Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Review: Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

Rebel Belle

By Rachel Hawkins

Blurb: Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y'all beg for more.

Genres: Young Adult Paranormal Romance

Publication Date: April 8, 2014

Series: Rebel Belle (book 1)

Pages: 345

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Confession time...I may or may not have gone into this thinking this was a historical fiction novel. Oops.
Initial disappointment aside, this was a really well done paranormal romance. Possibly one of the best I've read in a really long time; I usually hate this genre, but I gave this a try because hello, Rachel Hawkins? Instead of being a suck-fest, this was as cute as its cover. (AND I REALLY LIKE THE COVER GUYS I REALLY LIKE IT.)
Harper is an unexpected main character. She's so different from the typical Para MC and it's great; she's popular, super type A...and usually I would read those two qualities and think, crap, this is going to be a mean girl character, but no. Harper is actually super nice, which is a great change from the stereotype.

Then we have David. David I didn't like as much because how he was set up in the beginning and how he ended up being seemed a bit different to me. However, he was a likeable character...smart, funny, a bit sarcastic. He and Harper were perfectly suited for each other.
However, it seemed that at the beginnning David is as rude as can be. However, ten pages later, he mysteriously has a change of heart and becomes more "sarcastic and misunderstood" than the slap-worthy jackwagon at the beginning. 

The paranormal stuff in this book is all so new to me; I've read one other book about paladins. It sucked butt and I ended up not finishing it, so for all intensive purposes we'll say this is a whole new concept to me. And I loved it! The background was fleshed out, the powers were so ninja-y (I promised myself I wouldn't use the word kickbutt to describe it. I've been using that word too much lately) and the plotline was very paladin-centric. Which may seem like a given to you, but this is paranormal romance we're talking about. Most paranormals go more like the MC and their partner sucking face and making heart eyes at each other and then in the end there's some battle that somehow the MC prepared for in between the kissing.

From the beginning, this book was action packed. Sometimes in a borderline-yuck way. I don't want to have to think about how Harper killed her attacker in the first couple chapters again, though it was definitely a new move I'd not read before, so that was nice. But there was also some Southern hospitality, with balls and dresses...it was very nice.

Normally I would classify this ending as a cliffhanger, but I've already read the second book's blurb so there goes that suspense. Grr. But it's notthis book's fault, I suppose.
I was pleasantly surprised by this series! It is a fun series that I'll definitely be continuing.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Review: Cassidy's Guide to Everyday Etiquette (and Obfuscation) by Sue Stauffacher

Cassidy's Guide to Everyday Etiquette (and Obfuscation)

By Sue Stauffacher

Blurb: Eleven-year-old Cassidy has just inherited a gift from her late great-grandmother. Unfortunately, that “gift” turns out to be a summer trapped in etiquette school. What good are manners, anyway, for a girl who dreams of living life on the road as a hobo—er, “knight of the road”?

As if trying to remember to keep her elbows off the table isn’t bad enough, Cassidy’s best friend, Jack, suddenly seems more interested in doing chores for the new teenage girl who’s moved in next door than in fishing with Cassidy down by the river. Not even her classic epic pranks seem to be saving Cassidy from having her worst summer ever. It’s time to face facts: growing up stinks.

Veteran middle-grade author Sue Stauffacher returns with a cranky, pranky, laugh-out-loud tomboy heroine who might just learn the hard way that manners do matter, and that people can change.

Genres: Juvenile Realistic Fiction

Publication Date: June 9, 2015

Series: N/A

Pages: 304

My Rating: 1 star

  I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

If you like your characters to be actually likeable, I'd not suggest reading Cassidy's Guide to Everyday Etiquette (and Obfuscation, which I will hereto refer to as Cassidy's Guide, because, well, ain't nobody got time for that full name.

The main problem with the book is that it was sooo hard for me to identify with this MC. She's rude, (I mean, that's to be expected when the girl has to go to etiquette school in a middle grade book, but this was not the 'cute' kind of rude, she was just rude) she makes extremely poor decisions, and she's selfish. I kept waiting for character growth. It didn't come until the last few chapters. By that time I'd given up on her.

She has two etiquette buddies. One is a boy named Delton. I ended up spending the whole time feeling bad for him. He's usually Cassidy's scapegoat for all her pranks that go horribly wrong and she treats him really poorly; why? I'm not completely sure because the poor kid never really did anything bad. Then there's a weird officer who...I don't know how he became a cop?! He's not all that bright and it seems like he'd have a hard time writing out a ticket. I really didn't like any of the characters in this book.

The second thing that really annoyed me is that none of these jokes are funny in the slightest. I'm not saying this because I'm too 'mature' for them; give me a Diary of a Wimpy Kid book and I'll giggle like a third grader. They just aren't funny. In fact, a lot of them made me really mad, because a lot of them were all, "Cassidy did this, oh my, isn't she just the darnedest thing?" but no. She was not. She was a brat.

The plot could have been really interesting; etiquette class for a girl who doesn't have the slightest interest? Things like it have been done before, but it still could have been quite enjoyable. But everything was so wrapped up in the 'humorous' scenes and Cassidy that I didn't like it.

Cassidy's Guide should have been a light and fun read, but I'm pretty sure my blood pressure hates me now due to this book. Not a fan.

Review: Pivot Point by Kasie West

Pivot Point

By Kasie West

Blurb: Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

Genres: Young Adult Contemporary/Sci-Fi

Publication Date: February 12, 2013

Series: Pivot Point (book 1)

Pages: 343

My Rating: 3 stars

Pivot Point is definitely a fun read; the sliding doors books I've read before come nowhere close to as entertaining as this book was. However, I never really loved it like everyone else. I read this because of the sci-fi; I'm thinking that most people, because this is Kasie West we are talking about, and she is practically the queen of contemporary, read it for the contemporary genre. So here I am, all by myself in a sea of five star reviews, and I'm feeling a bit sad.

I did like how well the alternate timelines meshed together. It was really well done; everything coincided so perfectly, it was kind of amazing. And both realities had their own interesting plotlines.

This book is super character driven. Which may have been a problem for me because, well...I didn't love Addie as much as a character driven plot requires. I didn't agree with some of her decisions, and I'll explain why soon. Her friend, Laila, I did like; I was afraid that she would be the stereotypical whacky gal pal that has as much character depth as a block of cheese, but I was wrong. She gets focused on a lot in the story and actually plays an important role.

It was very romance based as well; and this is where I really disconnected with the plot. Everyone seems to love Trevor; and don't get me wrong, I can see why they would. He's a very nice guy, totally dateable material. (Spoiler Alert)But Addie has known him for less than six weeks and by then she has already decided to give away the Very Important Secret that was NOT to be shared by any means. Six weeks?! You can't know a guy enough to make that decision in six weeks. Not only is where Addie became a bit dense for me, it's where I decided this romance was not my thing.(End of spoiler)

Then there's Duke. Blegh. That's all I have to say on this subject.

Again...the sci-fi elements really didn't become major until the end, and that made me a sad little bookworm. I thought the contemporary aspect was pretty solid, but the sci-fi was SO lacking for me. It was barely there, except in the very, very beginning and very end.

The end was pretty good, however. Plot twist here, plot twist there, emotions get a bit tore up...altogether pretty interesting. I'd have to say that the only time I was fully engrossed in this book would be near the end. It's the only time where the plot becomes more action packed and less romance-y. Addie's decision was really made difficult, and I liked how that was utilized.

The ending definitely saved this book for me. It wasn't fabulous like I'd hoped, but altogether Pivot Point was an okay book that I have no regrets about reading just once.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Stacking the Shelves 4/25/15

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and is a great way to showcase the books you received in the past week.

This was my little bitty haul this week: I'm really excited to read all of these books, but especially the Heartbreakers by Ali Novak, because I've heard such great things about her previous books!

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That's it for this week! Have any of you heard of these before, or do you have them? What was your haul this week? Let me know below. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review: Fairy Keeper by Amy Bearce

Fairy Keeper

By Amy Bearce

Blurb: Forget cute fairies in pretty dresses. In the world of Aluvia, most fairies are more like irritable, moody insects. Almost everyone in the world of Aluvia views the fairy keeper mark as a gift, but not fourteen-year-old Sierra. She hates being a fairy keeper, but the birthmark is right there on the back of her neck. It shows everyone she was born with the natural ability to communicate, attract, and even control the tiny fairies whose nectar is amazingly powerful. Fairy nectar can heal people, but it is also a key ingredient in synthesizing Flight, an illegal elixir that produces dreaminess, apathy and hallucinations. She’s forced to care for a whole hive of the bee-like beasties by her Flight-dealing, dark alchemist father.

Then one day, Sierra discovers the fairies of her hatch are mysteriously dead. The fairy queen is missing. Her father’s Flight operation is halted, and he plans to make up for the lost income by trading her little sister to be an elixir runner for another dark alchemist, a dangerous thug. Desperate to protect her sister, Sierra convinces her father she can retrieve the lost queen and get his operation up and running.

The problem? Sierra’s queen wasn’t the only queen to disappear. They’re all gone, every single one, and getting them back will be deadly dangerous.

Sierra journeys with her best friend and her worst enemy -- assigned by her father to dog her every step -- to find the missing queens. Along the way, they learn that more than just her sister’s life is at stake if they fail. There are secrets in the Skyclad Mountains where the last wild fairies were seen. The magic Sierra finds there has the power to transform their world, but only if she can first embrace her calling as a fairy keeper.

Genres: Young Adult Fantasy

Publication Date: March 15, 2015

Series: N/A

Pages: 238

My Rating: 2 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I'll admit I liked this more right after finishing it, but after thinking about it more, I don't think it deserved the higher rating I gave it.

Reading all the reviews saying what a unique fantasy this was, I was excited. Books about fairies often make me want to squeal, but so many of them follow the exact same path. Fairy Keeper may have been unique in its utilization of fairies, but the fantasy world seemed all too familiar and over the top. 
I mean, there’s unicorns and mermaids and fairies and centaurs. It’s like every single fairy tale collided and out popped this world out of the cosmic fairy tale ooze. I originally liked how many creatures were in here...but I recently read another fantasy book that utilized a myriad of creatures in a much better and more unique way then this book did, and that really changed my opinion of how well this book handled that. Granted, the author chooses to make the world a bit darker than the norm; however, it still felt really meh to me and unoriginal.

The plot was so boring. Half of it was just a fairy scavenger hunt. Bickering. We need food. More bickering. Some weirdness happens, but not enough to distract me from the dullness that is the storyline…I really wish I was over exaggerating. But not much happens in the way of action, and I don’t care enough about any of the characters for that to be okay. Sierra…boring. There is not much that differentiates her from countless other MCs I’ve read about. I mean, she’s a little grouchier than most of them I guess, but besides that…kind of a Mary Sue at times. Corbin…the token friend that every book has to have. And Phoebe…I really didn’t care about her. She was totally rude and the book tried to excuse it away with the ‘she had a bad childhood’ thing but that doesn’t mean she has the right to be such a butt. I really tried giving these characters a chance because I wanted so badly to like this book...but there isn't enough redeeming qualities to them for me to be able to do that.

Sierra ends up being ‘special’ later on in the story. I’ve seen that plotline way too many times, so it didn’t really excite me or intrigue me like it should have. Being simply special isn’t special anymore, I guess.
There’s a weird romance with (Spoiler) 
a faun. And since the word faun automatically conjures to my mind a mental image of Mr. Tumnus, no matter how cute and wise Sierra thought this faun ‘Micah’ was, I wasn’t feeling it. Plus, like the rest of the characters…BORING.(End of spoiler)

Sierra’s father is abusive and runs some….illegal fairy drug company. It’s the fairy drug mafia, basically. Maybe not exactly, but kind of. Which is really at odds with the magical far away land that is the setting of this book; it didn’t get incorporated well into the story. The setting and some of the darker themes had a huge disconnect between the both of them. This just didn’t come across as serious as was intended. At the end of the day, it was still a children’s novel for me.

This is a book I’ll probably forget soon. The more I think about it, the more I really wasn’t a fan of The Fairy Keeper. I guess I’ll have to keep looking for a fairy novel that I truly enjoy. Which sucks, because with better characterization, this could have been that book.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Review: American Girl on Saturn by Nikki Godwin

American Girl on Saturn

By Nikki Godwin

Blurb: The summer after graduation is supposed to be that first real taste of freedom - but not for eighteen-year-old Chloe Branson. Just as that breeze of freedom is making its way into her galaxy, her secret-service-agent dad drops a meteor-sized bomb of bad news on her and her sisters. An attempt has been made on the lives of Canadian boyband, Spaceships Around Saturn, during their USA tour, and the guys have to go into hiding ASAP. The only problem? In the midst of the crisis and media frenzy, their dad volunteered to hide the guys...in their house.

Six-year-old Emery is as ecstatic as any self-proclaimed Saturnite would be, but Chloe and her seventeen-year-old sister Aralie watch their summer plans crash and burn like a falling star. The SAS guys aren't happy with the situation, either. Bad boy Jules picks fights with Aralie about everything from his Twitter followers to his laundry, and heart-throb Benji can't escape Emery's fangirlisms for more than three minutes.

But after the super-cute Milo kisses Chloe during a game of hide-and-seek, she finally understands what Emery means when she talks about SAS being "out of this world." If this is what Saturn feels like, Chloe doesn't want to come back to Earth.

Genres: Young Adult Romance

Publication Date: August 29, 2013

Pages: 341

Series: Saturn (book 1)

My Rating: 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is the cutest thing that has ever been published in the history of the world. I don’t even like romance. But I read this while periodically squealing and once doing that little leg kick thing like this:

My inner fangirl was totally ignited. Can anyone tell me where I can get a Milo for myself? I would like one, please and thank you. He’s the perfect guy. I want to eat cookies with him and draw fake tattoos and get a song written for me each day I was apart from him (which sounds cheesy BUT IS LITERALLY SO CUTE I WAS DYING) 

Actually, I’ll settle for any one of the guys from Starships on Saturn, because they’re all cute as heck. Noah was the most wonderful friend; and he’s fine with being stuck in the friendzone and never once complains or gets angsty about it which is freaking refreshing in this sea of stupid YA guy-friends, let me tell you. Benji Bikini Baccarini is a saint for putting up with Emery. Tate’s a total goofball. And Jules…oh god the romantic tension between him and Aralie…I can’t.

The sisters, Chloe, Aralie, and Emery, are all really cute too. They have a realistic sisterly bond, and Emery is the embodiment of a pesky little sister. One that you just can’t help loving, but still a bit pesky. Chloe and Aralie’s dynamic was especially refreshing, because they act like best friends more than the usual ‘this is my sister, I act like I hate her, but she’s still my sister’ thing that popular culture usually perpetuates. 

American Girl on Saturn has cute moments, but it’s also laugh out loud funny sometimes. The number of Justin Bieber and 1D jokes in here should be applauded. The Biebs will now always be referred to by me as ‘Starships on Saturn’s Canadian Brother’—though maybe just in my head, because my family will have no idea what the h-e-double hockey sticks (HOCKEY STICKS. CANADA. UNINTENTIONAL PUN BUT I CRACK MYSELF UP) I’m talking about otherwise. 

I loved that this book didn’t paint any of the guys as dousches; the dynamics between the Branson sisters and them was so much more organic and real. Aralie yelling at Jules to do his laundry, Chloe pushing Noah in a pool, the ‘twitter feed’---even the non-romantic moments in this book were fantastically adorable. 

The greatest thing about this book? It’s completely character driven. There’s a plot, but not a drama-centric one. These books usually end up either “flames engulfing a whole forest fire and multiple towns having to be evacuated” horrible or really, really, good in my experience. And thankfully, American Girl on Saturn was the latter. 

I was left with the feeling of “I do not want this book to end”. It was the type of story where you just want to keep reading about the characters…I want the second book yesterday. This restored my faith in YA Romance. It’s the cutest thing I’ve ever read romance-wise, hands down. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Stacking the Shelves 4/5/15 (Happy Easter!)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and is a great way for bloggers to show off all the books they received in the past week!

Happy Easter, everyone! I hope everybody has a nice one. :) I am really excited to show off some of the books I got this week. It was a mix of both physical and e-books this week...that hasn't happened in a while. *sings For the First Time In Forever*

Here are my beauties this week:

Nick and Tesla's Special Effects Spectacular: A Mystery with Animatronics, Alien Makeup, Camera Gear, and Other Movie Magic You Can Make Yourself! which I won from Quirk Books on a Goodreads Giveaway, so thank you to Quirk books! My brother and sister (and I'm not going to lie, myself) LOVE this series. My brother especially, since he does science experiments in his free time. (both of my siblings have done a few taken from this series before and they work extremely well.)

The School for Good and Evil which I won from the blogaversary giveaway at My Addiction: Books! Thanks Cari and Haley. :D I can't wait to read this book, I've had my eye on it for the LONGEST time.

Hook's Revenge which I got from my local bookstore because, hello, Peter Pan retelling with a female heroine who is the daughter of Hook? Best idea for a book EVER.

And from Netgalley and some awesome authors this week:

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So those are all the books I've received this week. A lot of middle grade, two Peter Pan retellings (squee!) and a few other awesome books! I'm extremely excited. How about you guys? Have you read any of these? See any that jump out at you? Let me know below!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Blog Tour Review + Excerpt: Narvla's Celtic New Year

 Narvla's Celtic New Year

By Therese Gilardi

Blurb: Narvla’s life is as precisely choreographed as the routines that have made her a national step-dancing champion. She has a loyal best friend, a devoted boyfriend, and a lock on admission to her dream college, the University of Notre Dame - until her mother is named U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, and her life unravels. First Narvla receives a disturbing picture of her boyfriend and her best friend. Then she struggles to qualify for the Irish elite step-dancing squad, and her grades plummet.

But the biggest obstacle in Narvla’s new life is Dublin Boy, a cheeky musician with a disdain for academics and a distrust of Americans. Although Narvla is upset when she’s paired with Dublin Boy for the most important semester of her life, her real concern is the growing attraction she feels toward him. As the Celtic New Year unfolds, Narvla is pushed to abandon her lifelong need for control and embrace the charm of the unexpected.

Narvla’s Celtic New Year releases on April 6th, 2015.

Genres: Young Adult Realistic Fiction

My Rating: 4 stars

This book made me want to visit Ireland, I'll admit. I've always had a desire to go there, but Narvla's Celtic New Year brought that desire out full force. I ended up really enjoying the romance, the characters, the setting...everything, really, about this book!

What immediately attracted me to the story was the fact that Narvla is an Irish step-dancer. I have been in dance since I was three, and so I love reading about all types of dance, no matter what they are; and I'd never read anything about Irish step-dancing.  I loved how the dancing was described; Narvla really has to work hard at what she does,  even though she's already amazing. She has passion for it, you can tell. 

In fact, I loved Narvla as a character period. She was relatable and realistically painted; a lot of her goals in the story are goals that I have for myself. I was cheering for her when it came to the smallest of things; I wanted so badly for Narvla to get good grades, become the top dancer at her studio...I really liked her. 

Colin...I am still in awe on how the author managed to get me to like him! I absolutely hated him at the beginning of the story. I could see the romance coming, and I was sure I would hate it because I. could. not. stand. Colin. He was very rude and presumptuous. However, his character went through a lot of development; not only that, I understood why he was so horrible at the beginning. 

One thing I thought was good about the plot was the fact that it didn't only center on romance. Narvla and her family, her mother in particular, have a lot of struggles throughout the book, and they aren't pushed to the side by Narvla and Colin's relationship. There's a good mix of the two. 

The culture of Ireland was so vividly described; I fell in love with it via this story. I've read books set in Ireland, but none of them paint the place the way this book does. I really wanted to hop on a plane and go there straight away after reading this book.

I'd definitely recommend this book, especially to lovers of realistic fiction, but even those that aren't; I usually don't enjoy these types of books, but I really liked this one! 
Here is an excerpt from Narvla's Celtic New Year:

Chapter One
As you slide down the banister of life
May the splinters never point
In the wrong direction.
- Irish Proverb
The plane hits the ground so hard I’m not sure the pilot’s going to be able to stick the landing. As my seatbelt cuts into my stomach, he says, “Cead mile failte. A hundred thousand welcomes to Ireland”. Everyone around me claps.
On the edge of the runway the limousine the embassy sent is waiting for us. My mother is the new U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. That’s why I’m here in Dublin instead of back home in Connecticut, hanging out with Derek and Gabby when I’m not practicing for another step dancing competition.
I follow Mom to the limo. I stretch out across the leather seats as we ride along narrow, curvy roads, past tiny pubs and squat houses whose front doors open onto the sidewalk. Every few minutes our driver stops at a traffic light, and people peer into the car. Mom opens her window and waves. Most people wave back or smile, although a few just stare. Finally we arrive at an enormous park in the middle of the city, where we pass under an archway, through a black iron gate, and up a long driveway.
            The U.S. Ambassador’s Residence looks like The White House. Tall French windows open onto a long terrace and a lawn that could double as a golf course. There are lots of chimneys, which I hope means lots of fireplaces, and dozens of rose bushes in large white planters. I wonder if I’m going to need a map to find my way around, since the house is the type of building that doesn’t just have floors, it has wings. An American flag so big it can probably be seen from the United States flutters on the roof.
“Is it true the president of Ireland is our only neighbor?”
“The president and all the animals of the Phoenix Park Zoo,” Mom says.
“Seriously? We’re living next to a zoo?”
“I promised you the experience of a lifetime, didn’t I?” Mom straightens her emerald velvet beret, which is one of her bestsellers. Mom owns “Mad Maeve’s Magnificent Millinery”, the company that makes those one of a kind lace hats that celebrities and fashion designers love. Mom has to take a leave of absence from “Mad Maeve’s” now that she’s the new ambassador, just like I’ve got to withdraw from Conrad Hill High School. Although I’m unhappy about missing senior year in Connecticut, Mom says attending an Irish school will cinch my admission to Notre Dame, which is my dream college. Plus she’s promised I can return home to go to prom with Derek, and for the occasional visit with Dad. He can’t move to Ireland full-time because he’s working on several architecture projects in California. That’s why it’s just Mom and me in the limo.
“There he is,” Mom says as our driver stops in front of a massive wooden door. “I’m so pleased you’re finally going to meet Malcolm.”
            A thin guy in a lime green, pink and black leather kilt opens the car door. Mom steps out of the limo and gives him a hug. He kisses her once on each cheek.
            “Sorry we’re so late,” Mom says. “Weather delay.”
            “Ah, no Irish journey’s complete without a bit of turbulence,” Malcolm says. “Why else do you think Aer Lingus paint the names of saints on the sides of their planes?”
            Mom laughs but I don’t think it’s very funny. She spent the flight sleeping. I spent the entire seven-hour trip strapped into my seat, my hands wrapped around the armrests so tight my fingers are still cramped. I never knew before today that there are so many shades of lightening. Although when I look up at the sky there’s no hint of the storms that shook our plane, just a bunch of cotton ball clouds and a pale sun.
            “You must be Miss Narvla. Welcome to Dublin.”


About the Author: 
Therese Gilardi adores blue cameos, Irish pub music and the Paris metro. She lives with her own Irish Man, fluffy dogs and Viennese hare in the hills above Los Angeles. Despite her fear of heights Therese's favorite place in Ireland is Slieve League Cliffs, near her family's ancestral home in Co. Donegal. Therese believes sticky toffee pudding, Celtic knot jewelry and Oscar Wilde are Ireland's greatest exports. She is available for guest posts and interviews. You can also find her on her

website or on Facebook and Twitter.

Netgalley: available for review!
Goodreads: add to your shelf now!

Review copies: Review copies are available in .pdf, .mobi and paperback format. You can also find Narvla’s Celtic New Year on Netgalley.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Review: The Mermaid's Sister by Carrie Anne Noble

The Mermaid's Sister

By Carrie Anne Noble

Blurb: There is no cure for being who you truly are...

In a cottage high atop Llanfair Mountain, sixteen-year-old Clara lives with her sister, Maren, and guardian Auntie. By day, they gather herbs for Auntie’s healing potions. By night, Auntie spins tales of faraway lands and wicked fairies. Clara’s favorite story tells of three orphan infants—Clara, who was brought to Auntie by a stork; Maren, who arrived in a seashell; and their best friend, O’Neill, who was found beneath an apple tree.

One day, Clara discovers shimmering scales just beneath her sister’s skin. She realizes that Maren is becoming a mermaid—and knows that no mermaid can survive on land. Desperate to save her, Clara and O’Neill place the mermaid-girl in their gypsy wagon and set out for the sea. But no road is straight, and the trio encounters trouble around every bend. Ensnared by an evil troupe of traveling performers, Clara and O’Neill must find a way to save themselves and the ever-weakening mermaid.

And always, in the back of her mind, Clara wonders, if my sister is a mermaid, then what am I?

Genres: Young Adult Fantasy

Publication Date: March 1, 2015

Pages: 236

Series: N/A

My Rating: 3 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I have to give this book props for being completely unlike any mermaid tale I've read before. It really broke out of the formula that usually dictates these stories, and I was pleasantly surprised by that. I honestly would have given this four stars if it wasn't for how uncomfortable I was with this "romance."

At times this book reminded me of Jacob Have I Loved but with mermaids because of Clara and Maren's relationship. Yes, they love each other, but Clara wishes a lot of times she had what she perceives Maren as having, and she compares herself to Maren a lot. Their relationship was really different from the typical sisterly bond, and I liked it. I felt bad for Clara rather than annoyed at her; even though she often had feelings of inferiority to her sister, it never dived into pity party territory, in my opinion.

What I DIDN'T like was the relationship between O'Neill and the girls. At first, he was simply their "almost brother." Meaning, he almost became their brother but got adopted by someone else instead. Clara has a crush on him; I never found it that creepy in the beginning because (SPOILER ALERT) he wasn't actually related to them. But then, it got a bit creepy when it turned out that the guy who had raised O'Neill and the woman who had raised Clara and Maren were secretly married! So they were brother and sisters, albeit not biologically. Then, the creepy factor hit an all time high when Clara constantly refers to him as her brother and yet STILL HAS A CRUSH ON HIM.


There's only so much I can take. This was not something I could ship. It was something I could wish for to sail away from the story, but not ship. (ba dum dum tss) However, seeing as they weren't biologically related, I can see why many people wouldn't mind it.

The beginning of the book was much more exciting for me than the second half. I liked reading about Maren's transition; the emotions were more of the focus in the first part, and I liked reading about Clara's reaction to possibly losing her sister. It made me sad. The second part was still good, but it relied more on exciting escapes and villains and such, and I felt that I didn't really connect with the story as much during this part.

I liked the writing very much. It really captured Clara's voice and made me feel for her so much more. It really incorporated the feeling of magic into the story; this felt like the perfect writing style for a book about a mermaid.

Considering I wasn't a fan of the romance, I found the ending weird. (SPOILER ALERT) Clara and O'Neill get married, and their parents are very happy for them, and no one points out it's slightly creepy? This takes place in the 1800s, in our world...you're not telling me that back then no one would care? It doesn't make sense. (END OF SPOILER)

The Mermaid's Sister was good, but it took some weird turns. But if you think you'd be fine with this, I'd recommend it.