#BookReview Blood Ties by Mari Mancusi

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Here’s a quick book review for one of my fave authors: Mari Mancusi!!!

Another round of Mari Mancusi’s Blood Coven Vampires?! Yes please!

I adore Sunny and Magnus, and lucky for us these two are back together! They are one of my top YA couples and we’re SO lucky to get another book with these two characters interacting!

The drama in this book is intense – a love triangle between Sunny, Magnus and Jayden is clearly occurring. But, as we all know, Sunny is meant for Magnus and they adore each other to no end. The excitement that ensues includes fighting, kisses, biting (vampire alert!), misunderstandings and teenage romance and drama!

I loved this book! It’s fast paced, has fun teenage angst and lots of ooey gooey romance with my faves Sunny and Magnus!

This is a YA book, so don’t go expecting adult drama and storylines. Mari does a great job making this series fun and exciting in the realms of the unbelievable. I highly recommend this series if you haven’t read it! It’s one of the best, fun YA novels out there is you want something lighthearted yet addicting! It’s one of my go to series for when I have a bad day (because it’s rarely depressing).

Five out of five stars!

 

Check out Mari Mancusi on her website: http://www.marimancusi.com/

And give us both a shout out on twitter! @MariMancusi & @ReviewAlholic

If you enjoyed this review, check out another you might enjoy: #BookReview Once Upon a Vampire by Mari Mancusi

Leave a comment below – what is your favourite YA novel? Give us some awesome recommendations to include on this blog and on our shelves!

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#BookReview Down in the Belly of the Whale by Kelley Kay Bowles

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Today is October 10th – World Mental Health Day! To celebrate and make people aware, check out my review of a book that focuses on mental health awareness (and general health awareness too!).

 

 

Down in the Belly of the Whale by Kelley Kay Bowles is a witty and ingenious Young Adult novel that addresses a multitude of tough subject matter in an eye-opening manner.

I don’t know how Kelley does it, but she always manages to impress me. This time around, Kelley has a Young Adult novel that addresses so many tough subjects in one go! Topics such as self harm, child abuse, Multiple Sclerosis, loss of innocence, suicide and not so supportive parents are just some of the many that are tackled in this book. Each “issue” is brought into the story seamlessly and has plot lines throughout the narrative to deal with the issues. Most Young Adult books stay away from the tough yet so very real topics like these, so I have to applaud Kelley for taking the big leap in her story!

My teenage self would have loved a book like this, and I could have learned a lot in the process. On top of the subject matter, the book is written in the voice of a teenager (and it feels oh so real!). Just some of the quotes, such as “I’m going to wear a stunning pair of very expensive jeans that hug my curves like a two-year old with separation anxiety” make this book hilarious! This sitcom-like book creates a fantastic balance between realism and dark topics alongside the silly and goofy one-liners to make the book less depressing.

I did like the character development in this story – both Cora and Harper grow throughout. The change in their attitudes and view points was very obvious as the book went on! I think Kelley did a great job making these characters feel real and like teenagers. Bravo!!

The fantastical side of Harper being able to “sense” when someone is sick, and she’s able to sense mental illness is a big step forward. Mental illness is not always seen as someone being “sick”, rather it’s just an issue to be dealt with. Having a book directed towards teenagers have this point of view makes me very happy and very proud of Kelley’s writing.

Now for the tough part – the negatives. Were there negatives in this book for me? Yes. I felt the ending was rushed, which made some of the pieces being tied together feel less real. Is it necessarily a bad thing? No. It was just something that stuck out to me. Kelley ties up some of the loose ends nicely, but I would have loved a few more pages dedicated to these storylines. Other than that, this book felt flawless.

Would I recommend this book? Heck yes! This book was a fantastic Young Adult novel that I actually got into! I didn’t want to put it down, and I didn’t. I easily binged this book in one sitting, but it could easily be read in bits and pieces. If you like Young Adult novels, books that tackle dark subject matter (in a light-hearted way) or a splash of comedy, then you will love this book! I’d even recommend this to many adult readers, because of it’s amazing way of tackling the rough subjects.

There is a bit of an asterisk on the recommendation side – this book could be a major trigger for some people. Keep that in mind if you plan to pick up this book! The darker sides of this novel may not be suitable for all ages and maturity levels!

Five out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this book from the author Kelley Kaye Bowles in exchange for an honest review.

 

Find this book on:

Goodreads

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com

 

Find out more about Kelley Kaye Bowles on:

Goodreads – Kelley Kaye Bowles

http://www.kelleykaybowles.com/

Twitter – @kelkay1202

 

If you read this review, give me a shout out on Twitter to let me know you read it! @ReviewAlholic

 

And if you enjoyed this review, why not check out another you might enjoy? #BookReview The Sinking of Bethany Ann Crane by K. Kris Loomis

#BookReview Gold Shadow by L.C. Perry

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Gold Shadow is an enchanting story full of contrasts.

If I had to use metaphors to explain this book, I would use contrasting words – light and dark, the sun and the moon, soft and tough, etc. This story follows Ebony, a rough-around-the-edges type of girl who is apart of the rebellion, and Princess Irene, an innocent princess. While Ebony has seen the darkness in the world and is matured beyond her years with a tough exterior, Irene is quite the opposite! She is a foolish princess who doesn’t understand how the world works because she’s been ‘locked in her tower’ (in a sense).

Ebony’s story is more centered around dystopia and rebellion (it reminded me of Divergent and The Hunger Games, for references) and Irene’s a was a royal fantasy (think The Selection). I liked having the two separate stories within this world, but sometimes I got confused on who I was following. Most chapters said the lead character’s name in it, but some took pages for me to be able to tell who was being followed. My only request would have been for the chapters to have titles or names to make sure I didn’t get lost or confused when I pulled myself away from the book.

This book has serious potential to be the next big YA novel. It touches on many topics that most YA readers like – dystopia, destiny, romance, fantasy. It also has a diverse cast of characters that draw you in and make you feel for them. Irene was my favourite, but Ebony, Gavin and Aurora also stood out. There is also some massive world building within the book, since L.C. Perry is clearly setting up an epic series for these characters to partake in.

If I was to have any major cons about this book, it’s that it took me a while to really sink my teeth into it. This is because of the world building with L.C. setting the scene for the reader. This shouldn’t be much of a problem when the series continues, so it’s only a ‘minor’ con in relation to the whole series. I also found there were many characters to follow, so when I pulled myself away from the book and threw myself back in, I couldn’t fully remember all of them (similar to my Game of Thrones problems – so many characters, so many back stories – it can get tough!). That being said, I’d recommend binging this book. I read it in bits and pieces, and I found it really hard to remember some of the lesser viewed characters.

The book is a little bit dark at times – there are swear words, there is beating and humiliation and torture – but it is a dystopia. If you keep that in mind and you aren’t a soft at heart reader, then you’ll easily be able to enjoy this novel.

L.C. Perry’s writing style is very easy to fall into and read. She’s great with descriptions and character development. I haven’t dipped my toes into YA for a while, so it was a bit of an adjustment for me, but the book was absolutely fantastic! I’d highly recommend this book if you love YA and fantasy (with a pinch of dystopia).

Finally – the ending. If you like books with cliffhangers, this one is for you! This book is definitely meant to be read in a series and not as a standalone. The ending closes enough to make you feel settled to wait for the next novel, but not enough to leave the book alone and be happy with the ending. There’s truly no finale for these characters (yet).

Overall, this book was fun! It’s a nice, YA dystopia that will be a great addition to your shelf!

Three out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book from the author L.C. Perry in exchange for an honest review.

 

Check out this book on:

Goodreads – Gold Shadow – Goodreads

Amazon.com – Gold Shadow – Amazon.com

Amazon.ca – Gold Shadow – Amazon.ca

Check out L.C. Perry on:

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/L.C.-Perry/e/B01H4Z1N0Y/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/LPanimefreak5

 

If you read this review, give me a shout out on Twitter using the hashtag #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

And comment below – what is your fave YA novel?

#BookReview My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

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My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh is a haunting yet beautiful tale about a tragic childhood.

This book has blown me away with how thought provoking it is! M.O. Walsh’s beautiful writing style tells the tale of fifteen year old Lindy (in our narrator’s point of view) and the horrors that occur in their neighborhood. Add in the setting of Baton Rouge, Louisiana in the late 80s and you’ve got yourself the perfect coming of age story addressing some really tough issues that we are still seeing today.

This is another book that I wish would have been around in my high school years. I think this would have been perfect reading material that addresses the growth and change of a child to an adult, and the big issues in society that are still happening. M.O. Walsh made the story light hearted and fun (at times) in a setting that could have been extremely brutal.

As the book moves forward, the effects on the town and Lindy slowly unravel and the mystery of it all falls into place. The ghosts of everyone’s past comes to a nice close at the end of the book, so don’t worry about cliffhangers! The last few pages of the book are the perfect summary, better than anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s a real shame I don’t see this book (or eventually more) by M.O. Walsh on bookshelves at my local bookstore. This book is top tier writing!

My Sunshine Away had effects on me similar to 1984, To Kill a MockingBird and Shakespeare’s best works. The book tells a story and a narrative, but has grande themes that can be picked apart. On top of that, the book feels nostalgic of what most adults had in their childhood (I can relate to talking on the phone when your parents answer it and hold it for you). The surprise of a safe neighborhood not really being all that safe. Also seeing some of the non-fictitious aspects of our world (like the Challenger and Jeffrey Dahmer) really made this book feel real.

The characters also felt like people I would have known in my childhood – nerdy kids, the “weirdos”, that one girl everyone loves – they all were relatable. Seeing them change and how they ended up in adulthood was also a nice touch that helped close the story.

When I read this book, I thought it was a very soft adult novel – but apparently it’s a Young Adult novel! It’s a really nice read that Young Adults could handle. It has some tough themes, but nothing graphic. I’m actually even happier that this book should be on a Young Adult shelf, so those readers can get the impact of this story in their environment.

Overall, this book is an emotional, yet melancholic ride that will pull at your heartstrings and play with your emotions. It’s so well developed, it’s hard to believe that this is a debut novel! It feels like an expert in his craft wrote it! I highly recommend this book, and it’s a definite must read! I’m sad I didn’t pick this book up years ago! What a truly fantastic novel!

PS – What a stunning cover! This cover calls out to me, even though it’s so simple yet so elegant! What a gem!

Five out of five stars!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Find this book on:

Goodreads: Goodreads – My Sunshine Away

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – My Sunshine Away

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – My Sunshine Away

 

Find out more about M.O. Walsh on his website: http://www.mowalsh.com/

Or give us both a shout out on Twitter! @M_O_Walsh & @ReviewAlholic

 

Did you enjoy this review? Check out another you might enjoy! #BookReview Crime Seen by Kate Lines

And comment below! What is your favourite novel?

Collection 2: #TopTens – Young Adult Part 1

This time around in my collection of top books I am tackling the Young Adult genre! Young Adult has always been a guilty pleasure of mine and I love to dive deep into this genre whenever possible. Listed below are ten YA books I would highly recommend you pick up, depending on your interests! I’ve tried to include a wide variety of topics and genres within. Stay tuned for part two, because one can never have too many YA novels.

 

1. Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

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The Arcana Chronicles by Kresley Cole is one of my favourite fantasy novels in the YA genre. I am still currently working my way through the series, but I wanted to include the first book (at the very least) on my top ten list! This is a dystopian novel focused around tarot cards. There’s drama, romance and typical YA insanity within this dystopia. I really love the dark and twisted universe Kresley has created!

Amazon.com – Poison Princess

Amazon.ca – Poison Princess

Briar’s Reviews Book Review Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

 

2. Eighth Grade Bites by Zac Brewer

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The Vladimir Tod Chronicles was one of my faves over a decade ago (it’s hard to believe it has been that long…). Back in the day when vampires were hip and cool, Vladimir Tod was rocking the YA world without glitter! Zac Brewer made a fantastic world that felt real with drama, a splash of romance, a teenage vampire trying to find his way in the world and lots of vampire politics. This book is perfect for those 12-15 year olds looking to get into the genre, or anyone who loves an epic tale! I still love these books to this day!

Amazon.com – Eighth Grade Bites

Amazon.ca – Eighth Grade Bites

Young Adult July Reads Book Review: Eighth Grade Bites by Zac Brewer

 

3. Splintered by A.G. Howard

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Splintered is an epic retelling of Alice in Wonderland! Alyssa seems to be crazy, but there’s something more to her story… This rich series is full of drama, romance and fantasy! This series is finished now, so if you want to binge it go ahead! This is easily one of the best retellings of Alice in Wonderland around (I do have another fantastic one lower on the list though…).

Amazon.com – Splintered

Amazon.ca – Splintered

Briar’s Reviews – Splintered Review

 

4. The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent

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This paranormal dystopia created by Rachel Vincent is a stand out novel that blew me away! I was lucky enough to receive an early copy of this book and I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel! Demons, exorcists and overall wild insanity is packed tight in this book. I have yet to find a book that compares to this unique thrill ride!

Amazon.com – The Stars Never Rise

Amazon.ca – The Stars Never Rise

Briar’s Reviews – The Stars Never Rise Review

 

5. Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

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Yet another retelling of Alice in Wonderland, but this one features zombies! I loved this retelling more than I can say on this page! The unique concept created by Gena in this book takes the reader on a wild ride. This dystopia follows Ali and her friends on a wild adventure against zombies. Throw in a super hot guy named Cole that will set you on fire, an action-packed plot and some epic side characters and you’ve got yourself a real winner!

Amazon.com – Alice in Zombieland

Amazon.ca – Alice in Zombieland

6. Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade

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Years ago, I admired this book afar in every book store I passed! I saved up all of my money and finally got my hands on this super cute, extra cheesey romance novel! The preppy girl is a ghost and the goth is a human, and the two of them fall madly in love! This series is a wild, fantastical ride that I still pick up as a guilty pleasure. This book feels more romance than paranormal, but it still has it’s paranormal aspects within it. If possible, pick up this whole series! It ties up quite nicely, if I do say so myself!

Amazon.com – Ghost and the Goth

Amazon.ca – Ghost and the Goth

7. Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

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This is another “classic” from my YA collection that I still pick up to this day! When I have a rough day and I want a cute novel to relax with, this book is it! This series is super sweet and definitely packs on the romance. It is also another vampire book I threw on this list, but the romance is where it hits you. There are two books in this series, and both will have you ready for some tissues, chocolate and everything else girly! I still think Lucius (our male lead) is one of the hottest YA leading males!

Amazon.com – Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

Amazon.ca – Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

#BookReview Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

 

8. Almost to Die For by Tate Hallaway

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This vampire romance was another hit in my books! I read this book alongside Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, and fell madly in love with Tate Hallaway! Unfortunately, this series didn’t continue after the second book and I am still upset about it. This YA novel features vampires, witches, fantasy and romance for every Twilight fan who wanted just a little bit more than the glittery yet famous vampires. This book still tops my YA list and I’ll pick it up on a rough day when I want a fun read!

Amazon.com – Almost to Die For

Amazon.ca – Almost to Die For

 

9. Pin Drop by Roz Monette

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Pin Drop is the most unique book on this list. It tops my YA reads since it is not your typical Young Adult novel by any definition. It touches on tough topics and social issues that some YA books run far away from. Mo is sarcastic and is easily relatable for most teenagers since her life is not perfect. If you’re looking for a YA novel that isn’t solely focused on dystopias, fantasy or romance than this book is for you! I’d highly recommend it, it’s fabulous!

Amazon.com – Pin Drop

Amazon.ca – Pin Drop

Briar’s Reviews: Pin Drop by Roz Monette Review

 

10. Down in the Belly of the Whale by Kelley Kaye Bowles

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I saved the best for last on this list! Down in the Belly of the Whale by Kelley Kaye Bowles is one of my recent favourites! This book also tackles some dark subject matter, which may not be suitable for all YA audiences. Self harm, destructive families, family illnesses are just some of the tougher subjects in this book on top of the typical high school problems. This book might be fiction, but it felt oh so real! This is the book I needed to read in high school to realize life isn’t always picture perfect. While this book tackles darker topics, it does it in a lovely way that opens your eyes to the realistic coming of age most teenagers are facing but in a YA territory. I’d highly recommend this book and I’d consider it one of the most important books to read on this list!

Amazon.com – Down in the Belly of the Whale

Amazon.ca – Down in the Belly of the Whale

Briar’s Reviews: Down in the Belly of the Whale Review

 

And that’s it for round one of my YA top tens! I have way more top tens to come, including Part 2 of YA and Children’s novels! What list or genre do you want to see next? Do you have any books not included here? Comment below or give me a shout out on Twitter (@ReviewAlholic) to let me know what I’m missing!

I hope you found a new book to read and you enjoyed this list, fellow readers! Let me know what you’re reading below!

Briar

xoxo

 

 

 

Photos via Goodreads.

 

#BookReview Undeniable by Liz Bankes

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Undeniable by Liz Bankes was an interesting novel that seemed to be aimed towards the Young Adult audience.

This book was nothing special for me. I was left feeling rather lost and upset that this book wasn’t as good as the synopsis had implied. The plot was well thought out and it could have been a fantastic novel, but the writing style was not my cup of tea.

The writing style seemed to be aimed towards a pre-teen audience while the subject matter seemed to be aimed towards a Young Adult audience. This left me feeling rather confused while reading the book. The maturity of a Young Adult novels words was not there, and the subject matter just didn’t match the writing style. Discussing sex while speaking in a pre-teen tone seemed extremely strange and I felt very off reading it. The steamier parts of the novel made me feel even worse, since the writing style did not match the subject matter.

Overall, the plot was fantastic and the author had a great idea of where to go, but the writing style just didn’t match the content of the novel. I did enjoy this book, but it wasn’t what I had hoped it to be. The author is fantastic, and I don’t want this review to let her down. She is incredible at writing! Her ideas were great and her writing was great, they just didn’t match in this novel.

Perhaps someone just coming into the Young Adult scene from reading Pre-teen novels would enjoy this book. It seemed like it would be a good stepping stone from one genre to another.

Two out of five stars.

I received an ARC copy from Goodreads First Reads.

 

Have you received an ARC before? Comment below an ARC you’ve received or your dream ARC!

If you liked this review, check out this one too! #BookReview The Year After by Ashley Wagner

Go on twitter and use the hashtags #BriarsReviews and #Undeniable to start a conversation! @ReviewAlholic

#BookReviews Girls That Growl by Mari Mancusi

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Girls that Growl by Mari Mancusi is a great addition to the Blood Coven Vampires series.

This book continues this series in an excellent manner all the while expanding the universe even farther. Our lead, Rayne, grows as a character which is a nice change compared to many YA novels where our leads stay the same throughout the entire series.

Mari explores lycan within this book alongside Rayne’s character development. While this isn’t my favourite book out of the entire series (this is actually my least favourite, when I look back at all the books – including the new one), I feel like this book does it’s job – it moves the story forward so we can get to the next novels. Don’t be turned away by this book – yes, it’s not as great as the last two books but the following books get much, much better than this one. There always seems to be one book in a series that isn’t as great as the rest (there has to be, not all books can be perfect) and this book is it in this series. The previous and following books are definitely worth reading this book so you can get to all the adventure and romance we love.

There is more Sunny in this book, but the main focus is Rayne. It’s nice to see both girls have a bigger presence in this book!! There is also a bit more exploration of Jareth, for those who love him…

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Re-reading it was an excellent choice for me and I definitely suggest picking this book up!!

Five out of five stars.

 

Check out Mari on Goodreads! Mari Mancusi on Goodreads

Or visit her site: Mari Mancusi’s Website

Tell Mari you read her book on twitter:  @MariMancusi

Did you enjoy the Blood Coven series? Well, it has it’s own website!! Blood Covens Series by Mari Mancusi

Find me on Goodreads, where you can get up to date posts as soon as available: Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

Or swing by Twitter and give me a shout out!! Briar’s Reviews on Twitter