Tuesday, April 6, 2021

YA Review: A CASTLE IN THE CLOUDS by Kerstin Gier

 A Castle in the Clouds
by Kerstin Gier

Published by Henry & Holt and Company
January 28, 2020
336 pages

Plot: Way up in the Swiss mountains, there's an old grand hotel steeped in tradition and faded splendor. Once a year, when the famous New Year's Eve Ball takes place and guests from all over the world arrive, excitement returns to the vast hallways.

Sophie, who works at the hotel as an intern, is busy making sure that everything goes according to plan. But unexpected problems keep arising, and some of the guests are not who they pretend to be. Very soon, Sophie finds herself right in the middle of a perilous adventure--and at risk of losing not only her job, but also her heart.

Review:  A Castle in the Clouds by Kerstin Gier is a cute cozy mystery with a light romance.  In this story, Sophie Spark is an intern at the luxury hotel Castle in the Clouds.  There she befriends the hotel owner's son, Ben, and a mysterious boy named Tristan, who may or may not be a thief.  While there she learns that Ben’s father plans to sell the hotel in addition to the possibility that there may be a child kidnapper posing as a guest. The setting is in the Swiss mountains around Christmas time and it's the type of book you read slowly as you get to know Sophie and all the hotel guests. The real intrigue doesn't happen until half way through the book though.

I did enjoy this book, but it did take a while for me to get into it. It wasn’t until I reached the middle of the book that it started to pick up and get more interesting.  Thankfully, the second half of the book was worth the wait. 

If you like a cozy mystery with a bit of romance that you’ll enjoy A Castle in the Clouds.  It is a slow-start book, with most of the action and interesting parts starting about half-way in.  So you’ll have to be a little patient with it. This is a stand alone book.  I highly recommend Kerstin Gier’s Ruby Red series if you enjoy a good time-traveling adventure/romance.  

Rating: 3.5 Hearts

Sunday, February 28, 2021

YA Review: ALL THE STARS AND TEETH by Adalyn Grace

All the Stars and Teeth

by Adalyn Grace
Published by Imprint
 February 4, 2020
373 pages

Plot: Set in a kingdom where danger lurks beneath the sea, mermaids seek vengeance with song, and magic is a choice.

She will reign.

As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer — the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic. When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.

But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder — and more peril — than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.

I am the right choice. The only choice. And I will protect my kingdom. (2021, goodreads.com)

Review: First of all, I want to comment on how gorgeous the cover of this book is. Absolutely one of my favorite covers!  It really makes you want to find out more about this book!  Actually, the cover is what first drew my attention to this book and I'm so glad it did! In this story, we follow Amora, the princess of Visidia, and the next ruler of her kingdom.  She just has to master a magic that only her bloodline possess.  But, when her test doesn't go as planned, she flees with a handsome pirate named Bastian, who is more than what he seems. Yet, she has no choice but to trust him if she wants to return to her kingdom with a second chance.  Unfortunately, her fiancΓ© (through an arranged marriage) stows away on the ship as well and the three of them are off on a nearly impossible mission that will help Amora regain her kingdom and Bastian regain is lost magic. However, to achieve their goals they have to face a man who has the power and the army to challenge Amora's father and bring their kingdom down.  With the help of a mermaid, this unlikely crew finds themselves not only in the battle of their lives, but for the lives of everyone in all of the islands within the kingdom.  

You will find great storytelling and top-notch writing in this YA fantasy.  There is a romance, but is not the center focus of the book.  However, it is nicely woven into the story-line and there is no insta-love between the characters. All the characters are well developed with their own unique personalities. You will definitely enjoy the adventure and death-defying experiences of Amora and her crew.  

All the Stars and Teeth is a fun, yet dark YA fantasy that is very well written, refreshingly original and definitely action-packed.  Filled with adventure, romance, strong lead characters, and a high-stakes quest that will take you to the edge and back.  A great debut and looking forward to reading the next book!

Book 2: All the Tides of Fate

Rating: 5 Hearts!

Monday, February 15, 2021

YA Review: THE BETROTHED by Kiera Cass

Kiera Cass

Published May 5, 2020
307 pages

SUMMARY: The young king of Coroa has never been the type to settle down—that is, until he meets Hollis Brite.

Hollis has grown up at Keresken Castle among the other daughters of nobility who hoped beyond hope that they’d catch the king’s eye. So when King Jameson declares his love for her, Hollis is shocked—and thrilled.

But she soon realizes that along with the extravagant presents and fawning attention, this new life brings outsized expectations—expectations that make her wonder if she’s really cut out for life as a royal.

With a visit from the king of Isolte on the horizon, Hollis sees a chance to prove to Jameson—and herself—that she has what it takes to be queen. But when she meets an Isolten stranger with the mysterious power to see right into her heart, she finds that the future she wants is one she never dared to dream of.
  (2021, Goodreads.com)

REVIEW: In The Betrothed by Kiera Cass we are taken to a world where the main character, Hollis, is being courted by the young King.  At first Hollis didn’t think he would choose her to be his bride because he’s a fickle King when it comes to the women in his life.  But, after spending some time with Hollis, the King has made it clear to her that he intends to make her his bride.  He promises to announce a betrothal to her soon and she is surprised but excited about this.  Hollis’ parents are nobles and they can’t be happier.  However, a family from another kingdom comes seeking refuge.  Amongst this family is a boy named Silas, who Hollis is drawn to even though she knows she shouldn’t be.  After spending some time with him, Hollis begins to question who she loves and what kind of life she wants for herself.

***Possible Spoiler***

Not sure if you'd consider this a spoiler since you can guess what’s going to happen after reading the synopsis. 😏

The first half of this story was really about Hollis and King Jameson and their courtship.  You don’t get introduced to Silas until almost halfway through the book.  So, for a romance it’s off to a slow start. Unfortunately, Hollis and Silas don’t spend too much time together after they meet before they already let each other know their feelings.  It wasn’t ista-love per say, but they really didn’t spend enough time together for Hollis to throw away her opportunity to be the queen. This is something any girl in the kingdom would love to be, especially since King Jameson is not an evil king. He was very sweet to Hollis and basically made her feel like she hung the moon.  However, once Hollis finds out any children she has with the king will probably be used for political marriages, she totally changes her feelings about becoming queen and King Jameson.  All of a sudden, she realizes that she doesn’t want to be the queen because she won’t have control over her children and all the politics that goes along with being royalty.  

Unfortunately, Hollis as a character was just not that likable and she “giggled” way too much.  It started to become more annoying than endearing. Her personality was too nice and perfect.  It’s hard to understand, other than it being insta-love, why Hollis would even choose Silas.  He was nice and a good craftsman, but there wasn’t really anything about him that made him a better choice than King Jameson. The only thing was that Hollis’ children wouldn’t be given in political marriages.  This seemed to be the deal breaker for her. Silas was also a bland character. There wasn't anything about him that would make a girl choose exile over being a queen. Again, the King was overly sweet with Hollis and treated her very well. I could see her changing her mind if the King started to become mean or abusive, but that never happened.

The book itself really didn’t become interesting until after Hollis decides to run away with Silas, and that was the last ⅔ of the story.  There is an interesting plot twist at the very end, which will make you wonder what happens in book two. I really wanted to love The Betrothed, since I did enjoy The Selection series. I definitely recommend that series! πŸ‘  As for this story, I give it 3 hearts because although the writing was good, I didn't find myself caring about the characters and I wasn't left feeling the need to read the next book.

Book 2: The Betrayed


3 Hearts!


Saturday, February 13, 2021

LoneStar Book Blog Tour: PUDGE AND PREJUDICE by A.K. Pittman ***REVIEW & GIVEAWAY***

Categories: YA / Clean & Wholesome Romance / '80s
Publisher: Wander (a division of Tyndale House)
Date of Publication: January 12, 2021
Number of Pages: 352 pages

***Scroll down for Giveaway!***

A Mixtape of Big '80s Style, High School Angst, and a Classic Jane Austen Tale

It’s 1984 and after moving to Northenfield, Texas, with her family, Elyse Nebbit faces the challenge of finding her place in a new school, one dominated by social status and Friday night football. When Elyse’s effortlessly beautiful older sister Jayne starts dating golden boy Charlie Bingley, Elyse finds herself curious about Charlie’s popular and brooding best friend, Billy Fitz. Elyse’s body insecurities eventually complicate her relationship with Billy, leaving Jayne and Elyse’s exceedingly blunt friend, Lottie, to step in and help Elyse accept herself for who she is, pant size and all.

Written with wit and considerable insight into the highs and lows of first love, this coming-of-age twist on the Jane Austen classic had me laughing out loud, singing ‘80s lyrics in my head, and cheering on the brilliant, yet self-deprecating heroine. Pudge & Prejudice is a joy to read from beginning to end!
Lorie Langdon author of Olivia Twist and the Disney Villains series

Allison Pittman will have readers laughing (and singing) on every page of this delightfully tenderhearted novel for all ages…[She] crafts a particularly savvy character who learns that beauty really is soul-deep…. 
Julie Cantrell, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of Perennials   

I can’t remember the last time I loved a book as much as I love this one. It’s an instant classic I will return to time after time. 
Bethany Turner, Award-Winning Author of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck

Set in Northfield, Texas in the year 1984, A.K. Pittman's Pudge and Prejudice is the '80s style Jane Austen adaptation you never knew you always wanted to read.  The story stays true to the major plot points of Pride and Prejudice, although not so much that it makes the story too predictable. Pittman does a good job changing the storyline just enough, while keeping true to the main theme and feel of the original. 

Pudge and Prejudice primarily focuses around Elyse Nebbitt and her sister Jayne's experience and relationships after moving with their family to a new town obsessed with social status and Texas high school football.  After meeting Charlie Bingley and his best friend Billy Fitz, the sisters have become the center of attention at their new school. Some of it good, and some not so good. Elyse is not your typical female lead, although probably the most relatable that I've seen in while.  As many young girls do, Elyse struggles with her weight and the insecurities that come along with it.  While her sister is seen as the more physically attractive of the the two, Elyse never lets that turn to jealously or hatred.  Pittman does a great job showing the strength and vulnerability of Elyse as a teenager dealing with first love, insecurity, and trying to fit in without changing who she is.  Elyse's laugh-out-loud personality makes her even more likable and you'll root for her happy ending until the very last page.

A fun and enjoyable coming-of-age story '80s style that you won't want to miss! A perfect addition to your home or high school library!  Definitely looking forward to more stories from Mrs. Pittman!

5 Hearts!

Allison Pittman is an award-winning author of thirteen novels, including the Christy-nominated Sister Wife series and the critically acclaimed The Seamstress. An enthusiast for all of the writing world, Allison holds active leadership in her local American Christian Fiction Writers chapter, and she heads up a thriving critique group in the San Antonio area. When not writing, Allison teaches middle school English, working as a conduit to introduce her students to new, fresh literature. You can follow her around on Instagram or Twitter and keep up with her writing news on her Allison Pittman Author Facebook page. Here you'll learn what's going on with new books, next books, and day-to-day life with Allison and her husband, Mikey. You'll also get a peek at Snax, the world's worst dog.

Each winner receives a SIGNED COPY of the book,
a hair scrunchie, and a $25 Visa Gift Card
Giveaway ends Midnight, CST, 2/13/2021
a Rafflecopter giveaway

or visit the blogs directly:
2/3/21 Review The Page Unbound
2/3/21 Review Missus Gonzo
2/4/21 Review All the Ups and Downs
2/5/21 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
2/5/21 Review That's What She's Reading
2/6/21 Review The Adventures of a Travelers Wife
2/7/21 Review Rebecca R. Cahill, Author
2/8/21 Review Nerd Narration
2/8/21 Review Rainy Days with Amanda
2/9/21 Review Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
2/10/21 Review StoreyBook Reviews
2/10/21 Review Momma on the Rocks
2/11/21 Review Book Fidelity
2/11/21 BONUS Promo Hall Ways Blog
2/12/21 Review Librariel Book Adventures
2/12/21 Review Jennifer Silverwood

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