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Monday, December 19, 2016

Never Never: Part Three | Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher

This is the continuation of Never Never: Part One and Part Two

“Trust your gut. Not your heart, because it’s a people pleaser, and not your brain, because it relies too heavily on logic."

Genre: Mystery/Romance.
Number of Pages: 92.
Perspective: First Alternating.
Location: New Orleans, LA.

This is the final part of the Never Never novella series. It is about Charlie and Silas, a couple that keeps simultaneously losing their memory. They have to solve the mystery of what happened before they lose their memories again. For a complete summary, you can go here.

So for those of you who don’t know, Colleen Hoover writes romance stories with super crazy twists. Tarryn Fisher writes really dark anti-love stories with crazy twists. So of course, I expected an epic twist when both of them are writing together. In reality, the ending left me rolling my eyes. The build up in the first two books was great! The wait in between books was not so great. The combination left me feeling disappointed with the final installment. 

If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

“I’d rather trust the versions of ourselves we don’t remember than trust people who don’t know us at all.” 

3/5 Stars 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Hex | Thomas Olde Heuvelt

“Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay 'til death. Whoever settles, never leaves."

Genre: Horror.
Number of Pages: 384.
Perspective: Third.
Location: New York.

Hex is the story of a town that is cursed by a witch with her eyes and mouth sewn shut. She shows up in houses and just stands and stares for days at a time. The people of the town can never leave and are plagued by the fear of what would happen if the witch’s eyes and mouth are ever opened. For a complete summary, you can go here.

This book started off kind of funny and light-hearted. The middle starts to get a little creepy and suspenseful, and the end is downright strange. It was an enjoyable book, but you’ll have to wait a long time for the climax. The bulk of the action happens in the last 50 pages. For me, that felt rushed and left me with more questions than answers. 

Hex was originally written in Dutch and translated to English. With that in mind, I am utterly impressed with the flow and readability of the story. There were  a few phrases that were  a little confusing, but overall the author did an amazing job altering it to suit American audiences. He even completely changed the setting to make it more Americanized. In his author’s note, Olde Heuvelt explains that he even changed the ending because this was his second chance and opportunity to do so. I would love to figure out what the original ending is, but my internet research has come up dry. I hope that the Dutch ending was more fulfilling than this one. 

I read this book for my October book club. We wanted a super creepy book so that we could have our book club meeting at a cemetery—which we did and it was awesome! Some members of my book club were very freaked out by this book and couldn’t read it alone. It didn’t have that same effect on me, but I have also been binge-watching American Horror Story and The Walking Dead, so perhaps my scare-sensors are dulled. Rather than making me feel scared, this book just left me feeling pretty unsettled. The ending was weird and made me just question society as a whole. It actually reminded me of the movie/story The Lottery because of the mob mentalities and the power of paranoia in a small town. I just really questioned the motive of some of the main characters at the end. One main character in particular made some choices at the end that seemed rather odd. You’ll have to read it and let me know if you agree. The ending brought the story down from 4 to 3 stars for me.

This book was worth a read and definitely requires some discussion afterward. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

3/5 Stars 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

I’ll Give You The Sun | Jandy Nelson

“Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story."

Genre: Young Adult/Romance.
Number of Pages: 371.
Perspective: Alternating First.
Location: California. 

I’ll Give You The Sun follows a set of twins, Jude and Noah, through middle school and high school. The perspectives alternate between Noah’s, when the twins are still close at the ages of 13 and 14, and Jude’s, when they are 16 and no longer speaking. It pieces together a puzzle of tragedy, secrets, and longing for forgiveness. For a complete summary, you can go here.

Wow. I have been in a review rut lately. I’ve been waiting to write reviews for a while after finishing a book, but I had to write this review immediately after finishing reading. I honestly feel like I am in the middle of a book hangover. I wanted so badly to finish the book to see how it ended, but I am sad that I have no more book left to read. I would love for the story to keep going. This is now one of my favorite books, and I already cannot wait to read it again. I even gave it my Best Book Award

This story was beautiful. It felt raw. It’s about transformation, loss, love, acceptance, and family. It’s about being true to yourself and loving others freely. I love the LGBTQ subplot in it. I love all the love! I even loved the metaphysical aspect to it (which very easily could have been a flop). 

The writing was incredible. I usually hate flowery metaphors, but it seemed to fit with the artistic imaginations of the main characters. I read fast when the narrator was anxious and I felt those emotions. I could easily pick up all the feelings of the characters in the wording. That is a sign of a talented author. At times the story fell into place a little too perfectly, but that fit with the theme of the book. 

This book made my heart ache in all the right ways. My favorite part was the  tumultuous relationships between the twins and each of their parents and how they could fall apart and then fall back together. One line from the dad at the very end of the book gave me hope for our society and made me cry like a baby! 

I recommend this book to everyone! There are some adult themes, but I think it is a great coming-of-age novel for teens. I think adults can really appreciate it too. Parents of teens could get a new perspective from this book. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

“Meeting your soul mate is like walking into a house you've been in before - you will recognize the furniture, the pictures on the wall, the books on the shelves, the contents of drawers: You could find your way around in the dark if you had to.”  

5/5 Stars 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Inventing Your Own Novel Setting

This is a guest post by Melissa McClone.

Christmas at the Castle is the tenth Christmas-themed romance novel I’ve written, but it’s my first holiday story set outside the United States. I created Alistonia in my book The Cinderella Princess, but that country was nothing more than a name suggested by one of my readers on my Facebook page. So when I decided to use Alistonia as the setting for my Christmas book, I had a little work to do.

First, I needed to figure out where the country was on the map. I finally picked the eastern slope of the Alps. That sounded like a place that would be Christmassy and have snow. I also needed to determine what kind of Christmas traditions the characters and countries might have. I didn’t just want to carry over what is familiar to me, so I researched European Christmas traditions.

My favorite thing I discovered, and something I want to experience in person someday, is the Christmas Market. These street markets happen throughout Europe during Advent/December. They’ve been around for a long time with a history of a forerunner event dating back to the late thirteenth century.

The pictures of various Christmas Markets in Europe appealed to all five of my senses. I could feel the chill in the air and snowflakes against my face see the holiday decorations lights, hear the entertainment and laughter, smell the hot mulled wine (Glühwein), and taste all the yummy bake goods for sale at the various stalls.

It sounded like the perfect place to not only go Christmas shopping, but I knew the capitol city of Alistonia needed to have a Christmas Market and I wanted to set a scene in my book there.

Here’s how I describe the Christmas Market in my story:

She stopped. Her lips parted, and she gasped. “What is this place?”
“Our Christmas Market. Every town in Alistonia has one.”
Rows of booths had been set up on the closed-off street. Portable shops were decorated for the holidays with lights and garland. Some sold food. Others offered gift items. Several displayed holiday decorations, including Christmas trees.
Excitement shone in her eyes. She rubbed her gloves together. “This is amazing.”
Gill thought she might like this. “Where would you like to start?”
“Let’s begin on one end so we don’t miss anything. I have a feeling I’ll be able to finish all my Christmas shopping tonight.”
“You sound happy.”
“I am.” Her shoulders wiggled. “Thanks to you.”
He extended his arm. “Shall we, milady?”
Beaming, she hooked her arm around his. “Let the shopping commence.”
Booth after booth, they explored, examined items, and tasted food like the town’s famous Christmas cookies. She purchased several handmade Christmas tree ornaments as well as knitted items. Her looks of awe made him feel like a super hero. This was one of his favorite holiday traditions, but seeing the market and his hometown through Kat’s fresh eyes made him savor things he’d forgotten and taken for granted.
I’ve since learned that some towns in the US do have similar Christmas Markets. I found this list that lists several of the German style Christmas Markets happening in 2016 by state in case you’re interested visiting one!


Melissa is giving away this amazing prize pack (within the US), make sure you enter below!

$10 Amazon gift card
Thirty-One Gifts Zipper Pouch
Autographed paperback copy of The Cinderella Princess
Christmas at the Castle Bottle top keychain
Recipe Card

Melissa McClone’s degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University led her to a job with a major airline where she travelled the globe and met her husband. But analyzing jet engine performance couldn’t compete with her love of writing happily ever afters. Her first full-time writing endeavor was her first sale when she was pregnant with her first child! Since then, she has published over twenty-five romance novels with Harlequin and been nominated for Romance Writers of America’s RITA award. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually driving her minivan to/from her children’s swim and soccer practices, 4-H meetings and dog shows. She also supports deployed service members through Soldiers’ Angels and fosters cats through a local non-kill rescue shelter. Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three school-aged children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds and cats who think they rule the house.