#BookReview Hart & Soul #1: Kill The Story by Jahnna N. Malcolm

Oh man! I got so excited when I hit the jackpot and found a lot of books from my childhood at a local book sale. I found the first four books in this series and scooped them up instantly. I remember always wanting to read these from the library but I always maxed out the number of books I could have out. I never actually ended up reading this series even though my heart was set on them. So, fast forward many, many years and I finally get to experience the books that all of the ‘popular’ kids were reading.

This book was so pleasant and clearly written back in the eighties and nineties. AND I LOVED IT. It’s so nostalgic for me, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much.

Amanda Hart is a writer (and the editor-in-chief for her school’s newspaper). She is going to release a series of stories about the sororities present in her city and someone is NOT happy. They are going after her with vicious notes and threats. When Amanda and her team call upon a courier service, along comes Mick Soul with his handy dandy bicycle. He gets attacked when trying to deliver a copy of their story, and suddenly Hart and Soul wind up working on the mystery together. Mick enrolls in her high school to help figure out who is threatening her… because what else is a bicycle courier supposed to do in his spare time? School? Pfft, no!

It’s a “will they, won’t they” sort of duo – like Bones and Booth, Ross and Rachel, Jane and Rafael, etc. Hart and Mick have so much chemistry for a middle grade (almost YA) novel that it’s unbelievable. Seriously, I just need to finish the series to know if they end up together because they are super flirty in this book!

There’s a good cast of characters filling up the typical high school tropes: Jason the nerd who wants his story in the paper, Pepper the best friend, Josh the tech geek, Whitney the mean girl, and so on.

My one big flaw is as followed: you can kind of figure out what’s going to happen by the end but it’s not really hinted at. I love when mystery books leave you little hints here and there, but there’s not much until the end. I had a pretty good inkling of what would happen based off reading way to many mystery books and watching too many mystery shows, but I wanted to work my way through this mystery with Hart and Soul. It doesn’t ruin the story by any means, but I’m a picky reader like that.

Side note, this is my FAVOURITE line in the whole book:
“What a slime!”

Seriously, that’s a Briar insult from my childhood. Score +1 for that gem!

Overall, this book is cute and fun! I love a good throw back and I’m so glad I found this book. I will 100% be continuing this series, especially since I have the next three books on my shelf. Hopefully I managed to score the rest of the series! This book is an absolute delight and I 100% recommend it either for middle grader/YA readers or some of you as old as me who want a childhood nostalgia trip.

Three out of five stars!

You can find this book on:
Amazon.ca
Barnes & Noble

If you love middle grade novels, check out some other fantastic books featured on my blog:
#BookReview Unlimited by Kevin Miller
#BookReview Peter Green and the Unliving Academy by Angelina Allsop
#BookReview Monster Blood (Goosebumps) by R.L. Stine

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#BookReview Fallen: Princeborn Stolen by Jean Lee

Fallen Princeborn: Stolen by Jean Lee is a fabulous, fantastical, young adult novel that will keep you captivated!

This folklore tale follows a young girl trying her best to escape from a horrible situation. Suddenly, she is thrust into a fantasy world of epic proportions! All this girl wants is for her and her sister to be safe, but nothing is as it seems…

If you like world building, this story is for you. It’s full of lush lore and descriptions that will whisk you away into another universe. I was so intrigued by all that was going on, I could hardly believe I binged the whole book. This book is magical, whimsical and wild! The action and thrills just kept going and I barely had a minute to breathe (just how I like it!). On top of that, the characters are great! I felt like they were (almost) real! They had personalities, they grew throughout the story and had feelings and emotions. It was a well balanced story!

I like that Jean Lee finished this story up but left room for the sequel. Nothing kills me like a mighty cliffhanger! There’s still much to learn, but I didn’t feel like I was left disappointed.

I also feel like this book easily crosses the lines across YA, New Adult and Adult. While it does feature teenage characters, I think New Adult and Adult fiction fans will easily enjoy this book. With so much going on, it’s hard to place it in just one category.

If you haven’t picked up this book, I recommend it! It gave me great vibes and it was truly addicting.

Four out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book from the author, Jean Lee, in exchange of an honest review.

 

Check out this book on:
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Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
B&N

Find out more about Jean Lee on:
Goodreads – Author Page
https://jeanleesworld.com/

If you enjoy YA or fantasy, check out these other books you’ll love:
#BookReview Valyo Rising by R.A. Mendsen
#BookReview My Soul to Give by Magali A. Fréchette
#BookReview Boston Metaphysical Society by Madeleine Holly-Rosing

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#BookReview Encyclopedia of Insects by Jules Howard

I LOVE learning, so seeing this encyclopedia perked me right up! Sure, insects can be creepy and crawly, but I was down for learning some new stuff about everyone’s “favourite” creatures! And I wasn’t disappointed!

Do keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive collection of bugs, but it is an excellent start for eager minds!!

The pictures in this book are absolute awesome! I really enjoyed the damselfly picture that stared into my soul (hoenstly, it was creepy to stare at my but the art is AMAZE-BALLS).

Here are select things I learned:
1. There’s complete and incomplete metamorphosis? Wait… what? Why did my biology classes skip that information? THAT IS SO COOL.

2. Dragonflies are actually predators, and Damselflies are a thing. Who knew?

3. The Walking Flower Mantis looks super cool and pretty. I even googled them because I didn’t believe they were actually pink. They are gorgeous!! They look like flowers!

4. Toe Biters, Hummingbird Hawkmoth & Slave-Making Ants. That is all.

Things I would like to avoid:
1. Swams of locusts. Kthanxbai.

2. EARWIGS HAVE WINGS. REPEAT: EARWIGS HAVE WINGS. They are way grosser now. Yuck. They can chase me when I run away!

Overall, this book is totally, super amazing! I would absolutely recommend this to young and old readers alike! You’ll learn a whole bunch. I could totally see this book being used for school projects or for nerdy little kids like me (back in the day, of course) who just wanted to soak up knowledge like a sponge. I will definitely be using some of these facts for my useless trivia I spout out at people on a regular basis.

Five out of five stars!

Thank you to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing for giving me an opportunity to read this book!

Check out this marvelous book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Indigo

You can find out more about Jules Howard by clicking the links below:
Goodreads
Twitter @juleslhoward
http://www.juleshoward.co.uk/

Here’s some other non-fiction-y reviews featured on my blog to fill up your TBR shelf:
#BookReview Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
Book Review: Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation by Kyo Maclear

 

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#BookReview Between Sisters by Cathy Kelly

Between Sisters by Cathy Kelly was a beautiful contemporary drama.

This novel follows a family through their treasures and troubles. Cassie and Coco are sisters whose Mother left them when Coco was only one and Cassie was eight. That memory hurts and shapes them as adults, leading to a lot of the conflict in this novel. Pearl is their grandmother, who took care of the girls with the help of their Father, when their Mother left.

As adults, Cassie is married and is a strong, working woman. She has two beautiful daughters, Beth and Lily, and seems to have it all: a nice house, a loving husband, two beautiful girls, a lovely sister and a helpful grandmother. Alas, that is not true. Cassie enjoys the drink when life gets tough, and life has been very tough lately. Shay, her husband, seems to be more interested in his Mother than Cassie. Even when Cassie brings it up, Shay doesn’t seem to realize that he doesn’t spend anytime with his wife or kids anymore.

Coco is thirty, flirty and thriving… or so we think. She owns her own vintage clothing store (life goals, much?) and has an awesome bestie named Jo, and is close to Jo’s daughter. A few years back, Coco broke up with her fiancee Red when she thought he was cheating on her. Ever since, she’s had some dates but hasn’t settled won. But, Red has been seen around town… is she over him? And what will she do when tragedy strikes close in her life?

I absolutely LOVED Cassie and Coco. Their story lines kept my hooked to this book like there was no tomorrow. I couldn’t help but binge their stories because I needed to know how they turned out. I felt these girls were very relatable (either hurt or thriving in the loss of a parent) and dealt with realistic scenarios in realistic ways. I did find their intertwined stories very sad (and I kind of want to know how a couple of them played out) but in the end I think it had a good message and moral. We can either grow, do nothing, or let the hurt define us.

The ending itself is very beautiful and I’m glad a certain plot line was able to close. There are some open ended questions left with us, but the ending itself felt… good. It felt nice and made my heart sing and soar! It’s the happy ending I won’t get, so it makes me feel very good inside.

I didn’t enjoy every plot line as much, but not because they were bad. Pearl and Pheobe’s stories didn’t intrigue me as much, but it’s because I just didn’t relate as much to them. They were still beautifully written and a marvelous addition to the book though! Don’t be scared off because I don’t relate to an older grandmother! I also really did not like Shay. Man, was he dumb… He loves that his wife is blunt and to the point, but doesn’t like it when he’s called out on his bullcrap.

If I had a negative for this book, it would be that some chapters moved at a really fast pace while others were slow. Since there was enough fast to out-weight the slow, it didn’t bother me as much. I can see some people not enjoying it though.

My biggest positive is that all storylines eventually intertwine. I love books like that! When you start the book, some of the people seem like they don’t belong… until they do. Cathy does this seamlessly and makes it super impressive! That’s one of the reasons I can rate this book so high. Not only does Cathy have excellent style in her writing, but she can also make it work!

Overall, I am so happy I read this book! It gave me a few too many tears for my own personal liking, but it’s still a gem hidden among my shelves.

Four out of five stars!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

 

Check out this book on:
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Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo
Indigo

 

If you enjoyed this book (or review!) here’s some others you might enjoy:
#BookReview A Long, Hot Summer by Kathleen MacMahon
#BookReview Driving on the Left by Gail Ward Olmsted
#BookReview Literature® by Guillermo Stitch

 

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#BookReview Ten Seconds by Lucian Lupescu

Ten Seconds by Lucian Lupescu is a delightful little pack of flash fiction to fulfill your TBR shelf.

I needed something soft yet brilliant to read, and this just fit the bill. I didn’t want tons of commitment, I didn’t want something that would make my brain hurt or make me anxious with the world going into apocalypse mode. Lucky for me, Lucian Lupescu crafted a lovely collection of flash fiction that took my brain off of all the insanity going on in the world right now. Thank you, seriously.

Each story follows a slice of life, as you will. Onset tackles birth, Bad Strategy holds fury and anger, Big Brother the pain of loss, and more. They are all a little bit different, but all simple enough to read and very engaging. I found each one to have their own little ‘umph’ that had me continue with these stories. It helps they aren’t very long either, which makes it so simple to binge another one.

I would definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for something short and sweet yet also poetic and well written. I even went through this little collection twice because I enjoyed it so much, which is honestly a rare feat for me. If you haven’t grabbed it yet, take a little peek and enjoy the ride! It’s well worth it!

Four out of five stars!

Thank you to Lucian Lupescu for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

 

Why not check the book out by clicking one of the links below?:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

Find Lucian Lupescu at:
Goodreads
http://lltranslator.com/
Twitter @lucianlupescu

 

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#BookReview Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi by Eugenia Chu

Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi (餃子) is a beautiful little story that should be read across the nation!

Jiǎo zi is a dumpling, in case you didn’t know (because I didn’t until the book told me!). Brandon loves dumplings – make them and eat them (mostly eat, obviously). One day, Brandon’s Grandma from China comes to visit and everything becomes super, duper exciting! Mistakes occur along the way, but everything is made to be fun!

Epic positives:
1. The description and quick lesson about Pinyin was super cool! I don’t know much about Chinese characters and Asian languages, so the little lesson was very much appreciated! I’ve always been curious how translations can work, so this totally spiked my interest. I can totally see families bonding over the language barriers, especially if they are learning a new language!

2. This book is really positive. It not only is educational but shows that Brandon could make mistakes and it was able to be fun and not a negative experience. I can totally appreciate that! Kids make mistakes in the kitchen all the time and they should be embraced, not ridiculed!

3. The glossary! I normally am not a super big fan of them, but I liked seeing all of the words used so I could do a little learning myself.

The pictures are also hand drawn and it’s obvious. I think it’s sweet and gives a very homey feel, but this may be a negative for some readers. So – readers beware!

Overall, this is definitely one of my top children’s reads this year! It’s short and sweet, but packed full of adorableness!

Five out of five stars!

 

Check out this book on:
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Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Indigo
Barnes & Noble

Check out the read-through for this book:
YouTube

You can find out more about the author, Eugenia Chu, by clicking the links below:
Goodreads Author Page – Eugenia Chu
http://eugeniachu.com/
Twitter – @chuauthor

 

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#BookReview Incredible Cacao (Miss Tree Tale’s #2) by Deepa Remesh

To misquote the first sentence in this book, it was a beautiful book!

Miss Tree Tales is a wonderful little series all about educating the people about the environment! Last time around we learned about coconuts and sustainability and this time we get to learn about cacao (mmmm…chocolate… cue the Homer Simpson reference).

Our heroes, Mia and Nik, are back yet again to teach the youngings about all the good things that keep this planet spinning! For one, they teach us about the Millenium Seed Bank (which I had NO idea existed, so bonus points to Deepa for teaching me something new!). Then, the duo want to plant some seeds so their Mom recommends finding a new place to plant them (because we don’t want to run out of nitrogen – let that soil sit and ferment a bit!). Suddenly, they are whisked away on an adventure to learn about Cacao trees, seeds and pods! Cherry spitting, soccer, plantains, fermentation, baking, cacao percentages in chocolate and more get discussed in this lovely educational follow-up. There’s more adventure and fun throughout this novel, as if Deepa wanted to amp this book up!

Side Note: How does one join Miss Tree’s Plant Savers Club? I feel like I need honorary membership or something.

Yet again, the illustrations perfectly match the story and are quite sweet. They add just enough spice and sass to the story. The scrabble pieces were definitely my favourite.

I was a little disappointed that the chapters didn’t have the extra educational information, but I guess all good things have to come to an end. I know some reviewers didn’t enjoy them as much as I did, but I would have loved to see more of them! It felt like a little lesson packed tight into the book. There is a Seeds for Thought section at the back thought, which kind of makes up for the loss.

Overall, these books hold up really well and are great educational tools! I would love to see more Miss Tree Tales come out ASAP and for more classrooms to utilize these tools.

Four out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book from the author, Deepa Remesh, in exchange for an honest review.

You can find out more about this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

Check out the first book in this series:
Mighty Coconuts (Miss Tree Tales #1) by Deepa Remesh
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

Find more information about Miss Tree Tales:
http://www.misstreetales.com/
Goodreads
Twitter – @misstreetales

If you love this series (or even the review) here’s some other books that might grab your attention:
#BookReview Yara’s Tawari Tree by Yossi Lapid
#BookReview Unlimited by Kevin Miller
#BookReview 100 Tiny Tales by K. Kris Loomis

 

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#BookReview Marie Curie and the Power of Persistence

Who doesn’t love a book about a strong female character? Especially a girl like me who grew up needing some strong female influences!

Marie Curie and the Power of Persistence is a wonderful, little book that is a must read for children.

To begin with, there is a super, evil villain who has decided the best way to ruin the world is to stop the spread of knowledge! This monster is big, mean and scary and seems to be content with his super devious plan. In walks Marie Curie, a woman who will turn into a superhero scientist through her amazing intelligence and experiments! Our evil villain wants Marie Curie stopped before she can get too smart and stop his wicked plans. Along the way, we will learn how Marie Curie is full of persistence in many different ways!

This little book is a wonderful mix of fiction and non-fiction. There’s lots of learning opportunities about this super scientist scattered among the pages. Definitions, facts and timelines about Marie Curie and information about the things she studied and created are all available to see. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good STEM book for their kids, especially since it’s about Marie Curie. She was a legend!

Also: references… in a children’s book… I LOVE IT.

On a side note, I thought the pictures were lovely and very unique. I haven’t seen this style a lot in children’s books, so I was impressed. It was colourful, fun and had lots of awesome details.

I am so thankful for this book. It is absolutely amazing and I wish I would have had books like this in my youth. Hopefully many kids are able to pick this book up or many educators get their hands on it! Seriously, we need more books like this – educational and fun!

Five out of five stars!

Thank you NetGalley and Sourcebooks Explore for giving me the opportunity to read this amazing book!

 

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Indigo

 

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#BookReview Cress by Marissa Meyer

W-O-W-Z-A.

I love fairy tales and their adaptions, but Marissa Meyer takes this to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL. I haven’t been this glued to a series in a very long time (almost a decade… back when I was in high school). It’s seriously amazing that Marissa can pull my attention so well. Seriously, I just ordered the last book of this series. I have read almost an entire series in a few months, which is super rare for me as a reader. And, I have to say, this series pulled me out of my reading slump. It made me fall in love with reading again, so it’ll have a special place in my heart.

Onto the review:

I did not enjoy this book as much as the first two, but it was still mind-blowing. The first half of the book did not pull my attention as much as I wanted it to, but I still love our little Crescent Moon… I mean, Cress. I even had to laugh because Cress and her lover boy gave me serious Tangled vibes. I’m not sure if that was intentional or not, but I dig the giggles!

This book moves faster than the last two. There’s twists and turns in almost every chapter and kept me thoroughly hooked. It was disappointing when I had to put the book down because I knew something else was going to happen.

I also really enjoyed this book address Cress and her instant love for her rescuer. It felt like a parody as it was also participating fully in the narrative. At times, I felt like it was insta-love but then it’d go and make fun of it. By the end, Cress isn’t fully in love with Captain Thorne so it did actually pay off. I’m rather impressed with how this YA tackled that trope. Seriously, Marissa got some real respect from me.

And then, the ending. This book leaves on a bit of a cliffhanger (which I hate, by the way), but it did it in a very good way. The book had giggles but it also had absolute terror – murder, genocide and the likes. It seems weird to put that in a review about a fairy tale adaption, but it’s true. There were some really bad scenes in this book to show how cruel Levana is. With one book left, Winter is going to have some seriously work to do (but we all know Marissa is a genius, so she’ll be just fine).

To top it off, this book had some seriously amazing one liners thrown in. Kai talking about his wedding vows was killing me – remove love, respect and joy – like, Marissa, you’re killing it!

The most frustrating parts of these books for me is the last section of the books either “extra content”. I always think I’m getting 400-500 pages full of Lunar plot, but it seems like half the book is reader questions and Q&As with authors. It makes me feel a little cheated, but it obviously doesn’t affect the story at all. It’s just a pet peeve of mine.

In the end, this book was another epic-ly fun read for me. I enjoyed every second of this book (even if it didn’t live up to my super high standards). I absolutely will be reading Winter (it’s being shipped as I type this!) and I can’t wait to see what else Marissa does in her writing career. Books like these make my heart sing – they make my love of reading SO much stronger. But, she does raise my standards a lot higher for other authors…

P.S. Thorne gives me Han Solo vibes and we all know I love Star Wars. ❤

Five out of five crescent moons!

 

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Indigo
Kobo

Check out my reviews of the last two books in this series:
#BookReview Cinder by Marissa Meyer
#BookReview Scarlett by Marissa Meyer

And if you enjoy YA fantasy and romance, check out some of these that are also featured on my blog:
#BookReview Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
#BookReview Virals by Kathy Reichs & Brendan Reichs
#BookReview Peter Green and the Unliving Academy by Angelina Allsop

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#BookReview Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead

Hot diggity dang, I love this book!

Richelle Mead was one of my many high school guilty pleasures. I’d sneak off to read Vampire Academy over and over without a second thought. I always knew I wanted to read this series but it either continually slipped my mind or my local bookstores would sell out (and online bookstores wouldn’t have it available). So, I finally caved and remembered this book existed when I found book #4 at a local charity book sale. I bought this book full price (which is SUPER rare for me, I’m a deal hunter) and I do not regret it in the least! Especially since I am already hooked on this series. AND, I just ordered the second book FULL PRICE. Yes, ladies & gentlemen, I love this series so much already I’m buying the books FULL PRICE.

So, off to the review races:

Georgina Kincaid is a succubus. You know, the types of mythical creatures that lure men in with sex and intrigue. She’s sassy, a total book nerd and is totally the type of character I want to read about. She does have her flaws, her food source is energy from humans, but who doesn’t?

So, we meet Ms. Kincaid as she works at her local bookstore and learn that she is TOTALLY OBSESSED with Seth Mortensen (an author of her favourite book series that kind of sounds like Bones but sexier). One day, a man comes into the bookstore and she begins to rave about how she would totally be Seth’s book slave. And, wouldn’t you know it, SHE SAID IT TO SETH.

My gosh, I already was giggling because I totally saw it coming BUT IT WAS STILL FUNNY.

To keep moving along the plot: There is also many other immortal creatures hanging around – vampires, angels, demons, etc. Some of these are her friends, some are her bosses and some are just strangers on the street. Humans don’t know about them though, so SHHHH. Everyone seems to live in perfect harmony…. you know, until they don’t. Suddenly immortal creatures are dying and Georgina is pulled into the turmoil of figuring out who, what, why, when and how.

Meanwhile, Georgina is kinda into Seth but a hot guy Roman also comes into her life and chases her around the city. She eventually gives in, because he’s hot, and they dance (literally and sexually).

This book is absolutely marvelous for me as a reader. I totally dig Richelle’s writing style and tone, her books move at a relatively fast pace, and they are funny AND romantic AND sexy. This style might not be for everyone, but it is totally for me!

I could see some of the plot twists from a mile away, but I didn’t come to this book for some Dan Brown style mystery. I came for the love triangle, the sassiness and the fantasy. It felt like Vampire Academy but 18+, meaning more sex, more adult-like themes but all the drama and intrigue the YA universe gave me.

Is there negatives? Absolutely!
Georgina made some poor drinking decisions, couldn’t see some of the bad guys (even though it was painfully obvious) and has a bit of a ‘poor me’ complex. It’s been centuries since you’ve been in love darling, get over the mistakes you made and LIVE.

Other notes: for Georgina being a succubus who has sex with lots of men, this book is not the erotica you might think it’d be. It seriously felt like a good mix of New Adult and Adult romance novels. It’s more romantic comedy with fantasy than erotica.

Overall, I love this book. It was a fun ride that let me enjoy it. As long as you don’t take this book seriously, you’ll enjoy the ride to. I’d highly recommend it to any Richelle Mead fans (especially Vampire Academy fans).

Five out of five stars!

 

Check out this book on:
Amazon.ca
Goodreads
Kobo
Indigo

Love fantasy? Here’s some other books you might like to!
#BookReview Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey
#BookReview Scarlett by Marissa Meyer
#BookReview Avalon Hall by Ruth Miranda

 

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