Friday, November 16, 2018

*Review* Coveted by Ginna Moran

Genre: YA/Paranormal
Published: July 26, 2018
Pages: 313

Even in his darkness, she finds his light. 

Faith Blackwell knew she was capable of loving a demon, but what she didn’t know was that a demon could love her back. After Ezekiel, her guardian angel, changes his purpose to prolong her mortal life, Faith’s world turns Hell-bound as demons search for her, the most coveted demon’s daughter. 

With power strong enough to break the veil imprisoning demons away from Earth during the day, Faith finds herself hunted by Heaven’s highest ranking angel. When unbound hellhounds offer a deal to protect Faith from the angelic army in exchange for their own demonic protection, Faith faces a fate she never imagined. Because those Faith loves would rather see her descend and rise as a demon than lose her completely. Yet turning into a soulless demon is the last thing Faith wants. 

Betrayal runs hot and Hell burns away everything good in Faith’s life, leaving her no choice but to fight for herself. To find the eternity she desires, Faith must prove to Heaven that she won’t destroy the world with her untamable power. If she can’t, she risks a short mortal life and losing the people she loves in the end.

I was hired to proofread this book. The only aspects of the story that I influenced were the spelling and grammar. If you feel that my connection to the story makes my review untrustworthy, so be it, but this is my honest review. 

Now that Faith's guardian angel has fallen from grace, things seem rather dire for her. Basically everything is pulling her towards hell to face almost the same fate as Cami. It's certainly what her father and Ezekiel want for her, and she's going to have to fight like hell if she wants to keep that from happening.

In this story, it becomes a lot more difficult to know who to trust and who to root for, because pretty much everyone seems to have at least three ulterior motives for why they'd be willing to "help" Faith in the first place. But going it alone when Heaven and Hell are both against you isn't really an option either. I found myself frustrated that the "good" guys wouldn't just stop for a second and listen to what Faith had to say in her own defense.

Overall I give Coveted 4.8397 stars. - Katie 

Ginna Moran is the author of an array of both paranormal and contemporary young adult novels including the Demon Within, Falling into Fame, and Spark of Life series. 

She started writing poetry as a teenager in a spiral notebook that she still has tucked away on her desk today. Her love of writing grew after she graduated high school and she completed her first unpublished manuscript at age eighteen.

When she realized her love of writing was her life’s passion, she studied literature at Mira Costa College in Northern San Diego. Besides writing young adult novels, she was senior editor, content manager, and image coordinator for Crescent House Publishing Inc. for four years.

Aside from Ginna’s professional life, she enjoys binge watching television shows, playing pretend with her daughter, and cuddling with her dogs. Some of her favorite things include chocolate, anything that glitters, cheesy jokes, and organizing her bookshelf.

Ginna is currently hard at work on her next novel.

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*Book Blogger Hop* 16 November 2018

We are on to a new week for the Book Blogger Hop hosted by the lovely folks over at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. This weeks questions is:
Do you take notes about the book you are reading as you read? (submitted by Elizabeth @Silver's Reviews)
 I do not. I really should because I've gotten so bad about writing reviews right when I finish reading a book, and taking notes would make those reviews a little bit easier to write. At the same time, I've got a pretty good memory for the written word, so I can usually pretty much refresh my memory about books simply by re-reading their blurbs when I'm finally sitting down to write my reviews.

What about you? Do you take notes as you read? - Katie

*If you're stopping by from the linkup, please be sure to drop a link to your post below so I can stop by and check out your answer.*

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

*Review* The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis

Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: August 7, 2018
Pages: 362

In her latest captivating novel, nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis takes readers into the glamorous lost art school within Grand Central Terminal, where two very different women, fifty years apart, strive to make their mark on a world set against them.

For the nearly nine million people who live in New York City, Grand Central Terminal is a crown jewel, a masterpiece of design. But for Clara Darden and Virginia Clay, it represents something quite different.

For Clara, the terminal is the stepping stone to her future, which she is certain will shine as the brightly as the constellations on the main concourse ceiling. It is 1928, and twenty-five-year-old Clara is teaching at the lauded Grand Central School of Art. A talented illustrator, she has dreams of creating cover art for Vogue, but not even the prestige of the school can override the public's disdain for a "woman artist." Brash, fiery, confident, and single-minded--even while juggling the affections of two men, a wealthy would-be poet and a brilliant experimental painter--Clara is determined to achieve every creative success. But she and her bohemian friends have no idea that they'll soon be blindsided by the looming Great Depression, an insatiable monster with the power to destroy the entire art scene. And even poverty and hunger will do little to prepare Clara for the greater tragedy yet to come.

Nearly fifty years later, in 1974, the terminal has declined almost as sharply as Virginia Clay's life. Full of grime and danger, from the smoke-blackened ceiling to the pickpockets and drug dealers who roam the floor, Grand Central is at the center of a fierce lawsuit: Is the once-grand building a landmark to be preserved, or a cancer to be demolished? For Virginia, it is simply her last resort. Recently divorced, she has just accepted a job in the information booth in order to support herself and her college-age daughter, Ruby. But when Virginia stumbles upon an abandoned art school within the terminal and discovers a striking watercolor hidden under the dust, her eyes are opened to the elegance beneath the decay. She embarks on a quest to find the artist of the unsigned masterpiece--an impassioned chase that draws Virginia not only into the battle to save Grand Central but deep into the mystery of Clara Darden, the famed 1920s illustrator who disappeared from history in 1931.

I received a copy of this through Penguin's First to Read program. This is my honest review. 

After reading and enjoying The Address, I was excited to see another Fiona Davis novel available on First to Read and rushed to guarantee my copy. While I knew what to expect, and had enjoyed the alternating timeline approach from Davis previously, this time around it didn't work as well for me. 

While I pretty much loved everything about Clara's story, except for all the patriarchal bullshit she had to deal with as a woman in the 20s and 30s, I could have done without the inclusion of Virginia's life story. I just wasn't nearly as drawn into her life experiences and therefore they didn't add much to the story for me. And even though I understand why they were used and what they accomplished, I would have been just fine without them being part of the story. Ultimately I would have preferred to just see more about Clara. 

I loved watching Clara persevere in spite of facing discrimination from pretty much every direction at the beginning of the story. Students didn't want to take her class, magazines and newspapers didn't want to hire her, and the director of her school was actively sabotaging her exposure whenever possible. But then she made a deal with Levon and that was the turning point for her. And I really would have loved to have seen more of the behind-the-scenes life she lived, or more about her time with Oliver and Levon. I just wanted more of her. 

Overall I give The Masterpiece 3.2867 stars because I loved parts of it, but could do without others. - Katie 

Fiona Davis began her career in New York City as an actress, where she worked on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater. After getting a master's degree at Columbia Journalism School, she fell in love with writing, leapfrogging from editor to freelance journalist before finally settling down as an author of historical fiction. She's a graduate of the College of William & Mary and is based in New York City.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

*Review* The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Published: February 28, 2017
Pages: 447

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

I have been wanting to read this book ever since Joood - Hooligan, my arch-nemesis, told me I couldn't, and I finally managed to carve out the time to do it because my old book club in Germany was reading it for their most recent meeting (and I'm supposed to maybe meet up with the few members that now live near me to talk about it too). I wish I hadn't waited so long to read it, but it's no less relevant now than when it was released a year and a half ago. 

I had a harder time putting myself in Starr's shoes than I typically have, but I think that's mostly because Starr's life experiences differed so greatly from my own, and I don't want to believe that people in America actually have very similar experiences to Starr's. Ultimately, this book hurt my heart and I find it kind of amazing that minorities don't spend their entire lives just raging at the world. I don't know that I could deal with even a fraction of the bullshit they clearly deal with from society in general on a regular basis. 

With all of that in mind, I truly believe that this book should be required reading in every high school, either in English class or a social sciences class. Based on posts I've seen on the internet, I believe it would be relatable for minorities, which is something I understand is very much missing from most of the required reading in public schools at the moment. And I think it could go a long way towards teaching white kids more empathy, so that maybe in the future when a black kid is killed, they won't automatically be blamed for their murder as if they somehow deserved it. 

Overall I give The Hate U Give 5.4287 stars. - Katie 

Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She can also still rap if needed. She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Myers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books. Her debut novel, The Hate U Give, was acquired by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in a 13-house auction. Film rights have been optioned by Fox 2000 with George Tillman attached to direct and Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg set to star.

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Monday, November 12, 2018

*Top Ten Tuesday* Bookish Merchandise I Want to Own

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Joood - Hooligan of Platypire reviews bossed me into doing this, so I guess this is a thing I do now. It's been a few weeks since the last time I participated in Top Ten Tuesday (the themes have just not been speaking to me much lately and I've been busy with other things), but I'm back baby. 

This weeks theme is bookish items or merchandise that I want to own, aka my birthday and Christmas wish list. See, I don't ask for things I need at Christmas, typically, because if there is something I need, I just buy it, but I have a harder time justifying fun purchases (for instance, my husband buys me a year subscription to the Harry Potter Loot Crate every year for my birthday, which I'm beginning to think is a cop-out on his part so he doesn't have to remember my birthday because the subscription auto-renews in October and my birthday isn't until December).

So this will be a list of things that I want, but I just can't quite justify buying for myself. They will also probably ALL be Harry Potter related.

Harry Potter Legos

I want ALL the Harry Potter Lego sets, but especially the big Hogwarts Castle set. This has a dual purpose though, because my son already told me if I got Harry Potter Lego sets for Christmas, he would build them for me (because he loves building Lego sets, and I love that he will sit and follow the directions to do so). So I would get something I like, and my son would get more Lego sets to build. 

The Tales of Beedle the Bard: Illustrated Edition

I'm not sure if I have The Tales of Beedle the Bard at all, so the illustrated edition would be a fabulous addition to my library. Especially because I'm working on collecting the illustrated editions of the original series too (I've got books 1-3, which is all that is published at this point). I also want the non-illustrated edition too, for reasons. 

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

I may be behind in my Harry Potter universe screenplay reading, but I definitely need to add a copy of The Crimes of Grindelwald to my shelves. 

The Philosopher's Stone: House Editions

I want all of the 20th Anniversary Philosopher's Stone house editions, but I especially need the Hufflepuff version, if I can't convince anyone that all of them are necessary. I'm also obviously going to need Chamber of Secrets in the Hufflepuff (and all the other houses) editions as well (I only just saw that Hogwarts house editions of CoS were a thing). 

Advent Calendar

I'm pretty sure there's not a Harry Potter fanatic alive that doesn't want this Funko Pop Advent Calendar. Sure, the pops won't be full size, but the mini pops are pretty freakin' adorable too. 

Trivial Pursuit
I collect Trivial Pursuit games (because I'm a pseudo-intellectual), but I don't have the Harry Potter edition yet, which is a gross oversight on my part. One that needs to be remedied. 

Throw Blanket

My house has been mighty cold already this winter due to a lack of insulation in our attic from a hail storm back in June (thanks a lot insurance adjusters for dragging your feet on evaluating our claim). So this Hufflepuff throw blanket would be an excellent addition to my collection for keeping me warm. 

Ice & Chocolate Mold

I have a bit of a silicone mold collection already, but I don't have any for Harry Potter characters. I could remedy that with this Harry Potter ice and chocolate mold

Insulated Tumbler

I already own a Tervis insulated water bottle, but this insulated tumbler would go with it quite well, and maybe be a little bit easier to just drink out of when I'm at home and not going on a walk. 

Funko Pops
This may come as a surprise, especially if you know about my Funko Pop collection, but I am missing a whole bunch of Harry Potter universe pops...including Harry, Ron, and Hermione, so I could really use more Harry Potter universe Funko pops (just not Dumbledore, Sirius, and Niffler...I have them). 

So I realize that I included three books in my list of bookish merchandise (should not have done that. I should not have done that), but since the books in question are mostly for show and just for a collection rather than for repeated reading, I feel like they still qualify (also, as I mentioned at the beginning, this is basically my Christmas wish list so...) I also found this list a little difficult to create because after two full years of Harry Potter Loot Crate subscriptions, and my husband and sister-in-law buying me Harry Potter stuff exclusively for Christmas, my HP merchandise collection is already a bit sizable now. 

What is some bookish merchandise you want to own? - Katie 

*If you're stopping by from the linkup, please be sure to drop a link to your post below so I can stop by and see your choices.*

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*Review* Precious Bones by Irina Shapiro

Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: November 14, 2011
Pages: 431

When the skeletal remains of a young woman and her baby are found entombed behind the kitchen wall of a historic Tudor house, Cassandra is overcome with grief. She seems to know who the young woman was, but not how she knows, or how she came to be there. Cassandra becomes inexplicably drawn to the house and the mystery of the "Bones of Blackfriars." As she begins to learn the truth about the Thorne siblings who occupied the house during the reign of Elizabeth I, her own life takes an unexpected turn, and she finds out that her fate is linked to the Thornes in ways she never imagined.

Extensively re-edited 11/2015

I received an audiobook version of this book from the author. This is my honest review. 

This book did not really work for me. I felt like the narrator (of the story, not the audiobook narrator) seemed rather haughty and full of herself, and maybe some of that is because she is British (and therefore the audiobook narrator is British, and a British accent just sounds somewhat haughty to my American ears). Whatever the cause, I did not like her from the beginning, and because I didn't like her, I didn't really care much about what she had to say about herself and her life.

The reason this book wasn't a complete flop for me, though, is because of the bits set in the 16th century. I loved seeing life through Cassandra and Richard's eyes. If the entire book had just been about them, I'm pretty sure I would have enjoyed it much more. Their lives had mystery and intrigue and a little bit of medieval horror and I was hooked when they had the reins of the story.

So overall I give Precious Bones 3.076 stars because I only really enjoyed about half of it. - Katie 

Irina Shapiro will be first in line if recreational time travel ever becomes a reality, but for now, she must rely on flights of imagination, traveling through time and space vicariously through her characters. Irina particularly enjoys stories set in the past, where the characters must navigate the volatile political climates of their time while still managing to live, love, and cause mischief.  

Irina has always had a particular fascination with the paranormal, and explores some of these themes in her books. She believes that nothing is truly impossible; true love can transcend space and time, and live on forever.

Please visit Irina Shapiro at to learn more about her titles and upcoming releases.

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*Deja Revu* 12 November 2018

Déjà Revu is a weekly review round-up that is open to all book review blogs.
Science Fiction
Women's Fiction
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