Review of Confessions of a Serial Kisser by Wendelin Van Draanen

Confessions of a Serial Kisser
By Wendelin Van Draanen

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult
Number of Pages: 304

Date Started: March 4, 2017
Date Finished: March 5, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)confessions-of-a-serial-kisser
Evangeline Logan wants a kiss. Not just any kiss—a “crimson kiss,” like the one in a romance novel she’s become obsessed with. But the path to perfection is paved with many bad kisses—the smash mouth, the ear licker, the “misser,” the tentative tight lipper.

The phrase “I don’t kiss and tell” means nothing to the boys in her school. And worse: someone starts writing her name and number on bathroom walls. And worst of all: the boy she’s just kissed turns out to be her best friend’s new crush.

Kissing turns out to be way more complicated than the romance novels would have you believe. . . .

Review:
I couldn’t put this novel down. From the first page, you’re drawn right into Evangeline’s life. Whether or not you’re interested in getting a heart racing, spark inducing, firework detonating kiss, this book is perfect. Evangeline is a bit lost, she wants to find something to make her feel like she’s truly living, and when she does, she puts all of herself into it. In order to do that, Evangeline makes herself edgy, changing her style, trying to stand out– something that most girls will experience at some point through high school. While Evangeline is busy searching for the crimson kiss she wants, she doesn’t stop to consider what that might do to others, just as most teenagers would do.

I absolutely love how important music is to Evangeline and how much it shapes her, though there were a lot of times when I wondered if the album name and several song titles were listed as more of a word addition than a necessary part of the story.

In the end, I absolutely loved this book and definitely recommend it to anyone who isn’t sure what they want, and knows that there must be something better out there for them. I’d also recommend this to anyone going through a dark time, needing something else to focus on. It’s flirty, it’s fun, and I give it five stars.

wendelinAuthor Biography: (From Amazon)
Wendelin Van Draanen has written more than thirty novels for young readers and teens. She is the author of the 18-book Edgar-winning Sammy Keyes mystery series, and wrote Flipped which was named a Top 100 Children’s Novel for the 21st Century by SLJ and became a Warner Brothers feature film in 2010.

Her other stand-alone titles include The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones, Runaway, Confessions of a Serial Kisser, Swear to Howdy, and The Running Dream which was awarded ALA’s Schneider Family Award for its portrayal of the disability experience.

Van Draanen has also created two four-book series for younger readers. The Shredderman books feature a boy who deals with a bully and received the Christopher Award for “affirming the highest values of the human spirit,” and The Gecko & Sticky books, which are fun read-alouds, perfect for reluctant readers.

A classroom teacher for fifteen years, Van Draanen is married to Mark Huntley Parsons, also an author, and they have two sons.

Review of My Fairly Dangerous Godmother by Janette Rallison

My Fairly Dangerous Godmother
By Janette Rallison

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale, Fantasy
Number of Pages: 396

Date Started: March 1, 2017
Date Finished: March 4, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)my-fairly-dangerous-godmother
Some people bomb auditions. Sadie Ramirez throws up during her tryouts on TV show America’s Top Talent. Her performance is so bad, it earns her a fairy godmother through the Magical Alliance’s Pitiful Damsel Outreach Program. Enter Chrysanthemum Everstar: a gum-chewing, cell phone-carrying, high heel wearing fairy godmother in training. She misinterprets Sadie’s wishes and sends her back in time to be a part of The Little Mermaid story and then makes her one of the twelve dancing princesses. Wishes are permanent, and if Sadie wants to get back to her home, she’ll have to strike a magical bargain–one that involves stealing a goblet from a powerful fairy queen. With a little help from a handsome and talented thief, she might be able to pull it off.

Review:
I had this novel sitting around for a while before I finally decided to read it. It was phenomenal! The music take was pretty neat to start, but I thought it would falter when instead of going into a unique fairy tale story, traditional fairy tales were invoked, but the realistic response that Sadie has to everything going on , and her honest revelations about stars, fame, and Jason Prescott, make this book an amazing novel that will resonate with readers forever. Although the opening is rather hard to get into at first, once you’re past Chrysanthemum Everstar’s report, the book becomes pure gold. While many hopefully won’t experience any of the truly turbulent events the heroes face, many can empathize with the struggles of the characters, their desires and motivations. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves fairy tales,  and anyone who loves music/wants to become a musician.

janette-rallisonAuthor Biography: (From Amazon)
Janette Rallison is old. Don’t ask how old, because it isn’t polite. Let’s just say she’s older than she’d like to be and leave it at that.

Janette lives in Chandler, Arizona with her husband, five children and enough cats to classify her as “an eccentric cat lady.” She did not do this on purpose. (The cats, that is; she had the children on purpose.) Every single one of the felines showed up on its own and refuses to leave. Not even the family’s fearless little Westie dog can drive them off.

Since Janette has five children and deadlines to write books, she doesn’t have much time left over for hobbies. But since this is the internet and you can’t actually check up to see if anything on this site is true, let’s just say she enjoys dancing, scuba diving, horse back riding and long talks with Orlando Bloom. (Well, I never said he answers back.)

Review of Miramont’s Ghost by Elizabeth Hall

Miramont’s Ghost
By Elizabeth Hall

Star Rating: 
Genre: Mystery, Gothic Mystery
Number of Pages: 334

Date Started: February 19, 2017
Date Finished: March 1, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)miramonts-ghost
Miramont Castle, built in 1897 and mysteriously abandoned three years later, is home to many secrets. Only one person knows the truth: Adrienne Beauvier, granddaughter of the Comte de Challembelles and cousin to the man who built the castle.

Clairvoyant from the time she could talk, Adrienne’s visions show her the secrets of those around her. When her visions begin to reveal dark mysteries of her own aristocratic French family, Adrienne is confronted by her formidable Aunt Marie, who is determined to keep the young woman silent at any cost. Marie wrenches Adrienne from her home in France and takes her to America, to Miramont Castle, where she keeps the girl isolated and imprisoned. Surrounded by eerie premonitions, Adrienne is locked in a life-or-death struggle to learn the truth and escape her torment.

Reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, this hauntingly atmospheric tale is inspired by historical research into the real-life Miramont Castle in Manitou Springs, Colorado.

Review:
The characterization in this novel could not have been any better. The depth of which the characters felt, and their motivations were astounding. While some characters seem completely “bad” and unsympathetic, it’s explained why that might be so.

However, once all the pieces have been set in play, about 35% of the novel is about the continual torrent of bad things that happen to our main protagonist. With a title like Miramont’s Ghost no one expects everything to be happy and cheerful, but the end offered no resolution for the heroine, instead letting the characters who dished up the torture get away with all they had done. This is a story where the bad guys win. Surprising enough, that isn’t where the story ends, and we’re left thinking that Adrienne deserved so much better.

elizabeth-hallAuthor Biography: (From Amazon)
Elizabeth Hall spent most of her life in the mountains of Colorado. She has worked as a teacher and communications consultant, including hosting, writing, and producing the radio show Heart of the West (KRZA, Alamosa) and producing an oral history compilation for the Great Sand Dunes National Park. She now lives in the Pacific NW.

Review of Soleil by Jacqueline Garlick

Soleil
The Illumination Paradox 3
By Jacqueline Garlick

Star Rating: 
Genre: Steampunk, Fantasy
Number of Pages: 342

Date Started: February 5, 2017
Date Finished: February 19, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)soleil
Losing her would send him spiraling into darkness.

With Eyelet gasping in his arms and a toxic storm threatening to annihilate the Commonwealth, Urlick must find a way to save his beloved, and fast. Out of the mist appears an unusual man, claiming to possess the power to heal Eyelet. The townspeople immediately label him a sorcerer and call for his death, but Urlick trusts the stranger. He whisks him off to the Academy where it becomes clear Eyelet is running out of time. She must drink her father’s antidote, or perish.

Together, Eyelet and Urlick brave the toxic woods to battle an Infirmed Flossie for the stolen necklace. In a race against time, they embark on a harrowing journey through the hellfires of Embers, where they meet up with the resurrected form of a familiar enemy—now the leader of the Dark World. Along the way, the pair unearth a sinister truth. Could the Vapours really be what they appear to be?
Is this the end of the known world?

Soleil is the third and final installment of the long-awaited Illumination Paradox Series. A swashbuckling, nail-biting, romantic adventure, filled with mechanical beings and puzzling happenings, with a shocking, otherworldly conclusion.

NOTE: This book contains an homage to Lewis Carroll and his infamous characters, especially Alice, who visited me from Wonderland as a child and spurred me on. These scenes are an intended nod to Carroll’s original works (now in the public domain) which I dearly love, continue to be for me, unyielding source of inspiration. To the creator, endless thanks. J

Review:
This book missed the mark. I had been quite excited to see how everything would come together, how everything could be fixed or righted. Unfortunately, this book was a complete change from its predecessors.

I found absolutely nothing wrong with the Wonderland addition of this novel, it fit in seamlessly with the rest of the story, however, it might have been nice to have had a few mentions of Alice being Eyelet’s favourite story in the first or second book, instead of having the knowledge dumped on us towards the end of the third book, in a series that previously didn’t mention other stories.

All the talk of coughing blood, and never once was the idea of tuberculosis brought up! Perhaps it was supposed to be a subtle thing, but with the ravens and Eyelet coughing up blood repeatedly, I had thought it’d be a given.

Without giving anything away, in the end, I felt that everything we’d been through was rather for nothing. The world shifted to work in a way that made little to no sense, utopia found. I had been quite invested in the town that Urlick had only just been sworn king of, and I was looking forward to seeing it saved. In most dystopian style novels, there is active resistance against the government, and a slow rise/change from people (usually young adults, but not always) that attempt to bring the world into enlightment. This book simply left everything behind.

If you’ve read the first two books I would recommend finishing the series, since I do so hate to not know how something ends, however, be prepared to reach a conclusion that might not be what you had in mind.

jacquelineAuthor Biography: (From Amazon)
Jacqueline Garlick is the author of the immensely popular, young adult, steampunk/fantasy series THE ILLUMINATION PARADOX, as well the IF ONLY series, a contemporary, coming of age, romantic mystery. She is also the author of a variety of women’s classic romances including the highly anticipated, upcoming HEARTMENDER’S SOCIETY.

Jacqueline loves strong heroines, despises whiny sidekicks and adores a good story about a triumphant underdog. (But then again, doesn’t everyone?) She has an on-going love/hate relationship with chocolate, grammar, and technology. Jacqueline has been a teacher, professional speaker, and environmental activist, but much prefers her current role as mild manner novelist. To find out more about Jacqueline and to be the first to learn of her upcoming releases, book-related giveaways, and other cool contests and events, sign up for Jacqueline’s NEWSLETTER via jacquelinegarlick.com, to join Jacqueline’s elite Reader’s Group and receive an exclusive FREE READ.

Follow Jacqueline:
twitter @garlick books
facebook: http://bit.ly/jegarlickfb

Contact Jacqueline”
email: garlickbooks@gmail.com

Review of Noir by Jacqueline Garlick

Noir
The Illumination Paradox 2
By Jacqueline E. Garlick

Star Rating: 
Genre: Steampunk, Fantasy
Number of Pages: 380

Date Started: February 2, 2017
Date Finished: February 5, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)noir
Losing him would make her overcast world one shade darker…

Navigating her way through nightmarish lands devoid of sunlight, Eyelet Elsworth races to free her beloved Urlick Babbit, the first person to understand and accept her—differences and all. Framed for murder and sentenced to execution, Urlick is running out of time. And the Commonwealth’s tyrannical new ruler, Penelope Rapture, is strangely eager to speed up the clock.

Aided by a band of unusual yet loyal associates, Eyelet stumbles upon a startling rumor. And as she unravels a secret that could challenge Penelope’s claim to the throne, Penelope vows to divert Eyelet’s journey—straight to a dark and deadly end.

In Noir, the second thrilling addition to Jacqueline E. Garlick’s Illumination Paradox series, familiar friends struggle against new and old enemies, shocking secrets come to light, and the truth that could save this captivating steampunk world is revealed…if it doesn’t destroy everything first.

Review:
Ever had a book that you couldn’t put down? If you’ve read Lumiere, this will likely be like that. Not only is the reader introduced to other unfortunate people who are far more capable than they are given credit for, but more back story is learned about one of my favourite secondary characters, C. L. While adventuring we also meet a few more unforgettable characters, one named Livinea who I am certain will capture many hearts as she appears to be the embodiment between what people often feel and have to keep private.

I absolutely love the surprise about Urlick, and it wasn’t exactly as I had suspected, but I was quite pleased nonetheless. He seems to take direction well, and while his love for Eyelet is absolute, he does what is necessary for all first.

Now I have to say that the world crafting, the buildings in this particular novel, are genius. Is it magic or is it science? Or is it both? I absolutely love the creativity and medieval inspiration used for the jug and the tortures the characters were threatened with.

While I had an inkling that Eyelet may have contracted a particularly nasty disease because she keeps coughing up blood, I was still devastated by the abrupt uncertainty of the ending, and of course will start book 3 post haste.

jacquelineAuthor Biography: (From Amazon)
Jacqueline Garlick is the author of the immensely popular, young adult, steampunk/fantasy series THE ILLUMINATION PARADOX, as well the IF ONLY series, a contemporary, coming of age, romantic mystery. She is also the author of a variety of women’s classic romances including the highly anticipated, upcoming HEARTMENDER’S SOCIETY.

Jacqueline loves strong heroines, despises whiny sidekicks and adores a good story about a triumphant underdog. (But then again, doesn’t everyone?) She has an on-going love/hate relationship with chocolate, grammar, and technology. Jacqueline has been a teacher, professional speaker, and environmental activist, but much prefers her current role as mild manner novelist. To find out more about Jacqueline and to be the first to learn of her upcoming releases, book-related giveaways, and other cool contests and events, sign up for Jacqueline’s NEWSLETTER via jacquelinegarlick.com, to join Jacqueline’s elite Reader’s Group and receive an exclusive FREE READ.

Follow Jacqueline:
twitter @garlick books
facebook: http://bit.ly/jegarlickfb

Contact Jacqueline”
email: garlickbooks@gmail.com

Review of Lumière by Jacqueline E. Garlick

Lumière
The Illumination Paradox 1
By Jacqueline E. Garlick

Star Rating: 
Genre: Steampunk, Fantasy
Number of Pages: 400

Date Started: January 29, 2017
Date Finished: February 2, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)lumiere
Even in a land of eternal twilight, secrets can’t stay in the dark forever.

Seventeen-year-old Eyelet Elsworth has only one hope left: finding her late father’s most prized invention, the Illuminator. It’s been missing since the day of the mysterious flash—a day that saw the sun wiped out forever over England.

But living in darkness is nothing new to Eyelet. She’s hidden her secret affliction all of her life—a life that would be in danger if superstitious townspeople ever guessed the truth. And after her mother is accused and executed for a crime that she didn’t commit, the now-orphaned Eyelet has no choice but to track down the machine that was created with the sole purpose of being her cure.

Review:
I’m uncertain how long I’ve had this novel before I finally decided to give it a try. The beginning was hard, difficult to get into. Although I suppose it could be seen as corky, it took me quite a while to get used to the name “Eyelet”. While it was likely to set the mood and time period, I found myself spending a portion of the first section wishing, in some ways, that the author had gone with Violet instead, or had explained the name in some way. Perhaps the most jarring was the thought that Eyelet having the ailment she does would make her a prim candidate for an asylum or even death.

I found part one rather jarring as we went between the new vocabulary of setting the steampunk scene, learning the land, and trying to figure out the science and balance the magic as well– with Valkyries being mentioned lightly in passing. After catastrophe struck the story became a bit easier to follow, and I became more and more intrigued.

While reading several other stories were called to mind: The Birthmark, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Beauty and the Beast were the most prominent. Though they may have helped shape the novel, that was in no way a negative thing, and the further I read the more I appreciated the story on its own merits. Eyelet is a wonderful protagonist, and while she does have a reason to be afraid beyond being a female, she doesn’t let anything or anyone stop her, and she won’t let anyone tell her what she can’t do because she’s a girl.

I am  intrigued, and have already purchased the second book to start on once I’ve finished this review.

jacquelineAuthor Biography: (From Amazon)
Jacqueline Garlick is the author of the immensely popular, young adult, steampunk/fantasy series THE ILLUMINATION PARADOX, as well the IF ONLY series, a contemporary, coming of age, romantic mystery. She is also the author of a variety of women’s classic romances including the highly anticipated, upcoming HEARTMENDER’S SOCIETY.

Jacqueline loves strong heroines, despises whiny sidekicks and adores a good story about a triumphant underdog. (But then again, doesn’t everyone?) She has an on-going love/hate relationship with chocolate, grammar, and technology. Jacqueline has been a teacher, professional speaker, and environmental activist, but much prefers her current role as mild manner novelist. To find out more about Jacqueline and to be the first to learn of her upcoming releases, book-related giveaways, and other cool contests and events, sign up for Jacqueline’s NEWSLETTER via jacquelinegarlick.com, to join Jacqueline’s elite Reader’s Group and receive an exclusive FREE READ.

Follow Jacqueline:
twitter @garlick books
facebook: http://bit.ly/jegarlickfb

Contact Jacqueline”
email: garlickbooks@gmail.com

 

Review of Of Fate and Phantoms by C. J. Archer

Of Fate and Phantoms
The Ministry of Curiosities Book 7
By C. J. Archer

Star Rating: 
Genre: Fantasy
Number of Pages: 128

Date Started: January 25, 2017
Date Finished: January 27, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)of-fate-and-phantoms
As Charlie and Lincoln’s lives settle into a harmonious pattern, a new threat arises that could have far reaching effects for the royal family and Lincoln’s parents. When a seer warns the Prince of Wales that his life is in danger, only Charlie and Lincoln take her seriously. After all, what sensible person would believe a gypsy who claims the danger will come in the form of the prince’s dead father? A meeting at the palace sets them on a path that takes Charlie back to her old haunts in the London slums, on the hunt for a man who can change his appearance. The new threat is their most dangerous yet, but for Lincoln, the biggest concern isn’t confronting the shape-changer or meeting his parents for the first time, it’s whether Charlie will put his engagement ring on her finger.

Review:
Ah, my favourite literary couple, how I get to join your life once more. This book, like the others in the Ministry of Curiosities series, was wonderful. There were a few editorial errors but that in no way diminishes from the storyline.

I loved that we got to see more of Gilly’s wife and see how Lincoln and Charlie would try to help someone who is different, like them, yet in a horrible position. I absolutely loved getting to see Charlie in action again, doing the boyish things she once did, even though she’s put on some weight so she isn’t quite as slender as before, and that no matter what’s happened, Charlie still cares about her gang and wishes she could do more for them. There were a lot of secondary characters and side plots going on, but I felt that added to Lincoln and Charlie’s dynamic.

It is great to see Lincoln trust Charlie’s judgments and allow her to help him on cases. While it is nice to see Lincoln become more man and less mechanic, in some ways it seems he is becoming a completely different person altogether. It would have been nice for them to have a few more scenes of development, but I was quite pleased with the interactions between the two throughout the novel, and I quite love the ending.

cj
Author Biography: (From Amazon)
C.J. Archer has loved history and books for as long as she can remember and feels fortunate that she found a way to combine the two. She has at various times worked as a librarian, IT support person and technical writer but in her heart has always been a fiction writer. While she has written historical romance in the past, she now writes exclusively in the historical fantasy genre (with a large dose of romance). She has several series which occur in the same Victorian-era “world”, one after the other. Each series can be read alone, but it’s more fun to start at the beginning with THE EMILY CHAMBERS SPIRIT MEDIUM TRILOGY. Follow that up with all 9 FREAK HOUSE books, then the MINISTRY OF CURIOSITIES series. GLASS AND STEELE, her newest series, is set in an entirely different alternate Victorian London.

Subscribe to C.J.’s newsletter to be notified when she releases a new book, as well as get access to exclusive content and subscriber-only giveaways. Join via her website: http://www.cjarcher.com

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