#BookReview Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Steifvater

Blue Lily, Lily Blue was an intriguing novel.

It’s my own fault that I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I could have. It has been YEARS (and I mean, literally years – probably five?) since I’ve read the first two books in this series (The Raven Boys and The Dream Theives) so I don’t remember much of what this series is all about. But, I really love Maggie Stiefvater so I wanted to continue on with this series! It’s safe to say that I was REALLY lost about what was going on.

What I got out of this book was: witches, fantastic friendships, parental drama, ghosts and death, and a giant cave.

I really enjoy Gansey in this series even though I’m not quite sure about what his character is supposed to be. He’s not the love interest, he’s not the typical best friend side character and he has no typical trope about him. I love that aspect of these characters (Maggie is great at not making a typical trope-filled book) but I’m still just so unsure. I love him, but… I need to know what happens in this last book to see how it all plays out.

Noah the ghost interests me too. What was going on with him and Blue? He’s still her energy but he is also acting very strange. Something is up with these ley lines! I want to know more. I’m too analytical for books like this – I need to know everything now.

The plot itself just confused me. The screaming man, the man they found in the cave, the lady at the end… Don’t stop this series if you intend to keep reading it. That’s my biggest suggestion. Reading other reviewers’ reviews helped a lot but I really should have re-read the series to make sure I knew what was going on. It’s a real shame too, because Maggie has a beautiful writing style and her prose is to die for! She’s fabulous.

I did binge this book in one sitting. Since I forgot most of what happened in the previous books, I knew that if I put it down I would never pick it back up. The binging was okay, but I’d rather have read it in bits and pieces.

My biggest praise is the cover. My gosh, all of the covers for this series fall into the realm of absolutely beautiful!

Overall, this book is marvelous but didn’t hit high with me. Hopefully one day I will be able to jump back into this whole series and mass read the entire set. Maggie is such a good writer but it’s a shame that we had to wait for her books. That’s what really did me in – waiting for books to come out and then not being able to afford them so I had to wait until I could. One day Maggie! One day I will read this excellence in full and understand the whole darn thing!

Three out of five stars!

 

Check out this book on:
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Check out some other reviews you might enjoy:
#BookReview Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
#BookReview Peter Green and the Unliving Academy by Angelina Allsop
#BookReview Down in the Belly of the Whale by Kelley Kay Bowles

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#BookReview I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan

I am Thunder by Muhammad Khan was a pleasant surprise!

I love books that let me inside another person’s life and culture, and I am Thunder met the bill! This book welcomes the reader into a Muslim and Pakistani lifestyle which is something totally new to me. I’ve seen the headlines, I’ve had classmates, but I’ve never been able to learn this much about a culture in one sitting. While this book is only ONE view in a Young Adult (and slightly dramatic) book, it was still truly intriguing. Hats off to Muhammad Khan, seriously.

This book does cause some waves in the reading community though – I’ve seen lots of praises and lots of criticism. So, I’ll just share my thoughts.

I like that this book follows one young woman’s story. Yes, it’s like a soap opera and slightly dramatic at times but isn’t all YA? Muzna’s story gives some fabulous insight into her culture (for example, the difference between a religion and the actual practices someone follows). Her family life, her thoughts, her trouble deciding what to do with her life and the effect it has on everyone felt very REAL. It felt like I was reading a book made for and by a teen – she wants to meet boys, she wants to impress people, she wants to try to have a life but do what’s best for her family too. I could totally relate to her in that aspect. She struggles with being a teenage girl trying to just BE a teenage girl.

Are there parts of this book that were rough and tough? Yes. I don’t fully know what this woman’s culture would be in an accurate depiction, so maybe this is all my views as a reader. Buuuut… her parents are HARSH. It seemed like no matter what this girl did that they weren’t proud of her. It’s no wonder that Muzna “acted out” because there was no way she’d ever please those parents. It was borderline abusive. I don’t think it was a culture thing… honestly, I’m certain it’s not supposed to be a reflection of their culture. Those parents were borderline abusive if not actually abusive. Like, show a little familial love? Or at least, don’t be cruel at all times of the day?

Extreme religion was also apart of this book, so let there be a trigger warning for those who might be bothered by this topic. I found it interesting to read, but at times it felt like everyone were quite extreme with their religious practices. I know there’s only so many pages in a book, but there could have been some “softer” practices or realistic ones. I know many lovely people who study and follow various religions who aren’t as “crazy” or as extreme as some of these characters.

If I had to list the good things about this book, they’d be the following:
1. This book showcases a different religion and a different point of view in a largely read genre. I like that YA has diverse books like this one floating around so readers can learn more about the world. Difficult topics like religion and politics should be brought into books (especially YA) so more people can learn and experience the world.

2. Muzna felt like a real character with real struggles. She didn’t feel out of place or goofy. She made me really feel for her story and want to know more about her.

3. This book can start wonderful discussions. It’s the type of book I wish we read back in high school. I could have picked apart this book and had some really great discussions with my classmates and teachers. Just think of a diverse class discussing their points of views on topics like these! Oh, it’d be an interesting time!

Overall, this book is a really well written book! Muhammad Khan has written a beautiful story that will introduce you to Muzna’s world.

Three out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check this book out on Goodreads!

Or check out another book you might enjoy:
#BookReview Gods in Oslo by John Plaski
#BookReview The Fencers by Geza Tatrallyay
#BookReview A Long, Hot Summer by Kathleen MacMahon

 

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#BookReview Vampireville by Ellen Schreiber

Vampireville, the third book in the amazing Vampire Kisses series by Ellen Schreiber, is another excellent addition to my bookshelf!

I love this series and I have a very obvious bias towards it. This series was a big part of my teenage years and it’s hard to not jump back into this series and fall in love all over again. Alexander and Raven’s epic romance is one of the best YA couples around (go ahead and argue that with me) and I can’t help but shout from the hills about them. Jumping back into these books as an adult cemented my love for this series. It’s still just as good!

Vampireville is a young YA book – the maturity of this novel isn’t strong but that’s why I loved it. Lots of YA books take themselves way too seriously, so having a book like this that is so much fun is a real delight. Raven is your stereotypical goth girl (Hot Topic shopping, black lipstick, loves black, black cats, in love with a vampire, etc.) but that makes her so cool. She’s the ideal of every 13 year old girl who wanted to be a goth but her parents wouldn’t let me (haha… me!). She’s sassy, makes mistakes and feels more real than most YA heroines.

Raven and Alexander continue facing a very bumpy ride, but the ride is fun! I highly recommend binging the whole series as soon as possible. I didn’t enjoy these books all on their own: I liked reading the entire series from beginning to end to really get this series. It helps that all the books are relatively short and written in a nice form so you can easily jump from book to book.

Five out of five stars! I love this series and I want more!

 

You can find this book on:
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Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
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Barnes & Noble
Indigo – Canadian Retailer

Check out Ellen on Goodreads: Ellen Schreiber on Goodreads

Or take a peek at her website: EllenSchreiber.com

Maybe give her a shoutout on Twitter too? @EllenSchreiber

 

If you enjoyed this book, check out another you might enjoy:
#BookReview The Coffin Club by Ellen Schreiber
#BookReviews Girls That Growl by Mari Mancusi
#BookReview The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead

 

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

Check out this exclusive offer!
Down in the Belly of the Whale is only 99 cents on Amazon for the month of September! Click the link below for this awesome deal!

Amazon Sale – Down in the Belly of the Whale

 

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

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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 Dear Haiti, Love Alaine

I love exploring new cultures, so having the opportunity to pick up Dear Haiti, Love Alaine was absolutely thrilling for me!

This novel follows the lovely Alaine as she gets sent to Haiti to fulfill a school project. Along the way she helps out her Tati’s PATRON PAL app/company, meets a cute guy, learns who her real friends are, and deals with some large, life altering issues. Oh, and did I mention this book felt so darn real?!

It was a true gift to receive the opportunity to read this book. The authors make Alaine feel like a real person and present this book in a really unique matter. Emails, letters, postcards, diaries, text messages and so many different mediums of communication are present in this novel! All of these mediums make it so easy to jump in and out of the book and I felt like I lost nothing! It truly was a marvelous feat and it makes me want more from these lovely sisters and their writing abilities.

The big standout for this novel is Haiti. Obviously, it’s in the title, but Maika and Maritza make it feel like you’re there. The cultures and traditions are presented so beautifully and naturally. I didn’t feel like anything was forced, it felt so REAL. It’s hard sometimes – being a Canadian who has only visited the U.S.A and Canada because I don’t know what other places are like. Sometimes reading a book like this, you get caught up and wonder if the authors actually knew what they were talking about. But this book? It read so wonderfully and you could tell the authors weren’t just making up what they thought Haiti was like. I LOVE it when that happens.

The other lovely standouts of this book are:
1. Alaine’s sassiness is legit how I felt as a teenager. She did have some worrisome moments (like the reason she was sent to Haiti to begin with), but she had the teenage angst we all had back in the day. Other words you might use to describe her are: feisty, fierce, and fabulous! She’s such a strong lead and she has flaws which makes her more lovable. She’s no Mary Jane/Mary Sue!
2. Jason, Estelle, Roseline and our large assortment of characters didn’t feel like background characters. They were used effectively and written in a way that made them have a point to being there.
3. Alzheimer’s. Medical issues SUCK, but having a book that shows the good and the bad sides of these diseases is PERFECTION. This book wasn’t just ‘boo hoo Alzheimer’s’, it also showed the hope people can have.
4. The relationship between Alaine and her parents made me feel really connected to her. I had a parent that worked more than I wanted too and I am sad to say I lost a lot of time with them. Seeing that exact feeling put into a book (but have a more happy ending) made me have butterflies and feel really affectionate towards this novel. Maika and Martiza connected with teenage me SO HARD with this plot thread.
5. PATRON PAL. I’m always down for a plot line that brings up actual, real-life issues and presents them in a manner that makes sense. How can we help people? Make an app! Donate! Help people who need help! This book also presents helping poorer countries/nations in a really smart way – we want to provide them a sustainable way to pull themselves back up and take care of themselves, not just give them money forever and wish them luck. I’m glad they pointed that out in this book because it’s a REALLY important lesson for people to learn.

I would love to hear the thoughts of reviewers who are Haitian, Haitian-American or have lived in Haiti. I think this book is pretty darn swell, but my background isn’t of this culture. One thing that I hope comes out with this book is more people want to read about other cultures. Books like these make me want to know and learn more!

Do I have any negatives? Yes. I would have liked a couple of more chapters to see what happened after the project, but the book wasn’t set up that way. I really grew to love these characters and I wanted a little more time with them. Other than that, my negatives are non-existent. I think this book is unique, beautiful, and full of stories that need to be heard. I truly respect these authors and love that there are books like this out there. We need more authors and books like this.

Also, the cover? Oh-my-gosh it is stunning! Having a physical copy of this book in my house is a real gem for me! It’s eye popping and gets your attention but at the same time it’s really fabulous and subtle. I LOVE IT!

Five out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Find out more about this book on:
Goodreads
http://www.maikaandmaritza.com/
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo
Barnes & Noble
Indigo (Canadian Retailer)

 

If you enjoyed this review (or book!) check out something else you might enjoy:
#BookReview The Rainbow Vintner by Geza Tatrallyay
#BookReview Peter Green and the Unliving Academy by Angelina Allsop
#BookReview Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

 

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Briar’s Reviews – @ReviewAlholic #briarsreviews

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#BookReview Dance with a Vampire by Ellen Schreiber

This is one of my fave throwbacks to my teen years – Ellen Schreiber and her Vampire Kisses series. To say I was obsessed with this series is an absolute understatement. Recently, I picked this book up again and decided to throw myself into this series, and I still love it!

This series is full of cute-sy YA romance with Alexander and Raven. The book is written for a younger audience, but if you’re like me and love sinking away into a fantastical world then it will be no issue to you. If you’re expecting a “True Blood-esque” novel, then you’ve come to the wrong place.

The fourth book in this series, Dance with a Vampire, continues Alexander and Raven’s epic love story. Except, this time around we’ve got more crazy antics that the pair have to deal with. Valentine is now up to her trouble, making it seem impossible for our love birds to have a happy ending.

A note for the reader: These books are relatively short, which makes them a fun, sweet, and smooth read. It’s really easy to binge all of these books in a day if you have the nerve to. I read the first four books (back in the day) on a bus ride to a school swim meet. I re-read these books many times because of how short and fun they were. So, it’s not a big time commitment if you read these babies one by one.

Final note: The manga version of this series was one of the first mangas I ever read and made me fall in love with that “genre” (is genre the right word? Probably not). The pictures were beautiful, the story was magical and I’m glad it got me so into reading! Thank you Ellen for being one of my early reading addictions. Hopefully I’ll find some more newer books by her soon! Her writing just vibes well with my reading style.

I’d highly recommend these books. They are on the younger side of YA, but they are funny, sassy and absolutely adorable. My biggest con for this whole series was that it ended! I loved each book and I really want more by this author. So many YA novels take themselves way to seriously and try to make the teen be an adult. This series makes Raven be a fun, young girl who makes mistakes along the way (but she somehow gets an epic romance out of it).

Five out of five stars!

 

You can locate this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo
Barnes & Noble
Indigo (Canadian Retailer)

 

If you enjoyed this book, check out another book or review you might enjoy:
#BookReview Once Upon a Vampire by Mari Mancusi
#BookReview The Coffin Club by Ellen Schreiber
#BookReview Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

 

If you love YA, check out my top ten list for Young Adult reads!
Collection 2: #TopTens – Young Adult Part 1

 

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#BookReview Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Many eons ago in my high school/teens years, I used to read J-14 magazine. That magazine was my lifeline to society – celebrity gossip, posters of the Jonas Brothers, and book recommendations! During those formative years, I remember seeing endless advertisements for Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins and I never truly forgot about this book… Fast forward to my mid-twenties! I’m at a local charity book sale and I see THE BOOK! The book was right there within my reach! I picked it up, put it on my book shelf and forgot about it… until recently when I cleaned my house and donated many books so I had room on my shelves.

I am SO glad I finally picked this book up. This was another one of those books that gets me hooked instantly and falling in love with some teenie bopper characters. Throw in fantasy, typical YA “I can save the world”-esque plots and magic and you’ve got me hooked!

This book is funny, super sweet and sometimes sassy. It’s absolutely the first book in the series and it leaves off with one of those dreaded cliffhangers that makes me want to read the next book ASAP.

We follow Sophia (she goes by Sophie) in this adventure filled novel after she performed a love spell a little too well. She gets sent off to Hecate, Hex Hall, and the rest is history! Sophie gets roomed with Jenna the vampire, she holds classes with some ‘Mean Girl’ clique-y girls and might be falling for the school’s bad boy. She’s the daughter of a powerful warlock, everyone seems to hold that against her and she’s got some wild family history behind her. Yes, this sounds like the typical YA plot but it’s written so wonderfully that I didn’t even care! Rachel opens this world and makes me feel like I was apart of the journey. I felt for Sophie and Jenna, I ogled after Archer and I absolutely HATED Elodie. Hey, I was a teenage girl once. I remember the mean girls ruining all of the fun.

My favourite part of this book is all of the sassy one liners thrown around. Sarcasm is the way I live my life, so I loved that this book is full of it! Sophie, Jenna and Archer are absolutely hilarious. I also adored the side characters, the Groundskeeper being my favourite.

My least favourite? STUPID CLIFFHANGERS. I hate them and I truly believe that a book should be able to stand on it’s own. I hate when I’m left off feeling cheated at the ending. Yes, I know Rachel wants us to read the next book in the series but I don’t like when I’m left feeling like I HAVE to read the next book – I WANT to.

Overall, this book is a real gem! I’m glad I finally found it. Back in my teenage years I didn’t have the funds (I mean, I’m a college student…I still don’t, but I know how to bargain hunt now!), so it’s awesome that I found a book I’ve been dreaming of! I still remember that ad page distinctly…

Five out of five stars!

 

You can purchase this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo
Barnes & Noble
Indigo – Canadian Retailer

If you enjoyed this book, check out another book or review you might enjoy!:
Collection 2: #TopTens – Young Adult Part 1
#BookReview Once Upon a Vampire by Mari Mancusi
#BookReview Stolen by Kelley Armstrong

 

And give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

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