#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

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 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:
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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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#BookReview Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I bought this book YEARS ago when I got my wisdom teeth out. Actually, my Mom bought it for me because I was drugged up from having my wisdom teeth out and there was a massive book sale. I gave her a list of books and she got them for me, and then this book sat on my shelf because I forgot I told my Mom to go buy me books when I got my wisdom teeth out.

So colour my cheery when I finally cleaned my bookshelf and there it was! I picked it up instantly, decided to ignore my upcoming exams, and settled down with this book. AND MAN I WAS SO STUPID FOR NOT READING IT SOONER BECAUSE I AM OBSESSED.

I am an adult now, but when I bought it I was a “Young Adult” reader. Some of the YA books just don’t sit with me as well now, but this book totally did. Cinderella, fairy tale, Star Wars-esque, cyborgs, science fiction, crazy evil overlords, and more! How could someone like me not love a book like this?!

My friends had given me horrible reviews of this book so I was very hesitant to pick it up, but when I took the dive I realized that I really shouldn’t have listened to them. I devoured this book in about two hours and I could NOT put it down. Marissa Meyer crafted an intriguing story that echoes our fave fairy tales and sci-fi movies, but also sits well on it’s own. Cinder is special but she doesn’t know why (like most YA novels, wink wink, nudge nudge). The Prince needs her help so she complies. Through helping him, trying to avoid a crazy super bug/infection and dealing with some major losses, she finds herself in a world of insanity.

This is a great read, but it leaves with an awful cliffhanger. I was so furious that the book ended the way it did because now I HAVE to pick up the next book in the series. Like, thanks a lot Marissa! But good on her, she did an excellent job crafting this book to the point that I seriously need the sequels. It won’t be okay if I don’t find these books on my book hunts soon.

To list some of the positives of this book, I have to say it really works well for young readers (maybe 8 and up, as a good book with their parents) but also sits amazingly well with adults. I didn’t feel like I was reading a purely YA novel, it felt like a fun fairy tale. I almost wish it wasn’t on the YA shelf in my local book store because it’s not strictly made for the YA audience, even though the narrative fits well with YA.

My negatives? Cliffhangers. I hate them, so they will always be my negative. Also, sometimes the story just felt like it happened at the right place, right time and just happened to work out in the character’s favor. It didn’t bug me at all in this book, but sometimes that trope grates on my nerves.

Overall, SO AMAZINGLY GOOD. Five out of five stars all around! This book really got me back into a reading binge, so thank you Marissa!

 

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Indigo/Chapters/Coles – Canadian Retailer
Amazon.com

 

 

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#BookReview Virals by Kathy Reichs & Brendan Reichs

 

What was I thinking putting this book off?! It has been sitting on my shelf for years and I never got the nerve to pick it up. That was probably one of my biggest book related mistakes!

Kathy & Brendan Reichs have a real hit on their hand! I have been reading the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs for years and I always wanted to get into Virals. Silly me bought the book and admired it for years, until I finally managed to dust it off and pull it into my reading pile. THANK GOODNESS because this book is a real gem and I need to binge this series. It’s just too freaking good to not read!

Now, before I get ahead of myself, readers must remember that this is a YA novel and not an “adult” novel like the Temperance Brennan series. There are fun story lines focusing around being a teenager, and people need to remember that this book was made for a younger audience. I love books like this, because I can get into the fun of a younger book. But, some readers won’t be expecting a “YA” novel – you should be!

Off to the races!!!

Tory Brennan is our lead (a distant, grand-niece of Temperance, if I am remembering correctly) and she’s just as smart as Tempe! She’s also sassy, barrels of fun, and gets in probably too much trouble in this book. She’s not a girly girl, she likes hanging with her guy friends and she likes being smart. Seriously, I relate way to much to this girl! Her gaggle of friends get into trouble on an island nearby, rescuing dogs, talking to monkeys and trying to solve murders. Typical teenage stuff, obviously.

I love that this group is smart and for the greater good. I also felt a twinge of “save the environment” themes going on. Mixing in all the fun and goofy scenarios the teens get into… I have to say I like this book. I also really love the terminology that’s used in the book. It’s not “dumb-ed” down and these kids know what they are talking about. Do they know too much? Maybe. Or they are just really smart kids.

What did I not like?
Mean girl subplots always annoy me because they are so common. I get this is a very typical trend, but I’d love it to see Tory have a girl friend who isn’t a total snob. Shockingly, there are some not snobby girls out in the real world! But, there has to be drama in this book so I totally get it. I remember in high school there were snobby girls all over the place too.

I also think that the introduction of fantasy was great, but it needed a little… more. There are more books in this series, so I’m assuming that the fantasy side will be explored more there. At least, I hope so! The little bits of fantasy just wasn’t enough for me! I want to know the ins and outs of it!

Overall, this book is lots of fun and super smart! I really enjoyed reading it and I couldn’t put it down! Books like these are why I love reading – I can whisk myself away into another world and just enjoy myself.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves YA with a fantasy twist, loves the Temperance Brennan series but wants a bit more “fun”, people who loved Bones (this SCREAMS the fun of Bones!) or if you just want a smart YA novel with fancy terminology (to teach yourself something new).

Five out of five stars!

Purchase this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo
Barnes & Noble
Indigo (Canadian Retailer)

If you enjoyed this book, you might also enjoy these reviews:
#BookReview Stolen by Kelley Armstrong
#BookReview The Water War by Kevin Miller
#BookReview The Mountain Man’s Dog by Gary Corbin

 

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