Publisher: HarperTeen

Review: The Looking Glass by Janet McNally

Posted March 29, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review: The Looking Glass by Janet McNallyThe Looking Glass by Janet McNally
Series: Standalone
Published by HarperTeen on August 14, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Magical Realism
Pages: 336
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

GIRLS IN TROUBLE.
That’s what Sylvie Blake’s older sister Julia renamed their favorite fairy tale book, way back when they were just girls themselves. Now, Julia has disappeared—and no one knows if she’s in trouble.
Sylvie is trying to carry on Julia’s impressive legacy at the prestigious National Ballet Theatre Academy, but Julia, ever the star of the show, can’t stay hidden forever. And when she sends Sylvie a copy of their old storybook with a mysterious list inside, Sylvie begins to see signs of her sister everywhere she goes. She may be losing her grip on reality, but Sylvie has to find out if the strange, almost magical things she’s been seeing have anything to do with Julia’s whereabouts.
With the help of her best friend’s enigmatic brother and his beat-up car, Sylvie sets out to the beat of a Fleetwood Mac playlist, determined to return to New York with her sister in tow. But what Sylvie doesn’t expect to learn is that trouble comes in lots of forms—and that the damsel in distress is often the only one who can save herself.

The Looking Glass was a book that I found hard to put down. It was a beautifully written story weaved with magical realism to handle some difficult topics.

Sylvie always idolized her older sister Julia, until she broke her leg dancing and spiraled into addiction. After nearly losing her life, Julia disappears, leaving behind Sylvie to pick up the mess she left behind and some big shoes to fill. When Julia sends Sylvie a book with a mysterious message, Sylvie thinks Julia is in trouble and is on the mission to find her sister. Along the way, she learns a little more about Julia, who she was, how she dealt with it and a lot more about herself as a person.

I enjoyed most of this book. It kept me hooked. McNally is a wonderful writer, there is something really beautiful about the way she tells her story. But where I found this book well written and beautiful, it lacked in depth and ultimately felt a little lacking.

As always, there were the absentee parents present in a YA novel.

I kept waiting for something to happen and the conclusion of the book was lackluster, unsatisfying and ultimately pointless and abrupt.

I didn’t understand how the names in the back linked to anything in the story, especially how the ending was handled with Julia’s reaction.

I think the ultimate aspect of this story was about everyone working through Julia’s addiction and the destruction she left behind after almost dying and how these people move on from it. I thought that part was well done, but some things just fell short and didn’t connect well. There was a lot more potential to this book and it just scratched the surface.

I like how working through it Sylvie digs into herself and becomes her own person as she uncovers what is important to her instead of living in her sisters’ shadows.

The romance was cute. I enjoyed it. I was glad it wasn’t the main point of the book.

Overall. I liked how the author managed to keep the book light despite such a heavy subject. I am looking forward to seeing what she writes next.

 

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Review: The Deepest Roots by Miranda Asebedo

Posted January 29, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review: The Deepest Roots by Miranda AsebedoThe Deepest Roots by Miranda Asebedo
Series: standalone
Published by HarperTeen on September 18, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magical Realism
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Cottonwood Hollow, Kansas, is a strange place. For the past century, every girl has been born with a special talent, like the ability to Fix any object, Heal any wound, or Find what is missing.
Best friends Rome, Lux, and Mercy all have similar talents, but to them, their abilities often feel like a curse. Rome may be able to Fix anything she touches, but that won’t help her mom pay rent or make it any easier to confide in Lux and Mercy about what’s going on at home. And Rome isn’t the only one. Lux has been hiding bigger, more dangerous secrets.
As Rome struggles to keep her friendships close, she discovers the truth about life in Cottonwood Hollow—that friends are stronger than curses, that trust is worth the risk, and sometimes, what you’ve been looking for has been under your feet the whole time.

I went into this book blindly, but I was given a story that hooked me from a very first page.

Rome, Lux, and Mercy are best friends who live in Cottonwood Hollow, Kansas. Cottonwood Hollow, is a strange place. The women of Cottonwood Hollow have certain special abilities, like Fixing an object, Healing wounds or even finding what is missing.

I thought the book was a quick and enjoyable read. The writing was wonderful. I absolutely loved the idea implemented behind the plot, so much so that I craved more.

The characters were interesting and had depth. I loved their friendship, but hated it at the same time. I loved the closeness of the three girls and how they had come to each other’s aid. My issue with their friendship was the fact that I never quite understood why they kept secrets from each other, or better yet. Why they kept alienating one of the girls from the truth.

The book provided me with everything I wanted. Magical realism, secrets, a bit of action and a cute romance. I enjoyed the fact that this book focused more on the relationship between the three girls and not the romantic interest.

I did struggle with Rome’s mother’s actions. I understand she had Rome when she was young and was doing her best to take care of her, but I feel like her character was at times crossing that annoying line that parents seem to have in YA books.

Overall, this was a pleasant read.

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Mini Book Reviews

Posted April 25, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 9 Comments

Mini Book ReviewsNot That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser
Series: standalone
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 27, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.
By Monday morning, one of them is gone.
Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce—and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her—and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions—especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.
As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors—and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else.

Not That I Could Tell is a story about a group of neighborhood women, who one night get together at a campfire and some secrets fly. The next day, one of them disappears with her kids while in the middle of the road and no one seems to remember a chunk of time from that night. This was an okay read, I was honestly wishing for something a bit more. I think in general this book would be much better read in the summer, because there is this whole summer feel of the book which does not work with dreary mood. I was hoping it would be more thrilling, but I am not sure I would consider this a thriller. The ending was definitely surprising, but at the same time giving how the characters reactions are written in the book, felt kind of thrown together. Overall, this is a decent summer read.

Mini Book ReviewsCatacomb by Madeleine Roux
Series: Asylum #3
Published by HarperTeen on September 1, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

Sometimes the past is better off buried.
Senior year is finally over. After all they’ve been through, Dan, Abby, and Jordan are excited to take one last road trip together, and they’re just not going to think about what will happen when the summer ends. But on their way to visit Jordan’s uncle in New Orleans, the three friends notice that they are apparently being followed.. And Dan starts receiving phone messages from someone he didn’t expect to hear from again—someone who died last Halloween.
As the strange occurrences escalate, Dan is forced to accept that everything that has happened to him in the past year may not be a coincidence, but fate—a fate that ties Dan to a group called the Bone Artists, who have a sinister connection with a notorious killer from the past. Now, Dan’s only hope is that he will make it out of his senior trip alive.
In this finale to the New York Times bestselling Asylum series, found photographs help tell the story of three teens who exist on the line between past and present, genius and insanity.

I finally finished this series. I think? I am not sure if there is supposed to be another book, but the way this one ended, it feels like there should have been another. This series really does have an addictive quality to it, for me, I think, is the format of the book. I really like the mixed format with the pictures thrown in because it adds to the whole experience and the atmosphere of the book. I did struggle with this one. I did not feel like there was any character growth in this series. The kids thought almost on their way to college feel very much younger than their age. Also, it’s repetitive in the way Dan’s friends react to them. Dan is constantly looking into his past and trouble, and his friends get angry at him over it and blame him for it, but in the end always show up to save him. The ending felt open with the possibility of a new book, but I don’t think one is coming. I did enjoy the setting of the book as this one is set in New Orleans.

Mini Book ReviewsLowcountry Boil by Susan M. Boyer
Series: A Liz Talbot Mystery #1
Published by Henery Press on September 13, 2012
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 316
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Gifted
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Private Investigator Liz Talbot is a modern Southern belle: she blesses hearts and takes names. She carries her Sig 9 in her Kate Spade handbag, and her golden retriever, Rhett, rides shotgun in her hybrid Escape. When her grandmother is murdered, Liz high-tails it back to her South Carolina island home to find the killer. She’s fit to be tied when her police-chief brother shuts her out of the investigation, so she opens her own. Then her long-dead best friend pops in and things really get complicated. When more folks start turning up dead in this small seaside town, Liz must use more than just her wits and charm to keep her family safe, chase down clues from the hereafter, and catch a psychopath before he catches her.

An interesting start to a new to me series. Liz Talbot is a private investigator and she moves back home upon her grandmother’s death. She is not only left with her grandmother’s house, but she was also left with the land it is on. When Liz finds out that her grandmother is murdered, she has no choice but stay home and try to find her killer. On top of, she in roped into more drama than she bargained for. This was a quick, fun read, it has a lot going on, probably a lot more than it should and features an array of different characters. Liz could be a little frustrating at times because of her not telling her cop brother much about the investigation and the ending and whodunit came out of no where. But, it’s full of southern charm, great characters and even a bit of the paranormal. I’ll continue with this series.

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Review: Asylum by Madeleine Roux

Posted October 23, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

Review:  Asylum by Madeleine RouxAsylum by Madeleine Roux
Series: Asylum #1
Published by HarperTeen on August 20th 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Horror
Pages: 317
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-novel perfect for fans of the New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it's a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.
As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it's no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.
Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux's teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.

Asylum follows a sixteen year old boy named Dan Crawford, who is somewhat an outcast in his high school and doesn’t really have any friends. When he arrives at New Hampshire College for Prep, it is more than just a summer program to him, it is everything. He meets a girl named Abby who is an artist and a boy named Jordan who is extremely smart and loves math. It isn’t long into their stay when Dan discovers that the building in the summer program is stationed is an old Asylum, one that was used as the last resort for the criminally insane. Soon the trio is found sneaking away and looking into the dark secrets of their temporary summer home, but soon find more than they bargained for.

I really, really enjoyed this book. I love mixed media type of books, so the fact that the author incorporated pictures into it made me so giddy with excitement. It was wonderful enough that I felt like the book itself was atmospheric, but the pictures added to it, just bought everything together for me and it was everything I could ever ask for.

Does this book have creepy? Oh yes it does. I loved following Dan and his group of friends as they dug deep into the underbelly of what had transpired at the Asylum when it was open and all its dark and creepy secrets. Secrets that might be linked to them. They also start having these creepy dreams and there is a bit of a drama with the group because they don’t seem to want to admit that the Asylum is effecting them. Then they find there is a killer on the loose and someone is trying to contact Dan, and they are trying to link the killer and what had happened in the past, because the two might be connected.

Despite the fact that this book takes place during summer. This is a perfect read for this time of years because of its creepy atmosphere and the dark mystery.

So why not a higher rating if I enjoyed it so much? There was a lot of build up, this book had me flipping through the pages and before long I devoured it. I didn’t rate it higher because of the ending. I feel like things escalated so much but the ending was quiet a bit quick and the resolution left me wanting more. I soon discovered that the ending sets up book two wonderfully though, despite the fact that I felt it all wrapped up a bit too quickly.

Overall I am loving this series so much that if you are looking for something interesting to try this Halloween that also has creepy pictures to guide your curiosity, I definitely recommend giving this book a shot.

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