.

I liked this book. I loved the concept that Ember is going in to take down the woman that destroyed her sister’s life. Its that will they become the evil they hate quest that gets me every time and the fact that it is set in high school makes it a mix of creepy and thrilling at the same. Creepy because it reminds me of politics.

The pace of novel was going really well until about 30% of the book. It was a lot of “I’m going to get the Queen” speeches she was giving herself and it was happening so often it was becoming redundant.

Ember did a lot of complaining and less trying to find information which was another thing that was getting tiring. How you going to do all those “this is what I am fighting for” speeches but then actually don’t do anything. Waiting for information to fall on your lap is boring especially with access to things that Ember had accessed to.

In regards to Ember herself. She was okay. Her focus was the court and protecting her family and that was all she did. Did I like her? My feelings for her are indifferent. She played her role of a teenager out for revenge very well and that was enough for me.

However, this book was too damn long. There was a lot of build up for an ending that was not good. Which is a shame because what I thought was going to happen didn’t. It went real left and I liked that.

But because the author decided to focus on building the tension and the thrill it took a lot a way from the book.

I liked this book but I could have liked it way more.

Overall,

2.5 Pickles

Book Review: Left For Dead (DI Amy Winter #3) by Caroline Mitchell

Thomas & Mercer
Published July 8th, 2020

A victim on display. A detective on the rails.

Shopping with her sister, DI Amy Winter is admiring a Valentine’s Day window display of a perfect bride encrusted in diamonds and resplendent in lace—until she notices blood oozing from the mannequin’s mouth.- Goodreads

This is the third book to the DI Amy Winter series. I did not know this when I requested this arc on Netgalley. With that being said, you need to read at least the previous book. On top of the current murder investigation, a previous issue, that takes up 90% of Amy’s head space, is extremely prominent within this novel.  Although I enjoyed this read, I would have loved it if I read the previous novel. So go do that before reading this review and the book :)

I was sucked into this book fairly quickly. It is told in multiple point of views and it was great. It wasn’t great because Amy wasn’t a good voice to read but it was great because each perspective gave actual insight to the case and everything else that was going on. Yes, you do get the killer’s point of view and its creepy. Like he is a creep but that isn’t what made it creepy.

Beyond this the book is fast paced but it was a hard read for me because I didn’t read the previous books. When I realized this was a third, I expected there to be some reference to the previous books not chapters about them. It took away my interest and it also made the current murder seem so small.

Despite this, I really enjoyed this book. The writing style is captivating. How everything moved together behind everyone’s eye took a lot of talent.  Do I plan on reading the previous novels? Not sure. Since I know how some things end, it might not do me any good.

Overall, would continue this series.

3.5 Pickles 

Book Review: Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera

Bloomsbury YA
TBP Sept. 1st, 2020

Eury comes to the Bronx as a girl haunted. Haunted by losing everything in Hurricane Maria–and by an evil spirit, Ato. She fully expects the tragedy that befell her and her family in Puerto Rico to catch up with her in New York. Yet, for a time, she can almost set this fear aside, because there’s this boy . . .

Pheus is a golden-voiced, bachata-singing charmer, ready to spend the summer on the beach with his friends, serenading his on-again, off-again flame. That changes when he meets Eury. All he wants is to put a smile on her face and fight off her demons. But some dangers are too powerful for even the strongest love, and as the world threatens to tear them apart, Eury and Pheus must fight for each other and their lives.- Goodreads

This is a retelling of the Greek myth Orpheus. If you don’t exactly remember here the quick snapshot is this man goes to the underworld to save the woman he loves and has to walk back above without looking back to her. If he looks back, she stays in the underworld.

I love the spin Rivera puts on this mythology. Pheus is what makes this book. He has so much life and personality. Eury is sad and depressing. She has every right to be as there is a demon trying to take her to the underworld but calling it like it is, Pheus is what brings the life, the color, the interest to this story. He as well as the plot is written very well.

The story is told through both of their point of views, which shows the difference in personality between the two. Other than my love of Pheus what I loved was the rich environment. I’m from New York, Harlem & Long Island specifically and to see the Bronx so clearly, to hear the train as Rivera describes it is freaking amazing. The writing in this book is done extremely well.

There is a low build up in the novel but it is worth it. What I would have liked to see more is the family history of Pheus and Eury. Its mentioned and pretty much brushed over at the end. I would have liked to see more of that family connection and history since he is used as a foundation towards the end of the book.

The imagery in the novel is fantastic. When it starts getting to the climax/the end of the book it is thick and rich. However, I do feel the ending was not as strong as it could have been and a bit rushed but it did give me a satisfied feeling.

The culture displayed in this novel, being Dominican/Black and Puerto Rican could have been/should have been add more beyond the music references. Again, this goes back to family history. Its mentioned but doesn’t play a whole lot of significance until the end of the novel.

Overall, this was a fantastic read. I’m a sucker for mythology and this retelling was done really well.

4 Pickles 

 

Blog Tour | Book Review & Interview | Cherrington Academy by Rebecca J Caffery

As mentioned in the subject this post will contact both a book review and an interview :)

Book Review

SRL Publishing
Published August 25th, 2020
272 Pages

Logan’s the new boy at Cherrington Academy, a boarding school that’s promised to provide him with a safe haven away from homophobic bullies and neglectful parents. He’s left all that 2000 miles away.

What he doesn’t expect Cherrington to provide is; a bunch of friends who want to adopt him, a mysterious roommate who’s never home and a gorgeous guy with a secret crush on him.

His perfect new life begins to unravel when he discovers a web of secrets amongst his friends. Plus his roommate? Partial to blackmail. That gorgeous guy? Well, he’s taken by one of Logan’s now closest friends.

Can Logan shut off his feelings to protect his new friendships and the happiness he’s found at Cherrington Academy? Or is love really just all-consuming?- Goodreads

What can I say about this book other than how great it was. What I enjoyed the most about this book was the characters. They were well written and most importantly they had depth, they added to not just Logan’s (MC) story but to the world building and they had some development.

There is a lot that goes on within the novel, however, it does feel over-complicated nor does it feel as if the author threw in a lot of fluff to keep the book going. Everything connected and made sense (including the blackmail) and I am glad it did because when I read the summary I was a bit concerned about that.

I liked the pace of the novel. For most contemporaries, things tend to be drawn out due to the drama. And although there is drama in the novel, it moves very well. The romance was not bad either. But the characters, all of them, were fantastically written.

Overall,

3.5 Pickles

Quick Five Interview

Firstly, congratulations on your first published novel!

Image Taken via Goodreads

How was the process leading up to this moment? What positives, what difficulties did you face either writing, promoting, or publishing your book?

I think I have genuinely been so lucky with publishing that it has pretty much been an absolute ball of a time for me. I was incredibly blessed to be signed with SRL Publishing who have been the most amazing publishers to work with. They’ve listened to every idea that I’ve had for my story from the actual writing and editing of it, to the front cover and to letting me have a ridiculously long acknowledgements page. In terms of actually writing the story,

I loved it so much. The main difficulties that I faced were during the first stage of writing. I had all the ideas and an outline and character profiles ready to go, but I had no clue where to start.

Turns out the starting of it was definitely the hardest thing for me. I started writing in third person POV and about 45k words in I realised it wasn’t the right fit for my book, but I had no clue how to rectify it or change it. So instead I abandoned the book for around 7-8 months until I had a new plan and realized that I needed to move over to first person POV.

Some of the positives that I’ve faced were the absolute joy in working with my cover designer for Cherrington, Hayley is an angel and I’m always going to be so impressed with it and grateful for her! In terms of writing, damn I enjoyed every bit I can’t lie, I am so crazy that I absolutely just loved writing the book as it was my very first book baby and I just fell in love with the characters and the story.

 It is noted in your bio that it was not until you moved to Canada that you were inspired to write Cherrington Academy. What exactly in that change of environment or in general inspired you?

My study abroad year in Canada in 2017/18 was exactly what I needed, without actually knowing it was what I needed. I was incredibly anxious about moving to another country for a whole year with no family and friends close by, but it was the best thing I ever did. It bought me completely out of my comfort zone which led me to feel like I could pretty much do anything. That included the book that I’d been longing to write forever.

I also thinking living in a North American style dormitory with a roommate and a dining plan and everything else that comes with that environment also really inspired the boarding school element of Cherrington Academy as it helped me to feel like I have a decent experience of living in one.

I was also just surrounded by amazing people that I became incredibly good friends with and still am even though I no longer live there. The whole environment of Canada just inspired me to be creative and really get stuck into writing Cherrington Academy.

How do you separate being a writer and a reader when you are writing your book?

This is such a good question. I feel like I have two answers for it. Sometimes I definitely think that you need to separate yourself from being a reader and a writer, especially during the editing stages as I want to be focused a lot on format, spelling, grammar, whether the story actually makes any sense.

However, when writing the story and especially when planning the story, I really do feel like being a reader and a writer is important.

As I want to be writing a book that is readable, that an audience is going to love and is actually a proper story, so I do feel like being a writer and a reader is necessary during these stages of writing my book.

Where do you see yourself as a writer in the next five years?

In the next five years I would love to have three or four books out. With Cherrington and the sequel Coming Home both coming out within the next year I definitely think that this is a good start towards this goal of at least three, maybe even four books being published.

I would also really like to have my writer website up and running, as I have dramatically failed at getting that going again this year. Another thing I’d really like to be doing more of as a writer, is writing short stories! I wrote my first one this year and submitted it to a competition and although I didn’t win, I had such a ball writing it that I’d love to write some more.

I also wrote a really random poem this year, it was very heartfelt and somewhat emotional, but again I also really loved dabbling in poetry so maybe I’ll even write some more poetry in the next five years.

Finally, what do you want readers to take with them when they finish your book?

I really hope they take my book as a little slice of life into a mid-late teen’s life. When writing this book, I really wanted it to be real and gritty and not a book that just portrayed teens lives to be fun and easy and just all about love being simple. Because it isn’t. I hope that came across; I really did. I wanted to portray LGBT characters in real situations, rather than Cherrington just being a coming out story.

I also wanted to deal with some of the stigma around male mental health and emotions and showing that there is support out there and that you should not be afraid to cry as a man or reach out for therapy.

Twitter Goodreads

Book Review: Secret Crush Seduction by Jayci Lee

Harlequin Desire
TBP Sept. 8th, 2020
224 Pages

Aspiring fashion designer Adelaide Song wants to prove she’s more than just a pampered heiress. All she needs is a little courage—and the help of deliciously sexy Michael Reynolds, her childhood crush and her brother’s best friend.

But when her secret crush turns into an illicit liaison, Adelaide realizes mixing business with pleasure spells trouble for all her plans…- Goodreads

This is my first book by Jayci Lee and it will not be the last. What I love about this book is how straight forward the romance is. Even when “the drama” comes into the story the romance between childhood friends is true and consistent. It takes bit but both of them know what they want. The problem is should they and it isn’t because of the brother’s best friend aspect; it is way much more than that.

Beyond the fact that the romance was straight forward, what I liked about this book was Adelaide and Michael actually working. Although Adelaide did act like a child at times, she knew her stuff and made sure she showed out. I loved the fact that both of them made sure their job would get done before they did their good. Don’t get me wrong they may have tried some stuff while on the clock but they kept it professional when it was down to it.  I liked seeing them work.

The pace of the novel wasn’t bad. It was a semi slow build up. When things began to heat up, the pace of the novel didn’t change and the tone remained the same. That sense of urgency and tension was fading about half way through the novel.

I would have liked to see more of a relationship with her Grandmother or at least more of a background of it. This could have been in the first book but as this book focused on Adelaide, I would have liked to see them more together as opposed to it popping up when the author needed a distraction.

Overall, this was a nice read and some steamy scenes.

3 Pickles

Book Review: The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
TBP Sept 1. 2020

Los Angeles, 1992

Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of senior year and they’re spending more time at the beach than in the classroom. They can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer.

Everything changes one afternoon in April, when four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids.

As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model black family façade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow black kid, LaShawn Johnson.

With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?- Goodreads

TW: Suicide, Violence

This book packs a punch. There are so many different layers in this book that I would love to see it part of a book club or a school curriculum., dissected and discussed.

The first part that stood out to me is the fact that I never see stories from a wealthy Black perspective. Ashley is basically looking from the outside in. Between only having white friends, her sister fighting the power (and probably experiencing mental health issues), her parents fighting her sister, the beating of Rodney King as well as her own experiences with police brutality AND racism, it was an experience to read the point of view of someone who wasn’t directly involved; from someone who isn’t poor and from someone whose family did everything in their power to be able to say “we’re not like them.”

Reading from this perspective was the best part of reading this book.

Ashley is an interesting character, who has her life planned out on the surface but is needing change. I wouldn’t say that the Rodney King beating is what caused the change but it accelerated it. Think of it as reading a novel that gets you captivated by a battle but that really isn’t the purpose of the novel. The Rodney King beating was the backdrop as well as the LA Riots, the killing of Latasha Harlins,  the Tulsa Massacre and other points . All of these were important because they shaped Ashley’s changing view of the world but if you are looking for Ashley to become an activist, this isn’t for you.

There were things about Ashley that I didn’t like. Things that she allowed to fit in/stay under the radar but everyone has to learn right?

The pace of the novel was slow but it was worth it. The tone was somber even when things started to look up a bit, it doesn’t exactly change. This could be due to the fact that the environment didn’t change . . . it just got quiet (sounds familiar?).

Overall, I enjoyed this book. As I mentioned in the beginning, this should be in a book club or part of a school curriculum.

3.5 Pickles

Book Review: The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar

Penguin
Published July 9th, 2020
288 Pages

Aleja whiles away her days in her family’s dusty tavern in Seville, dreaming of distant lands and believing in the kind of magic that she’s only ever read about in books. After all, she’s always being told that girls can’t be explorers.

But her life is changed forever when adventure comes for her in the form of a fabled vessel called the Ship of Shadows. Crewed by a band of ruthless women, with cabin walls dripping with secrets, the ship has sailed right out of a legend. And it wants Aleja.

Once on board its shadowy deck, she begins to realize that the sea holds more secrets than she ever could have imagined. The crew are desperately seeking something, and their path will take them through treacherous waters and force them to confront nightmare creatures and pitch-dark magic. It will take all of Aleja’s strength and courage to gain the trust of her fellow pirates – and discover what they are risking everything to find.- Goodreads

What a wildly creative book.  I love the fact that this book isn’t about a girl wanting to leave her currently life or being forced to leave her current life due to trauma. She wants adventure and unexpectedly gets a ticket to be part of an adventure.

The first half of the book not a whole lot happens. The author takes the time to build up the characters, the allure of the ship and legend that Aleja was reading right before she unknowingly embarked on the journey.  This slow build up is worth it because once things get going you sucked back into the world.

However, there were things that I was logging for within this novel. This is about a band of pirates. Although they considered themselves a bit of Robin Hood, there wasn’t a lot of pirate stuff going on. They were a crew looking for something that was rightfully the Captains’. When I say that I wanted more pirate stuff, I don’t mean a bunch of backstabbing. What I mean is more looting and fighting.

Also I would have loved more details on the the legend. The author does a good job adding information to fuel the legend but not enough about it. It was a little vague and brushed over. I would also like to point out there is a Mummy reference and at that point I knew what I would rate this book.

Overall, I really liked this book and looking forward to the next one.

4 Pickles