Lizzie’s Dream Journal by Charlie King

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Lizzie’s Dream Journal

Author: Charlie King

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Recommended For…: fantasy lovers, middle grade readers

Publication Date: December 12, 2020

Genre: MG Fantasy

Recommended Age: 10+ (slight violence, grief)

Publisher: Caab Publishing

Pages: 124

Synopsis: After the death of her father, Lizzie Barnes’ life takes an interesting turn when her mum brings home a journal.

Lizzie decides to use the journal to write short stories involving her beloved teddy bear Rodford and his arch-enemy Dr Ofdor, a villainous grizzly bear.
She soon notices it is no ordinary journal as people around her begin to have dreams based around her stories.

When Lizzie begins to experience the dreams for herself, she finds that as the creator, the rules of the journal can work against her.

Lizzie, with the help of Rodford and a rat named Ridgeley, must explore the different worlds while facing the dangers she created, including Dr Ofdor, to free herself from the workings of the journal.

Review: I thought this was a wonderful book! The book is wonderfully well written and the book has a great child’s voice for younger readers. The book does well to develop the characters and to build the world. The book also has a great plot and it kept me hooked from beginning to end.

However, I do think that the book will be a very hard read for some children. I also thought that some parts of the book were a bit more adult than others.

Verdict: It was great and would a good buddy read for parent and child to read to work through some grief.

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: The Lost Apothecary

Author: Sarah Penner

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 4/5

Recommended For…: Historical fiction fans, assassin books, revenge books, murder mysteries

Publication Date: March 2, 2021

Publisher: Park Row

Pages: 320

Recommended Age: 16+ (Poison, Abuse, Feminism, Gore, Violence)

Synopsis: Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman.

Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.

One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.

In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.

Review: This book was surprisingly pretty good. I didn’t think that I would like it as much as I did going into it but I did. I thought the book was well plotted out and I was intrigued throughout the reading of it. I really liked the world building and I also thought that the book was pretty surprising especially with the plot twist towards the end.

However, I did think that the characters were a little flat for me. There was nothing that really distinguished them from each other in my mind. I also thought that the book was way too slow especially in the beginning. The book took forever to get into and I feel like that that would be a hindrance to most readers.

Verdict: It was good!

Into The Heartless Wood by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Into The Heartless Wood

Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 2/5

Recommended For…: fantasy lovers, retelling readers, ya readers

Publication Date: January 12, 2021

Genre: YA Retelling

Recommended Age: can’t recommend, DNFed

Publisher: Page Street Kids

Pages: 368

Synopsis: The forest is a dangerous place, where siren song lures men and women to their deaths. For centuries, a witch has harvested souls to feed the heartless tree, using its power to grow her domain.

When Owen Merrick is lured into the witch’s wood, one of her tree-siren daughters, Seren, saves his life instead of ending it. Every night, he climbs over the garden wall to see her, and every night her longing to become human deepens. But a shift in the stars foretells a dangerous curse, and Seren’s quest to become human will lead them into an ancient war raging between the witch and the king who is trying to stop her.

Review: I DNFed at 16% in. While the story seemed pretty good, it was really confusing to read. The writing was kind of all over the place. The writing also feels so middle grade when it’s adult and I feel like it’s luring kids into reading stuff above what they might be comfortable doing. The character development and world building was also hit and miss.

Verdict: It was a weird book.

Scorned Promo Tour

Scorned 

A Wolf Shifter Paranormal Romance Novella

Book Series: Never Marry a Shifter

Order: Book Two 

Release Date: 2/16/21

One Day Tour for Scorned requested for Tuesday, 1/23/21, if possible.

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08SJF1NMT

———–

Author Bio: 

Azaaa Davis is an International Bestselling American author of urban fantasy & paranormal romance novels. 

She fell in love with reading as a high school freshman and continues to read, write, and draw today. Her background in social work helps her portray realistic characters in otherworldly—and sometimes terrifying—situations. A New York native, Azaaa currently lives in New Hampshire (USA) with her husband and daughters. 

Azaaa is working diligently to finish writing more fantasy novels while raising her daughters. Thank you for showing an interest in her stories! 

Evermore Book Tag by @bookworm.swiftie

Hey bookies! I love Taylor Swift. I’m not a self-proclaimed swiftie, but I do appreciate her music and it’ll always have a special place in my heart, especially with folklore and evermore. Folklore is when I started to really love Taylor, her music helped soothe my anxious soul during the first months of the pandemic. When I saw this tag floating around on bookstagram right after evermore came out, I knew I had to attempt it at some point.

willow – Soulmates

Taylor Swift is Totally Wearing a Wedding Dress in Her "Willow" Music Video
Amazon.com: They Both Die at the End (9780062457790): Silvera, Adam: Books

champagne problems – Mental Health Rep

Taylor Swift - champagne problems (Official Lyric Video) - YouTube
This Is My Brain in Love by I.W. Gregorio

gold rush – Literary Crush

Taylor Swift - gold rush (Official Lyric Video) - YouTube
AURORA RISING by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff | Official Book Trailer -  YouTube

tis the darmn season – Small Town Romance

Taylor Swift - 'tis the damn season (Official Lyric Video) - YouTube
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

tolerate it – Character that Deserved Better

Taylor Swift - tolerate it (Official Lyric Video) - YouTube
Nina Zenik by dianadworak | Six of crows characters, Six of crows, The  grisha trilogy

no body, no crime – Character That Deserved Death

No Body, No Crime by Taylor Swift (featuring Haim) - Songfacts
Sasha Alsberg on Twitter: "Roses are red Violets are blue I have my girls  So I don't need you #ValentinesYourBook #ZENITH… "
Honestly, any and all characters from Zenith by Sasha Alsburg and Lindsey Cummings. Worst book ever and no one was good.

happiness – Starcrossed Lovers

Taylor Swift - happiness (Official Lyric Video) - YouTube
This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity, #1) by Victoria Schwab

dorothea – Books with Great Friendship

Taylor Swift - dorothea (Official Lyric Video) - YouTube
Uglies - Wikipedia

coney island – Nostalgic Books

Taylor Swift - coney island (Official Lyric Video) ft. The National -  YouTube
Amazon.com: The Hunger Games (9780439023481): Collins, Suzanne: Books

ivy – Books with Infidelity

Taylor Swift - ivy (Official Lyric Video) - YouTube
A Court Of Mist And Fury: Court Of Thorns And Roses, Series 2 (Hardcover)  By Sarah J. Maas : Target
I mean… she was still kinda with Tamlin when she was flirting with Rhys.

cowboy like me – Favorite Meet Cute

Taylor Swift - cowboy like me (Official Lyric Video) - YouTube
Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala

marjorie – Best Book Parents

Taylor Swift - marjorie (Official Lyric Video) - YouTube
Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia

closure – Ships that Sunk

Taylor Swift - closure (Official Lyric Video) - YouTube
Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

evermore – Book that Makes You Feel Hopeful

Taylor Swift 'Evermore' album review: More of the same
Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

by @bookworm.swiftie

The Lost Wonderland Diaries by J. Scott Savage

Disclaimer: I received this arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: The Lost Wonderland Diaries

Author: J. Scott Savage

Book Series: Standalone for now, but I can see where sequels can come into play

Rating: 5/5

Recommended For…: mg readers, fantasy lovers, retelling fans

Publication Date: September 8, 2020

Genre: MG Fantasy

Recommended Age: 10+ (slight violence, some scary moments)

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Pages: 352

Synopsis: Lewis Carroll, author of the classic book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, secretly recorded the true story of his actual travels to Wonderland in four journals which have been lost to the world . . . until now.

Celia and Tyrus discover the legendary Lost Diaries of Wonderland and fall into a portal that pulls them into the same fantasy world as the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter. However, Wonderland has vastly changed. Some of the characters that Tyrus remembers from the book have been transformed into angry monsters.

Helped by the Cheshire Cat and a new character, Sylvan, a young rabbit, Celia and Tyrus desperately work to solve puzzles and riddles, looking for a way out of Wonderland. But the danger increases when the Queen of Hearts begins hunting them, believing the two young visitors hold the key to opening multiple portals to multiple worlds, and she will stop at nothing to capture them.

Will the crazed creatures of Wonderland escape into the real world? Can Celia and Tyrus stop them and save both worlds? Or will they be trapped in Wonderland forever?

Review: I thought this was an amazing take on the Wonderland adventures we all know by heart. I really enjoy Alice in Wonderland retellings and side stories and this one fit all the criteria: crazy characters, wonderous settings, mystery, and imagination. The character development was well done and the world building was absolutely amazing! I also was hooked on the story from beginning to end.

The only part I didn’t like was that the book was a bit too slow for me in the beginning and in some spots, but it would be perfect for your Wonderland loving child.

Verdict: Highly recommend!

Orestin’s Own by L. Alyssa Austin

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Orestin’s Own

Author: L. Alyssa Austin

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 3/5

Recommended For…: Dark fantasy

Publication Date: August 25, 2020

Publisher: Indie Published

Pages: 404

Recommended Age: can’t recommend, DNF

Synopsis: The veil is thinning. Every day more undead creatures slip into Everra. Soon their most terrifying kin, spawn of the dark goddess Orestin, will emerge to devour all life. Master Historian Mycellane enlists an aging Knight and an inexperienced priestess to join him on a journey to obtain an ancient artifact-one that can bring an end to the incursion. But their salvation lies on the other side of the veil, in the Dead Waste of Myrcantos, and only one person can bring them through: a Myrcantan necromancer who remains loyal to the enemy. The path before them leads through a barren, unforgiving land. Ravenous abominations lurk in the shadows. But the greatest danger to their mission is the hatred and distrust they feel for one another…

Review: I had to dnf this book at about 67% through. While the book is pretty good and it was hooking me in, I felt like I really new where the book was going and it became a bit uninteresting to me after that. This isn’t unusual, because I am very good at guessing the endings of books. But this time I was really bummed out when, skipping to the end, I saw that my predictions came true.

Verdict: Not for me but maybe for you!

The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis

Disclaimer: I received a finished copy of this book from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: The Initial Insult

Author: Mindy McGinnis

Book Series: The Initial Insult Book 1

Rating: 3.5/5

Diversity: Character with epilepsy

Recommended For…: ya readers, mystery lovers, thriller seekers

Publication Date: February 23, 2021

Genre: YA Mystery

Recommended Age: 16+ (animal death and violence, epileptic episodes, drugs and alcohol usage, language, slight sexual content, gore)

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Pages: 384

Synopsis: Tress Montor knows that her family used to mean something—until she didn’t have a family anymore. When her parents disappeared seven years ago while driving her best friend home, Tress lost everything. She might still be a Montor, but the entire town shuns her now that she lives with her drunken, one-eyed grandfather at what locals refer to as the “White Trash Zoo,” – a wild animal attraction featuring a zebra, a chimpanzee, and a panther, among other things.

Felicity Turnado has it all – looks, money, and a secret that she’s kept hidden. She knows that one misstep could send her tumbling from the top of the social ladder, and she’s worked hard to make everyone forget that she was with the Montors the night they disappeared. Felicity has buried what she knows so deeply that she can’t even remember what it is… only that she can’t look at Tress without having a panic attack.

But she’ll have to.

Tress has a plan. A Halloween costume party at an abandoned house provides the ideal situation for Tress to pry the truth from Felicity – brick by brick – as she slowly seals her former best friend into a coal chute. With a drunken party above them, and a loose panther on the prowl, Tress will have her answers – or settle for revenge.

Review: For the most part I thought that this was an okay book. The world building was very well detailed and the character development for the two main characters was very well done. Also felt like well this is a little bit of a mystery, that the point of their friendship was pretty good.

However, there were some things in the book that I did not like. I feel like the pacing was very slow and the book want was a little non-existent. I also really hated the use of animal violence in this book. I felt like the author you said to create a creepy atmosphere, but all it did was make me very sick at my stomach. I also felt like she used the animal violence and animal death as a shock Factor rather than a plot point.

Verdict: It was good, just slightly disappointing.

Fall of the Cities: Uprooting the Orchard Promo Tour

Orchard Close survived Caddi’s invasion, and smashed the General’s army, but was the price too
high? The Riot Squad are dead or wounded, the Army is watching from the bypass, and the
attacking gangs were beaten but not annihilated. This time they don’t even have a leader, because
Soldier Boy will be out of action for months.

At least the attackers left behind plenty of weapons, providing the Army don’t take them, and one
person is ruthless enough to use them all. Without telling even ‘Arold, the Killer Queen uses
illegal weaponry to recruit, then launches a true Blitzkrieg across the battered city. With their
enemies occupied, the Orchard Close survivors try to come to terms with the deaths, the
destruction, and a growing conviction they can never win, that the government and scroats will
keep coming.

The Cabal is distracted because the Reivers spring their own May Day surprise party. The Bruce
is aiming high this time, he wants to buy Scotland from the Cabal and the first payment is in
blood. As brave men and women launch their attacks or make their last stands, the foreign
mercenaries and Specials find that their own families are vulnerable, and even the Royal Navy
gets a wake-up call. While they are occupied, Bruce strikes for the real prize, a way to bring the
Cabal to the negotiating table.

Throughout the summer, as Harold heals, he begins to plan the evacuation of Orchard Close. The
gangs are finished, but when the Army withdraws from the bypass their replacements, Mart
guards, will have machine guns aiming right into the heart of Orchard Close. Even as he tries to
keep his plans secret, a rumour begins to grow, about an operation called Silent Running. It
spreads and grows, helped by a song, until even the surrounding gangs believe it; Soldier Boy is
leaving to set up a secret base. When the government finally comes for the Cities, there’ll be a
haven for those who escape and a strike force poised to disrupt the assault. By the time the
convoy is ready, even the Cabal knows about the breakout, but with all the rumours Harold hopes
that even his resident government spy is confused.

Vance Huxley Bio -ish

Vance Huxley lives out in the countryside in Lincolnshire, England. He has spent a busy life
working in many different fields – including the building and rail industries, as a workshop manager,
trouble-shooter for an engineering firm, accountancy, cafe proprietor, and graphic artist. He also
spent time in other jobs, and is proud of never being dismissed, and only once made redundant.
Eventually he found his Noeline, but unfortunately she died much too young. To help with the
aftermath, Vance tried writing though without any real structure. As an editor and beta readers
explained the difference between words and books, he tried again.
Now he tries to type as often as possible in spite of the assistance of his cats, since his legs no
work well enough to allow anything more strenuous. An avid reader of sci-fi, fantasy and adventure
novels, so his writing tends towards those genres.
Vance is a prolific writer whose other series include Fall of the Cities and Breach of Contract.

Let’s get back to the party by Zak Salih

Disclaimer: I received this arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Let’s Get Back to the Party

Author: Zak Salih

Book Series: Standalone

Diversity: Gay MC and other LGBT+

Rating: 4/5

Recommended For…: Memoirs, LGBT+

Publication Date: February 16, 2021

Publisher: Algonquin

Pages: 288

Recommended Age: 18+ (Sexual content, Language, Depression)

Synopsis: What Does It Mean to Be a Gay Man Today?

It’s just weeks after the historic Supreme Court marriage equality ruling, and all Sebastian Mote wants is to settle down. A high school art history teacher, newly single and desperately lonely, he envies his queer students their freedom to live openly the youth he lost to fear and shame.  

So when he runs into his childhood friend Oscar Burnham at a wedding in Washington, D.C., he can’t help but see it as a second chance. Now thirty-five, the men haven’t seen each other in a decade. But Oscar has no interest in their shared history. Instead, he’s outraged by what he sees as the death of gay culture: bars overrun with bachelorette parties; friends getting married, having babies.

While Oscar and Sebastian struggle to find their place in a rapidly changing world, each is drawn into a cross-generational friendship that treads the line between envy and obsession: Sebastian with one of his students and Oscar with an older icon of the AIDS era. And as they collide again and again, both men must come reckon not just with one another, but with themselves.

Review: For the most part this was a good book. I like how it’s focused on the experiences of older gay man and I felt like this would be a relatable book for many people. The book also does well on character development and world building.

However, the book doesn’t really get deep and it seems to keep readers at a distance, which begs to question how relatable it could be if it doesn’t let people in. Both of the main characters are also very toxic and I’m not sure if that’s who people, especially people new to gay culture, should be reading about.

Verdict: It was good!